Thursday, May 06, 2004

The Spur, Balfour Park

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Service: * * * 1/2
Food: * * *
Ambience: * *
Babe Count: * *

After my Spur debacle on 27 April, I did some phoning. I called the Cape Town head office. I called the Johannesburg head office. Left messages.

A very concerned Bev called me from Cape Town, and asked me to tell her what happened.

So after much flirting, I sent her to this website.

Within an hour, one of the managers in the Cape Town head office called me to tell me that they were taking my complaint very seriously indeed, and that the Johannesburg head office would be calling soon to make arrangements.

So Wouter from Joburg Spur called, and told me that the new owner of the Balfour Park branch would be calling me shortly to make arrangements. He also told me that J.J., the manager who offended me, would be apologising personally.

So Clifford, the new owner of the branch calls. "Wow, I read what happened, and I really want to apologise completely," he says. He's got a South-of-Joburg accent. Sounds like he must have been a bit of a streetwise chap in his youth.

"Thanks," I say.

"I'd really like you and your editor to come around for a free meal. We want to fix this up for you. And J.J., the manager who offended you, will apologise to you personally."

"Hmm," I say. "I'm not sure I ever want to see J.J. again. In fact," I say, "I'm surprised you haven't fired him."

"Look," says Cliff, "I understand. But we're actually sending J.J. on a customer complaints course, cos he's actually a very good manager in other respects. But yeah, we've had a few complaints about how he deals with certain customers. But then again, some of our regulars love him."

"But Cliff," I say, "we're not going to come for a free meal if they're gonna get it wrong again. I don't want a raw burger. And Steve doesn't want a raw burger either. And we don't need any fights with J.J. either."

"You have my guarantee," says Cliff.

Which is how Steve and I come to be sitting in the Spur this fine Thursday.

And the good news is that there's no sign of J.J.

But Cliff is here, and he's a really cool looking dude. Middle-aged, thin as a kebab-skewer, and a heck of a lot of nervous energy. This guy's a workaholic, and an old-school "my word is my bond" kinda bloke.

He accompanies our waitress, who takes our order. It's the same as the one we had last time. Ultra well done patties. The rolls toasted on the insides. Pepper burgers. This time we go for chocolate milkshakes instead of soft drinks.

"Are you from Germiston?" I ask. I grew up there, so I think I recognise the accent, the body language.

"Nah," he says, "just next door. Alberton."

"Hey," says Steve. "I'm from Alberton."

They chat about school. Turns out they both did matric at Eden College. "When did you matriculate?" says Cliff.

"Ninety-six," says Steve.

"Yis," says Cliff. "I was in seventy-nine. We had this English teacher. Little round oke. Got away with murder. What was his name?"

Steve's jaw has hit the floor. "A little round guy. About this tall? Hurwitz!!!"

"Ya! Hurwitz!!!" says Cliff. "What a pushover. We used to smoke in his class."

"Us too," says Steve.

The food arrives. And Cliff and the waitress watch anxiously as we examine our order.

It's perfect. Thumbs up to the Spur.

Except that the chips and the onion rings are cold. They must have put them on the plate before they cooked the burger patties. Which must have taken way longer than they normally cook them, leaving plenty of time for the extras to cool down. But it's not worth complaining about, and they're not THAT cold, and they're tasty, and we're hungry, and we've got work to do.

The milkshakes are delicious.

J.J. still hasn't appeared.

Cliff comes to us and says, "J.J. is just busy in the back, and I've got to shoot. He's going to come and apologise. Thanks for coming back, and I hope we'll see you again."

"You will," says Steve.

We wait a while, wondering if J.J. will have the guts to face us.

We're about to leave when the waitress arrives. With a bill.

"Uh," I say, "this meal's on the house."

She looks surprised. But recovers quickly. Picks up the bill and smiles broadly.

She's just about to walk away when I say, "But your service was good, so we're giving you a tip." Steve and I pitch in, and give her what would have been a twenty percent tip if we'd paid for the meal.

Still no sign of J.J.

Steve and I look at each other.

Steve says, "I don't really want to see the fucker."

"Me neither," I say.

And we slip out of the restaurant and head back to work, burping contentedly.

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