Category Archives: Restaurant questions

Wichita restaurant history: Golden Chance Steak Saloon

A reader named Faye e-mailed the following question to me recently. And since this question meant I would get to take a trip to our secret paper archives stash on the fourth floor, I was excited to investigate it.

“Do you remember a restaurant in the ’60′s named Golden Chance Restaurant? It was in south Wichita and required a coat and tie and if one didn’t have a coat, their tie was cut and hung around on the wall.  Where was it located?”

I didn’t live in Wichita — or at all — in the 1960s, so this restaurant didn’t sound familiar to me. But I located the archive file on it, and it’s pretty interesting.

The restaurant was owned by Carl Murrell. He originally opened the Golden Chance Steak Saloon in the early 1960s in a development on what’s now west Kellogg called Frontier Village. He moved the restaurant to 4205 S. Seneca in 1962 and closed it in 1971. He opened another Golden Chance Steak Saloon at 4423 S. Broadway in 1984, but I don’t know how long that one lasted.

He was known for snipping the ties of his customers and hanging them on the wall. The articles I read from the archives seemed to indicate, however, that he cut all ties — not just the ties of the coatless. Several diners were not amused.

I love Wichita restaurant history. Check out this article — interesting but a little hard to follow — from the Sept. 10, 1963 edition of The Beacon. Click on it to make it big enough to read. And thanks, Faye, for the fun assignment.

An article from 1963

 

What Chinese food is most like Albert’s?

This photo from the Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Society shows Albert's in 1954,

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve had two unrelated people ask me the same question — and I don’t have the answer. I’m wondering if you can help.

Both people were fans of Albert’s, the Chinese restaurant at 6425 E. Kellogg that operated in Wichita for 54 years but closed for good in the summer of 2001. They both wanted to know which local Chinese restaurant served food most comparable to Albert’s.

I didn’t move to Wichita until late 1997, and although I remember seeing Albert’s often, I never made it there. So even though I have a good handle on the Chinese food scene in Wichita, I couldn’t say whose food is most similar. I do know that people who went to Albert’s back in the day are split. Some say it had the best food ever, no doubt influenced by several tablespoons of nostalgia. Others say the food was not exactly great and that those who think it was are influenced by several tablespoons of nostalgia.

Anyone have thoughts on this? And can you help me come up with an answer for these mourning Albert’s fans?

By the way, if you’re interested, keep reading. I’m posting Dan Voorhis’ story that was published when Albert’s closed in 2001.

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Reader questions: Unhappy campers

My new question-and-answer forum sends the questions to me and only me, with no place for me to answer them publicly. So from time-to-time, I’ll try to answer some of them here. (For the record, I answer one question every week in my “Dining with Denise” e-mail newsletter, which you should sign up for IMMEDIATELY if you haven’t already.)

Today’s topic: Customer complaints. I often get e-mails from readers unhappy with their experience in a restaurant, and here are a couple of examples.

A reader named Sharon writes:

“Problem…ordered from a vegetarian restaurant the dish Macadamia Surprise. My friend and I were splitting the meal because we also wanted to try a few appetizers.  The dish sounded so delicious but when it arrived it had cashews and broccoli. Two items that were not mentioned in the dish. NO macadamia nuts.

When we asked the waiter if there’d been a mistake he said, “no, we just ran out of macadamia nuts.” They did NOT offer to make us anything else or rectify the situation. They didn’t mention being out of any of the items before serving us, nor did he suggest we could order something else even after we expressed our dislike with the whole situation and especially broccoli and possible allergies to cashew nuts.  They just expected this to be okay.  What should have been done to insure happy customers? We will not return due to lack of concern shown to us regarding our visit. Thank you!”

Well, Sharon, I run into this a lot at restaurants. There was a time when unhappy customers regularly would be taken care of by comping part of the bill or offering something extra for free. That’s rarer these days. Although these kinds of situations infuriate me, I think there are really only two options. First, you have to complain to the manager on duty on the spot. You can’t just imply that you want something taken care of. You have to say it explicitly, and a lot of people aren’t comfortable doing that. It’s also better to complain before you dig into and devour a meal, I find.

That’s no guarantee it’ll be taken care of, though. In fact, many disorganized restaurants with insufficient help don’t have any idea how to deal with this issue. They’re just trying to stay alive day-to-day. Then, your only recourse is to not return and to advise friends not to go. I’ve had some luck in the past sending letters to restaurants when I’ve been particularly dissatisfied, but sadly, lack of customer service is more of the rule rather than the exception anymore.

Here’s another dissatisfied customer named Tom.

We ate Easter Brunch at the Marriott, advertised for $21.95 per person. When we got the check, there was an 18% “Hotel Buffet Charge” added to the ticket along with the expected sales tax. Why wasn’t this posted in the “where to eat”? Is this a usual practice? The $21.95 per person for 2 meal turned out to be $66 for 2 with tip.

I called over to the Corporate Hills Marriott this morning and talked to the food and beverage director, who says it’s always been the hotel’s practice to add an 18 percent gratuity charge on to holiday buffets, such as Easter, Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. (My presumption is that people usually don’t tip too well on buffets, and they want to make the holiday shifts worthwhile for the staff.) She also said, Tom, that if you added a gratuity on top of that, not realizing that you weren’t expected to, she’d happily refund it.