#13 McMenamins’ Service

mcminn-791190.jpgWhether you were born here, or are one of the many new residents, you’ve been to McMenamins. Your first visit is almost an initiation ritual for the Rose City. Even with the array of other wonderful dining options, you cannot avoid McDonaldmin’s.

When you first hear they’ve turned an entire elementary school into one large drinking/dining oasis, you can’t help but settle your curiosity with a visit. And if the Beavers play in the National Championship game for baseball, there is no better place than Mission Theater to watch, drink, and celebrate. I like how their alternative dinning experience is almost universal, providing a similar atmosphere with any location. NE 15th and Broadway feels identical to the 82nd location. The White Eagle looks like it could be the lounge for the Mission Theater. Beer and food options are very similar in taste and offer a surprising consistency in presentation. Unfortunately, you also get their terrible service.

It is funny that with so much attention paid to the detail of the properties, the matching wallpaper and twee paintings, the attention to customer service is so abysmal. No matter at what location you dine, the wait staff seems to hate your existence. I’m not sure whether they are underpaid and/or understaffed, but your presence is not welcome. The “Wait here to be seated” sign means wait…and then be greeted with a curt “Sit anywhere.” A 45 minute delay for your food is almost expected. This of course, comes after you’ve waited 20 minutes for the first round of delicious beers. Its ALMOST bearable due to the fact that McMenamins’ brews an amazing selection of micros and cooks up delicious burgers. If you enjoy being ignored and left alone, man (or woman) you have come to the right place.

Eventually, everyone comes to the realization that McMenamins’ service is so bad, it’s not worth going there. Even if the tater-tots are nuggets of greasy gold. Here are tips to boost your McMenamins’ experience from horrific to okay:

  • Eat before you go
    I recommend Burgerville for a comparable food experience. Time saved= 60 minutes
  • Order by the pitcher
    Unless you are sitting at the bar, plan on a 30 minute wait between beers. Time saved= 30 minutes
  • Avoid Happy Hour
    At no point does McMenamins’ service represent happiness. Time saved= Infinite x 100 hours
  • Masquerade as a hippy
    The wait staff will feel like you are one of them, and not some rich kid from Beaverton or a tourist. Time saved= 45 minutes
  • Cash only
    Do you want to add another 20 minutes for your server to bring the check? Time saved= 20 minutes
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66 Responses to “#13 McMenamins’ Service”


  1. 1 Long Time Portland Res 05/02 at 9:48 am

    If you’re considering visiting…. Portland is THEE mecca of awesome establishments, food and service. McMenamins isn’t one of them.

    We’ve had to deal with other issues in the past as well, and I stumbled upon this page looking for the contact I spoke with regarding the LAST problem we had… for a CURRENT issue – the deplorable service received my wife’s business luncheon received.

    My personal best: A waitress’s confrontational assault on us within less than 30 seconds entering their Mall 205 location. Their sign said – seat yourself. Saw an empty table with a few glasses on it and a service tray next to it, so we started to move the glasses. Apparently that was a “no-no” and were verbally assaulted within seconds of touching the first glass. I KID YOU NOT! Their district manager “supposedly” addressed the issue with the waitress. I doubt there was anything ever done.

    There was absolutely no call for the waitresses words. I was in shock. We weren’t rude about anything, and actually… thought we were doing the staff a favor. Oh… and they were NOT busy either.

    To the point of this article, and to anyone in Portland reading this, or anyone considering visiting or living here; As unique as their properties are, I wish I could recommend these guys. I can’t!

    As a LONG time, Portland resident, this article (albeit sarcastic at times) couldn’t BE more accurate in EVERY way, every scenario… down to every sarcastic point made! We’ve experienced them all, and the reason we will rarely ever go anymore to ANY of their properties.

    Portland is THEE mecca of awesome establishments, great and unique foods. If you’re visiting Portland, why waste your time, energy and money when we have SO MANY other great places that you’ll actually enjoy? If you visit Portland, and you see a McMenamins…. keep going right on by. You’ll find five more other places just past them that are ten times better.

  2. 2 paul gover 03/14 at 3:44 am

    We always have a goodtime at any of there places. P.S. there not fast food. Just great food and drink the people are fantastic.

  3. 3 Jack 03/12 at 11:05 pm

    Ass matter tables, they use vinegar not bleach, stack chairs on tables after they are cleaned lol. Small town, hippy fucks ruining Our world. LOL ,WELL SEE.

  4. 4 Jack 03/12 at 10:09 pm

    My Wife was recently fired from AssMenamins, She’s been in the service industry for 30 plus years , Too service oriented for them. Managment must have been at drum circle to long. More to come. WRONGFUL TERMINATION. LIARS; CONTACT ME MICHALE, BRIAN, LOVE TO TALK FOR AMOMENT, threefingerjack@gmail.com (541) 992 – 2848

  5. 5 Abercrombie 02/10 at 2:49 pm

    Sad to say but so true!!!!! This company is horrible to work for!! It’s extremely corporate and the reason the service sucks is that they fire the good ones! If you go to any bar in Portland at least one of the bartenders/ servers have worked for that evil company and have nothing but negative things to say! And what ever you do DON’T have your wedding at any of there locations I had mine there and it was nothing but a horrible experience! I have told all the future brides and grooms my horrid story and am glad to say detoured some of them! There beer and food are extremely overrated whith all the great little breweries in the Portland metro area I don’t understand how they stay in business!

  6. 6 Soon to be ex-McMenamin employee 10/14 at 3:35 am

    As a McDonaldmin’s employee for two months, and as someone who has prided himself on providing exceptional service within the food and beverage industry for a cumulative 12 years, the saddest part about my current employment status is that there they have so many good, talented people working for them… who are wasting their talents and energies working for a company that gives not one shit about the customers. Echoing the statements of previous posters, at McMenamin’s, it’s all about the bottom line and nothing else. They purposely understaff because, in their corporate minds, it’s better to not pay an extra person minimum wage than have an adequate amount of people to handle the flow of business.

    Shame on you, McMenamin’s. Shame on you for purposely setting your staff up for failure and then pretend that you’re a ‘different’ kind of company. Shame on you for being nothing but the exact same kind of corporate phonies you pretend you’re not.

    In looking for a new job, at a place where I can actually take pride in the service I provide, I’m wondering if it’s better that I don’t list McMenamin’s on my resume.

  7. 7 Anita 07/07 at 8:19 pm

    obviously your an asshole! have you not read the last comments? its not the server’s fault. its how the company sets it up

  8. 8 Bronan the Barbarian! 05/16 at 8:18 am

    Too funny… This was my exact experience. I’ve been here for a week and went to the schoolhouse location because it’s supposedly something you have to do as a Portland n00b. The venue itself was really creative, but holy shit the food and service were awful.

  9. 9 macc 02/21 at 6:20 pm

    it’s the servers not the cooks! trust me.

  10. 10 Chrystal 08/26 at 9:48 am

    McMenamin’s service is terrible because they treat their employees horribly, plain and simple. How motivated would anyone be at a place where labor goals are impossible to reach, your manager actually spoons a tot off your plate because “you get 12 tots, not 13” for the shift meal you paid for, or when they measure the amount of beer runoff you had at the end of shift and you can get fired if there is too much? Because anyone who has poured beer knows you can’t always control how the taps are running! And that’s not even the half of how terrible they treat their employees to be sure. In short, the service is bad, the food, while in concept may sound good is always cold when you get it, and let’s face it, the beer sucks and is overpriced. In a city like Portland there is absolutely NO REASON to support a corporate stronghold like McMenamin’s when there are stellar breweries and restaurants throughout the city.

  11. 11 marty 03/07 at 12:56 pm

    WoW! I was so looking forward to score a position w/ McMen’s when I move to PDX from Hawaii, now I’m thinking different, I was BQT chef with Hyatt corp and we have such high standards and customer service that maybe I should steer clear?!? How is it that Mgmt can not see an entire webpage about how their company sucks? I’ve been confused before, but this seems unreal….hmmmmmm

    • 12 Grav197 02/04 at 11:06 pm

      Why would they care? Think Portland is a foodie city?

      Yeah, right.

      Portlanders go to McMens ten times in a row rather than try something new. McMens is McDonalds with poor lighting.

    • 13 Forte101 03/20 at 3:15 pm

      “Portlanders go to McMens ten times in a row rather than try something new. McMens is McDonalds with poor lighting.”

      That is so true. Portlanditis afflicts natives with fear of the new. The food scene is almost entirely DERIVATIVE. Another pork sandwich with chipotle mayo and kale chips….done that, been there, ate that, bored with it.

      Portland is bad for true creativity which is why McMens’ greasy fare is considered ‘a night out’ for natives.

  12. 14 JOhn 02/20 at 1:50 pm

    First off, can we agree that there are many places in Portland that have unbelievably bad service? Also, Portland has an endless supply of “above it all, over it” kind of bartenders and servers. That being said, I believe it is the the sheer number of locations that helps promote the stereotype about McMenamins service. Like an overextended property investor, I think they are in way over their heads.

    I have to say that they supply us with good shows, and from a musician standpoint they guarantee pay which is better than most places. It is unfortunate that while the pay keeps going out (winery gigs, GNWMT, Jazz in the Black rabbit) to players to build “ambience”, real people are being laid off to save on payroll expenses which stems from the labor constraints that everyone talks about. The percentages of which are laughable.

    I’ve never seen a company that rakes in so much refuse to give it’s workers the most basic supplies to do their jobs. What is extremely ridiculous is that upper management is completely powerless at times to make basic improvements that would make giving good service possible. Why? Because things that could be construed as “aesthetic” choices have to go through Mike or Brian (not to mention the pennies on the dollar investment they are not willing to make because of costs). Decisions such as “should we place a cabinet here so we can have a sanitary place to store plates, silverware and condiments so they are accessible to serve the hundreds of people that arrive all at once?” It is insane.

    Then stack meetings with the big wigs that come in to listen to themselves talk to you about safety, conduct, and customer service. Mind you, these people in many cases are only “big wigs” because they were in the right place at the right time, not because of their intelligence or qualifications, some have been fired from the company before. But they are calling the shots now so…..watch out cause they’ve “been there”.

    Which leads me to middle management. Like an annoying new sales force some of the new double A.Ms and A.Ms think that one day, they’ll be right up there having a cigar with the upper echelon of elites, chuckling at how they met their numbers. So they will try to enforce the policies and collect their bonuses. For many this is the beginning of the end because of the corporate/mom and pop dichotomy which is so unpredictable it literally drives people nuts, some further into their own substance abuse that the company promotes, “merry xmas, how bout we pour some whiskey on that fire”.

    The company in no way makes giving good service possible. Their idea of “giving back to their employees” is literally giving you a bottle of booze at Christmas. It is amazing they pass safety inspections, in some cases health inspections.

    All these things could be said of a million other places. But is McMenamins corporate or not? If so aren’t there requirements for work conditions? If you want your servers to give good service is it too much to ask to have running water behind your bar that is serving a party of 200 or more?

    But hey aren’t the properties just so….oh how to say, quirky? Tried the new Black Rabbit? Its so good at the mere price of $8 a glass.

    p.s Want it for free? Just complain, they are at least corporate in this regard. It might cost someone their job but isn’t it easier to just shoot the messenger?

  13. 16 McMenamins Blows 01/18 at 10:35 pm

    Honestly, McMenamins are dark, grimy and dirty.

    The food used to be decent at a decent price but the prices seem to go up and up while the food quality declines. Most of it seems to be of the ‘take the frozen chunks and deep fry them in dirty grease’ variety.

    For the same price as an indifferent McMenamins you can go to a real restaurant with actual food.

    The service, like the food, has declined tremendously. Sometimes the servers and management is just flat out rude. Most of the time they are indifferent.

    Why does anyone go there?

  14. 17 ted 12/23 at 3:05 am

    I work for mcmenamins. I honestly wish I had never taken this job. the reason the service is so horrible is because every location has a labor goal that they are forced by middle and upper management to try to meet that is completely laughable. every table in the house full with one server and one cook, in a kitchen that barely works because the company won’t cough up the money for a fully fuctioning grill, or another friar…and half the time a good 1/3 of the things on the menu are not even able to be made because they don’t send you enough food to work with. its all about cutting costs with this company. you know why you are eating your food off of a wicker tray with a piece of paper instead of a glass plate like a normal restaurant? because if everyone ate off of dishes they would have to hire an actual dishwasher. but instead, we cook our food, run it, bus the tables, and then do the dishes all ourselves to cut costs. i could write a novel on all the bullshit i have put up with for these stupid assholes. i would absolutely love to see mike or biran mcmenamin, or anybody in upper management have to come in and do my job for two weeks, just so they can see what they are putting their employees through. it is not physically possible to give good service for this company, they set you up to fail and you can’t be good enough no matter how good you are. please…go someplace else and don’t bitch at me because your food took 45 minutes. there are starving people in the world. get over it.

  15. 18 Robert 12/05 at 3:18 pm

    This is so fucking true that it almost hurts for me to read it. In addition to suffering through McMenamins service at the Grand Lodge for over a decade, I’ve spent the last six months working in the back as a dishwasher. I’m just a college graduate who’s applying to grad school and trying to pick up a little extra dough, but somehow, I’m one of the hardest-working people in that shithole. Servers and kitchen staff alike will drop everything to go outside and smoke, they mope when they have to stay a little late, food tickets will run up and nobody will be back there, and the management just places more work on the three or four reliable individuals while letting the genetic defectives slide on by (the frightening thing is that the Grand Lodge used to be worse). Thank you for saying this!

    • 19 K 08/18 at 12:54 pm

      All have to say, is not all cooks are like that and not all of them smoke. I work my ass off.

  16. 20 tatertot 09/16 at 11:18 am

    The only thing good that will come out of complaining about the shitty service is that hopefully future customers will be forewarned and chose to go elsewhere!!!

    No one gives a shit from the waiters to the managers to the owners. It is all about the bottom line. Mediocre food and shitty service is all you get out of your visit.

    The employees are all pot smoking hippies because they can and will smoke pot all day long at work… And get away with it.

    The service is shitty because everyone hates their jobs and have basically zero training and customer service skills.

    The food is shitty and over priced because McMenamins hope that their $2 painting on the wall and over priced beer will make you forget about the rolling in your gut.

    Thinking of visiting again in case the first time was a fluke and the service might get better? Think again; it always sucks that bad there!

    McMena-don’t!

    *And yes they are ridiculously understaffed there*

  17. 21 Kelly 09/01 at 8:15 am

    Oy, BTW, I would love it if someone had a blog or link to an anti-McMenamis site. Cus there should be on if there is’nt already. Send one or post it, K

  18. 23 Bill 07/07 at 12:22 pm

    After 12 years in PDX I have noticed something about McMenamins’ “legendary” service: while it can be bad in some places, its not bad in all. The harsh comments on this site reflect an endemic problem that the owners seem unwilling to address and I have heard about the service issues at McMenamins’ since I got here. There must be a reason why the owners do nothing about it. But not all of their places contain the same craptastic service, and its always friendly enough… its just that in some places (Blue Moon comes to mind), you can just get flat out ignored and the staff seem to be in the wrong line of work. The places that are other things besides bars tend to better though… Edgefield, Kennedy School for example. The one on 23rd down near Vaughn is pretty good… my experiences at Ringlers have not been good, at all. Rams Head is OK though. And you have to admit they bring some nice things to PDX… cheap movies, laid back golf, cool concert venues. When you go a McMen, just pretend you are going to see a straight to cable movie: if the service turns out to not actually be awful you will be pleasantly suprised.

    • 24 Kelly 09/01 at 8:00 am

      Hope someone, or alot of people get to read this. I am Kelly, a former employee of the Kingdom McMenamins. I worked two years at the Kennedy School, two years at the Crystal Ballroom, and five years at the Edgefield. At the Edgefield I had what I thought was a secure position as the Banquet Chef, responsible for executing all catered events from the food end of things. On a busy summer day we could have ten to twelve events and feed up to 1000 people, if you included a big concert. During the layoffs of Fall 2008 they eliminated many kitchen positions including half of my catering crew. So I was left to “serve” the guests with myself and two other people during the holidaze. The upper management worked hard to limit the number of hours we worked, putting in place a daily labor sheet dictating when we were on the clock and off the clock. They had us come in later than usual and leave/clock-out at a particular time, often before tha events were scheduled to go down. During my time as the Banquet Chef I can count at least 12 people that should not have been working with food that they hired for my “crew”. What did this mean? More stressful time restraints, lower productivity, lower quality service and food, and alot of unhappy emplyees and guests I am sure. McMenamins idea of training people (mostly in pubs) was to give them a test their first day and punish them by sending them home if they missed even one answer. I had been quite proud of the things we accomlpished and had great respect for my “Chef”, but the bullshit bravado, the daily nightmares they put me through made getting fired in April 09 the best thing that ever happened to me. MeMenamins cares only about money, promotes alcoholism, and continues to provide horrible food, beer, and service. I would’nt spend one shiny cent in one of their places and I encourage everyone I know to do the same. There are so many stories I could tell about my time working for such an awful establishment. And to think, it could be so different if they stripped their management from top to bottom. I will share more, Kelly

    • 25 Baron Phillip von Traum 09/14 at 2:42 am

      A fairly low bar to set for people who charge 11$ for a damn hamburger and tots… Also, the last time I was at Edgefield, it was the middle of a weekday and the restaurant had about 10 tables full. Nearly empty. Took 15 minutes for the waitress to appear and ask us for our drink order, we were also ready to order our lunches by then, but as soon as I barely finished saying “Two Rubynators and some water” She turned and said “Be right back with those” as she darted off. She returned 15 minutes later, beers but no water, took our orders without writing them down, (both of which she got wrong) our food didn’t come for at least 45 minutes, (we seriously almost walked out) and when it did my bro asked for some ketchup for his 7$ tater tots and she said “oh sure” then promptly disappeared until we were almost done, then proceeded to hover by every 35 seconds “Is everything OK here?” “Can I get you guys anything else” “Got any room for dessert?” OBVIOUSLY trolling for a tip. On the debit card slip, in the tip area I wrote 0.00 as huge and bold as I could. Then on the way out, I punched her in the face. Okay, one of those was an exaggeration, but after that service, I don’t remember which.

      PvT


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