Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Lousy Customer Service And Cold Food Drag Down La Senorita Mexican Restaurant Mexican Restaurant!

The Good: Generally good food, Reasonably-priced for the quality
The Bad: WORST. SERVICE. EVER! Mediocre atmosphere/food not at temperature
The Basics: La Senorita Mexican Restaurant could be a good mid-to-upper range Mexican restaurant if only it was staffed with competent professionals.

Back when I was reviewing for another website (outside my own blog), I always loathed the restaurant reviews where the reviewer bitched about their one bad service experience. Whole chains were reduced to a dismal rating based on a single franchise’s lousy experience one time. I have long been sitting on my review of La Senorita Mexican Restaurant because I did not want to be “that reviewer.” By and large, I try very hard to review restaurants fairly and I try to be thorough in my evaluations. But one lone, truly dismal experience at La Senorita Mexican Restaurant is enough for me to use my pen to tear it a new one. Even if my experience was atypical – which I have no evidence to support – it was enough that I continue to look back on the experience with nothing but disappointment. Given how expensive the meal was – expense being a relative measure of cost vs. quality – La Senorita Mexican Restaurant should have been striving for extraordinary and we received below average.

La Senorita Mexican Restaurant is a small chain – according to their website, they have six restaurants in Michigan and a corporate office in Indiana – of mid-price to upscale Mexican restaurants. When I first moved to Michigan, my wife and I decided to go to La Senorita to celebrate. We had been apart for almost three months (with only a day or two visit in that time) and I had uprooted my entire life to come be with her in Michigan and we were celebrating with an evening out together at what she remembered to be one of her favorite restaurants in the area. We visited on a Tuesday near the end of August, very much not what I would define as “peak hours,” for our celebratory dinner out. We went in with high expectations and two and a half hours later emerged utterly disappointed.


La Senorita Mexican Restaurant is a small Michigan restaurant chain. We visited the La Senorita Mexican Restaurant in Gaylord, Michigan. We had a ten minute wait, which was reasonable.

La Senorita Mexican Restaurant is decorated to evoke classic Mexican themes. The color scheme is light yellow and brown, so there is a distinctive Southwestern feel to it. The La Senorita also had a lot of dark wood for beams and pillars and artwork on the wall that supported the idea that it was as close to an authentic Mexican experience as one might get in Northern Michigan. The restaurant had comfortable enough seating (we were in a booth), but not much in the way of a view – our seat looked out on the busy road out front.


What made the La Senorita Mexican Restaurant an utter failure was its staffing. The La Senorita Mexican Restaurant we visited was surprisingly packed for an August Tuesday. Our waitress, who we were later told was on her first night, was having a terrible night. We waited twenty minutes for water, another twenty for our drinks, and half an hour for our appetizers. To be clear: one hour, twenty minutes after walking in the door, we received our appetizers. When our drinks finally arrived, I inquired about the status of our appetizers and our server looked like a deer caught in headlights (though she insisted she had put the order in).

While we waited, our nachos disappeared, our drinks sat empty and our refill requests were delayed a minimum of twelve minutes (the water my wife requested when we first sat down, having come out of the hot day was unforgivably twenty minutes in its arrival!). When our food finally arrived, twenty-two minutes after the appetizers, it was cooler than it should have been . . . but given how many issues we had had before that, we were not going to wait around to have it fixed. Our waitress was utterly unprepared for the workload, which seemed inconceivable; it might have been her first night on the floor, but she has two tables!

Usually, I have nothing to say about anyone other than the waitstaff. Not so with La Senorita Mexican Restaurant. During our visit, we watched the Manager of the restaurant roaming the dining room. Like a good manager, he was there interacting with customers and putting out whatever fires were coming up related to service issues. He skipped our table. We watched him approaching; he diligently fixed issues two tables away, talked with the people at the next table, then skipped us to talk to the two booths across the aisle from us and then the table behind us. Completely passed us by. Now, this might have been fine if we were clearly in our own conversations, enjoying a romantic meal together. But, by the time he started making his rounds, my wife – who is a bartender, waitress, and front-end manager at a restaurant herself – was getting more and more angry. Honestly, I have never seen her that way; when it comes to eating out at a restaurant, she has each and every other time we have been out, been patient, sympathetic and calm. She was seething by the time the manager was walking in our area and she was ready to talk when he was in the vicinity. He did not stop.

So, after our meal, my wife did something unprecedented for her (and me as well!); she asked for a manager when we got up to pay our bill. She was granted access to an Assistant Manager In Training. Despite telling that individual that she would really like to speak to the manager – that we had seen him around, but he had not stopped – the Assistant Manager (In Training) insisted on “helping.” “Helping” here is very appropriately in quotes for two reasons. First, he did not actually listen. We very calmly (and there were others at the restaurant who were not being anything remotely approaching “calm”) began to relay our issues and he cut us off. Without hearing the issues with the service and food, he cut us off to describe just how hectic his life was and how it was our server’s first day (though he did let slip that she only had the two tables during our tenure there). Second, after taking all of our personal information for future contact, insisting that the very next morning the managers would be meeting and he would raise issues and have someone get back to us, we never heard back from him or anyone else from La Senorita. My wife has never complained to management at a restaurant before and I have not either. That’s a twenty-four year-old and a thirty-five year old who broke lifelong records of not complaining (and generally tipping pretty incredibly!) to talk to management and we received no response of any kind. Nada.

La Senorita has serious problems with its personnel.


La Senorita Mexican Restaurant is a fairly classy Mexican food establishment. The dishes include burritos, fajitas, chimichangas, quesadillas, tacos and salads. The selection for these items is differentiated by the meat one chooses. They also have an extensive drink menu. My wife had three different margaritas and she loved them. I had a single virgin pina colada and it was fine (though it could have used more pineapple in its flavoring). The tables come with white corn nachos and salsa.

We started our meal (eventually) with the White Cheese & Bean Dip. The dip was a flavorful supplement to the nachos and it was the hottest part of our meal. The cheese blend is not terribly sharp, but it was flavorful and in combination with the beans made for a true taste treat. This was a good opener that whetted our appetite for the rest of the meal.

My wife had the Mombo Combo! The Mombo Combo! is a pair of enchiladas - one ground beef, the other chicken – and a flauta with beans on the side. The chicken in her enchilada was cold. Outside that the only real issue was that we requested her beans and my Mexican rice be swapped, which we were told would happen, but did not.

I had the Enchilada Dinner. The Enchilada Dinner allowed me to choose roasted beef, chicken and pork chili verde. The pork was lightly seasoned and cooler than I would have liked. Similarly, the chicken was cold and the roasted beef enchilada was anemic in comparison to its culinary peers. What there was of each of the enchiladas was generally well-flavored and despite seeming fully cooked, was still cool (nothing was undercooked per se, it seemed like the components were cooked, but then not mixed up well). To wit, the cheese in all three of my enchiladas remained unmelted, which is quite a feat because whenever I make enchiladas, I bake them. How the cheese would be unmelted is inconceivable to me.

By the time we were done with our lukewarm meal, my wife loose enough from drink to still want to make an event of the evening and have some dessert. We had the fried ice cream and it was appropriately solid on the outside and sweet to compliment the vanilla ice cream inside. It was a nice topper to an otherwise unremarkable and overpriced meal.


La Senorita Mexican Restaurant was the site of what should have been a milestone in the grand romance of our relationship, but ended up being a truly disappointing service and culinary experience.

For other restaurants, be sure to check out my reviews of:
Red Lobster
Big Boy
Red Robin


For other restaurant reviews, please be sure to visit my index page on the subject by clicking here!

© 2012 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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