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Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Forget Fazoli’s

Jeff’s frequent comments have finally convinced me. With the exception of massive convenience and majority group consensus, Fazoli’s has lost me as a customer. The stores—at least the ones I (used to) frequent—have slid downhill at breakneck speeds in terms of quality, cleanliness, and friendliness.

The food is getting near disgusting nowadays. This twice-baked lasagna replacement for the original recipe is only a notch above a steaming pile of dog poo. The breadsticks often (not always, but often) are only a notch above a hard, dry, stick of dog poo. The new “My Pizza” offering is a pathetic excuse for offering choice instead of something like, taste! Most of the pasta items are often well beyond al dente.

Many of the stores exhibit an enormous “eww” factor. Be it messy drink/flatware/condiment counters, icky slick sliminess covering just about every salt, pepper, parmesan, and crushed red pepper shaker, or the unmistakable dumpster aroma that violates your sinuses from the moment you open your car door all the way until you’re well inside the restaurant.

Service and the people who are hired are getting appalling, as well. You’d think a cashier might be appreciative that I would hand over a ten and a one dollar bill for a $5-and-change order. I used to work restaurant registers and I know the stash of $1 bills runs low pretty often. Today, the cashier reminded me that my order only came to five dollars and some-odd cents, to which I had to reply, “Yes, and wouldn’t it be nice if more customers were smart enough with math to allow you to give me just a $5 bill and change instead of four $1 bills and change?”

But nevermind the individual personalities—or lack, thereof. What about frequently observing workers on a cigarette break who are standing outside behind the restaurant with the back door wide open so all their carcinogens can waft straight into the kitchen—not to mention into the windows of cars at the drive thru menu that is only a 15-20 feet away?

What about the shift from never being in want of breadsticks (which actually used to be delicious when Fazoli’s first arrived in Florida) to now no longer being offered some if you have to wait a moment for your order to be prepared. Or, there’s often not receiving any on your plate when your order is given to you, so you have to ask for them. Also, there’s seeing someone finally come around with a basket of breadsticks about the time you’re ready to leave, only to have them run out just as they reach your table, then take their time refilling and returning—or not remembering where they left off and skipping your table entirely. All this assumes you even want some of the aforementioned sticks of dog poo in the first place.

And just what is with these stoopid “your order is ready” buzzers? Jeez, this is not a “your table is ready” restaurant. Most items, amazingly enough, are prepared fast enough that you barely get several steps away from the counter before they buzz it. Before the buzzers, the orders that did take a moment to prepare (i.e. the prior style of pizza that tasted good) they would bring to you instead of making you get scared to death by a buzzer rattling the entire table then have to walk up and get your own food.

Yet, there’s always a huge line during the lunch hour, so maybe I’m just crazy for thinking there’s a problem. It seems not even the fact that you can get fantastic food and treatment at Olive Garden for only a couple dollars more and in about the same amount of time is enough to sway people into visiting Fazoli’s less frequently.

Who’s with me?