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PostHeaderIcon Why We Will Return to Basil Leaf

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It’s happened to all of us. A ruined night out because of poor restaurant service. A server who is too slow or a bit cranky. Food that took too long. Steak instead of the chicken you ordered. Maybe the bread was too hard, the meal lukewarm and the coffee cold. A bad restaurant experience can usually turn a diner off to a place –forever.

But not always.

Last week my partner and I had dinner at Basil Leaf Café in downtown Danville. We have been many times before and like the European ambiance and low-key atmosphere.

Feeling that Basil Leaf was a safe bet and looking for good Italian food, we arrived there on a recent Friday night hungry and certain we’d have a good meal. We were led to an outside table by a smiling and efficient hostess. There, we sat down. And sat. And sat….

After 20 minutes of watching a waitress attend to every table around us, we began to give each other looks of "What’s going on?" and started looking around for a busboy or anyone to bring us water at least.

Finally a young waiter approached us. Bouncing from foot to foot as if he was in a hurry to be somewhere, he stood poised to take our order without even a "Good Evening." We told him that we would each like a glass of wine and asked if there were any specials that night. He rambled off the specials, took our wine order and left. Our wine arrived in less then less than 2 minutes. We finally began to feel that the service was back on track.

Twenty minutes later, he reappeared to take our dinner order. We ordered salads and entrées. The salads arrived, we ate them and again, we sat. And sat. And sat. There was definitely a pattern going on here.

Thirty minutes more passed. Our salad plates were taken away. Our wine glasses sat empty, our water glasses sat empty, and the bread basket sat empty. No waiter, no entrées.

Needless to say, we were not only hungry, but downright annoyed. I saw the hostess and motioned her over. Then I launched into our story… the endless waits, the bad service, the impatient waiter. I guess I was a little loud, because the neighboring tables all put down their forks and drinks and stared at us.

Here’s where things went from bad to good.

The hostess turned out to be Dawn Janssen, who with her husband Eric, own the Basil Leaf. Without fanfare, or brow beating of her staff, she got our dinners out to us, engaged us in conversation, offered to buy our meals and generally chilled us out. She was not overly ubiquitous or patronizing, but charming and real. Without embarrassment to her staff, she diffused the situation along with our frustration.

When she walked away, the couple at the next table explained to us who she was, that she and Eric also own Amber Bistro across the street, and that while he was recovering from back surgery, she was running both establishments. It was then we realized that we had seen her running back and forth across the street all evening. We watched as she sent a waiter to Amber Bistro to get special sweetener that a diner had requested.

Our dinners were delicious. Dawn came back to check on us often, and told us she hoped we’d give Basil Leaf another chance to be back in our good graces. We left that evening totally happy and smiling. What we took with us was not a memory of bad service or long waits, but of having made a new friend and respect for Dawn and the way she turned what could have been a catastrophe into a triumph.

Thank you Dawn Janssen. We will see you soon.--SEW

Basil Leaf Café

Location: 501 Hartz Ave. at Church Street, Danville

Cost: $$ out of $$$$$

Info: www.thebasilleafcafe.com or 925-831-2828

Last Updated (Tuesday, 22 March 2011 03:13)


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