The Big Table At A Very Big Price - Manager Apologizes, Saying Bill Was A Mistake

Wednesday, February 26, 2014 - by Willie Mae

With Lois and Phil’s car in the shop, I told Lois I would pick her up for our next jaunt. We talked about several places and I wanted to go to a burger place, but Lois suggested The Big Table on Cross Street. We saw Merv’s Burgers next door and I wanted to detour, but I figured I could just go back that way and visit them later.

The Big Table was a quaint little place that looked like an old house and had parking in the back. They only had eight tables in the place and they were not big ones. I think Lois and I both had burgers on our mind because we both asked our waitress if they had any. She said, “No, we don’t want to compete with Merv’. We are more of a Mom and Pop place with casseroles and sandwiches.”

Looking over the menu I saw a few sandwich platters listed for about $7.25 and decided I wanted a sandwich instead of a casserole. The waitress left a hand-written board with the specials listed and we decided on sandwiches from there. Lois saw her ol’ standby - a “Reuben”. I didn’t say a word, I minded my own business. I figured if she ordered what she always does, there was a better chance of her liking her meal.

We ordered a diet Coke which was brought in a can with a glass of ice (that meant we could forget refills). Lois got her Reuben and I ordered a chicken and avocado sandwich. The waitress said the sandwiches came with their homemade sweet potato chips and a pickle. We also asked about the pies and she said they were homemade too. We told her we would go ahead and order Key Lime and Chocolate Chess pies.

We were sitting next to a cozy fire and looked around while we waited on our meals. I saw a tall pepper grinder on the mantle and it looked like part of the fireplace! It had to have been three feet tall! I told Lois I would tease the waitress when she came back and ask for some fresh ground pepper.

Our sandwiches came and they looked good. The sweet potato chips were curled like they had been fried. I didn’t see avocado on my sandwich, but saw a little green. I thought maybe they had used a paste like some of those franchise sandwich shops do. But when I bit into it, I saw that they were just thin slices. My sandwich was wonderful and Lois liked hers too. Her rye bread was a lighter than I am used to seeing, but Lois said she liked that.

When the waitress came back to check on us I decided to pull my joke on her and I asked if I could have some ground pepper and pointed to the monstrosity on the fireplace. She said, “Sure!” and started towards it. I told her I was only teasing and thought it was just for show. She said, “The owner’s son got that for her, but it is real and works… it is hard to use though.” I guess the joke was on me.

After our meal, the waitress brought our pies and I nibbled a few bites of each and left the rest for slow-eating Lois still finishing her Reuben. The Chocolate Chess pie was fine, but I thought it was grainy and too sweet for my taste. I liked the Key Lime pie and, even though there wasn’t a slice of lime for a garnish, it was good.

When I was handed the bill I thought I would lose my teeth. It was $51.37 for two sandwich platters, two drinks and two slices of pie. I realized that I didn’t see the prices listed on the “specials” board, but I never dreamed a sandwich lunch anywhere in Chattanooga would be $25.00 each. I tried to add it up in my head… two diet cokes (no refills) two sandwiches with sweet potato chips and a pickle included and two small slices of pie (which we were told was buy one get one free that day). At the most, I could add up approximately $35 dollars, but even THAT would be pretty high.

It didn’t make sense to me, but when I do my spying on places I visit, I try not to be too memorable so I can stay incognito and I didn’t cause a fuss. If it were a mistake maybe they will make it right,  but the waitress took my ticket and never said a word when I paid $51.37 (plus her tip) as if there was nothing wrong with that amount. And, she watched me sign it so I guess that was the correct total.

When we got in the car, I told Lois how much our meal came to and she was flabbergasted. I told her I didn’t remember seeing the prices listed on the specials board and she said, “Well I don’t think our lunch was that special!” I didn’t either. I would have recommended this place, but with their prices for a simple sandwich lunch I just can’t. I was so shook up, I made a wrong turn and Lois and I noticed we were driving up Signal Mountain!

Lois said, “I hope you have enough gas! And I didn’t go to the bathroom either!” I reminded her she went before she left her house and she said, “No, I mean back at the restaurant.” I didn’t want to take a chance on Lois not making it, so I turned around at the spaceship house and we headed back to her house.

We both enjoyed our sandwiches, but at that price I have to say it just left a bad taste in my mouth.

(Note: the manager said later that the waitress had charged about twice what the bill should have been, and she would straighten the matter out. She apologized. She called it "a computer error as well as an oversight for both the waiter and patron.") 



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