#13 McMenamins’ Service

mcminn-791190.jpgWhether you were born here, or are one of the many new residents, you’ve been to McMenamins. Your first visit is almost an initiation ritual for the Rose City. Even with the array of other wonderful dining options, you cannot avoid McDonaldmin’s.

When you first hear they’ve turned an entire elementary school into one large drinking/dining oasis, you can’t help but settle your curiosity with a visit. And if the Beavers play in the National Championship game for baseball, there is no better place than Mission Theater to watch, drink, and celebrate. I like how their alternative dinning experience is almost universal, providing a similar atmosphere with any location. NE 15th and Broadway feels identical to the 82nd location. The White Eagle looks like it could be the lounge for the Mission Theater. Beer and food options are very similar in taste and offer a surprising consistency in presentation. Unfortunately, you also get their terrible service.

It is funny that with so much attention paid to the detail of the properties, the matching wallpaper and twee paintings, the attention to customer service is so abysmal. No matter at what location you dine, the wait staff seems to hate your existence. I’m not sure whether they are underpaid and/or understaffed, but your presence is not welcome. The “Wait here to be seated” sign means wait…and then be greeted with a curt “Sit anywhere.” A 45 minute delay for your food is almost expected. This of course, comes after you’ve waited 20 minutes for the first round of delicious beers. Its ALMOST bearable due to the fact that McMenamins’ brews an amazing selection of micros and cooks up delicious burgers. If you enjoy being ignored and left alone, man (or woman) you have come to the right place.

Eventually, everyone comes to the realization that McMenamins’ service is so bad, it’s not worth going there. Even if the tater-tots are nuggets of greasy gold. Here are tips to boost your McMenamins’ experience from horrific to okay:

  • Eat before you go
    I recommend Burgerville for a comparable food experience. Time saved= 60 minutes
  • Order by the pitcher
    Unless you are sitting at the bar, plan on a 30 minute wait between beers. Time saved= 30 minutes
  • Avoid Happy Hour
    At no point does McMenamins’ service represent happiness. Time saved= Infinite x 100 hours
  • Masquerade as a hippy
    The wait staff will feel like you are one of them, and not some rich kid from Beaverton or a tourist. Time saved= 45 minutes
  • Cash only
    Do you want to add another 20 minutes for your server to bring the check? Time saved= 20 minutes

79 thoughts on “#13 McMenamins’ Service

  1. OMG. Mcenamins is the worst place. I was taken here by a native Portlander who raved about it and I nearly gagged. The food was disgusting and only the beer helped wash it down. PDXers should close this place down.

  2. 10 years later glad i found this! i was wondering if the public at large had caught on to mcmenamins… i did my stint there for about 6 months in 2010 in olympia, wa – absolute worst job i have EVER had. all i have to tell anyone who has ever been a server: at mcmenamins, SERVERS WASH DISHES. just a complete hellhole through and through. loved getting visits from the mighty mcmenamins brothers in their yellow porsches…. so cool, man. i hope this place fails and rots and burns fast.

  3. McMenamin’s sucks a$$. Along with crappy food, crappy beer and crappy service, they refuse to provide health insurance benefits to full time non-management employees during their first YEAR of employment, provide no training and are infamous for understaffing… and HR could give a s**t, as they insist there’s some kind of loophole that doesn’t require them to do this…and give total attitude about it. They are laughing all the way to the bank with their fast-food garbage they serve by indifferent staff, just because they do it in renovated buildings (including the Chapel Pub which is repulsive to me as my family had grieved at numerous funerals there and the room where they held services is now their bar). Now they have the nerve to be crowdfunding to get the public to pay for their next s**tty restaurant in Tacoma, that’s how cheap they are. I’ve never been so dismayed at seeing how they treat their employees, and coming from nearly 20 years in HR myself, what they are doing is completely unethical, self-serving to the founders, and an embarrassment to the city.

    • Wow, you sure hit the nail on the head. I’m a McMenamins employee.. hopefully soon to be an ex-employee. I dare not reveal my name or job title because I’m sure if they found out about my agreement they’d find some way to destroy my right to freedom of speech and fire me. I’ve stuck with the company for 4 years because I work with good people (yes, their indifference is because they hate their jobs) who share my and your sentiment. Another reason is I keep getting promises from managers about wage raises and better benefits… all lies. Oh, can’t wait till I’m out.

      • We live in Eugene, my wife and I are basically happy with the SERVICE at the three establishments in town. BUT there has been a big decline in the quality of the FOOD.

        We went today to High Street, were one of the servers was the cook. I ordered a chicken sandwich, which was seved on one their crappy burger buns. They have been really pushing burgers lately. Anyhow, I I had my “chicken burger” and had serious indigestion and was wiped out for the rest off the day. My wife’s meal was cold, tasted bad, and she did not even eat it. Smart! I guess the McMenamins accountants are trying so save money for new hotels. The food is somewhat better at North Bank, but even there they have really cut back the menu to “pub”-type items. We have Passports but I plan to toss them out. Like, we live in Eugene, are we really going to go up to Washington just to eat at McMenamins?

  4. McMenamins Highland Pub & Brewery is horrible. All the good staff has been replaced by under 30-somethings, staff who smoke or vape marijuana while on break right outside the door, and we were refused service for absolutely no reason. The manager, whose name I found out the next day when I called, Matt Knoll, must have been having a bad day because he was very rude and looked like he was on a 3-day bender. So done with this place, and McMenamins in general.

    I tried to send my complaint through McMenamins website but they don’t even have it said up right because emails just bounced back. I complained on yelp and facebook and no one has reached out. I guess they don’t care.

  5. McMenamins totally sucks! Please avoid this company at all costs! They care more about money than the well-being of their customers. In October of 2014, at one of the locations I have worked at, Rock Creek Tavern, the power was out for a three-day stretch with the only source of power being a shoddy little generator barely holding together. One of those days, we were completely without hot water. Guess what? We stayed open, even though it is against health code to do so. I called the General Manager and informed him that we were going to be closing the place down because it was against health code to stay open, and he told me to stay open or risk losing my job. f**k that guy. f**k the McMenamins. I hate myself every day that I go to work for those assholes. Unfortunately, I can’t quit because I have a family to provide for. Please do not give your money to these lousy f**ks! Hopefully I can find a new job soon! Oh, and by the way… the following Monday after the power outage fiasco, we received a visit from the health department because someone got food poisoning. Hmm… I wonder why? Perhaps it was because we were washing dishes in cold unsanitary water? Or perhaps it was because the cooks were washing their hands in cold water after handling raw chicken or after taking a s**t? Who knows? f**k McMenamins. f**k them. Spread the word. f**k McMenamins. They don’t care about you, just your money. Just another greedy corporate black hole. f**k McMenamins.

  6. At this very moment, I am sitting in the Vancouver McMenamins on 18th… It has been over 30 minutes with no service. I was going to sit and see how long it took, but my frustration got the best of me so I walked to the bar. The waitress said she didn’t see me and then made a stupid joke about how there should be a bell where I sit so she knew I was there… Really? You couldn’t, I don’t know, DO YOUR JOB AND PAY ATTENTION TO WHEN CUSTOMERS ENTER YOUR RESTAURANT?!!!?!! This is about the 5000th time I have experienced this level of service at a McMenamins.. what is wrong with me that I keep coming back? Please, somebody, anybody in the area, open a low key, quiet bar where I can tuck away for an hour for a pint or two of a good IPA, and I will shower you with all my moneys!! Why do I keep wasting money on this terrible place?!!

  7. If you’re considering visiting…. Portland is THEE mecca of awesome establishments, food and service. McMenamins isn’t one of them.

    We’ve had to deal with other issues in the past as well, and I stumbled upon this page looking for the contact I spoke with regarding the LAST problem we had… for a CURRENT issue – the deplorable service received my wife’s business luncheon received.

    My personal best: A waitress’s confrontational assault on us within less than 30 seconds entering their Mall 205 location. Their sign said – seat yourself. Saw an empty table with a few glasses on it and a service tray next to it, so we started to move the glasses. Apparently that was a “no-no” and were verbally assaulted within seconds of touching the first glass. I KID YOU NOT! Their district manager “supposedly” addressed the issue with the waitress. I doubt there was anything ever done.

    There was absolutely no call for the waitresses words. I was in shock. We weren’t rude about anything, and actually… thought we were doing the staff a favor. Oh… and they were NOT busy either.

    To the point of this article, and to anyone in Portland reading this, or anyone considering visiting or living here; As unique as their properties are, I wish I could recommend these guys. I can’t!

    As a LONG time, Portland resident, this article (albeit sarcastic at times) couldn’t BE more accurate in EVERY way, every scenario… down to every sarcastic point made! We’ve experienced them all, and the reason we will rarely ever go anymore to ANY of their properties.

    Portland is THEE mecca of awesome establishments, great and unique foods. If you’re visiting Portland, why waste your time, energy and money when we have SO MANY other great places that you’ll actually enjoy? If you visit Portland, and you see a McMenamins…. keep going right on by. You’ll find five more other places just past them that are ten times better.

  8. We always have a goodtime at any of there places. P.S. there not fast food. Just great food and drink the people are fantastic.

  9. My Wife was recently fired from AssMenamins, She’s been in the service industry for 30 plus years , Too service oriented for them. Managment must have been at drum circle to long. More to come. WRONGFUL TERMINATION. LIARS; CONTACT ME MICHALE, BRIAN, LOVE TO TALK FOR AMOMENT, threefingerjack@gmail.com (541) 992 – 2848

  10. Sad to say but so true!!!!! This company is horrible to work for!! It’s extremely corporate and the reason the service sucks is that they fire the good ones! If you go to any bar in Portland at least one of the bartenders/ servers have worked for that evil company and have nothing but negative things to say! And what ever you do DON’T have your wedding at any of there locations I had mine there and it was nothing but a horrible experience! I have told all the future brides and grooms my horrid story and am glad to say detoured some of them! There beer and food are extremely overrated whith all the great little breweries in the Portland metro area I don’t understand how they stay in business!

  11. As a McDonaldmin’s employee for two months, and as someone who has prided himself on providing exceptional service within the food and beverage industry for a cumulative 12 years, the saddest part about my current employment status is that there they have so many good, talented people working for them… who are wasting their talents and energies working for a company that gives not one s**t about the customers. Echoing the statements of previous posters, at McMenamin’s, it’s all about the bottom line and nothing else. They purposely understaff because, in their corporate minds, it’s better to not pay an extra person minimum wage than have an adequate amount of people to handle the flow of business.

    Shame on you, McMenamin’s. Shame on you for purposely setting your staff up for failure and then pretend that you’re a ‘different’ kind of company. Shame on you for being nothing but the exact same kind of corporate phonies you pretend you’re not.

    In looking for a new job, at a place where I can actually take pride in the service I provide, I’m wondering if it’s better that I don’t list McMenamin’s on my resume.

  12. obviously your an asshole! have you not read the last comments? its not the server’s fault. its how the company sets it up

  13. Too funny… This was my exact experience. I’ve been here for a week and went to the schoolhouse location because it’s supposedly something you have to do as a Portland n00b. The venue itself was really creative, but holy s**t the food and service were awful.

    • Horrible service at ALL locations. Was at Grand Lodge last night. Place was.not busy. Server pretty much ignored us. People coming in after us were getting served before us. She forgot to put order in for my dinner. Had to go to bar to order drinks. Another time we were at the main dining room and sat there for 15 min. With no service at all. We left. Really sad that McMenamins sucks. Wonder if the owners care how scrappy the service is.

  14. McMenamin’s service is terrible because they treat their employees horribly, plain and simple. How motivated would anyone be at a place where labor goals are impossible to reach, your manager actually spoons a tot off your plate because “you get 12 tots, not 13” for the shift meal you paid for, or when they measure the amount of beer runoff you had at the end of shift and you can get fired if there is too much? Because anyone who has poured beer knows you can’t always control how the taps are running! And that’s not even the half of how terrible they treat their employees to be sure. In short, the service is bad, the food, while in concept may sound good is always cold when you get it, and let’s face it, the beer sucks and is overpriced. In a city like Portland there is absolutely NO REASON to support a corporate stronghold like McMenamin’s when there are stellar breweries and restaurants throughout the city.

  15. WoW! I was so looking forward to score a position w/ McMen’s when I move to PDX from Hawaii, now I’m thinking different, I was BQT chef with Hyatt corp and we have such high standards and customer service that maybe I should steer clear?!? How is it that Mgmt can not see an entire webpage about how their company sucks? I’ve been confused before, but this seems unreal….hmmmmmm

    • Why would they care? Think Portland is a foodie city?

      Yeah, right.

      Portlanders go to McMens ten times in a row rather than try something new. McMens is McDonalds with poor lighting.

    • “Portlanders go to McMens ten times in a row rather than try something new. McMens is McDonalds with poor lighting.”

      That is so true. Portlanditis afflicts natives with fear of the new. The food scene is almost entirely DERIVATIVE. Another pork sandwich with chipotle mayo and kale chips….done that, been there, ate that, bored with it.

      Portland is bad for true creativity which is why McMens’ greasy fare is considered ‘a night out’ for natives.

  16. First off, can we agree that there are many places in Portland that have unbelievably bad service? Also, Portland has an endless supply of “above it all, over it” kind of bartenders and servers. That being said, I believe it is the the sheer number of locations that helps promote the stereotype about McMenamins service. Like an overextended property investor, I think they are in way over their heads.

    I have to say that they supply us with good shows, and from a musician standpoint they guarantee pay which is better than most places. It is unfortunate that while the pay keeps going out (winery gigs, GNWMT, Jazz in the Black rabbit) to players to build “ambience”, real people are being laid off to save on payroll expenses which stems from the labor constraints that everyone talks about. The percentages of which are laughable.

    I’ve never seen a company that rakes in so much refuse to give it’s workers the most basic supplies to do their jobs. What is extremely ridiculous is that upper management is completely powerless at times to make basic improvements that would make giving good service possible. Why? Because things that could be construed as “aesthetic” choices have to go through Mike or Brian (not to mention the pennies on the dollar investment they are not willing to make because of costs). Decisions such as “should we place a cabinet here so we can have a sanitary place to store plates, silverware and condiments so they are accessible to serve the hundreds of people that arrive all at once?” It is insane.

    Then stack meetings with the big wigs that come in to listen to themselves talk to you about safety, conduct, and customer service. Mind you, these people in many cases are only “big wigs” because they were in the right place at the right time, not because of their intelligence or qualifications, some have been fired from the company before. But they are calling the shots now so…..watch out cause they’ve “been there”.

    Which leads me to middle management. Like an annoying new sales force some of the new double A.Ms and A.Ms think that one day, they’ll be right up there having a cigar with the upper echelon of elites, chuckling at how they met their numbers. So they will try to enforce the policies and collect their bonuses. For many this is the beginning of the end because of the corporate/mom and pop dichotomy which is so unpredictable it literally drives people nuts, some further into their own substance abuse that the company promotes, “merry xmas, how bout we pour some whiskey on that fire”.

    The company in no way makes giving good service possible. Their idea of “giving back to their employees” is literally giving you a bottle of booze at Christmas. It is amazing they pass safety inspections, in some cases health inspections.

    All these things could be said of a million other places. But is McMenamins corporate or not? If so aren’t there requirements for work conditions? If you want your servers to give good service is it too much to ask to have running water behind your bar that is serving a party of 200 or more?

    But hey aren’t the properties just so….oh how to say, quirky? Tried the new Black Rabbit? Its so good at the mere price of $8 a glass.

    p.s Want it for free? Just complain, they are at least corporate in this regard. It might cost someone their job but isn’t it easier to just shoot the messenger?

  17. Honestly, McMenamins are dark, grimy and dirty.

    The food used to be decent at a decent price but the prices seem to go up and up while the food quality declines. Most of it seems to be of the ‘take the frozen chunks and deep fry them in dirty grease’ variety.

    For the same price as an indifferent McMenamins you can go to a real restaurant with actual food.

    The service, like the food, has declined tremendously. Sometimes the servers and management is just flat out rude. Most of the time they are indifferent.

    Why does anyone go there?

  18. I work for mcmenamins. I honestly wish I had never taken this job. the reason the service is so horrible is because every location has a labor goal that they are forced by middle and upper management to try to meet that is completely laughable. every table in the house full with one server and one cook, in a kitchen that barely works because the company won’t cough up the money for a fully fuctioning grill, or another friar…and half the time a good 1/3 of the things on the menu are not even able to be made because they don’t send you enough food to work with. its all about cutting costs with this company. you know why you are eating your food off of a wicker tray with a piece of paper instead of a glass plate like a normal restaurant? because if everyone ate off of dishes they would have to hire an actual dishwasher. but instead, we cook our food, run it, bus the tables, and then do the dishes all ourselves to cut costs. i could write a novel on all the bulls**t i have put up with for these stupid assholes. i would absolutely love to see mike or biran mcmenamin, or anybody in upper management have to come in and do my job for two weeks, just so they can see what they are putting their employees through. it is not physically possible to give good service for this company, they set you up to fail and you can’t be good enough no matter how good you are. please…go someplace else and don’t bitch at me because your food took 45 minutes. there are starving people in the world. get over it.

  19. This is so f**king true that it almost hurts for me to read it. In addition to suffering through McMenamins service at the Grand Lodge for over a decade, I’ve spent the last six months working in the back as a dishwasher. I’m just a college graduate who’s applying to grad school and trying to pick up a little extra dough, but somehow, I’m one of the hardest-working people in that s**thole. Servers and kitchen staff alike will drop everything to go outside and smoke, they mope when they have to stay a little late, food tickets will run up and nobody will be back there, and the management just places more work on the three or four reliable individuals while letting the genetic defectives slide on by (the frightening thing is that the Grand Lodge used to be worse). Thank you for saying this!

  20. The only thing good that will come out of complaining about the s**tty service is that hopefully future customers will be forewarned and chose to go elsewhere!!!

    No one gives a s**t from the waiters to the managers to the owners. It is all about the bottom line. Mediocre food and s**tty service is all you get out of your visit.

    The employees are all pot smoking hippies because they can and will smoke pot all day long at work… And get away with it.

    The service is s**tty because everyone hates their jobs and have basically zero training and customer service skills.

    The food is s**tty and over priced because McMenamins hope that their $2 painting on the wall and over priced beer will make you forget about the rolling in your gut.

    Thinking of visiting again in case the first time was a fluke and the service might get better? Think again; it always sucks that bad there!


    *And yes they are ridiculously understaffed there*

  21. Oy, BTW, I would love it if someone had a blog or link to an anti-McMenamis site. Cus there should be on if there is’nt already. Send one or post it, K

  22. After 12 years in PDX I have noticed something about McMenamins’ “legendary” service: while it can be bad in some places, its not bad in all. The harsh comments on this site reflect an endemic problem that the owners seem unwilling to address and I have heard about the service issues at McMenamins’ since I got here. There must be a reason why the owners do nothing about it. But not all of their places contain the same craptastic service, and its always friendly enough… its just that in some places (Blue Moon comes to mind), you can just get flat out ignored and the staff seem to be in the wrong line of work. The places that are other things besides bars tend to better though… Edgefield, Kennedy School for example. The one on 23rd down near Vaughn is pretty good… my experiences at Ringlers have not been good, at all. Rams Head is OK though. And you have to admit they bring some nice things to PDX… cheap movies, laid back golf, cool concert venues. When you go a McMen, just pretend you are going to see a straight to cable movie: if the service turns out to not actually be awful you will be pleasantly suprised.

    • Hope someone, or alot of people get to read this. I am Kelly, a former employee of the Kingdom McMenamins. I worked two years at the Kennedy School, two years at the Crystal Ballroom, and five years at the Edgefield. At the Edgefield I had what I thought was a secure position as the Banquet Chef, responsible for executing all catered events from the food end of things. On a busy summer day we could have ten to twelve events and feed up to 1000 people, if you included a big concert. During the layoffs of Fall 2008 they eliminated many kitchen positions including half of my catering crew. So I was left to “serve” the guests with myself and two other people during the holidaze. The upper management worked hard to limit the number of hours we worked, putting in place a daily labor sheet dictating when we were on the clock and off the clock. They had us come in later than usual and leave/clock-out at a particular time, often before tha events were scheduled to go down. During my time as the Banquet Chef I can count at least 12 people that should not have been working with food that they hired for my “crew”. What did this mean? More stressful time restraints, lower productivity, lower quality service and food, and alot of unhappy emplyees and guests I am sure. McMenamins idea of training people (mostly in pubs) was to give them a test their first day and punish them by sending them home if they missed even one answer. I had been quite proud of the things we accomlpished and had great respect for my “Chef”, but the bulls**t bravado, the daily nightmares they put me through made getting fired in April 09 the best thing that ever happened to me. MeMenamins cares only about money, promotes alcoholism, and continues to provide horrible food, beer, and service. I would’nt spend one shiny cent in one of their places and I encourage everyone I know to do the same. There are so many stories I could tell about my time working for such an awful establishment. And to think, it could be so different if they stripped their management from top to bottom. I will share more, Kelly

    • A fairly low bar to set for people who charge 11$ for a damn hamburger and tots… Also, the last time I was at Edgefield, it was the middle of a weekday and the restaurant had about 10 tables full. Nearly empty. Took 15 minutes for the waitress to appear and ask us for our drink order, we were also ready to order our lunches by then, but as soon as I barely finished saying “Two Rubynators and some water” She turned and said “Be right back with those” as she darted off. She returned 15 minutes later, beers but no water, took our orders without writing them down, (both of which she got wrong) our food didn’t come for at least 45 minutes, (we seriously almost walked out) and when it did my bro asked for some ketchup for his 7$ tater tots and she said “oh sure” then promptly disappeared until we were almost done, then proceeded to hover by every 35 seconds “Is everything OK here?” “Can I get you guys anything else” “Got any room for dessert?” OBVIOUSLY trolling for a tip. On the debit card slip, in the tip area I wrote 0.00 as huge and bold as I could. Then on the way out, I punched her in the face. Okay, one of those was an exaggeration, but after that service, I don’t remember which.


  23. all you people complaining should go somewhere else. the only reason you probably keep going is for something free.incase you didnt notice thats a 2000 dollar painting above your head. yeah if you want a sterile atmosphere and a waiter with three tables talking your ear off about how happy their life is so perfect and trustfund happy go lucky. PLEASE GO TO THE LIBRARY AND EAT OUT ofA CAFETERIA ASSHOLES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • You must work there and feel like you are defending your self and if you are you need to improve your attitude..cause the guy that wrote this is soo “right on target ” its hilarious… if you want to defend McC you better get ready for writers cramp cause there are many sites complaining about them… good decor and good beer doent m mean manners are not necessary.. us money spending complainers pay for your salary, tip undeserved in full Im sure and benefits

    • dude, this actually should have been higher than 13, I had poor experiences at several different pubs, throughout the Metro area, so the poor quality of service provided is something worth pointing out.
      Is everyone who works there a slacker/loser/stoner/deadbeat-? No, but there are too many there, and it doesn’t have to be that way, and if they haven’t improved the fries in years, they’re limper than Bob Dole’s dick.
      I worked at a place with a similar menu back in the late 90s and know I worked harder than many of the servers I saw at many McMenabros.

    • To the arrogant hippie and …: I spent years as a waiter and know all about the hard work and undeserved crap from customers. That’s why I always tip at least 20% and am very patient as a customer. But look at the comments and the poll on this site: it is very well established that McMenamins’ service flat out sucks. Its like going to the DEQ for a meal only less polite. Sorry if you happen to work there and are offended… McMenamins’ blows.

      As for calling me a douche… yep, you sound just like a McMenamin waiter reading off the specials.

  24. Good Gawd. Saee Drews comments for a the classic McMenamin employee attitude and an explination of how terribly they are managed (bothe businesses and employees). Everything is the customers fault! You have the be the “right customer” to have a good time at McMenamins! Its your “fault” for ordering a milkshake?!?! If you can’t make the damn thing then don’t put it on the menu! And don’t say its a good place to hang out if you aren’t in a rush, because that isn’t true. I might have all the time in the world, but if I go there for a beer, it would be nice if said beer showed up. The arrogant hippie thing works for Escape From New York, but thats because those hippie-nazis aren’t trying to fool you into thinking you will be waited on in the first place.

    I do still go to the mission to see a movie every now and then but its rare, and I like the pitch and putt courses at Edgefiled; but notice how both activities invlove almost no staff contact, and you are never in a position to expect actual service.

    Its too bad, because I like everything about the places except the service… I now refuse to eat or drink at their restaurants.

    • Everything is not the customers fault. That is a grossly exaggerated statement. And we have every right to complain about the management because every worker deserves to be treated fairly by their employer…even if they are lowly pub servants. Working in food service is hard-a$$ work and many of us have bad attitudes because people expect everything to be perfect and treat us like second-class citizens. Its really hard to put on a happy face when day after day people don’t bother to even look you in the face when asking for a drink. (That would require acknowledging you are speaking to a human being!) Im not saying there aren’t servers out there who don’t have an apathetic attitude when it comes to customer service for no good reason, but there are also a lot of customers out there who are just as bad. If you want better service try treating your server like you would want yourself to be treated for once.

  25. I hung out at the Baghdad once and the waitress was stealing. I gave her a 20 for 2 drinks. She put it in her apron and walked away. We were at the tables right next to the register. We finished our drinks still waiting for my change. I caught our redheaded waitress and asked for it back and she said, “OK, I’m not trying to steal your money!” very loudly in front of a full bar. I initially thought she just spaced on bringing the change but after she got defensive like that I knew what was really going on. She set down my change and receipt with a huff and I saw on the receipt that it had just been rung up. Yeeeaahh. Guess McMenamins really does pay s**tty, seeing as their servers feel the need to skim. I wanted to discuss this with the manager by my boyfriend wouldn’t let me because she gets her car fixed at his shop. Honey, if you’re going to do that, don’t be so obvious. People may be drinking but that doesn’t mean they’re oblivious to you. This was a while ago, I wonder if a Secret Shopper popped her as I walk by there all the time and haven’t seen her.

  26. Oh, and one more thing…When I got hired as a cook at the Bagdad Theater in 2000 I made nine dollars an hour, and guess what? They still pay their cooks the same amount nearly a decade later. So try living off those wages and tell me what “customer service” means to you. Not only that, but I would often have to work on a busy Saturday night with only two other employees making literally hundreds of pizzas with tickets piling up on the floor. If you really want to complain then call Mike or Brian McMenamin and tell them to get a f***ing clue.

    Don’t worry, I don’t work there anymore, I got fired for being ten minutes late because my car window wouldn’t roll up…nice people, you should try working for them!

  27. As a former Mcmenamins employee I can tell you that yes, we are underpaid and understaffed. They treat their employees like s**t and hire hippies on purpose because they are thinking they will be so stoned they won’t notice they are making s**t wages and getting no benefits. A common practice is to cut employees early from their scheduled shift so that they: A. don’t qualify for a paid meal, and B. don’t qualify for the required hours to get health benefits. Oh, and they try to get you hooked on their s**tty beer, which is probably why you get such terrible service as well since everyone working is hung-over on their hippy-crack beer. I don’t care how many hotels/schools/insane asylums they rescue from demolition, they don’t deserve anyone’s business.

  28. This is great I was going to send them a nasty gram but I like this better.

    We just had a pleasurable experience at the McMenanins in Millcreek Wa. Yes there’s one clear up here and it’s no better. The pleasure was walking out the door just after it took the waiter 15 minutes to come to the table for the first greeting after we sat down.(insert small restaurant & minimal customers). I guess it was more important to service the customers that already had their meals with their 30 minute beer than greet the new customers that just sat down. Right as he finally got to our table we got up and left. Surprised look on his face, DOH! Get a clue here. What gives with this? They have great food and beers but it takes forever to get either one. Lucky for us we have a Blazing Onion just down the street that has their act together, great food, great beers, the difference is they’ve included great service. This is the last time I’ll every walk into any McMenamin’s, it’s just not worth the frustration received from eating there.

    • I had the same exact situation in Oregon City and Beaverton McMenanins. I will never go into a McMenanins again. They need a over hauling of new management before they all go out of business.

  29. pablo, you are the man. people don’t realise what we go through as employees for mcmenamins. yes, it’s true that some people that are hired are just assholes. Most of the managers that are hired aren’t qualified to be running their own lives let alone a busy restaurant. the training program for the restaurant is “here, this is how you pour ranch and these are the things you need to tell your table that we have. now go and serve those 15 tables over there within 3 minutes.” there’s no support, no backup, and if you dont do your job you get a writeup that means s**t. the cost goals are ridiculously unrealistic and force us to be efficient instead of courteous. it only takes one asshole customer to push us over the edge. it’s real stupid, but it’s how it is. if you dont like the service from mcmenamins, there are sooooooooo many other, better places to go in portland. so stop bringing your 18 kids and expecting us to have ur order done in 5 minutes. we’re not mcdonalds. if we have a full restaurant, dont order a freakin milkshake. they take forever to make and you’re probably not the only person that wants one. also, dont sit at a dirty table. 90% of the time, you look just like the people that were sitting there before and we think you’ve cashed out and are just camping. i’ve had too many people get mad at me for not getting to their table right away when it was their fault for sitting at the dirty table. in reality, i could probably sit here forever and just rant about how bad it is, but it can be good. if you like to go somewhere and just hangout for a while, enjoy a few brews and some food with friends and dont have anywhere to be, come to mcmenamins. if you’re on a strict schedule and u have to be in and out with food right away, chances are there’s a fast food place just around the corner. if you want a slightly better experience, try getting off ur cell phone or actually listening to your server and communicating with them when they come to your table. try ordering a pitcher instead of just a pint and you’ll have beer for a while instead of sitting with an empty glass. try showing us some respect for working our asses off for you.

  30. I almost hate to admit this, Internet, but I am a cook/server for the Brothers. I don’t even work at one of the major properties, just a piss-ant little pub in the boonies, but the place stays hopping ALL THE DAMN TIME. We work in kitchens so cramped and small the f**king roaches are hunchbacked. The servers seem curt and snippy because there are at most TWO of them and HUNDREDS of you. The comment about the annual Christmas booze? Yeah, that didn’t happen this year. Why not? Because the brothers just spent six million dollars on a square block of downtown Portland so they can put up a new hotel, and dupe even more of you into spending five bucks on a pint of beer that it costs twelve cents to produce. Sure, we could all put on happy faces and make believe we have wonderful jobs far far away from any screaming toddlers grinding crayons into the carpet, but maybe you guys could cut us all a little slack and not berate us because we didn’t bring you the ranch you didn’t ask for in the first place. If you really hate McMenamins so much, STOP COMING BACK. They are just f**king Ore-Ida tater tots, people. You can buy some at Fred Meyer and make them at home. It’s not that hard.

    • The brothers are the ones to blame. It’s all about the money for their machine. They sound like fricken Walmart.

  31. When I lived in Bend, I ate at the Old St. Francis School on many occasions. Not only was the service the worst of any restaurant in town, but the background music was always so loud that you couldn’t hear the person next to you. Whenever one of us would ask a waiter to turn it down, they would just get angry and walk away.

  32. My husband and I absolutely agree! I really enjoy the atmosphere but ALWAYS get thee worst service that we swear we will never go back. And having been an employee at a mcmenamins myself I can say that I have never given worse service than when I worked there. They absolutely set you (the server) to fail: completely under staffing the place so there is no way to give any kind of decent service to the amount of patrons. This way the brothers can MAKE MORE MONEY!!! I have never received worse tips than working at mcmenamins and I deserved them, I gave crappy service!

  33. The beer is okay, but why can’t they make decent french fries? Soggy, greasy, and gross. I do feel for their over-worked/under-paid staff, though.

    • As a cook at a McMenamins, the quality of the fries we make depends on the person who precooks them in the morning. If they blanch them at the right temperature for the right amount of time, they almost always get to the customer perfectly done: crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, and not soaked with grease. There are those cooks though, that don’t bother to use the timer, or set the fryer too high (trying to get them done quicker) and that makes them sag, soak and shrivel. 99.99% of us do everything we can to ensure that the quality of all the food we serve is good, including the fries. There are just a few bad gr-words that ruin the wine sometimes. At least that’s the case at my pub. I have only worked at one, and it is a smaller one.

      As a side note, as a cook, I have never really felt overworked or under payed. I have always had a really good time there, and everyone there is great to work with. (99% of the time).

  34. I worked for the company for 3 years, and I have to say my overall experience as an employee was dismal at best. They are always understaffed if not on the floor the kitchen is screwed. I was a cook at the kennedy school and it would be so busy for us that we would laugh. Some thurs. fri. and sat. nights we would have 20 tickets working and a 15 foot string of tickets coming off the printer curling up on the floor that we had’nt even looked at. Its a joke, a very sad joke. Again as cooks, and I worked with some very fast cooks as well as bad ones, there was just no way it was going to happen with the amount of equipment and hands on deck. And yet the whole time they make HUGE money constantly. Most weekend nights would show huge sales… huge!!! and yet they would understaff us so badly. It was stupid, each cook busting out 1000 dollars/hour in food for 6-8 hours straight and they would’nt cough up an extra fryer or dishwasher… anything. Over the years it got worse, they started firing really great long timers, people I knew that had been with the company for years, had retirement going the whole 9 yards and poof later. Managers would get huge bonuses at the end of a year for cutting cost/labor and us peeps would get a bottle of booze each year to sooth our pain. At first it seemed like a cool place then… whoa no thanks.

  35. I agree with all of you. As an ex Mcmenamin employee I know why it is the way it is. They do pay a lot of attention to the detail of the properties, but NOTHING else. Mike McMenamin is an eccentric fool who cares only about atmosphere and nothing else. They actually use the old golden gate tap system from 50 years ago. NOBODY uses that garbage anymore as it has become obsolete. They refuse to invest in anything but new properties, and it is killing them and driving away customers such as yourselves. They need a wake up call.

  36. Yeah, I’m gonna have to agree with the person above me. They are rediculously understaffed and underpaid. They could get another job, and YOU people could also…I dunno, GO SOMEWHERE ELSE! you are in fact human beings, and posses free will. You don’t like McMenamins? Don’t Freeking go there you morons!

  37. Mcmenamins is so completely understaffed as to be ridiculous. Don’t you people ever notice that you never see a busser or a host? That’s not all, we run our own food, pour our own drinks, wash our own dishes and basically bust our a$$ so you can get drunk. Do you ever wonder why they are being rude? Is it because Mcmenamins exclusively hires unfriendly people, is it because they are the one restaurant thats wants to lose money? NO it’s because we don’t have any time to get your ranch and your water if you don’t order it up front. Do not stiff us. Go get a sixer and some carl’s junior if you can’t afford to go out to eat

    • OMFG!~!
      Don’t have time? Go to hell, is what I say to that attitude!
      I’m not your freaking charity sponsor!~! It’s called a TIP! a “gratuity”… a complement to reward service above and beyond the price we pay uhhh yeah bro.. 11$ for a cheeseburger and tots, 5 more for a beer that takes a half hour to arrive… i can afford to go out.. i can afford to tip and do so generously…. WHEN IT IS EARNED. 95% of the times Ive been to a mcmenamins the service was either nowhere or really rude and pushy, and messed up orders (since the illiterati in your “trade” never write them down anymore) are so common they’re pretty much expected, i was at the “fancy restaurant” area of edgefield once, we had a party of 9. Your compatriot in d-baggery didn’t write a thing down and proceeded to mess up the drink order, then the appetizers, then the dinner order, and then the freaking dessert order! When we were ordering dinners, two of us asked him nicely if he might want to write down our orders while we were giving him our entree requests… he told us we’d be fine …”he HAD IT this time”…. seriously like 3 of the dinner orders were completely wrong, 2 more had wrong sides etc, and my sister-in-laws father ordered a steak medium and it had a freaking heartbeat still. like… i prefer my steaks on the rare side of medium-rare… and this thing was barely seared and TOTALLY RAW on the inside. The “server” looked at us like we were being uncooperative and impossible (this is after he flubbed the drink order (quote “I’m pretty sure one of you ordered a root beer”) and THEN messed up the appetizers…we ordered onion rings and tots the guy brings us calamari and hummus?!?!?!?) He “effs” up YET AGAIN on the dinner order and has to get the manager to “figure this out” we’re there for freaking hours before everyone gets fed, then even after scrawling down our dessert and drinks order after the meal, messed up the drink order and forgot one of the desserts…. so the check comes after everything, with a 15% “pre-tip-gratuity” since we had over 8 in our party!!!!~!~! We asked to talk to the manager again. The waiter actually rolled his eyes at us and sighed loudly and walked away without saying a word! If I did that at my job and then had the temerity to ask for extra money, above my AGREED UPON WAGE… “just because”, they’d show me the door in a day…. (and why is it anyways? many people have jobs way harder than being a server….yet any brain dead Arkansas douche-tard can wait tables…) Almost 30 mins later the manager was at our table… He started giving us this “sorry sir it’s our policy” i told him if you charge my card a penny over the price of our order that i’d dispute it and sue them for fraud. And just so you know… I do pretty good for myself. I travel alot and I’m retired at 36, my family was minor Austrian royalty before WW1 and I’ve been known to tip like a wild man. Particularly when I’m entertaining relatives or having drinks, which I was doing both that night. I once tipped 20$ on a 19$ check because I only had two 20’s on me, I was in a bit of a rush, and the service was awesome. Not trying to brag here, just saying, that unlike YOU, my idea of a nice meal is more than “a sixer and some carls jr”
      Go suck a rooster!

      Baron Phillip von Traum

    • Server, you earn at least full Oregon Minimum wage before tips, not the measly 3-6 dollars an hour that many other states set as the base wage for servers.
      If you can’t handle the duties of the job, do something else. I know I worked weekends at a NE Pub with more than 100 person capacity with just one other person serving food doing dishes etc. So if a McMenabros employee can’t provide minimal service on a quiet relatively slow afternoon when there are maybe only 10 other people in the whole place, you not only don’t deserve the tip, but you don’t even deserve your base wage, If you think that McMenabros owes you more than any other establishment, than you’re deluding yourself, and making yourself look bad.
      I’d think that managers at good restaurants would laugh at a McMenabros server’s resume.

  38. I thought I would try it. I tried it four times, one out of the four they got my order correct. Zero out of the four were hot (I am talking omelet, burger, pizza, and another burger), zero times was the staff friendly and courteous.

  39. Oh, and don’t forget the “Ummm…you waited an hour for me to serve you, I f**ked up your order, and gave you a go-to-hell look when you brought it up, and the tip you left was completely insufficient” sigh. How dare you not leave a 100 percent tip for that Captain Neon Burger that arrived 45 minutes after it was made? Do you think that bad weed grows on trees or something?

  40. I get great service, but that’s because I only go to one McMennies, and that one is my local ‘Cheers’. They know my name, where I work, what’s on my laptop, whom I last slept with, my crapassness with crosswords, and that I enjoy rides around an empty bar on a dolly on my birthday.

    (Re my birthday- my a-hole footwear designing ex-employers wouldn’t let me take my birthday off and made me work a long day a$$ day to boot, it was a pleasure to stop in for dinner and drinks at 11:30pm to my ‘Cheers’.)

    Shrug. However, not all places are like that I agree.

  41. I have been away from PDX for about 12 years. One of the first things I did when I got back was head out to have McM’s cheeseburger. Oh how I missed those. It is like comfort food.

    I don’t drink beer anymore, but I still get a hankering for the burgers – even though I am mostly vegetarian.

    Anyway, I stopped at one of the original McM’s on Friday – NW 23rd and Savier. I’ve been going down there for a few months – as it is closest to my home in Columbia County. I’ve never had a problem with service, but Friday was the exception. My usual server was nowhere around and the new girl treated me like crap.

    I gave her a nice $0.05 tip.

    PS: Still loved the burger!

  42. Yeah, McM’s are well-known for their lousy service but their porters and stouts certainly make a periodic visit worth my while. I can down those Terminators like there’s no tomorrow. And whenever they’ve got their darkest brews on nitro? Fuhgedaboutit. They can pretty much do whatever they want with me; I am toast. 🙂 The Bagdad and Barley Mill (both along Hawthorne) are my favorites among their many establishments, even though I haven’t always been fond of the service (or lack thereof). But, it is what it is. Thanks for posting this. Cheers!

  43. McMenamins not only has bad service but compared to the quality brews all over Portland (and Oregon as a whole) there is no reason any sane person would term their brand of weak swill “an amazing selection.” Only someone whose pallet was cultivated on the basest of liquids (Pabst, Budweiser, the Putrescent bile vomited out of the great satan) could possibly be pleased with their beer.

    As an anecdote to backup my point I offer the following;

    At 3 seperate locations a number of the gratuitously hip serving staff favored me with a funny story about the McMenamins brothers themselves. Apparently when they come to visit a location, for whatever reason, they insist that a tap of Bud Light be added so that they don’t have to drink their own beer.

    With this in mind, anecdotal though it may be, how can one bring themselves to drink their swill? Do you buy lunch from a skinny chef?

  44. Haha! I love what you have to say here, its so true everything about every John Barley Corn/Edgefield/all the million McM’s around here sucks (althought I really do love the tots…) So is it weird that every single time we go to one we end up having the best time ever?! As lame as they are we always seem to come away with at least one good story which really I guess goes back to the point of your whole blog anyway and that is that as many things about Portland that suck they somehow make our lives so freakin entertaining!!

  45. Not only is #13 my favorite number, but this is indeed the thing I hate MOST about Portland! You really hit the nail on the head here. Kudos to you. And the tots really aren’t that great!

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