Lunch at Lemp Brewpub Gurgaon - Real Story
The entire incident in detailFor a lot of reasons, we have thought a lot before writing this. It is a very detailed account and we suggest you read it with patience. There is a lot to learn for us customers and a lot to be learnt by the restaurant owners community also.
A few of us friends (young, 25-year old, working, well educated, aware, well traveled, well spoken) were searching for a place to go to for Sunday brunch and on Zomato.com we came across a "Hawaiian Sunday Brunch" at Lemp Brewpub, Gurgaon. We decided to try out the Hawaiian brunch. As you can see from the image below, the cost is Rs. 999 all inclusive of taxes, and the same was also confirmed to us by the manager, Mr. Robin.
To put it out there, it wasn't the first time we were going to Lemp.
|The Zomato screenshot of the "Hawaiian Sunday Brunch" at Lemp Brewpub|
From the above image you can read the promises:
Hawaiian food - NONE to be found.
Tiki bar serving exotic cocktails - there was no such bar.
Live music and dancing - There was no music playing at all. After we asked they switched on the speakers and regular music played in the background. For the dancing, there were never any plans for dancers. On a serious note we were told by the manager, Robin, that customers were the ones supposed to dance.
On asking why there was nothing Hawaiin about the brunch, Robin tells us that suddenly on Saturday night the chef had to go home in an emergency so hence the problem. Yet, see below a picture of the entrance of Lemp with multiple boards advertising the Hawaiian Sunday brunch that day. In spite of all this we still go ahead with the brunch.
|In spite of the management knowing of no Hawaiian Brunch inside, the board was still on full display outside to mislead and attract customers. There was only 1 other table that was occuppied when we left.|
After waiting 10 minutes, we are served starters on the table which are absolutely stale, inedible, cold and uncooked. We immediately called back Robin and request him to taste the food so he can understand our plight. Even though a buffet includes unlimited ordering, Robin tells us he'll do us a favour and 'replace' the dishes. By then we try the other dishes served on our table and they are equally ill-prepared. The replaced dishes come back absolutely the same quality, just heated this time around.
The drinks included in the package were their 6 home-brewed beers and any vodka-based cocktails. 6 of us ordered a glass of beer each and we asked for 2 vodka-based Mojitos. The beers came in good time but the 2 Mojito's never came. There were 4 reminders given to various staff including the manager, Robin. Robin told us that the confusion resulted because the staff who took our order suddenly left for a break without informing anyone. To our surprise each of the staff members we had told for the Mojitos were very much inside the place and had been continuously serving our table!
|Mr. Robin - The Manager who 'chose' 3 different prices for the Sunday brunch during this incident. This photo was clicked secretly from one of our phones.|
By now, after all the fiasco, we decided that we would leave since nothing in the package was as promised and even the service was getting worse by the minute. We asked the manager to call the owners so we could speak to them. He said they are too busy to be called, even on the phone. In plain words we were told they are inaccessible for us. We simply informed Robin that we would be leaving. Robin tells us that is ok with him as long as we pay for what we consumed. Despite of all the poor incidents and not getting anything as promised, we tell him we will pay full rate for the beer we have had (a total of 6 glasses). Even though beer as part of an unlimited buffet should be calculated at subsidised rates.
We keep waiting another 15 minutes for the bill, which never comes. We ask the waiter and he tell us it will still take more time. At this point we tell the manager that we are leaving. He tells us we cannot do so and must pay the bill. To our shock, we are presented with a bill of Rs. 12,000! Reminder: The buffet costs Rs. 999 inclusive of all taxes and we were only 8 people there! We are told that the food we sent back will also be charged and other dishes prepared for the buffet which were still to come to us will also be charged!
Not wanting to waste anymore time, we walk out towards the elevator and 4 of us get in (3 guys and a girl). Suddenly there are bouncers blocking the tiny entrance of the elevator and intimidating and threatening us against leaving. The waiters and the other staff of Lemp had all surrounded us by then. We do what came to our mind 1st in a panic, raise noise so we can get out of the elevator into an open area. Having lived in Gurgaon for the last 10 years, that was the most scared we've felt ever. It was absolutely not safe inside (whether the girl had been with us or not).
We immediately called the police on 100.
By then a senior manager, Kapil Singh Thapa, comes to the scene. He walks in with so much arrogance that there was no point discussing anything with him. All he said was that you must pay for what you have consumed. Before the police come, the bill is corrected to approx. Rs. 6,700. Obviously, 6 glasses of home-brewed beer cannot cost Rs. 1100+ a glass.
|Mr. Kapil Singh Thapa - The Senior Manager who is mentioned on many many reviews on the internet for his misbehaviour towards customers. This photo was also clicked secretly from one of our phones.|
We still told the staff to call the owners, hoping they would have the sense to reverse such a poor customer experience that kept getting worse. We were repeatedly told that they cannot be reached for such an issue. In the meanwhile, even the mall management, run by Jones Lang LaSalle, decided to come by. We politely requested for help and were instead told to sort out the issue inside Lemp and not spoil the decorum of the place. They all knew the Lemp staff very well.
|Senior person from Jones Lang LaSalle from the mall management at DT Star Mall. He refused to help us. By standing was a better option.|
|Making calls to arrange for more men. Mall management and Lemp managers together.|
From L-R: Mr. Kapil Singh Thapa (Senior Manager), Mr. Robin (Manager), Mall Management from Jones Lang LaSalle who refused to help (in a red tie), Lemp staff (in jeans).
This photo was also clicked secretly from one of our phones.
Guess what happens next? The police arrives. With the 'owner' of the place. Very clearly they came together. We are in an even more helpless situation.
This 'owner', Shashank, was even more arrogant than the previous two managers, rather tending towards the likes of a goon. He even said, "Mera naam kisi se bhi Gurgaon mein check kar lena." ("You can ask anyone my name in Gurgaon and they will know.") He further declares (in Hindi) he will not hear a word against his food or his place or he will get us put behind bars. He goes on to declare that his managers have been running this place for more than a year and they are absolutely right.
The 'owner' Shashank (L) and the senior manager, Kapil Thapa (R), from a public photo found on Facebook.
|The 'owner' Shashank (L) and the senior manager, Kapil Thapa (R), from another public photo found on Facebook.|
And we had completely depended on the owner to come in and solve the situation amicably. After all, no owner would want customers leaving with such an experience.
When asked to explain how the bill of Rs. 12,000 could be presented, the same managers, Robin and Kapil, state that the buffet costs Rs. 1,199 per head + taxes. We showed everyone the screenshot of the Zomato page. Unfortunately, the police could not understand what the internet was and the Lemp management disowned the page. Instead an order is sent inside to instantly get rid of any paper/board where the price of the buffet maybe written. Suddenly realising that even then the calculation doesn't add up for 8 buffets @ Rs. 1199, a friend raises the point. Now the buffet in an instant costs Rs. 1,299! When we told the policemen that this is exactly the kind of experience we have had, the police tell us they didn't hear the manager changing the price of the buffet. Unbelievable. Most of all - HELPLESSNESS.
Finally, the owner adjusts the bill to Rs. 4,463 from the last revised Rs. 6,700. Out of no other option we agree to pay so that we can get out of the situation safe and sound.
We pay the amount and are returned the change. Of course, we ask for the bill which we are told will take some time. We wait another 15-20 mins for the bill. In the meanwhile, the cops ask us to put down the incident on paper and say that a compromise had been reached. We write the incident in detail and hand it over after taking a picture. We are ordered by the cops that we cannot keep proof of the letter or they will not take accept it from us. And we cannot click any pictures at that point. We were just stripped of our right of free speech and expression?
Next, when the manager of Lemp is asked to sign it he calls the owner and explains to him that we have written that we were cheated of our money. The owner throws an angry fit and orders the police to take us to the police station and present us to the SHO. He says there will be cases filed against us. We are returned our money that we paid 15-20 mins back.
Note - all this being said in Hindi/Haryanvi doesn't sound half as pleasant as it may read in English.
Not wanting to drag this further, the tables have completely turned and we plead the cops and the owner to keep the money, throw away the letter and let us go. But the owner is adamant that we will not only pay the full bill of Rs. 12,000 but he also wants us behind bars.
We are dragged out of the mall by the police into their van. On the way, we were further scared by the police that we will be alcohol tested and what not. As you would have realised from our entire bill of 6 beer glasses amongst 8 people, we were perfectly sober.
By now, all of us who lived in Gurgaon immediately call our parents and ask them to come to the police station. After our parents reached AND they were forced to drop a few names, the situation turned on its head and the police staff started explaining how they have been trying to help us kids since the beginning and we kids had only requested the police to bring the Lemp manager to the station so that the issue could be solved!
The owner was now 'too busy' to come to the police station (which was barely 200-300m away from Lemp) but already had control over the cops. The SHO was called to the station and in the end we still paid the Rs. 4,463 to the manager there. We were told there was no need of any letter stating the issue was resolved with a compromise from our side. Finally, thats when this horrid 'brunch' ended.
On a separate note, I wanted to cover a small incident that the girl with us faced. She was wearing shorts and a t-shirt. The Lemp waiters/staff were leching on her and kept staring at her legs. When one of us told one of their staff members "Aap apni aankhein please oopar rakhiye" ("Please keep your eyes up") he replies, "Kya karoon neeche hi chali jaati hain." (What can I do, my sight goes downwards automatically." This happened while the cops were there. This happened while we were surrounded by the Lemp staff and their bouncer + mall management bouncers. This is why the only thing on our minds throughout was to get out of the situation safely at that point.
We have tried to keep this incident as factual as possible without mixing emotional biases or the hate we have for this place today. We have not touched on the fact that in my own country, we do not have basic rights of speech and that the law is bent at the convenience of those who dictate power at that point.
Here are a few reviews of Lemp on Zomato we wish we had taken seriously. One thing that is common is the arrogance and misbehaviour of the staff and being overcharged wrongly. Even the names of the managers are the same in these reviews:
2 must read reviews:
By a certain Nitin Bhatia who had a similar horrendous experience as ours. He was also promised things, then commitment wasn't delivered and finally he was at the receiving of end of the staff - http://www.zoma.to/review/32812
By a certain Sanjiv Tyagi who left his card there, only to find out the next morning that it had been swiped at not only Lemp but other establishments too (such as the liquor store) - http://www.zoma.to/review/34265
A few other reviews. Click on the link to go to the full reviews:
"The manager was so indecent that we immediately left... teared all vouchers just in front of him... This place is only for those who want to spoil their evening by fighting with rude managers."
"Never seen more ruder bouncers.managers while entering place. So cocky for no reason."
"A bunch of moronic unapologetic staff members!"
"Arrogent staff, No hospitality"
"The staff don't have manners to interact with customers."
"Mr. Thapa was so bossy and busy"
"underhand in their approach to adding things onto the bill that had not been actually consumed."
"staff did not agree to the mistake that they had misleaded the public, rather they asked to leave if we did not want to stand!!!"
"The Asst Manager - Thapa - was just unwilling to listen to anything."
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