Singleton pub The Miller Arms responds after families slam ‘shambolic’ Christmas Day service
A pub near Poulton-le-Fylde has passionately defended itself after customers slammed its Christmas Day dinner service as a ‘shambles’ and ‘disgrace’.
According to a number of TripAdvisor reviews, furious guests who had booked in for their festive meals at The Miller Arms, waited hours for their food, were forced to stand outside because the bar area was too full to fit them in and some left without eating at all.
And while the pub’s director, who did not wish to be named for fear of personal attacks, accepts the day, which had 400 people booked in, went “spectacularly wrong”, he claims many issues were “out of their control”.
Among the reviews on TripAdvisor, Nomad04332103889 wrote that the atmosphere was “awful” and they were “ignored by staff”, adding that they left after a hour of waiting to be seated.
As timbE8720OG said booking in at the pub was a “major mistake”and they will “never go again”, while Q1416UQmichellel said it was “a scene of absolute chaos, a shambles”, before adding: “There were elderly guests that could not stand for long but there was no seats for them. The bar was that full that people were stood outside in the cold”.
This reviewer also accused management of “greed” for overbooking which caused “a lot of people great distress on what should be a magical day”.
However, one reviewer Z5979LY, appeared empathetic to the staff after “seeing two waitresses crying” and added some customers were “unnecessarily rude to staff” who were “working on Christmas Day and not spending it with their families”.
They concluded the restaurant “bit off more than it could chew” by operating a banquet-style service, which did not allow for any flexibility or delays.
And asked by LancsLive for a response, the pub’s director claimed customers turning up late, making changes to their pre-orders on the day and four staff members testing positive for coronavirus on Christmas Eve all contributed in delays to service.
“We were in between a rock and a hard place,” the The Miller Arms manager said after finding out a number of his waiting staff would not be able to work.
He added: “I had to choose to either ring round people late on Christmas Eve and tell them their Christmas Day meal was cancelled, knowing they would not have any other food in, or try to do the best we could, short staffed.
“We were there until 2am on Christmas Eve and were back in at 7am and I had given my staff extra training to prepare for the day.
“But we couldn’t plan ahead for people turning up over an hour late for the 12.15pm sitting, which then had a knock-on effect to the 2.15pm sitting. It wasn’t fair.
“People were just turning up when they felt like it and serving a banquet scenario people need to come in staggered and at the allocated time we asked them to.
“Some would come with part of their group missing and wouldn’t know what their pre-orders were to take off, which delayed us even further – staff couldn’t get passed the crowds at the bar to serve food.”
The venue is located in the village of Singleton, which does not have broadband internet and limited bandwidth and it became so slow, staff were unable to use the tills to process payment or send information to the kitchen and were forced to take all drinks orders by hand, which also caused significant disruption.
“We are sincerely sorry for ruining people’s Christmas and we refunded everyone who decided to leave and didn’t take any payments for some people who had eaten three of their four courses and also didn’t charge for their drinks tab,” the director added.
“Also, there are no current [social distancing] Covid restrictions in hospitality, so it was the customer’s choice to bring their elderly relative to a packed pub on Christmas Day, it’s unfair to blame that on us.
“We lost around £10k in a single day and I still paid my staff double time and bonuses.
“If we had known Covid would still be rife when we opened pre-bookings in July, we would not have opened, we wouldn’t have risked it.”
The director also refutes claims in one TripAdvisor review that he was “hiding away” from customers, explaining that he opted to instead work in the kitchen because he is currently undergoing cancer treatment, including radiotherapy and trusted the other four members of management to run front of house.
He also says “130 people dined perfectly” and that he has received a number of supportive emails and reviews since.
“I’ve had 20 emails this morning and five are bad, the rest are telling us we did a good job, to put our heads up and shoulders back and just try to recover from it.
“People don’t understand what’s going on in people’s lives, they didn’t care about that, we are all human.
“It’s one bad day in the year, it was just unfortunate it was Christmas day and we’d had nothing but five star reviews in the rest of December.
“It does not excuse the way some customers were getting in the face of my assistant manager, who is heavily pregnant.
“And in all the negative reviews, I have not seen anyone say anything bad about the food.
“Today is a new day, we will recover from it and we will continue to serve great food”.