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July 17, 2005

"A review of the Carbone's in Cottage Grove, MN"

Fabulous Babe, Jack and I went to the new Carbone's the other night. That's Carbones in Cottage Grove, MN at 7155 Jorgensen Lane S, off of 70th street at "The Shoppes at Almar Village".

The summary? Avoid at all costs.

Why? Because it was the worst dining experience we've had since we moved here. Even worse than the dreaded Ho King which is saying a lot. Awful's sister Terrible and their cousin Wretched are all words that are applicable.

The shame in this is that Carbone's everywhere else has a well earned reputation for great food. That's part of our disappointment and why you should be warned and why Carbone's should yank their franchise away. What you expect from a Carbone's you will not find here.

The restaurant was about 20-30% occupied when we arrived. There were plenty of wait staff and a couple of people waiting to pick up to go orders, including a guy in a yellow shirt. We'll come back to him. We were seated by 5:45, ordered an appetizer and drinks and then ordered our dinner: Half an order of Spaghetti and two small pizzas.

After 45 minutes we hadn't seen any food short of a side salad. Jack was melting down from hunger, Fabulous Babe was pissed and it was rapidly turning ugly. When I went to find out what was going on the answer I received was that they were busy and that something would be right out. The restaurant was now about half full and there were 16 order slips hanging for the kitchen staff to start making. The take out customer in the yellow shirt was still there.

At 6:45, an hour after we were seated, the waitress came to our table and gave us an order of cheesy bread to make amends for our wait. Meanwhile we were hearing horror stories from other people nearby: a.) pizza's ordered that were never delivered, b.) meals that took over two hours to arrive, c.) people having been sick after eating there. We discovered that the other customers were like us and this was their first time as well.

At 7:00 with Jack's head almost on the table from starvation the food arrived. (We had wisely cancelled the appetizer.) The pizzas were lukewarm. After a few bites we packed it in and headed out. The poor guy in the yellow shirt was sitting on a chair looking really depressed.

It turns out that the owners decided to install a small oven in the restaurant instead of a traditional large one. This means that when the restaurant is busy the orders stack up and food has to be rushed through the dinky oven. This explains our lukewarm pizza's and might also explain why I spent some quality time doing some reading on one of our bathrooms that night.

Since then we've spoken to some of our other neighbors and friends and the horror stories abound: Long waits are typical but a couple of the stories involved power outages, how food was witnessed being delivered, etc. Even Mrs. Dawn and our babysitter Miss Brittney had tales of woe. When teenagers say a pizza place wasn't any good that's a red flag.

The owners are already looking to sell the restaurant for a rumored $850,000 despite only being open for a month or two. My advice would be to wait a month or two and simply pick the place up when the property owners are eager to replace the former lease holders.

My other advice to prospective buyers is to replace the smaller oven with a larger oven. The current owners seem to have thought that the success of the business depended more on purchasing the tricked out new Chevy Avalanche that they park out back of the restaurant than being able to meet customer demand. As a one time only patron I can assure you that their decision making path was flawed.

Out of 5 stars the Carbone's of Cottage Grove gets a -1 and an angry look from our son who was forced to eat the stale crackers in his diaper bag because they weren't competent enough to bring food in a reasonable amount of time. A kid friendly restaurant it isn't.

Posted by Jim at July 17, 2005 10:15 PM


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