I Spent $85 for Dinner at CPK and All I Got Was a Grumpy Husband


I just got home from CPK, and since my friend Marsha Collier is writing the book on Customer Service I thought I’d amuse y’all with a bit of corporate policy that ensures no one will ever be happy at California Pizza Kitchen.

It’s Sunday night and I’m beat, so we decide to take the kids to dinner. CPK is a good bet for all, because there’s something for everyone on the menu. We have grown accustomed to their abominable customer service, so we were delighted to find the store half empty and our server to be attentive.

Again, our expectations were low.

We sat in a booth where Mr G could watch the Colts and the Chargers, and we had a pretty good dinner. Nothing exciting, but the kids were happy and so were we.

Until they changed the game to basketball.

We asked our server to please put the football game back on, and she said the following. “We have this weird corporate policy that puts us in a TV limbo. Whenever a guest asks us to change the channel we have to change it to whatever they ask for. Someone just asked us to change it to the basketball game so we have to do that.”

Mr. G smiled and said, “Well, now I’m asking you to change it to Football.”

And our server walked away uncomfortably.

And then we were stuck watching the halftime game (which is a whole lot of nothing worth watching), when the manager (who appeared to be 19) came to the table and said, “I’m really sorry but the man at the bar asked us to put it on the Lakers game and you’ve been watching football for a really long time, and it’s only fair if you get it half of your meal and he gets it for half of his.”

This makes NO SENSE. Half a football game is fair? Who gives a flying fuck about fair?

Mr. G thanked her for her explanation and assured her that we all understood that she valued his patronage more than ours.

And then the bill came. $73 for the four of us. Which I assume is a whole lot more than the single guy at the bar spent, so if we’re worried about fair, then CPK failed that test.

We tipped heartily because the server was excellent. We are mindful that CPK is a great place for our kids, but they really don’t understand customer service at all.

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16 responses to “I Spent $85 for Dinner at CPK and All I Got Was a Grumpy Husband”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jessica Gottlieb, Jessica Gottlieb and Kirti D., Elissa Freeman. Elissa Freeman said: Just when you think the bar for stupidity couldn't get lower, check out @JessicaGottlieb's post on her CPK experience http://bit.ly/eMunDf […]

  2. Veronica says:

    I think it’s more like they don’t understand sports! 1) the guy at the bar can watch the last half of the laker game AFTER SNF; 2) the lakers are playing Indiana – who the fuck’s in Indiana?!!!; and 3) it’s PEYTON MANNING! Sheesh. I think I’ll stick with Islands with their multiple TVs and barely edible wiqui waqui salad and let the kids have at the endless fries.

  3. Jack says:

    Whatever happens I can guarantee that the Chargers will not win a Superbowl. And the Lakers, well they will sleepwalk into the playoffs so given the choice between games…

    Aww hell, I have to agree that Peyton Manning is always worth watching.

    More importantly, customer service died 25 years ago so I can’t say that I am surprised to read about this

  4. Steve Bush says:

    Nice job CPK… You should have only paid for the half of your meal that coincided with your game.

  5. Veronica says:

    Actually, CPK just shouldn’t have TVs, rather than having such an idiotic policy about who gets to watch what’s on it. If @calpizzakitchen is reading this, i’m going to Islands, ya hear?!

    And as a Charger fan, Superbowl or not, I always get a kick out of them beating the Colts. Never fails. ;-)

  6. MaeganB says:

    We only have their frozen products here…I had no idea they were also an annoying chain, lol. But I am a chain food lover…So this place sounds annoyingly up my alley. Anywho…That is a stupid policy…b/c ALL YOU HAD TO DO was keep requesting a new channel. Jessica – you should have asked them to find Lifetime Movie Network. That’s right…ALL LIFETIME MOVIES…ALL THE TIME!

  7. David DeVore says:

    If they are going the “fair” route then why not have two televisions?

  8. Josh says:

    Did you go there to eat pizza or watch the game? Was the food good? Was the service good? If the football game was that important, maybe you should have stayed home, or got it to go….

  9. AnnaZ says:

    I’d never heard of you until someone retweeted your attack on breastfeeding moms, came to your site to see if you were as unpleasant as your tweet, and discovered this. Mind boggling how deep entitlement runs! If what was on TV was so important, are you aware of takeout? I hear CPK has excellent curbside service.

    Personally, when we go out to dinner as a family, I feel it’s important to, you know, be a family and pay attention to each other and not what’s on the TV. Hard to believe the message of gratitude and thankfulness is so easily lost once the holiday is over- the guy sitting alone probably needed the TV for company much more than your husband, and I bet your kids would’ve appreciated the attention.

  10. Elizabeth says:

    Regardless of policy (and CPK’s is definitely illogical), if you go to a public establishment, can you ever really guarantee that what you want will be on television? To me it’s the same deal as when one customer asks to have the overhead fans turned off, while the table next to them sweats into their mint juleps. Which request should they honor?

    Also, the argument that you paid more so you should get what you want seems pretty short sighted, unless you’re cool with the folks that paid $90 for dinner getting ultimate remote veto power.

  11. Megz says:

    I think, at times, you also turn into a bully.. And I take a couple of lesson back:

    1. No TVs would be placed in any restaurants I open, if I ever open any.. I would rather have people talking about food and service…
    2. You cannot please everyone all the time.. now they might have two unhappy customers on hand…
    3. I know I might have to forgo live telecast if I am going out unless I have reserved a private show for myself at some place.

  12. […] is thirteen and has the palate of a billy goat she wanted to stay on Wilshire so we could walk to California Pizza Kitchen. I smiled and agreed that it would, all the while thinking that I could have a crappy salad and a […]

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