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FW: Suspected Bait and Switch at Fishtail

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From: [an eater]
Date: Friday, February 6, 2009
To: eater complaints dept.
Subject: Suspected Bait and Switch at Fishtail


Fishtail is the popular new place by David Burke despite its hexed location of the late Rouge, Jovia, and Zoe Townhouse. It probably won't be long before Fishtails joins the rank of others if they persist in a bait and switch tactic. I live in the neighborhood so enjoyed a good meal at Fishtail when it first opened and a subsequent good meal soon after when it was still fairly empty. However this week when I showed up with my wife and daughter, we were first ignored by the hostess and the maitre d' and then told they didn't have my reservation and the restaurant was fully booked.

I insisted that I had called several days in advance and was certain I made it, even showing him my Blackberry and the phone number I had called. His immediate comment was, oh "perhaps you are at David Burke Townhouse (aka David Burke and Donnatella) a block away." He called over there and said "yes that number is correct but it is our central booking number and you have a reservation at the Townhouse." It was freezing cold, 8pm, and my wife's birthday so we had no choice but walk the block to David Burke Townhouse which was almost totally empty of diners.

Now to be honest, we had a good (but not great), quiet meal in a nice almost empty dining room. My law student daughter was most suspicious this was an intentional bait and switch used by David Burke to help fill his used to be busy but now less so Townhouse. Had it been done in a pleasant and apologetic manner, I might have felt less aggrieved, but the staff at Fishtail were first ignoring and then rude. Soon the chic people will have enough of Fishtail and the locals will have been offended away and perhaps the next incarnation will have good food and a better attitude. I guess David Burke and his crew didn't read Frank Bruni's NY February 4th NY Times article.
UPDATE: We have a response from Fishtail:

Dear Eater,

At Fishtail, as well as all of David Burke's properties, the guest always comes first.

We try our best to accommodate each diner on every visit, and this incident was an honest mistake stemming from the way in which our reservations system is organized. During business hours, each restaurant has its own direct line; in the mornings, reservations for both are handled by one place. Unfortunately, this system is not without fault and we do apologize that the reservation was made for the wrong venue.

Upon viewing this posting, we began working to rectify this situation, revisiting the way in which our restaurant reservations are taken. In addition, we reached out to the individual affected to make amends and to invite him back into Fishtail, with our compliments.

Thank you to Eater for calling this to our attention and, subsequently, helping us to make our guests' dining experiences better.