Ernie Biggs – 505 N Rock Rd, 67206

Posted: July 15, 2012 in Bar
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Well, fellow Wichitans, I rarely say “best” or “worst,” but tonight, I believe I had the worst experience at a bar I’ve had in a long time, maybe forever. It was awful. And strangely, it was a fairly popular (albeit new) location. I guess the dueling piano bars idea is unique enough in Wichita patrons are tolerant. Generally when I don’t like a place on the first taste, I’ll hold my tongue. But in this case, I was so annoyed I had to keep myself from stringing together an excessively creative, expletive-laden sentence. I will not be bullied. And that, my friends, is why I’m writing.

How do I dislike Ernie Biggs? Let me count the ways:

1. They dictated when I had to be where. We made reservations, and were told the entire party had to be there by eight or we’d lose our reservations. Eight. As in before it’s even dark out. Now, don’t get me wrong, I get they don’t want to hold the table open all night. But 8:00 is pretty early. What are we? 85? And where do they think we are? Vegas. It just seemed a little pretentious in Wichita.

2. I don’t mind paying a cover for live music. I know cover charges allow bars to pay the band. But in this case, we, the customers, are also paying the “band” on a per-song basis, $5 minimum per song (many people dropping $20 a pop). And all things aside, had it gone better inside the bar, the cover would not have bothered me. But the doorman was a douchebag. The couple in front of me asked, “Five dollars for each of us?” And he says something sarcastic about “each person.” Hey, jerkface, many bars in Wichita only have covers for men. So back the hell off!

I would have walked away at this point had it not been my out-of-town friend’s birthday.

3. The tables are soclosetogether. I’m not kidding. I think their target market is ninety-eight pound hipsters. All night I was getting ass and crotch rubbed by strangers. Fun! (No, not really.) And when I’d scoot my chair in so someone could get by behind me, my knees would knock with my friend across the table. Either get wider tables, or give more space between tables. The bar’s theme requires taking requests on paper. So I should not be constantly getting rubbed by a stranger, scooting in, banging someone in the knees, scooting out. I get a business’s purpose is profit, but you have to walk the line between profit and service. And at this point, I’m giving a lot more than I’m getting.

4. My friend ordered a something-and-diet. When it comes she tells the server the pop tastes weird. The server says, “Yeah, our pop isn’t good. I can’t drink it.” And walks away. Just walks away. Doesn’t offer to take the drink back. Doesn’t offer to replace the drink. Acknowledges it sucks. And walks away. What?!?! REALLY? So, you know the pop sucks, and have no consideration for your customers, serve the crappy pop anyway, then walk away when you’re called on it? Excellent customer service! Between this and the door man, I don’t know who I’d be luckier to be friends with! Whee!

5. There was no toilet paper in the bathroom. And the toilets were disgusting. At the beginning of the night. I went to the bathroom at 8:43, so it wasn’t like it was 1:43. Or, hell, even 10:43. This is so early in the night, I wonder if this place has post-closing or pre-opening duties. The mirror at the front of the bar (where they write “messages”) was a mess, too. Some of these things should be closing or opening duties, and are basic customer service. I worked at Pizza Hut, and we were more conscious of the first impression of customers. And that’s saying something. Plus, I am comparing the level of dirty/lack of stocking to places like Heroes and Jerry’s. If Heroes and Jerry’s can keep toilet paper in their stalls all night, you can have toilet paper in the stalls to start the night. And bathrooms at bars need to be cleaned at least once a day. At least. These looked like they hadn’t een cleaned for a week. The bathroom didn’t smell terrible, but the inside of the bowl looked like. Well, you don’t deserve the images. I so focused on not contracting anything from the toilet that I forgot to check for toilet paper. Rookie mistake. But still, no one should be forced to drip-dry at 8:43. Classy.

6. And the kicker, folks. The reason I decided I was writing this review. We had to give our card to start a tab. Perfectly fine. No mention of any bar minimums when we handed over the cards. I drank two beers. I was driving. Two beers is a reasonable amount of beer to drink for someone driving. (I also ordered two waters, never got them.) So I ask for my tab. Also no mention of a minimum. Then I get my tab. My card has been run. And the server says, “You have to tip at least three dollars. There’s a ten dollar minimum.” Wait. What the fuck? Seriously. So, you know there’s a minimum, you never mention it. You don’t have the courtesy to come say, “Hey, you’ve only spent $7. To run a card, you have to spend $10. Do you want to pay cash? Maybe order another beer?” No, you run the card and think you’re going to bully me into a 43% tip!?! You really think this is going to happen? No, this is not going to happen. The beers are already full price. And I’ve paid a cover charge. And I’ve scooted my chair in and out all night. You really think I’m going allow you to bully me into a tip? No, I will not be told what I’m going to tip. I didn’t tip the $3. And if it comes through as $10, I’ll dispute the charge and charge it back.

Oh, and my friend with the flat drink she didnt’ drink? Yeah, she got charged for that, too.

The greediest display of “service” I’ve ever witnessed. Never again. NEVER. AGAIN.

Update #1 (7/17/2012): Those thieves did indeed take more than the receipt was signed for. Pretty sure that’s illegal. Do not trust this greedy establishment.

Update #2 (7/18/2012): Spoke to the card department for my debit card. It is, in fact, illegal to do what they did. First, not disclosing the minimum until the card is run. And second, running a transaction through for more than is signed for on the card. Third, there’s the ethical dilemma of forcing someone to drink more than they’re comfortable to meet a price minimum. Excellent point. Now, I’ll be contacting the manager (via email). So there will be a third update, even if it’s to say there was no response. Stay tuned, friends.

Update #3 (9/6/12): Sorry for the delay on this. I sent an email to the contact name on the Ernie Biggs website. I got two responses. One from a manager named Jeremy. He said he was attending a funeral but would get back to me the next day. He never did. The second was from a “Principal Owner” named Daniel. His initial response seemed very engaging. But beyond that was kind of short/distant. I realize I don’t need to be coddled, but it’s also frustrating that they’ve done something illegal as a business and I feel like an inconvenience. Not sure if everyone would like to see the conversation as it happened, as it’s a bit lengthy. But here’s what I said, and here are the responses:

I addressed the “minimum required purchase” – why what they’re doing is illegal, and how inappropriately it was handled. Specifically, I said you can’t force a person to charge any dollar amount on their card without first warning about the amount. And you definitely can’t force tipping. I was never offered the option to pay cash. Response from Daniel:

  • “I agree all information should be provided to the customer before any action is taken. It is disappointing to hear one our servers did not properly convey the necessary information.”
  • “What we do have and what is standard practice in many bars and restaurants is a minimum to run a credit card. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, credit card processing fees are expensive and secondly, it takes time to run the card. So you are correct in your assessment that higher-volume establishments attempt to discourage people from using cards for small purchases.” My response to this: 1. I NEVER said higher-volume establishments do this. In fact, NO large establishment I know of has a minimum required purchase. Rather, I’ve heard of smaller companies implementing this to keep costs down – some not even offering debit cards. I can tell from the setup of the bar that profits are more important than service or experience. So that’s perfectly fine with me. Run your establishment the way you want. But don’t pretend you’re a hole in the wall bar. You have locations nationally.
  • He goes on to say, “While I hope this sheds some light on why we would have such a policy I do not want you to feel that we, in any way, agree with what happened in your case. Again, you are correct that any policy or general rule should be spelled out in advance of your order. You are also obviously correct that the card should never be run for more than it has been authorized… My feeling is that your server should have been more flexible on the rule and that she compounded the problem by over zealouly seeking a tip.” Clearly the tip is all the server was thinking about. And she wasn’t SEEKING a tip. She TOOK a tip. Stole it. I wrote on the signed credit card slip one amount. She changed it and ran it as another. This is stealing. This stuff only slips through the cracks if it’s allowed. Hell, I worked at Pizza Hut, and an employee was caught pocketing $1 of another server’s tips and was fired on the spot. I have friends who work in restaurants, and any server who is caught altering a credit card slip is fired immediately.
  • “Thanks again for the feedback; we have already spoken to the staff.” This is where I’m re-pissed off. Whatever, dude. Yes, talk to them. That’ll do it. He also had these tidbits of non-illegal behavior-related information:
  • “I wanted to let you know we have installed an ATM for instances such as the one you just described.” And here? I’m LIVID. Listen, asshat, I HAD CASH IN MY WALLET! You are not comprehending what has happened. One of your server STOLE money. I had cash. I was never given the option to use it. I don’t need an ATM that charges me $5 per transaction (which Ernie Biggs probably also profits off of.) And this:
  • “Note: We only use real Coca-Cola products and will check our systems to make sure they are mixing correctly. Please do not ever pay for a sub-par drink at Ernie’s.” Maybe you should have a conversation with your servers about not charging for a crappy drink a patron complains about. Once again, the customer wasn’t given the option. Rather, she was charged for a crappy drink, even when she didn’t drink it and sent it back. In essence, this could also be seen as stealing. Just a thought.

So, clearly, that statement about the ATM is what set me off. The first response was fine, and I appreciated the details. But the shitty back-handed detail about the ATM. Listen, ass, I had cash. That’s the problem with greedy people. But whatever. I don’t intend to go back. No offense intended to the new GM. But if that’s the owner’s response, “talking to” a server who steals and installing an ATM, then our values are out of alignment. I work at a financial institution. If I stole even a quarter, I’d be fired. Someone who so flippantly bullies a customer into tipping her has ethical issues that aren’t going to go away with a “talking to.” Let’s be honest: She knew it was wrong, and did it because she didn’t think I’d turn her in.

Bottom line: This company is only concerned about profits. There are plenty of places for me to have drinks in Wichita. And I’d prefer to sit in one where I don’t feel like my card will be compromised, the chairs aren’t jammed together uncomfortably, and the “principal owner” doesn’t placate me with bullshit like, “we have installed an ATM for instances such as the one you just described.” Yes, an ATM will stop stealing and other unethical practices. Great. That’s why banks never get robbed. ATMs will protect you from robbery!

The end.

  1. Desiree says:

    I got angry for you right now and this happened over two weeks ago! I haven’t been to Ernie Biggs but now I know I should avoid it like the plague.

  2. Aaron Kenney says:

    First of all let me apologize for the atrocious behavior of the employees there, I’ve worked for Ernie Biggs here in Little Rock for 4 years and have just agreed to take the GM position in Wichita and will be up there within 2 weeks…..It is unacceptable to run a card for more than the amount signed, and that will apparently need to be something I’ll have to hammer home to the staff upon my arrival….I would love to give you a chance to change your mind about the place here in a few weeks if you’d be willing….please feel free to contact me at my email address below….

  3. Kim says:

    I’m still waiting on the third update. I saw the new gm’s comment, but that doesn’t seem like much more than words.

    • Amiee says:

      Just like Desiree – I got upset for you too! My girlfriends and I went there a few months ago as well. I won’t be going back either. Not only are all the tables always ”reserved” (I don’t want to stand all night to watch the ‘show’) if you go outside to sit, you can’t even hear the music from inside, they play crummy radio music. Not a good experience for me either.

  4. Bar fly says:

    As far as door charges go not every bar/club in Wichita charge a door charge. There are only three that come into mind that do. The rest may charge if there is special entertainment for that such as a band or DJ that has been booked and is not regular entertainment. This is usually to ensure that the cost of the entertainment is recouperated.

    • Bar fly says:

      Also, why have I been charged $10 when their website says $5. Yep, rip offs

    • Kelly says:

      I agree, and I have no problem paying a cover charge for a live band. A band that the bar is trying to pay with the cover charges. In some cases, I believe the band gets a cut of the cover charges (or all of them) as pay. Meaning, more people, the gig makes more. No one shows up, they get paid squat. I think that’s fair.

      In this case, however, this isn’t a band. This is the bar’s entertainment. The way the bar survives. Beyond that, these singers DEMAND tips. You can’t get them to play a song without, generally, a very large tip. Am I going to pay $20 to hear 1/4th of a song? No, but that’s why these bars don’t appeal to me as much. I like listening, and maybe would go in with a few friends for one song, but I think the price is over-inflated, and depending on drunk people to throw their money around. Which is all fine, I’m just too cheap.

      Anyway, my point is, I’ve NEVER seen a band put a tip jar out. Or just stand there, stubbornly, on stage, waiting for the audience to pay them before they’ll play the next song. If they did that, I’d also enjoy live bands less. But as it stands, I’d prefer to see a real live band, and pay a cover, and enjoy the night. But, that’s just my preference.

      I still have a sour taste in my mouth from the place, and have turned down no less than eight invites to the place since I went the first time. I’ll likely never go back (not just b/c of the poor service and the waitress stealing money, but because it’s not really my thing).

  5. Heather says:

    Oh how I can add to this,the manager and gm are complete trash!!!! The manager had my husband at the bar after hours as well as 15 other people! Everyone drinking for free,great rite??? Not unless you want the managers best friend who is visiting and leaving to az the next day to rob you blind!!! Her and the manager Casey left abruptly after Casey’s friend stole my husbands Oakley bag with 200$ oakleys and two brand new diamond rings,10grand of stuff!!! Yea he’s an idiot for setting it down while these two were durring by him,but generally we trust management as my hubby is in management himself!!! He called the cops and a server witnesses the managers best friend put it in her purse and leave with Casey the manager,of course wichita pd has more to deal with!!! I was livid!! The rings were just purchased on my credit card! I called gm!!! And you know what the doosh said? Around 10am he said were all past out still..that’s all he said! !!!! We couldn’t get a hold if the owner or anyone who gave a crap!!! Until my husband got a hold of an Ernie bigs in another city!!! This guy told us their are cameras,we were happy to hear that but still this girl is leaving today,thankfully this guy was very professional and said he would call the mngr ASAP!! Then the thieving witch called my husband Nd was worried cause of police report!!! She said I didn’t still them and I got them back for you!!! We got his rings back!!! Thank goodness!!!! But when management is involved with a felony theft and a gm to say were still past out!!! This establishment employs shady horrible horrible people!!! I feel sorry for the owner,but then again I don’t,he’s choosing to employ these disgusting thugs!!!! And if your giving away free Booz after hours,you can loose your license!!!! And I hope you do!!!!!!

    • Kelly says:

      Well, that certainly isn’t a good situation to be in for anyone! It sounds like you at least got your property back. At one point they brought a GM in from another store. I wonder if it’s the same person, or if that person has been replaced with someone local. Either way, at least you got your mess sorted out, and I hope it doesn’t happen to anyone else (regardless of where)!

      • Heather says:

        Thx feels like if someone stole your car,then you got it back…I still want justice served,but unfortunately it’s not worth the effort since the thief lives in az!! The owner does need to take action though for kasey the managers involvement as well as how the gm handled the situation!!!!

  6. Urhusbandsacheater says:

    First of all I was there that night and witnessed the entire situation. Ur husband started hitting on that girl at Fox and hound! Then begged to go with them in their limo to the strip club where he was making out with that girl. At the strip club he had to go to the bathroom, he handed that Oakley bag to the girl and said please keep a good eye on this there’s lots of money in there. Then a psycho woman walks behind him and pulls a wad of money fr in front of him, he told them that was his crazy ex wife…and he had the bouncers throw her out…oh wait, that was u, his current wife…why would u let him treat u that way?? So no one stole ur husbands shit, clearly he got it back. Hope this clears up the confusion. But ur husband is rotten, and for u to believe him, u r too. Check ur facts and stop blaming the innocent people of a bar who were just enjoying their co workers bday party!!

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