I used to eat at Zesto’s all the time before their Portage location closed. It was a popular lunch spot for University of Winnipeg students, but maybe they didn’t get enough business during the summer.
What’s unique about this sub and wrap place is that they can make their wraps with lettuce, rice, or a combination of the two. Rice isn’t an uncommon ingredient in authentic burritos or similar dishes, but most North Americans tend to think of wraps as basically sandwiches with a tortilla. You wouldn’t put rice in a sandwich, therefore. . . .
When I discovered they had a new location on Henderson, I was excited to have a Zesto’s rice-filled wrap for the first time in five years, and share the experience with my fiancee. When we unwrapped our food at home, however, we were disappointed to discover both the wrap and salad had red onions, although we had asked for there to be none.
My fiancee decided to eat her half of the wrap anyway. I tried to do the same but they bother me more than her and as soon as I had the first bite I knew I wouldn’t be able to eat it. I picked at the salad, where the onion taste wasn’t as overpowering, but my stomach was growling, so it ended up being cornflakes for dinner.
The next day at lunch I swung by to give it another shot. I told the person at the counter there had been a mistake with my order the previous night. I had already decided in advance I wouldn’t complain about the salad, even if I wasn’t really satisfied, since I had still decided to eat some of it.
I’m the kind of person who doesn’t complain about food orders unless the mistake actually prevents me from eating it. I thought even if the staff asked me if there were any other problems, I wouldn’t mention it. Well, I didn’t have to worry about that. They didn’t even want to hear about the first problem.
“So, what, you came back here for another half wrap because there were onions?”
If the words didn’t already sound hostile, her body language and tone made it more than clear. I told her simply, somewhat apologetically (why was I apologetic?), that I just don’t like onions (which, of course, is why we ordered it that way).
“I’ll have to call my boss.”
When she got off the phone she was still glaring daggers at me and she gave me a little interrogation. She asked what the order had been, what exactly was wrong with it, why I hadn’t returned the wrap last night, instead of today. She started making a new wrap, without onions this time, midway through, almost as an afterthought she asked if I had my receipt, although I was clearly holding an uneaten Zesto’s wrap in my hand.
She was so obviously pissed as she was making the wrap (she looked like she was strangling someone to death rather than stuffing a tortilla) that she didn’t ask any of the requisite questions, like whether I wanted rice or lettuce, or if I wanted anything else taken out.
She roughly tossed the wrap on the counter and said “sorry for the inconvenience” in a blatantly insincere way. At this point I was so amazed at how mistreated I was feeling, without having at any point been rude, accusatory, or failing to say “please” or “thank you”, I did something I’ve never done before, and actually attempted to engage with her further.
“Excuse me,” I said, in my calm and polite voice, “I’m sorry, but I get the strong impression that I’ve irritated or offended you coming in here, and I’m not sure exactly why.”
She said something about being sorry if it came across that way, but she’s “never known a guy to come in here with an uneaten wrap the next day”. I told her I’d come when it was convenient for me, rather than making a special trip.
Privately I was wondering why I was being berated for not acting more quickly in response to their mistake. What I said was that I had no intention of causing a scene (which I didn’t) or giving anyone a hard time. I just wanted to get the wrap I had paid for, but not received, the previous night. I’ve worked in a restaurant myself, for years and years, I told her. I know it’s annoying when an order comes back, but I wouldn’t have brought it just to nitpick.
She said, “Well, I would never bring back a half a wrap like that. But I apologize”, — again, her tone conveyed pretty much anything but a sense of apology — “if it seemed like I was being rude.”
Right. That ordeal done with, I took my wrap home, opened it up, and, of course, she had made it with lettuce instead of rice. I still hadn’t gotten what I wanted. But I wasn’t going back there again. I ate the wrap, and I’ll be fair, it was reasonably good. Maybe even worth the seven dollars I paid for it.
Not worth seven dollars, plus a second trip, topped off with being treated like crap by the staff. Not even close.
But I’ve got a new slogan to suggest for Zesto’s, “Great food when we don’t screw it up or verbally abuse you”.