Cracker Barrel - Not for the Non-Smoker and Certainly NOT Customer-Service Friendly
GAS CITY, INDIANA -- I recently went to Cracker Barrel, for the first time, and had a most unfortunate experience that I must share. Additionally, because of my experience I will certainly recommend against having any of my friends, family, or patients go to for the first time or return to the restaurant.
I am a physician currently in a general surgery residency and have a very high sensitivity to cigarette smoke; additionally, I just do not care to be around it for the obvious reasons (health, smell, etc.).
I went to the Gas City, Indiana location and asked to be seated as far away from smoking as possible. After waiting fifteen (15) minutes, I was seated - not an abnormally long or unacceptable wait, in my opinion.
There was no smoke in the room when I was seated; however, things would take a turn for the worse very quickly. I found out very soon that I was seated right next to the smoking section. If there were doors or it were "closed off" completely then I would have been fine; however, such was not the case. I asked to be moved and was informed that I would likely have to wait 20 minutes or longer. Keep in mind that this is after I had already received my food - this is when the inconsiderate people that MUST smoke in a restaurant started doing such.
I immediately left the restaurant, as my appetite to eat there was lost, and went to another well-established restaurant.
After sending an e-mail to the corporate office suggesting that if someone says "as far away from smoking as possible" literally means "far away," I received a very snide e-mail in return. It stated, essentially, that it would be quite a pain for them (Cracker Barrel) to create a completely different area for smokers (i.e. doors). Additionally, I was told that Cracker Barrel abides by state and local laws that prevent smoking in certain localities and states in restaurants.
My questions are:
1. Why would Cracker Barrel, in light of scientific findings, allow non-smokers to be contaminated by smokers?
2. Risk a class-action lawsuit by employees that are non-smokers. Just wait and see, this will happen. Just as you cannot ask a person to go into a confined space without a respirator or OSHA will be in your behind, it will happen that restaurants that actively encourage smokers to come will suffer the consequences legally - just wait. Think of the poor lady that is a waitress that must cope with that for twenty to thirty years!
3. WHY was I just not moved to a section not as close to the smoking section? I had no issue eating at a restaurant where smokers were, regardless of how I feel about them. My issue was simply to be as far away as possible - such did not happen.
4. Why was I not encouraged to return to the restaurant? Is it because they feel they could not possibly be of assistance to non-smokers and having that section is just a ploy? I paid $14.00+ for a meal that I could not eat!
I can assure you that all of my patients will be informed about this situation. Additionally, I know 50+ physicians personally (all non-smokers), I can assure you that they will inform their patients as well! This means that a minimum (BARE minimum) of 5,000 patients will here this complaint but more likely three times more than that will hear about this!
Thanks for the great customer service Cracker Barrel!