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Olympia, WA

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Siti Lites Cafe
Neighborhood Downtown Olympia
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Siti Lites Cafe

109 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA, 98501
(360) 754-3501

Created by jojojamaica

Restaurant Details
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Location & Nearby Info
Siti Lites Cafe
109 Capitol Way North
Olympia, WA 98501
(360) 754-3501
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Reviews & Comments
(no rating) Feb 25, 2009 - makers_neat
Great Music, Lousy Service :(

Siti-Lites: So Close, and Yet So Far Away.

I can’t speak about the food, because we never got to order any. I can’t really talk about the drinks either, because we didn’t quite get there. The service, though-that’s another story. I have been around a bit; I’ve worked in the restaurant business for years, and I try to get out fairly often. I seldom have problems, and generally have a good time. But my brief encounter with Siti-Lites has been one of the worst I can recall.
My lovely wife and I were finally getting to go out on the town to celebrate her birthday. Of course, when the town in question is Olympia, the issue of where exactly to go when one is over 30 looms large indeed. “Where are the grownups?” we asked each other as we wandered downtown on a recent Friday night. The usual suspects were looking rather tired, and we were starting to despair, when we came upon Siti-Lites. We were intrigued: a rocking blues band in the front of the narrow room, and tables full of-yes, here they are!-grown-ups! We’re not the oldest people here! We decided to stay for a drink and to have a good time.
That’s when the wheels began to fall off. We got seats at the bar and managed to engage the attention of the young lady behind it, and I shouted over the loud music, “Absolut and soda for the lady, and a Maker’s neat, water back.” Well, she got my wife’s drink right (though without the customary lemon), but my request really seemed to throw her. I could tell she was confused, and I started to get a little uneasy. It’s not a complicated order-maybe she didn’t hear me? By the time I decided to try again, she had poured a Maker’s and water-no, that’s not what I wanted. I mimed for a pen and paper, and wrote the words down: “Maker’s Neat!! Water back!!” Any bartender worth their salt and lemon should understand this. Having worked in Food & Beverage for the last 25 years, I know some lingo. Having also worked and imbibed in downtown Oly for the last five-plus, I know how to order a drink. However, the young lady was utterly baffled by my obscure code. She punted to the other bartender, an older woman who looked like she knew her business. Okay, I thought. She’ll know what’s going on; SHE’LL be able to pour me a glass of whiskey.
Wrong, wrong, and wrong again. She asked me what I wanted, and I told her. Very simple. Very plain. Can’t be reduced any further. Maker’s neat. Water back. Four little words. She didn’t understand. She said, “I don’t know what you mean. People order drinks in different ways.” Huh? What different ways? I’m baffled by this, and I’m starting to get a little frustrated. I mean, it’s not like I’m trying to order a frozen virgin Raspberry Mojito with cilantro on the side, or anything. C’mon, it’s a glass of freakin’ whiskey and a glass of freakin’ water. I must have then committed the unpardonable sin of showing some of my frustration through the tension in my face and my shoulders, due to my inability to communicate FOUR SIMPLE WORDS to a bartender not three feet away. So sorry. The next thing I knew, I was being warned to drop “the attitude” or I was going to be “shut off.” Excuse me? Attitude? No, that’s coming from you, lady. I turned away and exhaled, and saw how upset my wife was, and this on her birthday. “Let’s just go,” she said, but I knew that she didn’t want to. “No,” I replied, and asked her what her ideal outcome here would be. She replied that it would be for me to be super-nice, pretend the woman doesn’t speak English well, and order something simple, so we could stay and have a good time. The band was cranking, and the room was indeed starting to jump.
Back into the breach I waded. I looked up for the bartender, and she came right over. I smiled a little smile, looked her in the face, and said, slowly and clearly, “Rolling Rock, please!”, and do you know what she said? Can you guess? Did you guess, “No, you’re shut off!”? ‘Cause that is in fact the winning entry. I kid you not. Needless to say, we didn’t stick around to argue the point; nor did I, having been essentially shown the door, feel obligated to pay for my wife’s drink. So I didn’t. We weren’t going to be around to enjoy it, now were we?
I called the establishment on Saturday morning to try and clear the air regarding the incident. I wanted to alert the boss to the inappropriate and unprofessional treatment I received; to make an account of my side of the story; to give the management an opportunity to recover the goodwill of an unhappy guest; and to make sure that the matter could be cleared up so that we could return and enjoy the fun atmosphere and good times that everybody else had been soaking up. I was told that the owner wasn’t in; she was usually there Monday through Friday, 9 to 2; but that she would be sure to get the message and call me back. I’m sorry, but 9-2 weekdays are banker’s hours, not those of a restaurateur. May I remind the reader-I have worked in F&B for a long time, and I’ve learned how these situations should and should not be handled. Waiting all of Saturday with no return call did nothing to improve either my mood or my opinion of the competence of Siti-Lite’s management. Sunday’s quiet passing did even less, so by Monday morning I was quite properly angry again at the mistreatment I had undergone.
I got through again to the establishment on Monday afternoon, explained briefly why I was calling, and found out that Elaine, the owner, hadn’t gotten my message, but would the next day when she came in. Sure enough, I got a call on Tuesday morning from Elaine, the owner. I reiterated what happened; she asked if I had tried to explain my order in another way. I replied that since I had gotten it down to FOUR BASIC WORDS, I didn’t see any way of simplifying it from there. She went on to say that she trusts her staff, because they work for tips; the clear implication was they couldn’t possibly be wrong. It came down, then, to my “behavior.” Ooh, I made a face! I showed some emotion! I shrugged my shoulders! According to my wife, that’s the extent of my “behavior.” Apparently, that sort of nonsense doesn’t fly at Siti-Lites, because according to Elaine, I “would be happier with the under-21 crowd.” Are you kidding me? Did I hear you correctly? Was that a professional restaurateur actually speaking to a disgruntled guest in this manner? Oh, sorry, you just hung up on me; I guess I’ll have to take it as it was. I’m angry, yes, but saddened and a little disgusted too. I’m angry at the unprofessional way I was treated. I’m saddened that there’s one less place in town for me to go. I’m a little disgusted that people with such negative attitudes are employed in the same profession as I am. However, I’m comforted by the idea that this business will most likely fail, as so many have that don’t treat their guests with respect.

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