On three consecutive visits to Thelma’s over the past few months, it is clear to me the standard has dropped in a big way. Last night, in a restaurant that wasn’t particularly crowded we had to wait 45 minutes for our food, which was then cold when it was served and two of the orders were incorrect. On a previous visit, we waited 20 minutes for someone to take our drink order before deciding to leave and eat at another restaurant downtown. And it has now become a running joke of figuring out what you can actually order off the menu because they are frequently out of multiple items.
It is frustrating and disappointing to write this post. I have had many great meals at Thelma’s in the past and have shared some great moments with friends and family there. I have taken numerous people to Thelma’s so they could experience the wonderful hospitality and unique food. I can’t do that with any sort of confidence anymore. Now, it’s become more about wondering if they will have enough people staffed to handle the dining room; hoping they haven’t run out of most things on the menu; and seeing if they remember to bring out the dishes we actually ordered.
I try to avoid writing negative reviews because I don’t look at food or restaurants as something to be critical about. I’ve thought about becoming more of a critic with my reviews, but I typically only write negative reviews when I feel the meal was something particularly bad that needs to be shared with others. I go to a restaurant trying to find something I think I will like and I also look for the positive in what a place can offer. It’s also important to remember that a restaurant business is usually very important to the owners, managers, cooks, and staff because it is a representation of their hard work and how they make their living.
I hope the people at Thelma’s still have a desire to take pride in their work. In my opinion, which I’ve shared with the management, it seems like the restaurant is constantly cutting corners. Not having enough people staffed to serve the tables in the dining room is poor planning. Asking people to share menus because you don’t have enough is lazy. Blaming the cook when something on the plate is incorrect is unprofessional and irresponsible. And having a cook who doesn’t plate the correct side items or put the correct ingredients in something reflects carelessness and a lack of training.
The saddest part about all of this to me is that I know the potential Thelma’s has. I know it has the ability to be one of Roanoke’s most unique and popular restaurants. It is one of those special places people can remember when visiting Downtown Roanoke. I hope they are able to get things figured out and return to the standard they once had. Until then, I’m not comfortable recommending it to anyone and I would say there’s a good chance you’ll be disappointed if you decided to eat there. And for that, I apologize on behalf of “the family.”
Thelma's Chicken & Waffles
315 Market Street SE, Roanoke, VA 24011