Pest control is more than just a nuisance

Italian restaurant fruit flies We recently celebrated my daughter’s 11th birthday at a well-known Italian chain. It’s one of her favorites, and a go-to for celebrations.

See the little black specks on the artwork here? Those are fruit flies. What I thought were just a few and a slight annoyance soon turned in to an Amityville Horror experience, and we counted dozens on the wall behind us and buzzing the air. They landed on my sangria, on our spicy pasta, ended up floating in my husband’s water… We couldn’t get out of there fast enough –– and that put a bit of a damper on our daughter’s birthday celebration.

We were prepared to order one of the restaurant’s giant brownie sundaes as a treat for my daughter and her friends. Instead, we wound up at the frozen yogurt shop right down the street ($35 in froyo, by the way. Yikes!). I also didn’t have that second glass of sangria I desperately needed –– dealing with three squealing pre-tweens requires lots and lots of sangria. The bottom line is that our check total –– and overall satisfaction in the restaurant –– was shortened by these pesky pests.

Now, if you are asking yourself why I didn’t speak to a manager, I did. One of the particular niceties about this chain is that a manager has a table touch during every seating. When he approached, I pointed out the fruit flies lining the wall behind us. He sighed dramatically, apologized and said he was battling them daily. That’s it. We grabbed the check and hightailed it out of there.

In the hours after our meal, I posted photos on my personal social media, and filled out the online concern form. Within 48 hours, I had responses from the company on Instagram and Twitter and received a phone call from the general manager. The concern was genuine, and I could tell she was more than a little frustrated. She told me that her dishwasher company had been spraying regularly (huh?) and the busboys sprayed the trashcan after each use. Further, they get produce in regularly, so it isn’t sitting around attracting bugs.

I told her that it was time to call an real pest control expert. She said because the restaurant is open 365 days a year, it would be difficult to take the necessary steps to eradicate the pests completely. They’d have to spray early in the morning (and probably at a greater cost to the restaurant).

In this instance, what would you do? Shut down for a service and have it professionally addressed? Or continue to try to handle it yourself. Sound off in the comments.

Meanwhile, the $50 gift card the company emailed me will continue to sit in my inbox until I’m sure I won’t have floating friends in my sangria.