Mexican Restaurants

Cinco de Mayo + COVID-19 = Mexican Food Disaster

mexican food cinco de mayo covid

If you’re like me, then you were looking forward to ordering some Mexican food and margaritas from your favorite (open) Mexican restaurant on Cinco de Mayo this year.

But if you’re also like me, you probably had an absolutely horrendous experience when trying to order and/or pick-up, or have your food delivered.

Whether you called the restaurant directly, to try and support them as much as you could without third-party delivery services taking a huge cut, or you couldn’t get through on the phones so you were forced to use something like Grubhub or DoorDash, it sounds like most people had a hard time getting their food in a reasonable amount of time.

And my experience was no different, so I thought I’d share.

Forced to Use Grubhub

I’m not going to name the restaurant that this experience is based off of, because we love the food and the people/service are normally awesome, so I don’t want to publicly bash them, but I’m sure you could do some digging and figure it out.

So, like most people, my wife and I were looking forward to ordering some tacos, enchiladas, chips and salsa, and of course, margaritas, to celebrate Cinco de Mayo as well as Taco Tuesday during the stay-at-home order that’s going on. Normally during the week we don’t go out to eat, or order in, so we were making this a special occasion.

We decided to order from the Mexican restaurant around the corner from our house that we would normally go to for lunch every Friday (pre-COVID), so that we could help support them, and have some awesome margaritas.

This was probably a mistake.

Through what I like to call “a Perfect Storm”, the restaurant was absolutely slammed with orders. Between the obvious – COVID stay-at-home orders, Cinco de Mayo, Taco Tuesday, and a bunch of Mexican restaurants in the area being forced to close their doors completely for the time being, I don’t think this particular restaurant knew the shit storm they were in for.

We probably should have tried to call and place our order directly with the restaurant earlier in the day, but by the time we did, around 5PM, they had already been forced to shut down their phone lines because they couldn’t keep up with all of the orders being called in.

This would also explain why the phone lines were busy, or nobody answered, when we tried to call in our order. Again, we probably should have thought a little bit further ahead.

But no worries, they offer ordering through Grubhub and DoorDash, so we’ll just do that…

Grubhub has always been my first option when it comes to ordering food online for either pick-up or delivery (when a restaurant doesn’t offer it directly), so it just made sense for me to use that service as opposed to DoorDash… but in the end I’m not sure if that was the best idea.

Although, honestly, I’m not sure that using either service was the best idea… and I’ll explain why in a bit.

So after trying to get through directly to the restaurant for about 10 minutes, I opted to just fire up Grubhub and place our order… The only downside to doing that, so I thought, was that their special Cinco de Mayo pricing was not setup on the Grubhub page, so I wasn’t able to get the special pricing, which I was ok with. I just thought of it as a donation to a restaurant we enjoyed, so no big deal.

After placing our pick-up order for tacos, enchiladas, chips & salsa, and a 1/2 pitcher of margaritas, a $70 order (after tax and tip), I sat back and waited for the email that would tell me how long it would take for our food to be ready.

The Restaurant Disaster and Impatient People

A few minutes after placing the order I received confirmation that my order was in the works and that it would be ready for pick-up at around 5:45PM.

Great, I’ll leave the house at 5:45 and go grab the food and be home by 6. My wife would get other food ready for the kids, and we would dig into our delicious Mexican food and margaritas when I got home.

It sounded like the perfect plan… until I pulled up to the restaurant.

To be fair, we always go to this restaurant on Friday at around 11:30am for lunch and it’s never busy. I’ve also ordered for pick-up for dinner during the week and had no issues just walking in and grabbing our food (even during the lockdown), but with the holiday and a lot of other Mexican restaurants being shut down for the time being, I could tell this was going to be a nightmare.

As soon as I pulled up to the restaurant there were about 30-40 people, with masks on, standing outside the doors waiting for the their food.

Some of them were delivery drivers for Grubhub and DoorDash, but a lot of them were people that had called in their orders directly to the restaurant.

I seemed to be one of the only people there that ordered for pick-up from a third-party service.

I could already tell this was going to be a pain.

After waiting about 10 minutes I only saw the restaurant staff come out maybe twice to call out names of orders for people, yet people could see that there was an entire table on the inside with bags of orders sitting on it.

I’m not sure if they were just understaffed, or what was going on, but after about¬†45 minutes of waiting outside the crowd continued to grow and people were starting to get angry.

It probably didn’t help that the restaurant has two doors and there were people lined up at both sides of the building, and the staff was barely even stepping out of the door to yell a name, so you could barely hear who’s food was ready.

But at the same time, being able to see all of the food orders sitting on the tables just inside the door, made people restless and after being outside for about an hour, in the cold, people just got annoyed and stormed into the restaurant to see if they could find their orders on that table.

Thankfully for me, the restaurant had two tables setup where they were staging food. One was for call-in orders that the restaurant had taken directly earlier in the day, and the other table was for delivery services like Grubhub and DoorDash.

And since the delivery service table was far less crowded, it was pretty easy for me to determine that my food wasn’t ready.

At this point I wasn’t terribly annoyed since we had made our way inside out of the cold, but it was still a little disparaging the way the restaurant was handling the entire process.

Oh, and people clearly were not adhering to social distancing guidelines, even though we all had masks on. Thankfully I found a booth to sit in away from everyone and just waited patiently for my food.

And let me tell you, there were definitely people there that were not patient.

One lady was absolutely screaming at the staff about her food, while another lady was trying to calm her down telling her to give the guys a break. The restaurant had never had to figure out how to handle their busiest day of the year while the state was on a lockdown… and I agree with her, but this “Karen” was having none of it.

Someone Called the Police

I’m honestly not really sure what happened to that woman, but she eventually left. Whether she got the rest of her food or not, who knows, but what I do know is that after about 30 minutes of waiting inside (putting our total time at about 90 minutes), the police showed up. Which didn’t surprise me at all.

Two local officers, in masks, made their way into the restaurant, passed the large group of people that were now gathered inside waiting for their food, towards the kitchen so they could talk to the manager of the restaurant.

And on top of it, as the police are trying to talk to the manager to figure out what’s going on, these DoorDash and Grubhub delivery guys are all over the cops trying to force them to have the restaurant make their food faster. It was embarrassing.

I just sat in the corner and waited it out for a while, but eventually the cops told us all that we had to go back outside to wait.

It was at this point that I took my time leaving so I could get a second with the manager and ask him how I could cancel my order, because at this point I was going to miss putting my son to sleep.

Grubhub is Absolutely No Help

The manager told me that if the app wouldn’t let me cancel the order then I would have to call Grubhub, which I also knew would be a nightmare.

I’ve had to deal with Grubhub in the past when someone gained access to my account and was ordering Taco Bell to go in Iowa and Washington D.C., and they were pretty helpful, but just based on the amount of pissed off drivers waiting for their food at this restaurant, I knew the Grubhub customer care would be overrun, so that was going to be my last resort.

I decided to wait it out, outside the restaurant, for another 30 minutes or so to see if there was any change, but when the clock struck 7:15PM, I couldn’t wait any longer and I decided to just go home.

Thankfully we live right around the corner, so it wasn’t a big deal, but I still didn’t have any food and was currently out $70…

After arriving back home empty handed, I fired up my computer and hit up Grubhub’s customer care online chat, only to be greeted by being 99th in the queue.

I tried calling the customer service phone number and it kept disconnecting me.

I left the chat window open on my computer for about 30 minutes and the queue number didn’t move at all, so I’m assuming that I was much higher than 99th in line, but the chat queue only showed 99. So that was definitely a bust.

I eventually got the customer service number to at least answer and put me on hold, but after 20 minutes on hold I knew it was a lost cause.

At this point, while trying to figure out the Grubhub customer service issues, I ate dinner so that I wasn’t starving. I also decided that at 8PM I was going to go back over to the restaurant and see if my order had come out yet.

I figured that even if it had come out right after I left previously at 7:15PM, it would have only been sitting there for a little while, and we could throw it in the fridge and eat it the next day.

So that’s what I did.

3 Hour Wait for My Food

At 8PM I went back to the restaurant to find that there was still a crowd of about 20 people outside of the restaurant, most of them rude DoorDash delivery drivers.

I didn’t want to be rude, but I wasn’t having it anymore. After waiting almost three hours for our food, I pushed my way to the front when the manager came out and let him know what was going on.

Of course, as soon as the delivery drivers saw the manager taking an interest in my case, they all rushed him holding out their phones asking where their customers food was… They must have shouted like 10 names at this dude who was just trying to help.

At one point I spoke up and told these guys to back off, there’s no way he’s going to be able to remember all of the names they just yelled at him, and it’s going to screw it for everyone else.

It was at this point that some guy standing in front of my turned to me and said “come on man, some of us have been waiting 45 minutes for our food, you just walked up here”.

Normally I’m not one for confrontation, but I turned to this guy and told him that I had been waiting almost 3 hours for my food, and the only reason I just got here is because I got sick of waiting in the cold and went home and came back…

He apologized and then we shot the shit for a little bit, so all was fine.

Although he did end up getting his food before me…

Finally at about 8:30PM, almost 3 hours after I was told my food was ready initially, they finally brought my food out, and I could tell that they just straight up forgot about my order somehow.

I think it was probably the fact that they shut down Grubhub orders at some point and were only accepting DoorDash at that time, but I’m not really sure. The fact that my order came out hand written on a piece of paper stapled to the bag, instead of the Grubhub order page, that all the other Grubhub orders had on their bags, kind of tipped me off though.

And the fact that my food was piping hot when they brought it out.

So those things, combined with the fact that DoorDash people were getting their food within 45 minutes, in some cases, lead me to believe that they just straight up forgot about my order.

But at least I had my food.

There were a bunch of DoorDash delivery drivers still there when I left that had pending orders on their phones, but the restaurant didn’t have them on their DoorDash tablets, so they were writing them down by hand and cooking up the orders.

All in all, I’m not sure where the major disconnect was, but it sounds like a perfect storm of the restaurant being under prepared for Cinco de Mayo during the COVID quarantine, rude people, no organization, and third-party delivery services being overwhelmed, are probably what caused this fiasco.

It’s not going to keep me from ordering from, or visiting, this restaurant in the future, but I will definitely not be ordering any restaurant food on any sort of holiday during the stay-at-home orders. I’ll just wait until the next day when things quiet down.

Did anyone else have a similar experience on Cinco de Mayo when trying to order Mexican food? I had heard from the delivery drivers that pretty much all of the Mexican restaurants were slammed and had waits of at least 45 minutes to an hour during the dinner rush.

 

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About the author

Tom

I'm a married man in his 30's who doesn't really "like" food. If it weren't for my wife I would be living off of pizza and cheeseburgers for the rest of my life. Follow me as I venture slightly out of my comfort zone to try different foods and restaurants.

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