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In the currently economy, it is good business practice to have a pleasant restaurant staff, and I have noticed recently, most restaurants are being conscientious about who they hire for front of house. Servers, bus boys/girls and hostesses are cheerful and well trained. In part, that is why this recent experience really stood out.

When a server’s behavior leaves a bad taste in my mouth, it is difficult for even the best food to make the awful flavor go away, and when the food is sub par, it can really ruin a dining experience. This is what occurred last week at the Blue Sky Grill inside the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado.

My in-laws had enjoyed a previous experience at the restaurant and were anxious for a repeat. The Nuggets playoff game wasn’t slated to start until 8:30 p.m., so a 6:15 p.m. dinner reservation would give us lots of time to relax and beat the restaurant’s pre-game rush.

My husband and I arrived a bit late, and my in-laws had already been seated. Oddly, with many nice, window tables available, the host had seated us at a dark booth near the kitchen, basically on the staff runway.

Based on her age, our server was no newbie to the business; perhaps she was burnt out, if so, we bore the full brunt of her apathy. We ordered a round of drinks, and she quickly brought them out. We ordered an appetizer, and the kitchen brought it almost immediately. By then our server had disappeared. Drinks empty, dirty nacho plate in the middle of the table, we waited and waited and waited. We even tried to wave down passing staff members who ignored us completely.

Being a server is not an easy job. For me, it would probably be one of the most difficult jobs in the world, and I am very aware servers are often blamed for ineptitude in the kitchen. However, none of this was in play in this situation. The restaurant was still virtually empty, with the exception of the bar area.

She had simply vanished. We chatted and chatted, keeping an eye out for her. Finally, she arrived back at our table reeking of cigarette smoke. I realize everyone needs a break now and again, but to pop out for a smoke when you have a four top waiting to order dinner is just plain rude.

When she arrived back, we jumped at the chance to put in our order, but as we started she stopped us and said she’d be right back, disappearing once again, this time into the kitchen.

After another long wait, she reappeared and we ordered. A second round of drinks were delivered and then again, she performed her vanishing act. The food finally arrived, brought by a kitchen delivery person. Our server appeared once to make sure we’d gotten what we ordered, and then again to collect the money. Never an apology for her absence or even a smile.

The food was below average, especially for the outrageous prices. Average dinner entrees exceed $20. And this isn’t an article about the food, but I will say the $10 quesadilla tasted like pre-made and reheated cardboard and my husband’s $11 “medium” hamburger was as dry as sand. I’m sure it all would have tasted slightly better had our server been just a bit more attentive and friendly.

We did not complain to the manager, and perhaps we should have. I’m not sure it would have done much good. After all, this is the type of restaurant that doesn’t have to depend on return clients (much like an airport restaurant). They have a steady flow of Pepsi Center patrons to stop in at their restaurant, and if those patrons don’t come back, they’ve got new victims every week.

***Also see my review of Blue Sky Grill at www.TripAdvisor.com. I post as “HeidioftheRockies.”

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