How amazingly well Lebanese start up new concepts. How beautifully is that same concepts are copied, not only once or twice but a thousand times over. As this concept grows and mushrooms all over the place, business owners start lagging in their services and stop delivering their promises to their customers. Then starts the closing down game… and they ask why. Why would people want to come back if you are not delivering on your promises? How hard it is to maintain a good level of professionalism?
In a corrupted country where everything is falling apart, the only thing still surviving is the food and beverage and entertainment industry... And you planning of handling this sector the same way politics are handled? I sure hope not. I can give you a simple example that’s frustrating me and making me angry to see and not express myself: Last year, I was amazed by the new cinema craze that saw the light in Lebanon: The VIP theatre, where premium service is offered to all guests who seek to pamper themselves. I am and still, a big fan of this concept and visit these places one after the other to find the ultimate one, the best place where I feel my $30 are worth spending. ABC's Grand Cinemas was the first to introduce the concept and have mastered it perfectly well for some time. And I already stated it in all my other reviews Empire Premiere, Le Mall VIP and VOX Gold that Grand Cinemas is the best on all levels. Their service is truly next to none. But is that enough?
My last experience proved that indeed their service is great. I cannot say the same about everything:
- Now, at Grand Cinemas, you can ask for a nylon wrapped bed covers, branded with style, especially dedicated for you. A new service recently added. Here you know that it is clean and opened for you, not like the others passed from a customer to the next.
- Instead of being obliged to drink champagne or wine offered with the ticket price like it was at the opening, you can exchange them with a medium Pepsi draft and medium popcorn.
- The Grand Class is the only VIP cinema around the country that serves a real draft soft drink in a paper cup. We don't want it in a glass cup like others do.
- Yes, this is what I call a dedicated personal butler. Rudy, super professional, welcoming and attentive made everything he could to please us. He even went in, took my phone and shot a couple of pictures of the food because I asked him for it. Rudy: You are the best, thank you. You reflect the professionalism of this company
- For 45,000L.L the ticket, deducting 5,000L.L for the popcorn, 1000L.L for the water bottle and 4,000L.L for the Pepsi, you end up paying 35,000L.L while others make you pay 30,000L.L. It's almost the same
The problem is clearly the quality of the food:
I ate, or tried to eat today the worst popcorn mankind could produce. Cooked hours earlier, the popcorn we received was cold, dry, oily and chewy like a bubble gum. Taking their picture at the end, I discovered a yellow colour that covers them. Covered with butter, the popcorn is the perfect cholesterol recipe.
As always, my wife and I decided to order dinner inside. Crostini, the cinema dinner provider, which I have enjoyed eating several times, seem to have forgotten what quality is. What a shame! Can I use the word disgusting to describe the plates we received? We ordered the salmon sandwich and the cheese & ham: We received two small baguette sandwiches, over filled and spilling from all sides. Just a note: we are eating in the dark inside. Let me continue this disastrous sandwich: The bread is old and chewy and the chips are inedible dry thick, food a cat won't eat. Do you guys try the food you serve back there in the kitchen? After leaving the cinemas, I couldn't but walk to the Crostini stand and ask about the chips in general: The man proudly answered: "We produce them in-house at Crepaway!" Crepaway should be ashamed to serve something like that. The salmon sandwich, sorry I mean the mascarpone cheese sandwich with a salmon seasoning: Oily, smells eggs and spilling from all sides. Just look at the picture, it is impossible to put everything in and eat it, especially in the dark. The cheese and ham sandwich, or should I say the mayonnaise sandwich with cold cheese in spongy bread. How lame, they used to offer a great quality... A long time ago.
In a nutshell:
- The cinema VIP services: Improving and good
- The Crostini food: Extremely bad
- The Concession area Popcorn: A TOTAL mess
Some improvements to make this cinema, Lebanon's best:
- Dozens of kids pushing each other in front of five counters. Can't one be a VIP dedicated? For an experience that starts and ends in style?
- Add a little light next to the chairs to see what we are eating
- Work more on your popcorn and its freshness
- Food, butter popcorn... Wet wipes are a must for every grand class customer
- Crostini needs a major change. Is that Crepaway quality? "The Crepaway" doing the big 2013 come back? Shocking! I'm sure they don't know what is being cooked in here.
- Dedicated restrooms should be installed for VIP guests
I'm sad and tired of always expecting perfection around this country and having to fall into average experiences, especially when I am paying for the extra touch. Dear business owners of this hospitality industry, your competition and new innovative ideas are raising the bar even higher, year after the other. You are promising clients perfection... Promises are made to be kept and always!