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The Counter on CAL Ave.- not worth it

Original post made by Gira, Ventura, on Dec 4, 2006

Terrible service, too expensive, but tasty burgers.

Our party of 8 seated were right away, but then had to ask 3 times for water and it took over 25 minutes to get enough water for all of us. They had no assigned server for our table, so you had to flag down a (different) server for everything.

We filled out our checklists with what type of burger, sauce, and toppings we wanted and all they had to do is walk the forms over to the cooks. However, 30+ minutes later the bugers began to arrive, but without the order form attached to the plate, so each delivery person looked at the burger and tried to describe the toppings and we had to guess which one was ours, 8 TIMES!!!

Finally, at least 2 burgers had the wrong toppings! I have no idea how they screwed it up when we used their pre-printed check lists.

Don't bother, unless you like to wait, play guessing games, and eat mystery items you didn't order.

Comments (10)

Posted by chris
a resident of University South
on Dec 4, 2006 at 11:33 am

I have been there 3 times and had bad service every time. Our friends have had the same experience.

Why don't we try complaining directly to management rather than just spreading the word of the bad service?

The people we entertained there enjoyed the food so it would be a good place to go if they could get their act together.

Posted by Peter
a resident of Stanford
on Dec 5, 2006 at 9:50 pm

Gira - My name is Peter and I am one of the owners of The Counter on Cal Ave. First of all I apologize for the poor service experience you had at our restaurant. Of course I never like to hear of poor service but when it does, I hope to learn and improve.

This is not an excuse for the service you got but perhaps an explanation as I do believe I remember your table. We sat you in an area that on that day was really assigned as self service (orders placed at the To Go and no servers at the table; This was because you had a large party and did not want to wait for a large table to open in the part of the dining room that was full service. (I apologize if I am mistaking you for another party) and I think we had the To Go cashier come take your order to make it convenient for your large party. So while we were trying to accomodate you and improve your experience by reducing your wait, we in fact did the opposite. At least we should have explained the ramifications better of seating you where we did.

I hope you give us another chance. We are far from perfect but I can assure you that most customers leave extremely happy.

Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 6, 2006 at 1:48 am

I've been to the Counter four times. All four times were a great experience. The wait staff is attentive, the burgers are great (and creative!), and everything tatstes great. Another cool thing about the Counter is the large screen TV's. It's neat to in, have a burger and a beer (or whatever) and watch a sports event. I'd go back in a minute, and recommend everyone try the Counter for a good time, and good food.

Posted by Lee
a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 6, 2006 at 11:37 am

Not only were the burgers and fries both delicious and generous, but their desserts are imaginative and tasty too, well worth leaving room for, or for sharing with a friend. The friendly staff made our dining experience pleasant, and the place was hopping with customers. The variety of choices is amazing. I'd heard this restaurant enjoys an excellent reputation in the LA area, considered to be trendy and unique there. The California Avenue restaurant lived up to all my expectations in every way. When in the mood for a big burger, perfect fries and a decadent sweet, Counter Burger will be the first place that comes to mind. I highly recommend it.

Posted by mom
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 6, 2006 at 10:22 pm

heck - an owner who apologizes publicly? Sounds like a place worth patronizing!

Posted by Kristen
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 2, 2007 at 1:31 pm

My boyfriend and I went there once, after reading about it in a food blog. Good food, mostly decent service (although we got our sodas literally three minutes before the burgers arrived), albeit a bit expensive for burgers.

Posted by Ruby
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Feb 23, 2007 at 2:41 pm

even though they have good food, they have the SCARIEST assistant manager (Amanda, i think) who is SO rude and VERY mean. But i've met Peter and he's really nice. Beware if you get Amanda though.

Posted by resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 23, 2007 at 6:21 pm

peter owner,

we went to the counter twice this last month. We really like the food, the servers were friendly but the wait for food yesterday was not reasonable, nor was the incorrect orders after such a long wait. First visit was on a Sunday afternoon about 2 weeks ago. We were seated immediately, but waited a long time for our burgers.It was a bit busy but we tried again Wed. 2/22 at 4:45. It was early for dinner and there was hardly anyone in the restaurant. It took over 40 minutes to get the burger. Then the burgers were not correct (there were only 4 burgers and fairly simple types). I am sure you will improve the organization and I know we will return with patience. Next time I am going to try to call in my order. Hope that is OK.

Posted by Shannon
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 21, 2007 at 11:18 am

I love the food and have gone several times: both seated dining and take out. it IS pricey for just burgers. the last time I went, my boyfriend and I both ordered the same sandwich. our waitress only brought one of our orders. we were confused, but didn't say anything until it was clear she wasn't bringing the second plate out. we split the first plate so it wasn't a big deal...but a huge "duh" shout out to the waitress. she apologized but didn't seem too sorry about it. a waiter only bringing out 1 of 2 meals is a first for me.

I haven't encountered any mean or scary staff there.

remembering who ordered what seems to be a constant problem at the counter.

the food is great though, especially the onion strings. i have had 2 recommendations in the past week to try the sweet potato fries as well.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 6, 2009 at 12:21 pm

Recently went to this restaurant for the first time and remembering this thread, I was prepared for slow service which it wasn't.

I like the menu choices, great, at long last being able to get exactly what you want in a burger and not seem odd. The turkey burger was great and the wholewheat bun was delicious. The various different options make a wonderful change.Being able to order different sizes is good too. I like the fact that the fries can come as an appetizer or with the meal, and come quickly with the drinks. I also loved getting knives and forks for a burger, these are stacked so full that you can't eat them with your hands without getting a sticky face, hands and even clothes.

What I didn't like was the price of $2.50 for soda which costs pennies from their fountain even though they are quick to refill those glasses which are half full of ice to begin with. The fries, although hot, are not the best around, I would rather have McDonalds fries. Also, for a sitdown restaurant, I ordered coffee and was surprised that they have no hot water for tea or coffee, although they did tell me that Starbucks was next door and I could get coffee there - it seems a strange idea to take a Starbucks into another restaurant, but maybe that is the way of the future. Even McDonalds serves coffee!

All in all, I was very impressed. We arrived just before 6.00 pm and were seated straight away and out just after 6.30 without dessert. There was a line waiting for tables at this stage.

This is not an alternative to fast food, but it is a reasonably priced meal out and it does do a kids menu. They also have vegetarian

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