The event had all of the ingredients except the latter. The staff at the Coco Palm a Cuban and Spanish Cuisine were amazingly unaccommodating. In fact, they all but said that the 30+ people who showed to spend $26.99 per person for their Brunch were not welcome.
The Brunch was introduced very well, on Facebook, by Manzell Baskerville. Manzell did an amazing job organizing the entire weekend. Everything went on without a hitch. Except, of course, when it came to the Brunch. The following is an excerpt of Manzell’s introduction to the restaurant:
G-high Family. We will wind down our weekend with a Champagne Brunch Buffet on the Hill. Coco Palm (formerly Branagans and Castaways) will be the place to unwind, sip champagne and Mimosas, enjoy wonderful conversation and food. This buffet sells out every Sunday so please try to arrive early. If I can get a solid head count I can reserve our very own private section. The cost is $26.99 per person. Chilled champagne, Peel & Eat Shrimp, split Crab Legs, oysters on the half-shell, carving station, whole poached Salmon w/ capers, Cuban fried rice, paellas, fresh cut salads, vegetables, cold pastas Home-made waffles, bacon, scrambled eggs, eggs Benedict, Made-to-Order Omelets, Pasta dishes, Cuban specialty foods, several desserts to choose, and MUCH, MUCH MORE!!!! (Some items may not be available). PLEASE RSVP SO I CAN RESERVE A SECTION
After getting a headcount from people who were planning to attend, Manzell contacted Sean, the manager of the Coco Palm, and made the reservations for about 35 people. The reservation was confirmed via a text to Sean’s personal cell phone.
Then, it got fancy! As we all arrived to the restaurant, at about 11:30 a.m., we were greeted by a rude, poorly dressed (in light of a sign which stated something to the effect of “proper attire is mandatory” the young lady was wearing a cotton T-Shirt!), inconsiderate, and apparently RACIST poor excuse for a hostess [who because I could care less about her name, I’ll simply refer to as RUDE]. The first thing my wife (Chevonne) and I discover when we arrived was the restaurant claimed that there was no reservation made; so, we would not only have to wait 15 to 20 minutes to be seated, but our party would be sitting in different areas of the restaurant. Manzell was dealing with RUDE and was being very tolerant.
When told that we were not all going to be sitting together, Manzell told RUDE, “it’s OK. We’ll just have to sit in different areas.” Chevonne then suggested that we all sit on the balcony. RUDE stated, “We can’t just fill-up that area. Besides, we have reservations.”
A few minutes later, six of us were escorted, with no words or eye contact from the “hostess”, to a balcony where we were seated at two tables pushed together. There were about ten other tables on the balcony that were vacant. We were served by a waitress named Araceli.
Araceli seemed to do a decent job – Nothing to write home to mamma about though! You have to understand, it was a Brunch. We had to serve ourselves. Araceli only had to pour drinks, which she would have had to do anyway.
As other people from Ganesha showed up, they randomly came onto the balcony. Despite all the rudeness and poor customer service by the restaurant staff, we all had a great time. People grumbled from time to time about the restaurant, however, the event pushed on.
At about 2 p.m., others arrived and were greeted by RUDE the hostess and confronted with, what I consider a racist comment, “This is not ‘HOMETOWN BUFFET’ where you can just seat yourself.” It may not be an overtly racist comment, but, the Ganesha High School Alumni present were primarily African American, not Cuban. The Hometown Buffet comment seemed to imply that the people from our group were out of our cultural and socioeconomic league. I was insulted.
About an hour later, we got our checks. Every check had an 18% Gratuity (approximately $145.00) added for “set-up”. This was despite the fact that there was no set up because, as they said, we had no reservation. Thus, the Gratuity was for Araceli to pour drinks. After the Hometown Buffet comment – I don’t think so!!!
Jerome Baskerville and I went to pay for our portion, which amounted to about $135. Jerome requested to have the manager present. The manager, Sean, came over as Jerome told the manager that, because of the bad service, we were going to pay the bill, but we were not going to pay the gratuity.
Sean responded by stating, “That would not be fair to the waitress. She didn’t make the comment.” Jerome stated, “She is a part of your team.” I interjected, “That Hometown Buffet comment was extremely unacceptable, and based on that we absolutely could not give you a gratuity.
Instead of trying to resolve the situation, the manager simply condoned the behavior of his employees.