Locally Grown


[here’s something you’re used to by now, which is an apology.  This post should have “dropped” last Tuesday, right around the same time as the new Liza Minelli Album, and I wouldn’t want to compete with that.]

Did you hear that? There's a new Liza Album...C'mon, screw this blog, let's hit the record store!

I recently completed my first cyclocross race in beautiful, dreary, rainy North Liberty, Iowa.  The race was a great experience for all participants, even the guy who borrowed a bike then proceeded to “Taco” said borrowed bike’s front wheel. (For those of you not familiar with the term “Taco” as it relates to bike wheel terminology, it is the end result of smashing a wheel into an object, making it into a “Taco” shape.  The rim of the wheel is considered un-salvageable) Enough about that, you can read about the actual race at that “cyclocross race” link back in the first sentence of this paragraph.

The race was held around a Bar&Grill/Marina aptly named Bobber’s Bar and Grill.  They were more than happy to dish us out shots of red-bull spiked booze and the occasional beer.  They probably weren’t aware of the cycling scene’s policy of “let’s see who can by more people drinks,” which is another sort of race which I try to stay on the receiving end, or “back of the pack,” just like in my races.  They didn’t even complain that a few of us were walking around with our own beer (it was allowed in the by-laws that people in RV’s could carry their own beer, and I happened to actually travel to N.L.I.A. in an RV). There was no problem until I tried to eat the dinner that I had ordered.  THAT is where the problems began.

Now, I like to tell people how to be good customers, but those rules are optimized for situations when dealing with a rational server/manager/person.  This was not one of those “control subjects” nor did I have my wits about me (refer back to the drink-buying game).

I ordered a “BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger” from the “Grill” portion of the Menu…Big Burger, Bacon, BBQ Sauce, some other stuff, and Waffle Fries.  After about 35 minutes my burger finally showed up, well after the rest of the entres ordered by my 12 dining partners.  It’s ok, they had Tall Boys, which make a good appetizers when in our particular situation.  The burger looked suspect, but I was hungry and started eating.  about a third the way through I noticed an interesting flavor.  It tasted as I had been chewing on the remains of a day-old bonfire.  When I finally flagged the server down, she explained that she recognized that particular burger, and that the cooks had used the “weight” on it.  I was tempted to ask exactly what the f that meant, but I already know, and I don’t like being the guy that asks questions that he already knows the answers to.  It means the cooks are amateur cooks, but professional assholes and had purposely burnt the living shit out of my burger with a “Steak Weight” on a super hot grill.  I explain that it is inedible, and that I will not be finishing it.  I asked for the burger to be removed from my check.  I was informed that the “Manager” would still require my half payment for the half eaten atrocity.

This was the manager’s “deal”

  1. I had eaten about half of the burger in question.
  2. I will be required to pay for the half that I ate.
  3. Sorry, that’s just how it is.

I tried to explain to her that it was the nastiest piece of burnt hockey-puck I had ever attempted to eat, that is was making me mildly ill, and that I would absolutely NOT pay for half of something that my server acknowledged as inedible before it left the kitchen.  The manager then said “well, I will get you another burger.”  My buddies all scoffed at the idea right along with me.   As my friend Carl put it so succinctly to our manager friend, “who eats a burger and a half?”  I finally had to break out the “I’m a pro chef, and I would never require someone to pay for something this bad, let alone knowingly let it leave my kitchen” line.  Still no give from the Manager.  She seemed hell-bent on ruining the experience for the other dozen at the table with her total bullshit attitude.  Finally I gave her the ultimatum.  I would pay for two drinks, and no burger, and that was my final offer, flashing her the pursed-lip half-smile sideways glance of dismay.  She finally conceded, and I handed my server a ten for my two drinks.  I tipped her exactly what my half of the burnt burger would have cost, and retreated to the RV for some more refreshments, a game of dominos, and a safe ride home from our designated driver.

So what can we gather from the actions of the Management and Service Staff of Bobber’s Bar and Grill?

  1. Always waste your customers’ time and argue for at least 15 minutes about $4 worth of food that you know is inedible.
  2. No matter what, don’t back down from the customer, as they are mindless a-holes who are ONLY there to give you money.
  3. Even if the customer already spent over $40 in your bar, you need to waste their time on $4 more
  4. If you have a table of unsatisfied diners, because their food also sucked (everyone at the table who had a burger had similar issues, but not quite as bad as mine), you should offer them more food that sucks.
  5. Talk to customers as if they are your children, and assume they know nothing of food service.
  6. Storm away from the table, stomping your feet as you go to discount their shitty food.

Sounds about right, doesn’t it?  These people need to get it together.  There is another ‘Cross race at Bobber’s on October 16th, and I know that MY group will be bringing our own food.  I will NOT give that place another penny of my money, and if you happen to be around their “parts,” would encourage you to think twice before handing them yours.

Thank you to the Bobber’s staff for trying to ruin an awesome day.

The Cook.

I am not happy about doing this next blurb, but since there was a cry for public disclosure of this mysterious spot, here it is:

P.S. The Restaurant that has pissed me off is Baru 66.  I have dined there, the food is amazing, but we were treated like we walked up to a Denny’s host stand upon entering (we walked in, stood at the door for about 5 minutes, the woman who was seating us came over, answered the phone, but didn’t acknowledge us until the phone call was complete, then we waited even longer for a table even though they only had two tables sat at the time. Very bush league.). They have also mistreat their staff, and require the servers to pay the credit card fees incurred by the customers.  If you go there, bring cash, or tip an extra 5% to your server’s cost to run your credit card.  Pretty poor business practice, especially at a “fine dining” establishment.  I would have never put this out on LG, but you all who called me out and drug me down to the “Yelp” level can now rest assured that I have “helped” some people.  Anyone from Baru who would like to argue this, don’t bother.  I know the facts of the matter, and am disappointed in you.  You should be, too.

P.P.S. Rainbows, Unicorns, Cotton Candy.


18 Comments so far
Leave a comment

That’s disappointing. I went to Baru 66 during RW and had really good service and excellent food. I wish I didn’t know about that credit card b.s.

Comment by Cedric

Me too. The Mrs. won’t let me take her there for dinner because of that situation. I ready enjoyed the food.

Comment by locallygrown

I’m glad you told us about Baru 66, as I’ve dined there and thought it was great food, too. I like to spend my dollars wisely though, and like to support businesses with ethics I agree with. But please don’t blame “us” for your choice to disclose this information. Asking you to tell us something and forcing you are two different things.

Also, how is telling the facts about Baru 66 any different than telling us about Bobber’s? It seems you have no qualms about the latter, but plenty about the former.

Comment by maria

Did I blame you? I was wrong in saying my comment about Baru was “yelp-ish” as it was a stated fact (they DO charge their servers the CC fees) and not an opinion. The “blame game” started when certain people did not exercise the option to “sidebar,” or email me directly for the answer AS STATED IN THE ORIGINAL POST. But because that was such a chore, (the emailing) I decided to just post it and wait for the repercussions.

As far as what makes each respective restaurant’s complaint different… I respect the food and passion that has brought us all that is Baru 66, and Bobber’s is some nicely constructed ass palace where food, service, and customers all suffer at the hands of incompetent servers and managers. I dont really have the slightest bit of respect or allegiance to the Hacks of Bobbers, who purposely burnt my burger, then served it Knowingly, then told me I had to pay.
I hope that clears things up, Maria. Thank you for your continued readership.

Comment by locallygrown

Dear Locally Grown,
We invite you to come in to discuss the true “facts of the matter” with us, the owners/managers of Baru 66.
Let us know what time works best for you.
-Baru 66

Comment by S Hill

Yes! Talk to the Baru 66 folks and get back to us!

Comment by La Bonne Femme

I accept your offer to discuss the matter at hand. It is only fair that your side is heard, and it’s a side that I haven’t uh…heard yet. I will promptly send you an email to set a time to talk. Thank you for your time.

Comment by locallygrown

Not to cause more comotion on the subject…

Everyone here is so concerned with the credit card charge. The fact of the matter is that the servers are not being held there against their will. They have the option to be employed by Baru 66 or not. The five percent fee is only a fraction of what they are making for the amazing service they provide.

I think the attacks on local establishments are getting petty and we are forgetting what this should be about. THE FOOD!!! Baru 66, among SEVERAL other places in Des Moines is worth supporting and keeping alive. If we continue to attack local business the food community in Des Moines will be over run by Applebees and Panera Bread.

Eat, support local, and draw your own conclusions, stop looking to other people for a better oppinion.

Comment by Cook in the corner

First off, the DMZ IS already lathered and slathered in chain dining, such as the Panera (although Panera DOES host the monthly CIB meeting, and that is very nice of them) and Appalling-Bees. Our fair city is also home to less than stellar locally owned spots. I do not generally write about any of them. I write about the restaurants that I would eat at, and to use them as an example. This isn’t a restaurant review site. Go back and read some posts and you will maybe figure that out. If you think that this little kitty of a blog is all about attacking local dining establishments, you are sorely mistaken. This Baru 66 issue that is happening now is, I believe, the only trash talking that I have recently done about a local restaurant, and I am just stating facts as they are presented to me. I love the food at Baru, there may not be a better place for French cuisine in the state. I have continued to endorse their FOOD even after the credit card fee disclosure. So, I guess what I am trying to say here is “whatever, dood.” Read what I have written, then you will have a clear picture of what is going on. Oh, and Trashing Bobbers, which is a total duche-maguche bar with shitty food, doesn’t count as talking shit about local eateries.

As far as this credit card fee scandal, if the user fee is indeed the 5% which you state, then the servers are paying out 25% of their average/expected 20% gratuity. This is unfair to the service staff as the BUSINESS OWNER, not the EMPLOYEE, is the one responsible for this BUSINESS COST. Ask any server how they would feel about paying 5% of their shift sales back to the owner of the restaurant for the opportunity to work and for “the amazing service they provide.” I would, as a restaurateur, be more than happy to pay the charge that I signed up to pay for when I put my name on the Credit Card Service Agreement, especially if “the amazing service they (my servers) provide” boosted sales and made many repeat customers. I’m just sayin. What if you as a cook were required to give your executive chef (or whomever you answer to) 25% of your pay after every shift for the opportunity to make food? How would you feel about that? Sounds like a bunch of bullhonkey to me. But, as YOU, the champion of local dining (maybe you should start a blog called “Locally-er Growned”), see this as a fine set up and the volunteer srver workforce should sit back and take it as just, or go out into the really great job market in this great economy and simply pluck up another job as easily as one would scoop up a field mouse and pop it on the head. You, my fellow cook, are a genius. Maybe you should focus your comment-al efforts at fighting the true forces of evil culinary opinion such as YELP and Chowhound.
Oh, and thank you for reading.

Comment by locallygrown

Hi Sam,

Marcus here. I heard about this thread and thought I would chime in. I doubt they are taking 5% of the servers tips. I bet it is a situation where some of that % is going to tipout the bartenders and the back waiters. When I worked at the State Room in Iowa City I held the post as a captain and as such we had to pool our tips and give 30% of it to the bar and the back waiters. They work hard too and often are the ones that get all the shit and no reward. Personally I find it respectable to tipout the team. I have even worked in restaurants where we tipped out the cooks. Usually that is unheard of but they work their asses off in muggy steamy kitchens, getting burned, and almost never get any respect. So we, servers, were fine throwing down some coin for their efforts.
Restaurants, as we all know, are full of strange and hard working artist types, usually somewhat dysfunctional. But, we all love our local food scene otherwise this thread wouldn’t have carried on as it has. Check in with the Baru team. I’ll bet you $100 bucks that a portion of that 5% is going to other side workers and the remaining % is a tiny amount that was never even there to begin with since it is most likely the case that the restaurant had to cough it up to the man for the service fee on the tip. Even so the % is probably somewhere around .02 cents on the dollar. That isn’t much. Plus, why should the restaurant pay the server for money they never even had to begin with since it was a fee for the credit card. Either way, I wouldn’t cough about it if I were a server these days.

See you in the kitchen!


Comment by Marcus Walsh

The 5% was a hypothetical number thrown out by the reader. I am impressed with the number of Baru-connected people who have contacted me, it will be interesting to see what transpires.

See YOU in the kitchen.

Comment by locallygrown

I am connected with many restaurants, as you know. I just dig the local pulse and thought it would be fun to dig in. I appreciate the point about the 5% I was just throwing in on my experience during the years I donned a black or white apron. Back in the day, it was “cooler” to wear a white apron. We even wore white shirts and ties!! hahaha. Shouldn’t you be working that private party tonight! Good to interact. One last question: What is your all time favorite vegetable? Mine is the cucumber.



Comment by Marcus Walsh

Ah, yes…the good old days. I miss those days when times were simpler-ish. Yeah, I should have been working that private party, but I have other things (tacos) that I do on Tuesday. I hope Tony and Chris made it out alive!

Favorite vegetable. It’s a toss between the Artichoke and the Brussels Sprout.

Comment by locallygrown

The humble Brussel sprout. Andrew Meek has worked alchemy with that lovely veg!

Comment by Marcus Walsh

I work for Baru as a server. I can tell you that I have never once felt anything but complete respect from the owners Sara and David. In fact, I have worked in several local restaurants (as have most of our staff), and this is by far the most professional environment in which I’ve worked. It saddens me to see information being posted on here that is incorrect.

As another reader posted, yes, we are not held there against our will. In my interview I was explained how I would be paid, and I accepted the job knowing full well what I would be expected to tip out per shift. In my experience, I am not tipping out any more than I have at any other job. Bottom line: We are paid properly and the owners treat the staff with absolute respect and fairness.

Comment by BaruServer

good for you.

Comment by locallygrown

I had a burger in Bobbers that same day. It was horrible.

Comment by Carlos Flanders

I heard people trash talking the burgers all day, but I just had to see for myself. I don’t understand how one can be so incompetent as to mess up such a simple classic.

Sorry your taste buds had to suffer, did you have a run in with the staff about your burger?

Comment by locallygrown

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