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George's Place: Downtown's Down Home Diner -- But Where's the Waiter?

Disappearing server disappoints during dinner at the longtime Kirkland spot known for decent food and friendly service.

 in downtown Kirkland has been a hometown diner since Jimmy Carter took office as president in 1976. Diners thrive off regular folks – old timers, families and those seeking a cure to the common hangover. As such, good diners need to possess the following traits – good, friendly service, quick turn-around from placing an order to receiving it, and dependable comfort food.

George’s sets itself apart with the endearing Mediterranean twist of Greek owners, showcasing familiar ingredients like feta and filo throughout the menu.

Having gone to George’s for both breakfast and lunch, I decided it was high time to take the family there for an early Friday dinner. At 5 p.m., the place was practically empty, giving us plenty of time to make a 6:30 p.m. swim lesson.

We were greeted by a cheerful server named Cooper who led us to a cherry red booth next to the windows. Our 3-year-old daughter kicked off her cowboy boots and immediately began waving at amused passersby. Our 6-year old worked fastidiously on his coloring page, drawing inspiration from the restaurant's coloring page wall of honor.

It took us a few minutes to look through the rather large menu – salads, gyros, grinders, burgers, pastas, entrees, even breakfast for dinner.

Our charming server was busy charming his female counterparts and took his sweet time before coming back to take the order. My husband chose the Greek burger and I the Greek gyro sandwich. Drawing from a previous visit, I asked the kitchen to go light on the shredded lettuce, which has a tendency to resemble an entire haystack on top of the gyro.

The bottomless drinks arrived in speedy fashion and then we waited. And waited. And waited. Seriously, what was taking so long? Our food arrived at 5:45, approximately 40 minutes after we walked through the front doors. Swim lessons were looking doubtful.

THE GREEK BURGER was a tasty knife-and-fork version, juicy and salty with feta. The fries were perfect diner fries – crisp on the outside, soft in the center.

But, the gyro sandwich had some problems. Apparently, the kitchen ignored the light lettuce note and also the actual order. I received the gyro sandwich, not the Greek gyro sandwich and was, therefore, missing the kalamata olives and feta toppings. Not to worry, I simply pushed a large portion of the lettuce aside and ate my sandwich. The house tzatziki sauce provided creamy tang against the salty gyro meat.

The little mix-up might not have been that big of a deal had our server ever come back to see how our meal was going. We never saw him again. We never even got to take advantage of the bottomless drink deal. Another sweet server finally came with the bill, which she quickly adjusted to reflect the different gyro sandwich, which was $2 cheaper.

Phew! It looked like we might just make that swim lesson – just as soon as they ran our card. Then all the servers disappeared again. We finally decided that maybe we were supposed to take our bill to the front to pay – which, we did as we raced out the door.

The food may be decent, the service friendly, but George’s didn’t deliver on timeliness. Kitchen errors and disappearing servers are the kind of mistakes that irk diners, particularly those with antsy kids. It’s more understandable when the house is packed, but there were only three tables by the time we left.

Maybe we hit the place on a bad night, but do I want to go back and find out? Perhaps for breakfast – the thick cut bacon is quite a treat.

Robin August 02, 2011 at 04:17 PM
I think all of Kirkland's restaurants wait staff behaves the same. It's awkward to be at a table and be ignored for more than 3 to 5 minutes while the wait staff chat's amongst each other or continues a lenghty conversation with another customer rather than promptly giving their new patrons service. Hectors is the WORST for this behavior.
Bea Nahon August 02, 2011 at 09:21 PM
Julie, I hope you'll return to George's soon. We have always received great service and staff treats us like part of the family. The food is very good, breakfast, lunch or dinner (and terrific Happy Hour!). Special requests are no problem and if I ask for the hashbrowns to be well done, I can count on them to be nice and crunchy. Cooper has been our server many times and we've always had good service. It's one of our favorite places and I am sure that's true for many others in Kirkland. Did you say anything to Pete? I know he would have appreciated your feedback.
Julie Arnan August 04, 2011 at 04:26 AM
Bea, I probably will try George's again sometime. I know the locals love it. It's just too bad that my first family experience there was so fraught with problems!
Julie Arnan August 04, 2011 at 04:27 AM
Robin, Thanks for the comment! I'm wondering what you think of the menu overhaul at Hector's?
Kendall Watson August 05, 2011 at 06:38 PM
I agree with Bea. Especially about Pete (don't forget Athina, too!). This is a family-run establishment and they are at least earnest in their business, if not always perfect. I love this place & hope to stop by again soon.
Cooper Depner August 09, 2011 at 01:23 AM
Julie to you and your family i would like to apologize for the service you had at George's. It has always been known for a great place to take the family and not have to wait for a table or food. Thank you for pointing out the positives and negatives of the experience you had. This helps me and the staff learn from this and make sure it doesn't happen again. I would love for you to give George's another chance to show this was not a normal dining experience. Once again i am greatly sorry for not performing my duties as a waiter!! -Cooper @ George's
Julie Arnan August 09, 2011 at 03:45 AM
Cooper! I have to say I am very impressed to get an apology comment from you. I appreciate it. Your fans have attested to George's good reputation and I am glad to know that my unfortunate experience was not the norm. I'm sure we'll be back sometime in the future.

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