The Manager of JP Hanley’s Is Godawful

I’ve lived in “deep Carroll Gardens” (just north of SoFo) for nearly 2 years now, and PJ Hanley’s has yet to cease amazing me with its ability to screw up a good thing.

There are only two eateries in the area whose outdoor spaces can rival PJ Hanley’s: Frankie’s 457 and the Dunkin Donuts on Court at 1st Pl.  (If anyone has the story of how Dunkin Donuts ended up with that gem of a lot, I’d love to hear it.  As far as I can tell, it has something to do with funeral homes and Italians.)  Frankie’s is obviously thriving; I’ve never heard anyone ever say anything bad about it and I’ve never had a bad experience there.  In fact, I challenge my readers to come up with a justifiable criticism or tell me about a subpar evening at Frankie’s in the comments.

Dunkin Donuts is Dunkin Donuts.  If you don’t like it, you won’t like this one, but at least they have a proven method of sailing their ship.

Every time I go to PJ Hanley’s, however, the service and organization is a disaster, and on the past two occasions, it has been catastrophic.  This past Friday night at around 9:30pm, we went for a drink on the patio.  The manager told us it would be a half hour wait for an outside table.  It was crowded, but we noticed three empty tall tables, just outside the door.  I asked about them.  The manager said, “Those are only for bar service.”  We said, “All we want is a drink. Can we sit here?”  He said, “You’ll have to order from the bar.”  That was fine with us.  It was our plan anyway.  You’d think he would inquire of our plan before trying to turn us away.  It was like he didn’t want to make money.

He exhibited more of this tendency last night.  It was the 2nd or 3rd warm night of the year–it was gorgeous– and Carroll Gardens was bursting with joy.  I got to PJ Hanley’s at 7.  It was mildly crowded, but nothing special for happy hour on a nice day.  We got our drinks at the bar and sat ourselves at a table on the patio–all was good.  About 30 mins. in, my friend decided to order some food.  He called a waitress over who brought a menu.  She returned 15 mins. later to ask for the menu back.  He gave it to her and said, “Can I give you an order too?”  Apparently, he couldn’t.  She claimed another waiter would come by to take it.  This never happened.  Meanwhile, parties were coming in to sit at tables.  On their way, the manager halted them, saying there was a half-hour wait.  It was confusing because there were several empty tables.  Further confusing was the lack of a hostess or even a sign that said, “Please Wait To Be Seated.”  I suppose the manager thought hailing people down and scolding them for trying to sit was a clear and pleasant alternative.

At around 8:30, it was time to go.  I went to close my tab at the bar, and by now, it was packed.  They had one bartender running around like a chicken with her head cut off.  She was making all the drinks for the waitstaff with orders from the patio and all the people lined up at the bar.  It was madness.  She told me to go sit down for a while and hang out, and she’d close my tab eventually.  I went to the bathroom, and came back.  After 10 minutes of waiting, the manager showed up at the end of the bar and started barking orders at the bartender.  These were ostensibly the orders that people were growing most impatient about on the patio.  The customers at the bar were antsy with thirst, watching the barmaid run back and forth, 3, 5, 7 beer glasses teetering in her arms.  Another 10 minutes passed: I got no tab and I got sick of watching the manager yell at his staff without giving a hand.  I walked over to him and asked him if he knew how to work the register.  The following dialogue ensued:


ME: Great. So can you go close my tab?

ASSHOLE MANAGER: Ask her [the bartender]. She’ll do it.

ME: I did, 20 minutes ago. She’s crazed; she can’t do it.

ASSHOLE MANAGER: She’ll get to it.

Glasses crashing, beer spilling, people asking for the rest of their orders, mutiny on the rise.

ME: Look, she’s obviously got too much on her plate.  Why don’t you help by closing my tab or pouring a beer or doing something instead of just standing here yelling at her?

ASSHOLE MANAGER to bartender: This gentleman needs his tab.

Bartender brings my tab.

ME To Bartender: Your man is hanging you out to dry.

How hard is it to make PJ Hanley’s a decent place to have a beer?  Get two bartenders and serve drinks.  People will seat themselves.  Order food at the bar.  Abilene does a great job with it.  Why don’t you ask them how it’s done because until you figure it out, I’m not coming back.

By the way, the asshole manager has a goatee and is the only member of the staff wearing a baseball hat, a t-shirt, and jeans, while everyone else wears the required black pants and black shirt.  If you see him, help him get his act together.  There was so much money to be made last night, but when the storm hit, instead of helping hoist a sail, he sat in his cabin telling the first mate to stop letting the ship sink.  He’s ruining what could be one of the best bars in my neighborhood.


~ by jaredran on April 24, 2008.

3 Responses to “The Manager of JP Hanley’s Is Godawful”

  1. Heheheh, just look at the post previous to yours on Frankie’s place page:
    Meeting your challenge was easy for the Pegleg!! ARGHHHHH!!!

  2. I happen to like PJ Hanley’s but often feel like I should not be in any sort of hurry when I am there to avoid service issues.

  3. In a follow up to the last remarks about PJ Hanley’s and horrific experience there…..the arrogant manager’s name is Rueben. That place changed hands a few years ago from the Hanley family and has been a disaster….the owner Jim McGown is clueless owning a bar and pizza bar…..that is the biggest problem there……this whole manager position is really not needed…..the place is not that big to need a manager….have a head waitress and head bartender and attention by the owner……sure it will all work well without that guy Reuben, as he really is useless and has no proper customer communication. I witnessed it myself on an order once that was picked up and the kitchen for the 1000th time messed up the order….the people called and Rueben would not take the call and he was standing right there….he got caught when the husband walked up there with wife still on the phone……great manager skills…the business is noticebly down from years past and was told the menu is severly over priced….examples….8.00 French Onion soups, 13.00 hamburgers, 14.00 Grilled Chicken Caesar Salads for starters. Anytime you order bottled beer at the main bar they are always warm because they are not properly iced up. I live upstairs, so have gone there for years…I gave up a long time ago down there….not to mention recently getting woken up when the kitchen staff from there were having a battle royal outside the place at 5am…..two were arrested and two ended up in hospital……the place became a joke…..better off going to Abeline’s or Leo’s Corner, as the latter has great drink specials and Happy Hour.

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