Confidence Shaken

For those of us that live in the Midwest, we were blessed by some great weather this past weekend. When the weather heats up during the Fall or early Spring I jump at the opportunity to eat outdoors. This past year, my new favorite outdoor eating destination has been Grinder's (417 E. 18th St., KCMO). I love(ed) heading over to Grinders to grab some pizza or a Philly while I sampled their impressive beer offerings.

In KC, Grinders has been one of those places that foodies either really love or really hate. I had been in the really loved group. "Had" is the key word. Sometimes one or two things go wrong with your meal and you can simply chalk it up to playing the odds. Like a roulette wheel, even if you bet both "black" and "red" one of those pesky "green" zeros is occasionally going to pop up.

But this past weekend I experienced a monumental bad run of luck. The service, usually cheerful and hard working was slow and unfriendly. Grinder's typically awesome beer list was filled with out-dated and flat offerings (such as the Emphemere) and a general lack of availability. It got to the point where you would have to pick out four beers before the server made her once every 20 minute visit in order to find one that may have been in stock.

Our food order was messed up and we had to wait 20 minutes to get a follow-up server visit (Note: food is delivered by the cooks so before we could notice this mix up he was gone and we were left to the mercy of waiting on one of the servers).

The pizza slices were very sub-par. Lacking in toppings and sauce the mushroom pizza featured fresh, uncooked mushrooms and the amount of pepperonis gracing the flat slab of dough on our pepperoni slice ensured that few pigs were harmed in the pizza making process at Grinders.

In short, I'm distraught. I want my old Grinders experience back. I want to be part of the KC crowd that likes this place. Unfortunately, I'm not sure I can bring myself to spend any more money at this joint. Any other outside seating suggestions?


Midwest Kitchen said...

You can give The Well a go in Waldo. It is not too bad as long as you don't get in on the poser set that seems to drift over from the Brooksider. Speaking of drift hopefully the sewer smell doesn't come up to the patio the day your there either.... OK skip The Well.
Maybe try The Westside Local.. hopefully service has improved and the prices (beer in particular) have adjusted. (If I can find a beer they charge for 13.00 at Westside for 5.50 McGonigle's you know prices are out of whack. I will pay a premium for beer/wine but that is a percentage profit that really smacks a customer upside the head.)
I guess if you find a place post it because I just talked myself out of two places!

JH said...

In my experience the service has always been pretty slow and, while not rude, not overly friendly.

Anonymous said...

I agree with your Westside Local review. Overpriced and often out of food options. Ditto for JH comments on Grinders. Not a happy and fun service kind of place.

Anonymous said...

That's unfortunate. I was just at Grinders 3 times in the past 2 months and each time was a good time. The first time service was slow, but I chalk that up to me ordering from the East while my companion ordered from the faster/less busy Westside. But the staff was always friendly and while maybe my main server wasn't by my table constantly, other servers chipped in to help refill drink orders. Kind of like a team effort, which I didn't mind.

And each time I went was at peak hours. Please don't write them off yet.

Anonymous said...

I'd say of the half dozen or so times I've been to Grinders, only once or twice I would classify as having good service. I've found the key is to just get up and get your beer/tell the cooks something is wrong yourself. They always seem to be understaffed when it comes to server numbers, so unless you are there on a slow night, I just don't count on getting service.

Rachel H. said...

I have had the same issue with Grinders.

The first time I ate there, I ordered a slice of the margarita pizza, tomatoes, cheese and basil. The slice took 40 mins to come out of the oven, I kid you not, and when it got to me, it had cilantro on it instead of basil. It took the waitress about 15 minutes to come back to our table. I told her what happened, by this point I was STARVING so I just asked for some basil to go on top of the cilantro and tomato pizza (I didnt want to wait another 40 mins). She brought it out when I had a couple bites of pizza left. LAME.

The next time I went, I ordered the greek salad... Meh. Overpriced. The service was okay.

The next time I went with about 6 other people and the waitress was really irritated that we sat at two tables across from each other instead of waiting however long for the one big table in the place. She was continually rude to my friends the whole night and kept forgetting to bring our drinks.

That was the last time I was there. I would rather go to Minskis or Waldo Pizza anyday.

Faith said...

I've been to Grinders maybe 3 times the entire 10 years I've lived here, and I hate the place. The last time we went, they messed up my order (apparently ordering a meaball sub without cheese is just too tough for them to process), and it took over 45 minutes for me to get my food. Meanwhile, the rest of my friends had all finished their pizza, and were feeling happy and full. I was NOT. I wound up being a thorn in the side of an otherwise pleasant evening, thanks to the crackin' team behind the counter! Of course, they were entirely unapologetic about the issue. I've never been back.

Outdoor eating is about to go the way of the dodo this time of year, but I've always loved the deck at Californo's, or at Classic Cup on the Plaza. This weekend should be a nice one to hit up either one, I'd think. :)

Anonymous said...

Also, totally agree on your assessment of the Westside Local. I've only been once, but thought the beer was outrageously priced ($8 for a Tank 7, when the most I've seen it else where is for $5). The service I had there was also horrendous. We waited 20 minutes for a server to greet us, even though they weren't busy and/or walked by us numerous times. I was about a minute away from walking out (would have been my first time ever doing so). When a server finally came to our table she was rather short with us and rude. I really wanted to like the place, but just haven't found a reason to go back. I'm not going to overspend compared to value and be treated like shit--too many places in KC to visit.

John said...

The last straw at Grinders for me is chronicled here:

The fact is that The Foundry in Westport has outside seating, hipster dive food that is, in my opinion, at least as well executed as Grinders, better beer than Grinders, and better service than Grinders. It is a win/win/win/win/win.

There is also always the roof top patio at McDowd's, decent food.

Harry's Country Club is good too.

Ben said...

I've only had one good experience at Grinders, the rest have all been horrible and I'm to the point now that not only will I NEVER go there again, I take great pleasure in letting people know how overrated the food is and how terrible the service is.

My last visit there was with my wife, the place was fairly dead, only the booths up front were full, and waited at least 15 minutes to even have a server come take a drink order. She walked by us at least 5 times without ever making eye contact. When she finally came over and asked in a snotty voice if she could get us anything, I said "No", got up and left. Stretch seems like a decent dude, but pretty much everyone who works there should be fired.

I agree with John, The Foundry is a far better way to spend your money. The food is good, the beer list is excellent and the service is always on point, plus you are still supporting a local business.

Midwest Kitchen said...

It is interesting to hear the comments on Grinders as I have eaten there 4 times and never even had a server come close to my table. Similar to other bars/restaurants of this nature (dive or trying to be a dive) I just ordered at the bar. If I have had a problem with food I went back to the cook for him to fix it (happened on one visit and he made it right on the spot). I am not pushing them as the greatest but they are what they are trying to be: hip, aloof, nerdy, condescending, bored, and lacking a good manager/floor driver.