Thursday, August 21, 2014

Mellow Mushroom: The Ol' Bait and Switch

Yesterday I trekked out to Mellow Mushroom’s Way Back Wednesday 40th Anniversary, flashback to 1974 prices. These prices were to include $2.50 small cheese pizzas, .30 Coke products, and .75 Budweiser, Michelob and PBR. I knew I was in for a wait; and a lot of people’s wait included a beer in hand. When I first turned into the parking lot there were cars everywhere, even along the sides leading into the main lot. Luckily I found an open spot recently vacated and didn’t’ have to worry about parallel parking just to get some pizza. The line was out of the door and the rain was coming down dousing prospective patrons, but also cooling down the outdoor wait. There wasn’t too much of a lag and my feet seemingly kept moving, even if only at a baby step pace. When I received my buzzer at 6 PM I was told it would be a thirty minute wait and I saw there were already people waiting in front of me, so I knew it was going to be a first come, first served situation. My friend wasn’t going to arrive until about 6:20, so the ETS (estimated time of seating) would work out well. The couple directly in front of me as we walked through the door and got our buzzers decided to seat themselves at a table that was recently wiped down. One of the servers told the wife that Mellow Mushroom was on a “wait” and that they were seating patrons that had already been waiting. The wife responded, “well, we’ve been waiting, too.” It was at this point that I scoffed in disgust and my head went side to side like a tennis ball as I watched this server professionally repeat to the lady that she would not be able to sit down until her buzzer went off because it was only fair to the patrons who arrived before her. The husband sheepishly stood behind his wife not contributing anything to the conversation. Mind you, they were directly in front of me in order and probably only had about 15 minutes left to go. Upset at the inability to seat herself, I suppose, the wife led her husband out of Mellow Mushroom.

I was very impressed with all of the Mellow Mushroom staff tossing up pizza dough, whizzing around with three to four pizzas stacked in hand, seating patrons, and maintaining composure and courteousness.

What I was not impressed with, however, was being told by our server, after being seated and ordering drinks, that they were all out of the small cheese pizzas that were advertised at $2.50. While I understand hundreds upon hundreds of people probably stopped by MM over the course of the day, the highlight of the day were the reduced prices (with no disclaimer of “while supplies last,”) so how is it that you run out the very thing that is marking the day?! And if you can make countless other varieties of pizza, why can’t you make a simple small, cheese pizza?! It felt like a classic bait and switch. At that point, after the driving, getting hungrier by the minute during half an hour or more of waiting, and finally being seated, how likely are you to walk back out through the crowd packing the doorway? Now, I have always loved Mellow Mushroom; there is one shop right down from my alma mater, so frequent trips were made. Therefore, I didn’t mind ordering from one of their many other delicious flavors at a medium size to split with my friend. Nonetheless, I was not happy about not knowing upon my arrival that small $2.50 pizzas were no longer available. A sign at the door should have been posted so people could make the informed decision to wait or not wait. Every so often I would cast my gaze upon the packed door and the huge line of customers continuously coming in and wondered if others would feel the same frustration. All in all: good pizza, bad tactics.