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© 2003
Robyn Gallagher

Mr Happy The Waiter

Another jolly ol' restaurant review!

There's an ad for Auckland's Planet Hollywood restaurant that gets played at the movies. It has a montage of clips of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis from various films they've been in. The basic premise is "This is our boss. You don't want to see him when he gets mad. That's why we give you great service." Which is meant to signify that Planet Hollywood has great service.

Anxious to see if this was indeed the case, I grabbed a dining companion and went to Planet Hollywood for lunch. We got there and were seated by the maitre d' chick who asked us if we'd been there before. Yes, as it happened a previous visit had occured and we informed her of such.

We were seated and the maitre d' introduced us to our waiter whose name I can't remember, so I shall call him Mr Happy. Mr Happy introduced himself and asked if we had been there before. I said for the second time that we had. He went away and brought some menus over and asked if we knew about the lunch specials menu. As I had been there before, I did, and informed him of this. We placed drinks orders.

He brought the drinks over then took our orders. That experience was strange. A typical order went like this "Can I have the fried chicken salad?" "Noooo problem." It sounded like he was saying "No" as in "No, you can't have it" until he tacked "problem" on the end. I'd like to think that if it was going to be a problem he would have let us know before hand. He said he would be back a bit later to tell us "a bit about the restaurant." Oh great. I didn't want to know anything about the restaurant. I just wanted to have lunch.

He came back with knifes and forks. He also did little tidying-up things and stood up the lunch specials card which I had laid down as it was in the way. Uh-oh, Mr Happy is Mr Anal. He was then about to follow through with his threat to tell us about the restaurant. But first he asked us if we'd been to the restaurant. Uh, yes, I believe we have, Mr Happy, and I believe we've also expressed this information three previous times. Mr Happy seemed a bit disappointed that we didn't want to hear his story about the restaurant, but buggered off and left us in peace.

Eventually he brought our meals over and asked if we wanted "fresh pepper or pasta, uh, I mean parmesan" on our salads. I said I'd have pepper and he asked me if I wanted it all over. All over? As opposed to grinding some pepper in just one little place? Who does that?

He left us to eat lunch. The food was good. I had a caesar salad with shrimps and enjoyed it. Then Mr Happy came over to ask if we were enjoying our meals. It was so tempting to say "Well, I was until you came over." We ate some more, then Mr Happy walked past the table and said "I'll be with you in a sec, guys!" We had not signalled for him. I was still eating.

More than a sec passed, then he finally showed up and cleared the plates away. We asked for the dessert menu. He asked us if we wanted coffee or dessert. Yes, dammit!

Then he brought the dessert menu over. Doing that on its own was apparently not enough for Mr Happy. He then told us about some fudge thing that was ideal for sharing, and his personal favourite which was some concoction with Oreo cookies in it. He finally went away and we decided that we would not follow Mr Happy's recommendations and instead ordered what we wanted.

He took our dessert orders then announced that he would be going on a break now and introduced us to our new waitress. She was a breath of fresh air. It was like she didn't pretend to care about us. Purely professional. Dessert arrived, we ate it, then wanted to leave. No waitron was available, so we headed on up to the front desk, which caused a minor ruckus, but it was worth putting up with because Mr Happy was gone!

I have a message for Mr Happy: Bruce and Arnold are actors. Do not let a couple of thespians frighten you.