Wednesday, September 19, 2012
The Swagger's Gone
Posted by Patrick Mullin
Every beer bar has its bad day once in a while. Even at some of my favorite places around town, I've had the occasional less-than-pleasant experience, but they are typically few and far between, and nothing significant enough to affect my future business. However, one place in town has now presented me with a consistent series of disappointing experiences, and after trying to unsuccessfully address it with them, I've reached my breaking point.
I've given Swagger's Waldo location a lot of passes over time. Surly, uninformed waitresses? Okay, whatever, it's just part of their whole 'dive bar' scheme. Erratic, nonsensical pricing? It's alright, lots of beer bars have the occasional beer price that makes you scratch your head. I've ignored the rumors I heard about them having some sketchy financial issues, and when I saw one of their staff skip out on their bar tab at Martin City Brewing Company, I chalked it up to one individual's questionable action. But in the end, all these things added up with my most recent experience equal one thing: people that simply just don't care.
I went in for lunch yesterday, and was greeted with ten, yes TEN Crown Royal bags covering tap handles of kegs that were empty. There were also a group of 5 or 6 empty kegs just sitting out on the floor in the dining area. Coincidentally, I had been in the week before with some co-workers and these kegs had not moved during that period of time. To top it all off, when I got my burger (which somehow took 25 minutes to get out, even though we were literally the only two customers in the place at noon on a Tuesday), it was cold.
If this had been an isolated incident, maybe it wouldn't have bugged me so much. But this trip was just the icing on a cake of increasingly disappointing visits to Swagger that indicate nothing more than a bar that now couldn't care less about customer service, quality or product offerings.
I get it, Swagger is a trendy "dive bar but not really a dive bar" that got an endorsement from Guy Fieri. I don't care. The absolute last thing that matters to me in a bar or restaurant is the Triple D stamp of approval. The fact is, if you're going to try to pass yourself off as a beer bar, have beer available that you say is available. I've never seen any other beer bar in this town have such a consistent, noticeable issue with product availability. Also, have your staff be at least slightly informed about the beer. And if you're going to charge 13 goddam dollars for a burger, it better come out warm, especially if you're going to make me wait forever.
So after this visit, I went to Swagger's Facebook page to air my concerns. In my opinion, my post was not aggressive or attacking at all. I tried to be very honest but eloquent in the problems I've seen. I even specifically said that my intention wasn't to bash them, but instead to make suggestions as a longtime customer who wanted to keep giving them business. I know a few readers saw the post, so maybe they can vouch. I'd love to post a screenshot of my comment, but here's the thing: they deleted it.
Now, it doesn't take a professional social media guru/wizard/ninja/rockstar to know that one of the number one rules for a company using social media is DON'T DELETE YOUR CUSTOMER'S COMMENTS AND POSTS. Has this EVER gone well for a company? I don't care how big or small you are, it's the online equivalent of hanging up on somebody on the phone or slamming a door in their face when they're trying to talk to you. I was initially just disappointed when I posted the comment on their page. Since they've deleted it, I'm just pissed off.
I know Swagger put a lot of money into opening up their shiny new location out in Martin City, and day by day it's becoming more obvious that it was a bad decision. The new location is doing nothing more than vulturing resources, product and attention away from the Waldo location, which was already offering a middling experience to customers. And quite frankly, if I'm out in Martin City, I'd still rather go to Martin City Brewing Company, which offers way better service and puts a lot more effort into their beer selection despite a smaller number of taps. So why shouldn't I point out the obvious? It's pretty plain to see that the Waldo location is essentially rotting away in terms of quality and experience, and from discussions I've
had with others, I know I'm not the only one that thinks so.
So here I am, using a forum in which I know can't be "Crown Royal bagged" by Swagger. It takes a lot for me to call out a company like this, but I'm irritated, and rightfully so. If anyone from Swagger reads this, you can go ahead and mark me off as a customer lost for good. Of course, chances are, you don't care, just like everything else related to your business. I'll be taking my Waldo money down to places like Waldo Pizza, who provides consistently great beer options and service. I would much rather endure the occasional group of loud kids there than your irritable waitresses who act like they would rather be anywhere else than serving you. Hell, I'll go enjoy a beer on the roof of The Well, or go catch the next firkin at Lew's before I step foot into your bar.
Regardless of their solid, on point celebrity endorsement or calling themselves a 'dive bar' so they can feel entitled to lackadaisical, unimpressive service and atmosphere, it all boils down to this: if Swagger doesn't care about their customers, why the hell should we care about giving them business?