Thursday, January 14, 2016

An Open Letter to the CEO of Buffalo Wild Wings

This is the week before exams as a teacher and a mom of a sophomore can be a bit stressful. When you add the Lieutenant's exam, there's a whole other level of stress. Our house is still not put back together, there are baseboards and radiator covers still in need of a home, there are paint tools and a Christmas tree that still need to be addressed. I have four rooms of  new beautiful floors, but need to find the time to put the pieces all back together has evaded us. It makes me twitchy to have things not in place. We decided to get away from it all, literally just for an hour.

Sometimes I think we are so caught up in the bigger, better, newest, most technologically advanced ways of attracting customers, that we forget that sometimes plain, ole' boring customer service might be the way to go.  

It was not so pretty.

Sally J. Smith 
President/CEO
Buffalo Wild Wings 
5500 Wayzata Blvd. 
Suite 1600 
Minneapolis, MN 55416 

Dear Ms. Smith, 

      My name is Trina. I am a high school history teacher within the Public Schools. I am married to a Firefighter/Paramedic from the Fire Department and we have four lovely Muppets, the rest of the world calls our kids.

Last night, my husband and I were able to sneak out for an hour – literally, in between me coming home with our oldest and the clock maker coming to look at the 1952 grandfather clock we bought to celebrate our new home this fall.  We decided to go for wings, as were celebrating my husband’s (hopefully successful) completion of the Lieutenant’s exam earlier in the day.

Now, with the hectic lifestyle for firefighters, working shifts of 24 hours on and 48 hours off, you can imagine how throwing in the individual schedules of four kids between the ages of 8 and 16 creates a whole other layer of insanity. And, although the world believes that we as teachers are instantly done at 3:55pm when the kids walk out the door, most days I am not leaving until 5:30pm or later. My homework does not even get looked at until after the two youngest are in bed. We do not get many opportunities, especially during the school week, to get out alone.

       We were getting a bite to eat at your restaurant at 3636 S. 27th St in Milwaukee. I was grumbling about being placed at the booth right by the hostess stand, but in the end, I was thankful to be there.

Apparently, a group of teenagers sprayed pepper spray in the restaurant. As the entire southern end of the restaurant began fleeing, we wondered what the issue was. And then I took a breath to make a comment. My nose was on fire, my sinuses began draining and I could not stop coughing. I know now how I will react to exposure to pepper spray, as it apparently was pulled over to our table through the ventilation system. My husband, being a med on scene, advised your manager (Julio, I believe) to clear the restaurant and call 911. He told my husband he was dealing with it internally and there was no need. There were at least two pregnant servers and two little girls with asthma that were being impacted by this exposure, as well as the throngs that suffered irritation from the spray. The whole while, the teens were brought boxes for their food and never asked to leave. They “believed” they were spraying air freshener. As a high school teacher, I can leave my opinion of that statement to your imagination. They did not leave until Engine 12 and the police pulled up. 

I find your manager’s lack of reaction to be inexcusable. I suffered the whole night and continue to sound like a lifelong smoker while I prepare my students for their exams. I am guessing that my lungs have been compromised from the 50+ pulmonary emboli I developed following surgery in 2014 and that would be at the root of the continued discomfort. But who would have thought that dinner out would be off limits? It is completely inconceivable. 

The most frustrating aspect of this whole fiasco is your manager’s lack of concern; for his wait staff, for his customers and for the reputation of that location and truthfully, your chain as a whole. He truly appeared to have no concern for anyone, except his nightly total.

I paid for our drinks and pretzels, as they were delivered as we were about to leave and sat and shivered in the breezeway. My husband encouraged people to leave and seek medical attention if needed since there was a delay in calling 911, tending to those who were struggling until the fire department arrived, by law, he can’t just walk away. 

I posted a note on your company’s Facebook page and was shocked when I was asked to simply fill out a generic “how was your experience” survey. I felt completely disregarded. I am not sure I will be able to get over that. Slow service, doesn’t bother me. I waited tables through college and my first year of teaching all those years ago. That seems to be the biggest complaint of this location. We come back to watch basketball during March Madness because it is a safe place to watch multiple games with the kids. Sadly, I am going to guess we’ll probably pull out our DirecTV Genies instead this year. My health is significantly more important. Slow service didn’t kill my business, apathy did.

I do hope this makes it to your desk. I realize we are not on your radar at all. But in the grand scheme of things, if your company doesn’t care for its employees or its customer base, which is keeping the lights on, there is really no place for that company in my world.

I hope this is addressed properly and timely.
Thank you for your time.



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