inessential by Brent Simmons

Skillet Diner (Ballard) Considered Harmful

Sheila and I had been meaning for some time to try the Skillet Diner in Ballard. We went last night around 7 pm.

When we got there there were a couple parties standing by the front desk. The host seated them.

Then we told him that there were two people, and answered no when he asked if we had reservations.

He told us it would be about 20 minutes. I asked if we could just sit at the counter — there’s a long counter with a bar at one end, and there were clearly two seats together in a couple spots — and he said no, but he’d add a note saying we’d be willing to sit at the counter.

So we stood and waited. I counted two two-tops open outside and two in the dining room. As we waited another table paid and left, which made it three two-tops open in the dining room.

As we waited nobody was seated in those tables or at the empty counter spaces.

About five minutes in to this, another couple walks in. They don’t have reservations either. The host explains that there’s a wait. He goes somewhere else for a minute. They flag a waitress, and ask her. She explains that the restaurant is very busy. The host returns, and they ask if the bar is open seating.

The host looks bugged (he’d look bugged the whole time we’d been there) — but then he grabs a couple menus and seats them at the counter in the bar.

Ahead of us.

We walk out.

* * *

As we walk out there are still empty tables-for-two outside and in the dining room, and there was space at the counter for two.

And I had figured by saying that we’d be willing to sit at the counter, that would have been enough to say that we’d even sit at the bar. Or wherever.

The bar appears as just an extension of the counter, where it turns 90 degrees. Someone new to the place, like me, might not even realize that they’re not the same thing — but it seems like I shouldn’t have to specify every single section where I’d be willing to sit. If you’ve got space, just ask me, right?

Now, it’s possible he was about to seat us at a table after seating that couple. But he should have done so first, instead of insulting us by seating another couple ahead of us. Or he could have at least told us and then come back for us.

But he didn’t.

In other words: the service at Skillet Diner in Ballard was so bad that we didn’t even get as far as sitting down. This was a first for me.

We won’t give them a second chance.

* * *

Update 11:50 am: On Twitter, Skillet Diner replies:

there is no excuse for terrible service and that host’s actions will be corrected.

I’m still not giving them a second chance. But I’m glad they recognize that this was terrible service.