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Victoria’s late-night scene goes country with The Duke Saloon

“We’re not a nightclub. We’re not a club at all. We’re a saloon, and we are welcoming to absolutely everybody.”

The Duke Saloon, summed up by owner Joel Friesen, opens Friday, August 22 in the former Rehab Nightclub space on Discovery Street at Store Street.. [Read more]


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Swans | Victoria | Pandora Ave. at Store St.


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#1 Rorschach

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Posted 12 April 2007 - 03:18 PM

There was a bad review of Swans in the Times Colonist today. I think their complaint was about bad service primarily. I can't say I go there at lunch, but in the evenings I get good service and in the mornings at breakfast I get good service.

I believe that Caramia mentioned she works there. Did you read the review Caramia? No mention of the great beer. They basically trashed the place on a shrimp salad and a bacon cheeseburger and then not getting their bill handled quickly and upon noticing yesterday's dinner specials were inserted in today's lunch menu.

This has not been my experience there and maybe Pam Grant will do a follow up if there is any input to the contrary. Getting and keeping good servers is a problem at every establishment. I wonder who handled the table for Pam Grant's party?

#2 LJ

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Posted 12 April 2007 - 07:59 PM

What beer goes with breakfast?
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#3 Holden West

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Posted 12 April 2007 - 08:15 PM

^Oatmeal stout.

Yeah, devastating review. I hope it serves as a kick in the pants for management.
"Beaver, ahoy!""The bridge is like a magnet, attracting both pedestrians and over 30,000 vehicles daily who enjoy the views of Victoria's harbour. The skyline may change, but "Big Blue" as some call it, will always be there."
-City of Victoria website, 2009

#4 Willa

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Posted 13 April 2007 - 07:47 AM

I have to say I have had bad service there almost every time I've been (breakfast, dinner and drinks). I agree, I think the beer is good, but I don't like going there to eat anymore because every time it seems the servers are just too busy, and therefore ignore me for long periods of time.

As Holden says, I hope it opens managements' eyes.

#5 Caramia

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Posted 13 April 2007 - 03:19 PM

I think Swans got a bum rap. I don't work there anymore, and when I did work there, it was for Heritage Realty Properties Ltd, which manages the other properties outside of Swans ... essentially I was responsible for a big chunk of Lower Johnson Street. Nothing to do with the restaurant, although I was around it and in the office.

Swans was the victim of a huge wave of success after being named brewpub of the year nationally and bringing home 7 beer awards. There was been a resulting rush of business, which in today's labour market can be really tough. As a result - overworked waitresses and catering managers, and changeover of staff. These are problems that need to be worked through, of course. Too much of a good thing, I guess.

What I saw when I was working there was the managment trying really hard to catch up and to resolve any issues that were caused by the changes. When there was a complaint, it was dealt with seriously - in fact it was a huge deal - and they really did try to make amends. I didn't weigh in on the pub thread because I did still work for the company at the time and didnt want to seem biased. But I was familiar with the issues involved, and felt that some of the things that were said were a bit unfair.

Even after having stopped working there, I still go back for lunch and dinner, its a place where I can take anyone from a date to my grandmother and know they will be comfortable. I'm not a beer drinker, but I think the food is delicious - the asian fusion thing really works for me - especially as it reflects the ethnic composition of the kitchen staff. The original art is really attractive to me, and was part of my reason for wanting to work there in the first place. I love that you can go there and dance to live music without a cover every night, and that some of the staff have been there 20 years. I love that they are never too busy to still make it a welcoming place for certain eccentric old folk who practively live there (if you have been there much you know who I mean hehe). I like that the profits go to UVic to support things like Marine Sciences and Fine Arts. I like the management and I like the waitresses.
/shrug

Swans has been around in Victoria for a long time. It was a major part of the revitalisation of that area, and is still a huge player in helping out in the community. (For instance, when I worked there I was paid to go help at Streetlink on Friday mornings to get clean clothes to the clients - whatever else people say about Swans, you can't say that they don't have a social conscience) Swans is more than just a pub, it is a whole community - an integral part of our urban landscape, our urban social scene and our urban history. Those people who are trashing it now aren't going to do permanent damage to something with such deep roots in the Victoria scene.
Nowadays most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one's mistakes.
Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900), The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891

#6 gumgum

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Posted 13 April 2007 - 03:22 PM

Can someone post this review?

#7 Icebergalley

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Posted 13 April 2007 - 08:35 PM

Caramia...

Thanks for the the history lesson...

And GUM GUM good request...

I'll paraphrase for the people who have jumped on after the tackle...

If you like the service etc.. tell others...

If not, tell us!

I'm sure that lots of people can find fault with even their favorite place...

I do hope that the negative comments about Swans were previously conveyed to the management...

If not, please consider an edit to remove your anoynomous criticism until you have done so and not received a satisfactory response...

Remember when posting.. your negative comments about Swan's or other topic will google...

If you want to give "the management" a "kick in the pants".. Do so between you and them with a specific complaint and see how they handle it...

#8 Holden West

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Posted 13 April 2007 - 09:37 PM

Mediocre fare, service at Swans ruffle feathers

I like Swans. Folks have been grumbing about Swan's service for a very long time, though. It's not like it's a recent blip. I'm sure everyone is trying their best, even the managers. I think it's simply that the managers themselves don't have the proper training skills. Bringing customers to a table and having them sit there for 10 minutes unacknowledged is completely avoidable without increasing staff.
"Beaver, ahoy!""The bridge is like a magnet, attracting both pedestrians and over 30,000 vehicles daily who enjoy the views of Victoria's harbour. The skyline may change, but "Big Blue" as some call it, will always be there."
-City of Victoria website, 2009

#9 gumgum

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Posted 13 April 2007 - 10:08 PM

^Thanks for the link,West.

I won't hesitate to go back there myself, but the service issues mentioned seem pretty accurate to me. I think the real problem is the fact that it's bursting at the seams - and too many times that can mean a restaurant's downfall.
It's a restaurant critic's weakness to inflexibly expect cookie-cutter treatment in any establishment, regardless of type or class.
Still, this review is based on impressions built over several visits. Fair enough.

They'll get there **** together no doubt.

#10 Caramia

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Posted 15 April 2007 - 08:16 PM

Thanks Icebergallery.
And very good point about google.
The internet may seem anonymous but this city is a village, and what we post about people is almost guarenteed to get back.
Nowadays most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one's mistakes.
Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900), The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891

#11 homebrewer

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Posted 15 April 2007 - 08:56 PM

[url=http://www.canada.com/victoriatimescolonist/news/go/story.html?id=49b64383-6387-4e23-9d41-7905af44ef05:e7d57]Mediocre fare, service at Swans ruffle feathers[/url:e7d57]

I like Swans. Folks have been grumbing about Swan's service for a very long time, though. It's not like it's a recent blip. I'm sure everyone is trying their best, even the managers. I think it's simply that the managers themselves don't have the proper training skills. Bringing customers to a table and having them sit there for 10 minutes unacknowledged is completely avoidable without increasing staff.


My first time to Swans when I moved here, anxious to try out the beer (as a homebrewer), I sat at the end of the bar (facing the kitchen) after meeting the lovely (Jean?) who I believe is the eccentric being referenced above. Well, she was older, a regular, and wearing a "moomoo" when I met her.
While I went through the beer sampler, I watched a waitress eating in the doorway of the kitchen with the cooks for over 1/2 hour, coming out once to serve during that time, and nervously watching for other staff, hence why I don't think she was on break. Didn't affect me, as I had my beer, but I could hear others complaining.
Everytime I've went with others for food or drinks, the service I've had was far below par. I'm not trying to give them a bad rap, I've been compensated by their management for their lack of service.
I want them to have good service, as I think they have a lot of great qualities (good beer, free live music, I live right up the street).
I'd become a regular if they had good service. Hopefully this article helps to turn things around.

#12 Caramia

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Posted 15 April 2007 - 08:58 PM

Joan, hehe, she is lovely isn't she?
Nowadays most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one's mistakes.
Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900), The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891

#13 Ms. B. Havin

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Posted 15 April 2007 - 09:12 PM

I sort of hesitate to write this because people get sooo touchy about criticism of eateries in Victoria, but: I think criticism is important and useful. It makes you better. Without feedback -- critical feedback -- you don't improve. As for restaurants, too often we make allowances ("oh, they had a bad night," "it was an off day for them," etc.), and that's just not ok.

Restaurants also need to know that the locals are watching them. If they think that their clients are transient (tourists, or students), they can slack off, which is why so many tourist trap towns and college towns have crappy eateries. IOW, if local critics are willing to write a really critical review for the local readership, I think that's a good thing. If Victoria restaurants want the "O" (orgasmic) to mean anything to its residents -- and not just to tourists -- they have to perform every day they're open. From soup to nuts.

I know that most of you on this forum think Victoria restaurants are great, but I've been disappointed by their up-and-down quality often enough, whether in terms of service or food. It bugs the hell out of me when I find a place I think is ok, go there 4 or 5 times, and then notice how things are starting to slide. Maybe the main chef who started it is taking time off, but failed to train his successors to be as meticulous as s/he is, or the quality of the ingredients is slipping, or the service is becoming full of attitude, ...whatever.

Criticism of the service industry (and a demanding, critical local customer base) is good: it makes things better -- unless the vendor just relies on transients (tourists, students), in which case he or she has no incentive to care, 'cause the next boatload is bringing more customers anyway.
When you buy a game, you buy the rules. Play happens in the space between the rules.

#14 Caramia

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Posted 15 April 2007 - 09:34 PM

Maybe so Ms B but criticism should be fair and tell the whole story. Regarding the article, you get entire paragraphs of the two diners just being snarky.. speculating on a soup they didn't even taste for instance, or putting down the incorporating of local street names into the dishes. Was there really a point to that? Regarding our posts here on the board, posting that you had a mix up at a function without posting about the lengths that the management took to compensate you is the kind of thing that I find a bit unfair. I have no problem with posts like homebrewers where he says he had bad service but at the same time does explain that he did complain and was compensated.
Nowadays most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one's mistakes.
Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900), The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891

#15 Rorschach

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Posted 16 April 2007 - 08:39 AM

I like different restaurants for different dishes. So I choose where I want to go depending on what I want to eat. If I feel like Fish & Chips, I go to Swans. I've tried a lot of places who all supposedly have the best Fish & Chips, but to my taste, Swans is the best.

I love local beer and ale. Swans is the place to go for a tasty local brew. I don't prefer Spinnakers for beer. Some beer there is great, but sometimes it's not. I'd like to see Pam Grant review Spinnaker's! The service there is consistantly bad, not up and down.

I think Swans will recover from the bad review. It probably will be a kick in the pants. However, in all fairness to homebrewer, there is nothing sexier than watching a beautiful woman pounding down french fries and gravy. He should count himself fortunate to have viewed such an event. She probably did it because she was comfortable in the persona you projected to feel you would not mind.

#16 Holden West

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Posted 16 April 2007 - 09:09 AM

^That post got creepy in a hurry.

Pam Grant reviewed Spinnakers last year--decent food, great beer, hectic, scattered service; don't go when it's busy.
"Beaver, ahoy!""The bridge is like a magnet, attracting both pedestrians and over 30,000 vehicles daily who enjoy the views of Victoria's harbour. The skyline may change, but "Big Blue" as some call it, will always be there."
-City of Victoria website, 2009

#17 m0nkyman

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Posted 16 April 2007 - 09:41 AM

Bet you that it doesn't change Swans one iota. They've had crap service since the first time I went there in '89. They've had crap service every time I've ever been dragged in there since.

It hasn't seemed to hurt them yet....

#18 Holden West

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Posted 16 April 2007 - 10:13 AM

Here's a good quote from the Spinnakers review that applies to just about every restaurant at one time or another:

eventually someone said, "I wonder what is taking so long." It was 35 minutes before the rest of our lunch arrived, a fact acknowledged only moment beforehand with profuse apologies . Our server, until that point, was doing a good job of serving adjacent tables and pretending she didn't see us. My advice to servers everywhere? Please don't do this. We know you can see us. Just tell us how long we are going to have to wait.


Listen up, all restaurants! People don't mind waiting if it's busy--however--THEY HATE BEING IGNORED!

It only takes 1.5 seconds to say, "I haven't forgotten you! I'll be with you as soon as I can!"
"Beaver, ahoy!""The bridge is like a magnet, attracting both pedestrians and over 30,000 vehicles daily who enjoy the views of Victoria's harbour. The skyline may change, but "Big Blue" as some call it, will always be there."
-City of Victoria website, 2009

#19 Caramia

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Posted 16 April 2007 - 10:27 AM

I think Swans will recover from the bad review. It probably will be a kick in the pants. However, in all fairness to homebrewer, there is nothing sexier than watching a beautiful woman pounding down french fries and gravy. He should count himself fortunate to have viewed such an event. She probably did it because she was comfortable in the persona you projected to feel you would not mind.


:shock:

Hee hee
Nowadays most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one's mistakes.
Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900), The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891

#20 Jada

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Posted 16 April 2007 - 01:07 PM

And to think that all this time women have been spending precious time and money on their appearance... hair, makeup, fitness etc to gain the attention of the opposite sex and appear sexy in their eyes. When all along all we've needed to do is pound down a few beers with our french fries to get the attention we want!

The Miss America pageant should be told of this...

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