Dressing Room Gets A Dressing Down

Several area restaurants offer discounts of up to 20% to Westport Country Playhouse subscribers.

There is only 1 restriction — as very disappointed Westport resident Eileen Ogintz found out Saturday night.  Here’s her story:

Our mistake was not reading the fine print.

As  Westport  Country Playhouse subscribers, we’d  gotten a brochure with local restaurant discounts — a good marketing move, we thought, to encourage us to eat out  nearby  before attending a play.  All we needed was to show our tickets in order to get a 20 per cent discount at The Dressing Room, La Villa Trattoria,  Manolo,  Matsu,  Rizzuto’s, Tavern on Main or Thali.

In this economy,  local restaurants need our business, and we need to watch what we spend on dinners out.  This seems like a win-win.   We’d enjoyed dinner at Thali before the last Saturday evening performance we’d attended; this time we opted for The Dressing Room next door to The Playhouse — in part because our daughter and her boyfriend had given us a gift certificate there.

But we didn’t read the fine print that said the offer is only good at The Dressing Room Tuesday through Thursday.  None of the other restaurants impose such restrictions.   Our apologetic waiter indicated many weekend  Playhouse goers  are as surprised as we were to learn the discount they expected wouldn’t be honored.

The haughty restaurant manager wasn’t the least apologetic, though she did give us the 20 per cent off “this one time” when we complained, ominously adding she was going to “mark our profile” in their computer.  I didn’t know if I was supposed to be worried or why.

By that point,  I knew I didn’t want to return any time soon.  I even posted a message to that effect on Facebook, prompting a call from my son who wanted to know what had prompted my ire.

“We’re doing the Playhouse a big favor,”  the manager insisted as we left.

Frankly, I thought it was the Playhouse  doing the Dressing Room the favor.  The restaurant wouldn’t even be there without the Playhouse and the  original support of the Newmans,  I thought.  (Paul Newman’s name figures in some of the menu selections, in fact.)

And without  Paul Newman and especially Joanne Woodward,  of course, the  Westport Country Playhouse wouldn’t  be the wonderful community resource it is for all of us today.

On Saturday night, The Playhouse was full.  The Dressing Room wasn’t.

25 responses to “Dressing Room Gets A Dressing Down

  1. I don’t know what concerns me more, that they didn’t honor the discount on a Saturday night, or that they were threatened with being “profiled” on Dressing Room’s computer. What, exactly, does that mean? Since when did a local restaurant that professes “back to our roots” sustainability, become so arrogant?

  2. Pretension is part of the show.

  3. I was there (Eileen is my better half). It was unbelievable, the manager lady wanted us to complain to the Playhouse about the putting their restrictions in the “fine print.” When i laughed at that she said something like “We’re only doing this because we’re so generous.” It was truly like an something from an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm.

  4. The Dressing Room is very proud of its “profiles” on their computer. A month ago, we had a 7:00 p.m reservation – it was not on a night when a play was on. We ordered a drink and they kept pushing us to order. It wasn’t that much of a problem as we knew what we wanted to order, but we mentioned that we were not in a hurry and wanted to relax. I ordered a salad and it was out literally three minutes later. I had barely started my salad and then they brought out the entrees. I protested and the server just left my entree on the table and went back to the kitchen. My husband got the attention of our waitress and we complained about it. Her retort was that they are used to getting the dishes out quick because many people go to the play after dinner. We said – there is no play tonight! Keep in mind we got there @ 7:00 and it was now 7:15. One of the managers came to our table and we told him how unhappy we were with the situation. He stood and took notes and and acted very surprised that we were unhappy with the service. He said that he would put our “preferences” in our profile. I guess our preferences are that we don’t like to eat two courses in 15 minutes.
    I doubt we’ll go back.

  5. The food isn’t very special either. Maybe OK for a local restaurant, but not out of the ordinary.

  6. I much preferred the Italian restaurant that was there before The Dressing Room (Palio, was it?). Agree with JPT.

  7. Restaurant “profiling” now. Who knew?

  8. We went on Sunday, they gave us the 20% off and there was no discussion. All was calm and civil and we had a lovely experience.

  9. The Dude Abides

    I loved Cool Hand Luke but 20 bucks for meat loaf??? Naw.

  10. Last time I checked, there is no perfect restaurant service. Thor (the general manager) is a great guy and I’d cut him some slack.

  11. Arthur Champlin

    As a lawyer, you know how many clients have told me that they forgot to read the fine print. Sounds like to me, the Dressing Room did you a favor and you are doing a lot of whining.

  12. In Westport, like so many other areas of the country, servers and managers may not know who their guests are: Westport resident Eileen Ogintz happens to be a family travel writer. Can The Dressing Room really afford the wrath of a writer no matter how chi-chi they are?

    • Yes, Mary Ann, I am a writer. But I didn’t play that card with the Dressing Room. I was simply a patron of both their restaurant and the Playhouse. It should not matter who you are or what you do, you should be treated with courtesy and respect, which was in short supply by the restaurant management staff that evening.

      • Thanks Eileen!

        My point exactly, you (the wait staff & management) never know whom is amongst you, unless you are a household name, therefore it’s best practice to treat all customers as VIP’s, after all they pay the rent & bills.

  13. Carl Addison Swanson

    Considering that 99 % of us writers can’t make a living doing so, I doubt that it will bring too much fear in anyone’s computer generated discounted chi-chi. Yet, I would love to see you play the “card” Eileen. Remember, however, you are now “ear-marked” on their computer generated hit list. The slip of the fork next time and your first born grandchild may be at risk.

  14. Princeton '82

    Or a spit on your overpriced burger. Paul, oh Paul, what were you thinking???

    • Spitting on the food is far more common than you’d think. Do NOT ever piss off your waiter. I know this from my personal experience from working three summers in the kitchen at an unnamed restaurant not too far from Exit 17.

  15. . . . . or your chef. u’s send back lamb chops and dey chef . . . no likey. Wipe his ass with dum.