Earls (700 Bellevue Way NE) opened just two months ago in downtown Bellevue, but beautiful, young people have already scrambled to claim it as their weekend hangout. The hostess at the door handed us a pager a la the Cheesecake Factory when we walked in on Friday night, explaining that there was a wait to be seated at the bar, but that we were welcome to sip on some raspberry lemonade (non-alcoholic) while we waited.
Twenty minutes later, the pager vibrated and we got where we needed to go. Earls is a lot like Joey's, in that its main appeal is the attractive, leggy servers that channel their inner runway models as they work, flipping their hair and flashing their teeth at any (male) patron who glances their way. All are decked out in black cocktail dresses, accompanied by tightly cinched red belts, red flowers in the hair, or red jewelry. "Red is our accent color--it makes getting ready for work really fun," one of the cocktail waitresses chirped when I complimented her on her necklace.
She and her co-workers, however, appeared to have no training whatsoever when it came to working in a bar. It took three tries for our server to bring us the correct drink order. When a group of patrons nearby placed napkins on top of their cocktails and stepped out for a cigarette, their server quickly scurried to get rid of any sign they were ever there. When the bewildered customers returned and asked where their drinks were, she smiled and explained, "Well, when you a napkin on top of your drink, it means that you're done."What the hell is the hiring process like at Earls? Admittedly, it's a gorgeous space and drinks are fairly well-priced, especially given the bar's location. But the service, for lack of a better term, sucks ass. No doubt it will do good business in years to come, as it comes off--and is--a trendy spot that draws a diverse and vibrant crowd.
And lucky for them, Earls' servers can be more incognito than most, even when they mess up. Case in point: We overheard one of the guys whose drink had been taken away too early snap, "Where the fuck is our waitress? She's been gone for like, forty minutes." His friend grumbled in return, "I don't even know which one she fucking is anymore--they all look the same with those stupid fucking red flowers and shit."
Photo credit: http://www.downtownbellevue.com/