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Mt. Charleston. Awesome! Except for...





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35, 5,000, and 30. Those are the numbers for Las Vegas/Mount Charleston. First, 35. It takes 35 minutes to be magically transported from the hot, dry desert to the woodsy mountains of Charleston. It feels like the other end of the world. 5,000 is the difference in elevation. The change is staggering. Every mile is a climb, and the closer one gets to Mount Charleston, the steeper the grade. Bicyclists- the really mentally ill ones- train by climbing the grade. The elevation change brings us to the third number, 30. It is consistently 30 degrees cooler on the hill.
Saturday when my great friend Keith and I buzzed up (well I buzzed with my R6 and he thumped with his big V-twin) to the restaurant, the air temp dropped from 90 to a cool and cloudy sixty, with a threat of rain. No problem. If it rains, ride ten minutes down the hill, and the weather stays behind. Beautiful.
So what's the rant?
When we arrived at the restaurant, I gave Keith the down low:
"Get ready for mediocre food, high prices and pathetic service."
We jostled our way to the hostess stand. She chatted with a seated customer.
We waited patiently.
At last she asked us how many. Two. Fifteen minutes. I scanned the room and saw six to eight empty tables.
"Let's sit at the bar."
My experience at bars or counters is much better service. The server need only turn back and forth between the customers and the cooks, but the waiters and waitresses run madly about the room. A woman worked the bar as Keith and I rerode the trip up the hill. After ten minutes, Keith took charge. He read her badge.
"Um, Katie?"
"Yes?"
"Could we get a few drinks?"
"Sure."
Eventually she served drinks, got our setups, served the medoicre food (as predicted), and provided us with the check, indicating their high prices. As we left, I mused (okay, whined), "Did you notice we had to initiate every single step of the service today?"
"It was pretty slow."
"Yes, but I mean think about it. 'Katie, could we order drinks?' 'Katie could we order some food?' 'Katie, could we get some ketchup?' 'Katie, could we have some silverware?' 'Katie, when you get a moment, how about the check?' Even as we left, I said, 'Thanks, Katie.'"
"I felt pretty invisible," Keith admitted.
So why the poor service, high prices, average food? And contrarily, lines out the door?
It's the only place around.
I'm reminded of the advertisement I read in a magazine when I was a kid. The picture showed two lemonade stands. One said, 'Sally's Lemonade 25 cents.' The other sign read, 'Billy's Lemonade, With a Cherry. 25 cents.' And beneath it the caption; 'Ever notice when products compete? They get better.'
Yup.
Being an entrepreneur, I would love to open a place up the street.

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