Any longtime reader of this blog knows that I am a big believer in doing what you do well. If you have a very large menu, ensure that you don’t have any throwaway items. Nothing should be added to the menu just for the sake of having it on the menu. Do everything you do well.
Sunny Side seemed to have this philosophy. They specialize in breakfast and lunch. They have omlettes, pancakes, waffles, wraps, and sandwiches. They don’t venture into making anything too outlandish. They just make sure that they do a few things well. I should say, “They used to make sure that they do a few things well.”
The occasion of this review was my third visit to Sunny Side. The first time I went was only a short time after their opening. It was a Sunday morning, and the place was hopping. MG and I had to wait a few minutes, but were able to get seats at the counter. The food was good, the service was great, the prices were reasonable, and the décor was pleasant. Everything seemed to be in place for a return visit.
The next time MG and I returned was a weekday. We were there around 10am. This time, we were able to grab a seat at one of the tables. There was no wait. However, this time, it took a little while for us to get our food. “OK,” I thought. “It’s a weekday. Maybe they have a new cook. Perhaps they are working with a skeleton shift.” The waitress even apologized for the wait. “No problem,” I replied. An apology goes a long way with me. What she said next caused me to pause, “We’re really swamped today.” I took a look around, and the restaurant was only at around half capacity. Heck, the restaurant was not crowded, packed, jammed, or even full. I just let it slide.
Before we continue, I’ll throw a little math at you. I don’t know much about the workflow of a restaurant, how to staff it, or the proper amount of personnel required for a smooth running establishment. Nevertheless, here are the specs for my last visit:
1 hostess (who also acted as waitress, I think)
14 bench tables (comfortably sitting 2-4 each)
7 seats at counter
5 individual seats for waiting, plus standing room in vestibule
I didn’t look inside the kitchen, so I don’t know how that was staffed.
MG & I were seated pretty quickly as we were willing to take two seats at the end of the counter. Our area was wiped off, and two mats were placed before us. A waitress came by quickly and took our drink order. One coffee. One tea. Enter the first issue: I had to ask to get some flatware to stir accoutrements into my coffee.
MG assures me that such staining is normal for cups after a while. What do you think?
MG and I sat watching the TV and waiting for our order.. and waiting… and waiting… I noticed that the people sitting in the five waiting seats had not moved. The vestibule was growing more and more filled. I don’t know if they were getting things to go or waiting to be seated. MG and I were still waiting… and waiting… I don’t think that the waitresses were slacking off, as they were continually moving about. No one was standing with hand on hip, chilling out, but though they appeared busy, I didn’t see them carrying many plates of food, either to or from tables. Throughout this observation, MG and I continued to wait… and wait… MG was growing agitated. This is important, as she is generally more patient than I. She gets grouchy without her breakfast, but even with that in mind, her anger appeared justified. She speculated that the kitchen is where the problem lay. I noticed that some people got seated at the counter right away. I wondered if the hostess checked with the folks in the vestibule, who had been waiting longer. Would they have been willing to take a counter seat to cut down on their wait time? Still, MG and I continued to wait… and wait… and wait…
At the half hour mark (Pause for emphasis), Yes, the Half Hour Mark (I think the capitalization helps), when I had only had my initial cup of coffee (no refill), MG was done nursing her tea, and we had confirmed that we had been there A HALF HOUR, MG got the ear of our waitress.
“Any idea how long until our order is ready?”
“Let me check with the kitchen.”
“They say another 5 to 6 minutes.”
WHAT?!?!?!?!?!?!? I ordered an egg wrap. MG ordered a waffle. These are not complex items. MG and I said “Thank you, but we have to go. What do we owe you for the coffee and tea?” To her credit, the waitress said, “On the house.” I’ll give her props for making that gesture of apology. However, what she said next was a little disconcerting. “We’re really swamped today.”
YOU ARE A PLACE THAT SERVES BREAKFAST ON A SUNDAY! YOUR ESTABLISHMENT SITS NEAR NOT ONE, BUT TWO HOUSES OF WORSHIP!! YOU ARE LOCATED ON ROUTE ONE!!! YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE SWAMPED ON SUNDAY!!!! YOU OPENED A BREAKFAST SHOP WITH THE PURPOSE OF BEING SWAMPED EVERY SUNDAY!!!!! WHEN THE SUNDAY CROWD COMES YOU SHOULD HEAR THE SOUND OF A CLOSING CASH REGISTER IN YOUR HEAD, SEE THE FLOATING OF SILVER COINS WHEN YOU CLOSE YOUR EYES, AND FEEL MONEY IN WADS PACKING YOUR POCKET!!!!!!
(Sorry. I needed to get that out.)
MG insists that the problem lay in the kitchen. She may be correct. It seems that they have enough wait staff. I don’t know. I do know that Sunny Side has a serious problem that they need to address. If this keeps up, they won’t have to worry about Sunday crowds (or any other day) anymore.
1200 Barnum Avenue
Stratford, CT 06615