Monday, November 10, 2008

Taylors, Cherry Hill

When I visited England for the first time in 2000, one of the things that struck me was that when I walked in to many pubs with the goal of eating a meal, I just wasn't sure what the deal was. What do I mean by that? Well, I found that many different pubs were just not clear on items such as:

-When food is served... Were they open for lunch? Dinner? It was kind of a crap shoot.
-Where do I order food... Is there a server? Or do I order at the bar?
-Where do I find the menu?

Granted not all pubs in England were confusing like this, but there were enough like this that it seemed to be an established social agreement and locals just inherently knew what was going on while visitors were left reeling to figure it out. This creates numerous awkward situations for the unassuming customer.

This, unfortunately, was very similar to a recent Friday night excursion I had to Taylor's 2310 Route 70 (Marlton Pike) in Cherry Hill. Allow me to lay out the scenario:

It was about 6:30pm. I was meeting a friend there and he was already at the bar. I walked in and nobody greeted me and I found him at the bar, which had a scattered, mostly middle-aged crowd around it. He was alone and had a bottle of beer. When I arrived we were ready to follow through with our plan of eating dinner, so we asked the bartender if they were serving food. She cheerily said that there was a buffet on the other side of the bar.

At this point, I went to use the men's room to take care of business and wash up, and when I entered I immediately found what I truly despise in men's room: a bathroom attendant, with an array of lotions, potions, and ready to talk you up. I humbly did my business and tried not to make eye contact (as is the unspoken rule in any men's bathroom), but this gentleman was all up on me turning on the faucet as I washed my hands and handing me a towel to dry off. Note that these are all things I normally do myself. And of course the tip tray sat in the middle of the counter begging to be filled by a buck or two. I had the uncomfortable moment of A) not wanting to give this person any of my money for hanging all over me in the bathroom and doing things I'm very capable of doing, and B) not having any singles in my wallet. So I quickly and awkwardly left the bathroom as somebody else came in and didn't look back. Awkward situation #1

Reuniting with my friend at the bar, we decided to check out the buffet and get a table on the other side of the bar and eat. Well the extent of the buffet table was salad, pasta, an empty tray, French fries, and maybe some other odds and ends that I don't recall. Not exactly what we would call dinner, but I guess it works for some people, and I think it was free because some people were going up to it at their leisure. So we decided to ditch this option and see if we could sit at a table and order from a menu. Awkward situation #2

We walked around to one of the seating areas and saw no servers in sight. There was a trio of people already sitting and eating and asked them if they were served food, and they said that there was no hostess, but if we just sat down a server would come over to us. Awkward situation #3

So we took a seat in the wide open dining area and waited for the server to arrive. We waited for a few long minutes and finally a chipper young lady came over to help us. The burgers we had were actually pretty good. Unfortunately, my friend's beer that he ordered tasted funny and he had to send it back, and the waitress didn't hear my request for fries, so we just split a basket. Awkward situation #4

For whatever reason, the crowd in the dining area was sparse even though a DJ was playing loud music and a band was setting up for later. And from what I understand there's a club on the upstairs level, but I had no idea what was going on there or if it was even open.

I won't drag on any more but I'd say that Taylor's could use a revisiting of their setup and better controls to make things go more smoothly inside. In a very large and hiply-decorated building it was quite empty for a Friday night when it seemed like it should be busier. Hopefully, for their sake, my experience was just a fluke, because Taylors does have a lot of potential. Otherwise, they could be in for some tough times if they stay like this. I'm all for small businesses pulling it out over the big chains, but in this situation I'd much rather (gulp) go to an Applebee's or some similar joint than repeat an awkward experience like I had.

That being said, if you want to check things out for your own reference, feel free to call 856-486-1001 or visit taylorsbarandgrill.com. If you go, I'd love to hear comments that dispute my findings to prove that it was just a one-time thing... or to (hopefully not) confirm that I was right.

Cheers, mates.

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