NICE GUYS of the week: Geppetto's in Georgetown has taken a big step toward improving the image of restaurants. Tom Bauer of Crofton, Maryland and his friend ordered a pizza and beer one evening, and complained that the pizza was doughy, clearly not up to par. The waitress took the pizza back and brought another beer on the house. The second pizza was fine and they finished it, then ordered ricotta pie. When the bill came, the only item on it was the ricotta pie. Even after Bauer insisted on paying for the pizza and beers the management refused to add them to the bill.
MORE NICE GUYS -- The second round of nice guys are those at the Park Hyatt. Andrew Isen of D.C. complained about the service as he was walking out of the Park Hyatt's Melrose restaurant and asked the name of the food and beverage director. Before he followed up on his complaint, though, the hotel did. It tracked him down through the phone number accompanying his reservation, then called to apologize and invited him to bring a friend for dinner as guests of the house.
LAST OF THE NICE GUYS -- If you can handle one more group of nice guys: At City Cafe Peter Metrinko of Alexandria ordered a wine which, as it turned out, he and his companion disliked. It wasn't spoiled, he said, just too tart for his taste. When the waitress asked how the wine was, he told her so, and immediately the manager came to the table and offered to exchange the wine.
"They certainly intend to stay in business a long time," wrote Metrinko. "One does not easily forget such treatment."
NO MORE MR. NICE GUY -- Over the past few years complaints about overcharging by Mr. K's have been so frequent that I could often finish the sentence for an angry caller or correspondent before he had stated the problem. Now, however, I have a new kind of complaint to report regarding Mr. K's.
This latest comes from Art Buchwald, whose sense of humor left him when he found his party of 14 people seated in the main dining room rather than in a private room at Mr. K's. He had reserved the dinner -- for his publisher, no less -- a month ahead, and asked for a private dining room with a round table. And, he said, he'd confirmed the private room. When he arrived, he found the places for 14 strung along one long table. And the private rooms -- all three of them -- were occupied. A complaint at the time brought Buchwald no satisfaction.
When I asked owner Johnny Kao what had happened, he said Buchwald never was promised a private room, but was merely told that the restaurant would do the best it could to give him one.
Were the three private rooms already booked a month ahead? No, Kao said, "I don't think they were booked a month ahead." Usually, he added, they are booked only a week or two ahead. But Mr. K's apparently doesn't like to commit itself to reserving those rooms. So instead of promising Buchwald, Kao said, the manager gave him a maybe. (And obviously then gave those rooms to others.)
Then Kao asked me whether I thought they should make definite promises in such cases. I answered with a question: Did he think Mr. K's should give people definite reservations for any table on a Saturday night or just tell them that it would try to have a table for them?
"I see what you mean," responded Kao.