Open Letter to Aladdin Restaurant

Dear Owner/Operator(s) of Aladdin Restaurant,

Given the many restaurant meals I have consumed during my lunch hour all over this fair city of ours, I have gained valuable knowledge and experience which can help your restaurant become one of the very best.  Because, you see, right now you have a problem.

Do you have delicious food crafted from fresh ingredients, served hot?  Yep.

Do you serve that delicious, hot food at reasonable prices?  I think so.     

And do you serve that delicious, hot, reasonably-priced food in a timely and efficient manner?  Ummmmmm……..No. 

Some days all I can think about is the tender, delicately spiced lamb mixture sliced and layered with fresh, crisp lettuce inside a warm pita cleverly wrapped in white paper so the filling doesn’t fall out as I devour it.  And those thoughts are immediately followed by feelings of nervousness and distress that I experience every single time I go to Aladdin at the hand of the completely inadequate service.

Because it’s Thursday,

Because I love your food,

Because I want to patronize Aladdin more often,

I am going to give you some valuable tips to improve the service at your restaurant.  Please note, I don’t do this for just anyone. 

Tip #1.  You might need more staff.  Two servers are not enough to handle a full restaurant.  I have been to Aladdin on several occasions when almost every table was occupied with hungry diners.  That’s waaaaaay too many tables for two servers.  Maybe the staff likes it that way because they don’t want to share tips with an additional person, but I, for one, don’t tip generously for the kind of service I get at Aladdin.

Tip #2.  Customers usually expect a drink refill.  I refuse to order anything but the free tap water because nine times out of ten, I don’t get a refill at your establishment.  I may be thirsty, but at least I didn’t pay $2 for a single 8-oz. glass of soda AND leave thirsty.   If the server is unable to provide refills in a timely manner, consider leaving the small pitchers on the table so customers can at least help themselves to refills.  Or you could use cups like they have at Casa Garcia – I think those things can hold an entire liter of liquid refreshment. 

Tip #3.  Lunch hour is an HOUR for most people – thus the name.  Perhaps some of your patrons are fortunate enough to be independently wealthy, their own boss, or a vagrant and have no concern over the time.  But it’s very difficult for me to fully enjoy the enticing grilled flavor of the chargrilled shrimp when I am worried about getting back to work on time.  I have never, ever made it back from Aladdin within an hour.   

Tip #4.  When people order lunch with the drinks, it might mean they are on lunch hour.  See Tip #3, above.  If you encounter a table employing this attempted time-saving technique, don’t dilly dally.  Please.

Tip #5.  You might want to check with the customer soon after the food is delivered to make sure it’s alright.  We were missing pita bread the last time we ate at Aladdin and we needed the dang refills.  Our server never returned.  Well, she eventually returned after all the food was eaten and we were making those annoying empty sucking sounds with our straws.  A good five minutes after the last fork was at rest.  This is a regular occurrence.  Even the group stare-down doesn’t work with your people.  Our four-top will put eight eyeballs on our server, when she’s in sight, trying to give her that uncomfortable feeling that “someone is watching you”.  No luck.

Tip #6.  Customers don’t want to wait forever on the check.  I have never been asked if I’d like dessert or an after-lunch cocktail.  I don’t know what your servers are waiting on.  Bring the blasted checks already.  When a customer’s belly is full of hummus, they simply want to leave and get on with their lives.   Especially if they don’t even have a drink to sip on.   I am going to start asking for the check when I place my order at the same time I order my free tap water.  I know: I’ll order two glasses of free tap water from the get go.  Brilliant!

I know this may seem like harsh criticism.  But please take it in the spirit it’s given: one of helpfulness and affection.

My dream is to eat a gyro with a side of super-crispy fries without the worry that I’ll be late to work.  To enjoy the Swish Tawook with ample refills of my beverage of choice.  To follow the delicious Aladdin Salad with a check delivered timely. 

I am already in love with your food.  I want to also love your service.



11 responses to “Open Letter to Aladdin Restaurant

  1. Pretty much right on. Great food for years. Should be the modern day version of Fazio’s when they were good but the service has never been up-to-par. Still I hope the day never comes that Alladin closes its doors because it is like an oasis of good food in this town.

  2. Get your gyro at Town Center.

  3. Mr. Hillbilly-

    I have tried the gyro at The Best of Crete and I feel the one at Aladdin is significantly better.

  4. I’ve never been for lunch; I’ve never encountered slow service during dinner.

  5. SadlyI have to agree with you regarding the service but I console myself that the food is worth waiting for and fortunately I can be more flexible than most when it comes to time.
    And no, I am neither independently wealthy or a vagrant!

  6. I have to disagree on the food at Aladdin. I’m with Hillbilly–the gyro at Town Center is the only show in town. The food at Aladdin was one of the most disappointing meals I’ve had in recent memory. For starters, the hummus is woefully undersalted and the consistency is all wrong. The pita is not fresh like you’d expect at a quality middle eastern joint–hell, even The Cold Spot has vastly superior pita, and that’s a wing joint! The vegetable mush with tomato paste that comes with dinners at Aladdin is utterly inedible. The gyro is presented all wrong. It’s like a meat sponge cake. Yuck. The only way I could see Aladdin being considered acceptable is if you’d never been to a decent Mediterranean joint. Shrimp kebob was definitely decent though.

    • See you’ve made some comparisons that don’t make sense to me. The Gyro and hummus at the Town Center are a Greek interpretations of Middle Eastern cuisine. Now many of the cuisines around the Mediterranean are similar comparing the two is like comparing Chicago and New York pizza.

      The consistency of the hummus and baba ganoush are spot on. More salt… If you want it to taste like salt maybe, but I want to taste garlic, lemon, and sesame.

      Is the gyro meat is made fresh. It is freshly ground and hand pressed into a sheet pan then baked. It does ride the carousel of meat like at the mall. It is a different preparation.

      The green beans are what they are. He is appealing to the WV taste buds that like their green beans cooked to mush. They have a great flavor, but I to would prefer them a little more al dente.

      Pita – I’ve been to a dozen middle eastern restaurants across the county and have always gotten thin cold pita with hummus. The soft, warm and thick pita that they make sandwiches with is not served with hummus.

      Please do us a favor. Eat at Cold Spot and leave a table open for me at Alladins. He has been open for 17 plus years. He is doing something right.

      • Nope. The hummus is not good. My fiancee who used to live in the Middle East agrees with me on this. And plenty of places serve nice warm pita with hummus. Hell, last weekend I was at a spot in DC (Zaytinya) that kept bringing my table freshly baked pita, still puffy from the oven, whenever we ran out. And what’s up with the falafel (also undersalted) from the mini-donut machine? I’m not feeling the donut falafel.
        It’s my understanding that “gyro” strictly refers to the greek version, which always comes on the carousel, as opposed to “doner kebab,” the middle eastern version which I’ve also usually had from the carousel. I do not fear the carousel–there are greatly varying degrees of carousel meat quality, and the one at the mall is decent for the ground kind. I cannot say the same for other gyros in the area (like Cold Spot). I do prefer the stacked whole meat kind to the ground kind though, but I dont think anyone around here has it.

  7. Yo Yo – Adlandins Rocks. But is slow go at lunch. Hey, just tell da boss lady that u be goin to Adlandis for lunch and may be late getn back. An that you will make up the time (or already have, since most folk work more than 40 a week already). Hey and there is no rite or wron when it come to dee middle east food – just what each o us like. Diffren tastes for diffren folks. ” One love”, muhn.

  8. That’s a bummer the service is so bad. If it’s always like that, I would consider ordering my food to go if I “just gotta have it”. Not sure if that’s an option, but if it is, it’s one you might want to consider. I cant’ stand poor service, no refills, and waiting on my check a long time when I want to leave. I’ll pass up a place no matter how good it is, if it’s always like that. Hopefully they’ll get your message.

  9. Pingback: An Open Letter to All Restaurant Owners » Paulette Lott

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