Calling Bartaco. Sort Of.

Bartaco opened nearly 2 years ago. Almost immediately, Linda Gramatky Smith’s fax line rang.

Someone wanted to know something about the menu. That’s odd, Linda thought.

Then the fax rang again. There was a call about reservations. Then another, wanting to know if the restaurant offered takeout.

Linda Gramatky Smith

Linda Gramatky Smith

Linda and her husband Ken have had their fax number for 22 years. (She’s a 1960 Staples grad; together they run Gramatky Galleries, handling the works of her late father, “Little Toot” illustrator Hardie Gramatky.)

The Smiths’ fax number is 203-222-8220. Bartaco‘s number is 203-222-8226. There would not seem to be much confusion — except “8226” is actually the same as “TACO,” on your phone’s keypad. The Wilton Road restaurant paid some pretty pesos for that easy-to-remember number.

Unfortunately — even before a tequila or two — plenty of people read the letter “O” as the number “0.”

Uh “oh.”

You or I would get pretty angry after the first couple of calls.

Fortunately, Linda and Ken are not you or I.

For 2 years, every time the fax line rings, they’ve answered it. Patiently, they explain the situation. Always, the callers are grateful. Nearly always, they compliment the Smiths on their patience and pleasantness.

Bartaco is very popular. That means a lot of people call the wrong number.

Bartaco is very popular. That means a lot of people call the wrong number.

In fact, the Smiths do more than just answer the fax. If they’re not quick enough to pick up — and the caller hears the fax “beep,” and hangs up — the couple calls back and gives the correct phone number. That kindness is always met with awe.

“We like Westport’s restaurants. We want them to succeed,” Linda explains, as if every Westporter who received at least 300 calls in 2 years — her estimate — would be so sanguine.

Bartaco has been responsive. They’ve added the numerals “8226” to their website, which has helped considerably. But the calls still keep coming — a few last week, Linda says. She thinks there are still some places (“maybe Yelp?”) that say only “203-222-TACO.”

The Bartaco website includes phone numbers for all 6 restaurants. Each ends in "TACO" -- er, "8226."

The Bartaco website includes phone numbers for all 6 restaurants. Each ends in “TACO” — er, “8226.”

Actually, Bartaco has done even more for Linda and Ken. The other day, they invited the couple in for a complimentary meal.

The Smiths had a great time. They loved the lively river scene, and the food was great.

Linda and Ken thanked the staff for an excellent meal.

In person. Not by phone.

12 responses to “Calling Bartaco. Sort Of.

  1. It was so classy of Bartaco to treat the Smiths to a nice meal. Our phone number is one digit off from Walgreen’s – over the last 11 years, we have probably gotten more than 1000 “wrong number” calls. Do you think Walgreens would hook us up with some complementary prescriptions? 😉

  2. Growing up locally, our “kids” phone line was one digit off from Ships Restaurant – a popular Chinese takeout spot from way back. We fielded so many calls over the years and even completed a few orders ourselves. The Smith’s seem like a lovely couple and how nice of Bar Taco to extend such generosity to them. Deservedly so.

  3. Matthew Mandell

    When growing up our number was 2 digits from Joes Fish Market. Twice a week easy we’d get a call. My dad would tell them the right number. This went on for years…….

    Then one day my dad must have felt feisty, so he took the order from the person on the phone and told them about the great sale they have on oysters. An hour or so later an angry fish guy calls and says hey what are you doing, you screwed me up. We don’t have oysters in July. My dad cracked up.

    Now he was on to something. So weeks later there he is taking another order, this time he is convincing the lady that they have kosher lobsters from the Dead Sea, very rare, very tasty. She bites and says she’ll take two. He’s just about to sign off, when the lady says, hey wait a second it’s the dead sea nothing lives in it and hangs up. Boy did he laugh. And told the story for years after. Glad I get to tell it again for him.

  4. About 40 years ago, our phone number was very similar to a local taxi company, so naturally, yes, we’d gotten a lot of calls. We tried to explain but to no avail. Every once in a while, we received “Hey, you’re late. Please hurry!” and some other words not suitable for Dan Woog’s blog.

  5. Ann Marie Flynn

    The Smith’s should be getting at least a meal a week…..they are wonderful ambassadors for Bartaco.

  6. Michael Calise

    my cel# is 451-4444. The phone# for Via Sforza is 454-4444. You want what? on your pizza?

  7. Elaine Marino

    Many moons ago, on my first day working at Ernst & Young, I received a phone call from a caller asking for “Phil Laskaway.” My first response was, “Does he work for Ernst & Young?” The caller started to laugh, and replied, “He certainly does. He’s your boss.” I looked in the company directory and transferred the call… to the Chairman’s office! My phone extension ended in
    1330 while the Chairman’s ended in 1300. I did not make that mistake again.

  8. Dan – I’m another. There’s a business in Norwalk whose exchange is 853, with the same last four digits. Mine is 856. Callers have been universally understanding when I explain the situation. Fortunately, the volume of calls I receive is nowhere near that of the misdirected Bartaco faxes.

  9. This is reminiscent of the famous “Seinfeld” episode where Kramer’s phone number was one digit off from the then new automated MovieFone: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qM79_itR0Nc&sns=em

  10. Over the weekend I ordered takeout from Bartaco and rather than use the my cell to look up the number, I read it off one of their small take out menus. That menu is a year or so old, but still only had the TACO and not the “8226” as well. I got the number right, but Bartaco may want to consider adding the “8226” to their next printing of their take out menus to further spare the Smiths.