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A disappointed man at a restaurant.
A disappointed man at a restaurant.
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The Biggest Dining Grievances of 2017 Mostly Stem From a Continuing Labor Shortage

Local food writers share their complaints

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As is Eater’s annual tradition, we’re closing out 2017 by surveying local food writers (including our own staff and contributors) on various restaurant-related topics, and we’re publishing their responses in these final days of the year. Readers, please feel free to chime in with your own thoughts in the comment section below.

Keep an eye on the Year in Eater archive page for other stories in this series.

Today’s next question: What was your biggest dining grievance in 2017?

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MC Slim JB, restaurant critic for The Improper Bostonian:

“The blimp-sized bubble that is Boston’s restaurant scene is suffering a critical labor shortage: Nobody can keep enough talented, experienced line cooks, bartenders, and servers on staff. I felt this most keenly in 2017 in the form of declining service standards.

Many fine-dining places are clearly settling for servers whose previous gig was at a Chili’s or Buffalo Wild Wings. If you interrupt their memorized spiel at the start of dinner, they have to start over. Wine keys are foreign implements to them. ‘Actually, I don’t appreciate you replacing my farmhouse ale order with an IPA because you think they’re pretty much the same thing.’ (The last was to the same server who disappeared for 10 minutes to make out in plain sight with her boyfriend at the bar, helping to make ReelHouse in Eastie my worst service experience of the year, which is saying something.)

I try to remain philosophical about it, but the drop-off from a couple of years ago is stark and increasingly joy-sapping.”


Marc Hurwitz, founder of Boston's Hidden Restaurants and Boston Restaurant Talk, restaurant critic for Dig Boston, and more:

“I continue to see places that are half empty that won't or can't sit people who don't have reservations. I think part of this stems from a lack of help so I totally understand why this happens, so this is maybe less of a grievance and more of a general overall worry about how out of whack things are when it comes to supply and demand of workers in the biz.”


Jenna Pelletier, food editor of Boston Magazine:

“Poor service.”


Dan Whalen, blogger at The Food in my Beard and author of upcoming cookbook Tots!:

“Have we hit peak octopus yet?”


Dana Hatic, associate editor of Eater Boston:

“There were too many good things to eat; I couldn't get to them all.”


Alex Wilking, contributor to Eater Boston:

“Noise. Noise, noise, noise. Turn down the music, please, and let me enjoy my meal. I’ve also been to a number of tapas restaurants this year that don’t know how to pace the meal. Sometimes people forget that sending every dish out in rapid fire succession is, well, overwhelming and unnecessary.”


Rachel Leah Blumenthal, editor of Eater Boston:

“Lifeless out-of-town chains barging in, expanding fast, and taking up space that I’d much rather see go to local folks, particularly first-time owners. And the soulless giant developments that are facilitating this, driving up rent city-wide. If I see the words ‘luxury condo’ one more time...”


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