I don’t usually name names. Chico is a small town, people talk, and my goal is not to put anyone out of business. That said, I’d like to tell you a little story about my last experience at Johnnie’s. Buckle in.

My three dining companions and I were seated by a waitress who, when asked what non-alcoholic drinks were available, took a few seconds to think, then said, “Ummm, we have St. Pauly Girl.”

We all stared back at her, waiting for the rest of the list. She slowly said, “Otherwise it’s pretty much iced tea or Arnold Palmers.” Fabulous. My on-the-wagon dining companion, along with the rest of us, resorted to water.

When he asked if the waitress could remind him what the tapas special was, she said, “Dates wrapped in bacon.” To which he replied, “That’s what it said on the board out there?”

She didn’t say a word, but walked outside to look at the board, came back and said, “The board says Chicken Yakitori.”

“Do you have that?”

“I think so. The board on the other side of the restaurant says something else.”

We all tilted our heads and looked at one another, internally thinking, “Is this happening right now?”

After I circled two typos on the menu with my pen, we put in our orders and 45 minutes later we were served our…meals. I ordered a salad due to the lack of gluten-free options on the lunch menu. It was fine, although a little skimpy on the candied pecans and feta.

My partner was served his Lounge Burger – the one topped with the tomatoespickle. The menu said the Lounge Burger was made with kobe so he appropriately ordered it medium-rare, but it came out medium-well, with a side of soggy fries. When the waitress came to ask how our meal was, my partner was honest and kind.

One of our guests didn’t get the braised greens promised on the menu with her $12 salmon cakes. The overly-peppered cakes were simply delivered to the table with no discussion about the greens, until our guest asked for a menu to make sure she wasn’t mistaken, then asked the waitress about the missing veggies.

The waitress returned from the kitchen and said, “The greens haven’t arrived. The chef can substitute bok choy. I’ll bring that out separately.” The waitress then turned to my partner (politely eating his overcooked burger and soggy fries) and said, “They’re going to make you another one of these.”

I’m sure he would have liked to have known that before he ate half his burger.

After an hour and a half we paid our ticket. They generously comped the yakitori and the minestrone soup for a total of $10, but not the orders they messed up, which would have amounted to $22.

Chico, we can do better.


Jen Cartier misses Chico! However, she has taken to the great beyond (er...The Bay Area) to be some kind of chocolate maven while simultaneously figuring out how the hell to navigate her long-ass work commute, and still kick ass at raising three munchkins, loving one soon-to-be husband, and keeping one rascally Brittany Spaniel in the damned yard. She loves Nutella, red wine, and American Spirits. She takes her dog along on runs to wear him out (sometimes he shits in someone else's yard - bonus!) and also to balance her own general consumption of all the fine tasty things life offers, ciggys included. Follow her blog at riceflourmemoirs.com