Welcome to Grim Yelp Reviews, a new regular feature where we share people's worst experiences at the worst places. This week: 24-hour diners. Need we say more?
Strange things happen late at night. Any 24-hour institution—a Super Walmart, a truck stop, a laundromat—has a magic hour around 3 a.m. when things get really, really weird. But 24-hour diners have a special magic to them, the kind of bizarre dreamlike state that settles over a place when the lights never go out and the griddle never goes cold. A kind of perpetual 3 a.m., if you will. And that can lead to some truly delightful times, or, just as often, some very grim ones.
Your Grim Yelper's passion for bad reviews was ignited at one such institution, one very late night, as I watched a waitress I privately and admiringly thought of as "Ursula." Ursula had been a waitress at the diner for a very long time, and she had been all done taking shit some time ago. Her hair was wild, her nails were tinged with yellow, and her hatred ran swift and deep. Anyone who ordered anything was subjected to a withering glare and an unintelligible mumble, delivered in her smoker's hack, which was less "gravelly" and more "facedown in a swimming pool full of gravel for 100 years." She would drag herself to and from the kitchen as though the act of bringing coffee and creamer to the table physically pained her, occasionally flopping down on a counter stool, where she'd moodily toy with a butter knife while watching her customers with an impenetrable expression of disgust.
Watching Ursula confuse and terrify a table full of drunk bros was one of my truest joys at the time. The 24-hour diner has never let me down since: I have another golden memory of a late night at a similarly upstanding establishment in Dallas, Texas, watching, almost hypnotized, as a man shoved menus down his pants with one hand and threw ice cubes at the staff with the other, laughing maniacally all the while.
We've found that grim Yelp reviews of diners fall into three categories: bad food, bad service, and The Inexplicable, the kinds of weird things that can only happen at a place that never closes. To protect the names of the innocent and not-so-innocent alike, we've redacted the names of the businesses, as well as the identities of the Yelpers who wrote the reviews. We realize you can probably find out all of that information by employing five seconds of Google magic.
Biscuits probably shouldn't be al dente:
Kind of impressive that it was still alive, though, no?
Found a live beetle in my salad. Will never go back!
This is more of a cleanliness issue, but an important one:
This is impressively subtle:
Half-way through our meal the waitress closed the area we were sitting in. She pulled ropes across one opening and put a sign that read "section closed" in front of the other opening. We were pretty shocked especially because we were still eating. After a few minutes of being "closed" a family walked past the tiny closed sign and sat at a booth. The busboy walked over and said to the other busboy "can't they read?" He then picked up the sign and dropped it again to make a loud noise. The family looked over and he said in an incredibly rude and forceful tone "THIS SECTION IS CLOSED!" What a jerk! When the place is completely empty you shouldn't treat your PAYING customers like garbage. I felt like walking up and slapping him myself.
Dear God, dude, it's a spoon:
Came in the door and the server glared at me and asked "one?", without waiting for a response she pointed to the counter seating, didn't say anything else.
It took a couple of minutes for her to give me a menu; I ordered my food and an orange juice.
After a couple of sips of juice I went to the restroom. When I came back I noticed the silverware was missing the spoon, it was there when I went to the restroom, I guess based on what I ordered the server figured that I wouldn't need it.
THE BITCH STOLE MY SPOON, well I didn't really need it but, it really bothered me. THE BITCH STOLE MY SPOON.
This place sounds kind of exciting, just like the capitalization choices here:
If you're going into a 24-hour place past, say, midnight, it's always good to be prepared to fight your way out:
Last time we visited this place, we ended up in the hospital, one of the security guards got stabbed, another guy was stabbed in the head, and nearly everyone in the place got punched, including a couple of young girls who couldn't have weighed more than 100 pounds each and were just trying to eat their burgers.
We should have known better than to go in on a Saturday night, but it was a stop on the bar crawl and we wanted to visit one last place. This is where all the deadbeats and bums hang out, apparently the bar doesn't ever stop serving even falling-down drunks and the security guards don't know how to do their jobs. They set off a fight by their behavior and it took over the entire part of the place. Nearly every person there got hurt, and the security guards were pathetic, I'm only 5' tall and I had to lift fighters off them twice. And apparently the bartenders aren't allowed to call the cops since they only showed up after about 10 minutes of fighting when one of the patrons called.
If you do go in, sit with your back to the wall and watch out for fights since if one starts you're in for trouble.
There are a lot of things wrong with last place, things the Yelper refers to as "wrong doings." I'll just let him tell you:
So many things are going bad with this place. The staff is top - notch but when you have a owner who doesn't know the regular customers. They never have fruit for the milkshakes. Flies are always flying around the food. Now you can't watch the American football games on Sunday because the owner feels that it affend others. Also they do not recognize our military. It was a nice place to eat on Sundays without alcohol.
They use to have boneless thick pork chops but have went to cheap low process ones.
They also pour fake a-1 sauce into real a-1 bottles. If you are being affended by American football then you need to leave our country. Why have big screen Tv's if you can't watch sports. You should have a alternative to just bread for eating like fresh fruit. I don't think that people know about all of these wrong doings.
(I was so tickled by this review that I called in C.A. Pinkham, our beloved Kitchenette blogger, for comment.
"Normally I hesitate to make fun of people who write in broken English because I think 'hey, maybe they're not from here and English isn't their first language,'' he says. "But the irony of someone saying 'if you don't like football, you can just GIT OUT' while being unable to form a cogent sentence is just too beautiful.")
And finally, this, folks, is what forgiveness looks like:
Pretty grim! Until next time, double-check your salad, sit with your back to the wall, and... you know, actually, maybe just go home and have some ramen.
Image by Jim Cooke, via Shutterstock