Restaurant Review – Disappointed in Joe’s Italian Restaurant in Bealeton VA

Steak dinner (free clip art)

Typical steak dinner (free clip art)

When we go out to eat dinner, my hubby wants to order steak. Rarely will he order anything else. He tends to want to go eat at Outback Steakhouse because he can get a good steak cooked exactly the way he orders it – medium. I always order my steak medium-rare.

Whenever we order a steak cooked medium, or medium-rare, the waiter explains that the steak will have a warm, pink center for medium, and a pink center for medium-rare. We always agree that is what we want.

We have been ordering our steaks like that for as long as I can remember. I’m not going to divulge our ages here, but let’s just say that we are baby-boomers, so we have not just fallen off of the turnip truck when it comes to restaurant food.

One of our favorite cuts of beef is a prime rib, but we don’t order it very often because when we go to a restaurant and order a prime rib, the piece of meat is so large that it fills up the entire plate, and no one person can finish it.

Voted # 1 Italian Restaurant by the Washington Post

Voted # 1 Italian Restaurant by the Washington Post

For the past several months I’ve been trying to get my hubby to try something “new” to us. A restaurant in Bealeton that claims to be “Fine Dining” and “Voted #1 Top Italian Restaurant by the Washington Post.” This restaurant has “Prime Rib, grilled to your pleasure” on their menu. That restaurant is called “Joe’s Italian Restaurant.”

Joe's Italian Restaurant sign

Joe’s Italian Restaurant sign

Last night (Friday night) my hubby decided to humor me and take me there to eat dinner.  I was pleased that he agreed to try a new restaurant! That is a rare moment, trust me!

Before leaving the house, however, we decided to call the restaurant to verify that it was, in fact, open, and had prime rib available that night. We didn’t want to drive all the way there just to find out that they were “sold out.” So I called the restaurant. A woman with a slight foreign accent (I don’t know what kind of accent) answered the phone, and I asked her to please verify that they have prime rib available to be served tonight. She didn’t seem to understand my query.

Joe's Italian Restaurant's menu's prime rib description

Joe’s Italian Restaurant’s menu’s prime rib description

I had to repeat the request about four times, and I had to explain to her twice that we did not want to come to the restaurant if they didn’t have any prime rib available. I was starting to get frustrated with her inability to understand what I was saying. I grew up in Northern Virginia, and my accent is commonplace in this part of the state.  I started to wonder why the woman was having such a hard time understanding me!

Eventually she put me on hold and went to ask someone. After a few minutes she came back and told me that they had it available. I asked her if we needed to make reservations. She didn’t understand my question, so I repeated it. And repeated it again. And repeated it again “Do………….we……….have…….to……….make………reservations?” with about a twenty-second pause between each slowly pronounced word. Finally she seemed to “catch on” to my question and replied “no, no reservations are required.” So I asked her how late they were open that night (had to repeat that question twice) before she answered that they were open until 11 but their kitchen closes at 10:30.

I thanked her and said goodbye, and we proceeded to get ourselves “presentable” and headed out. Driving from our place to the restaurant was over a twelve-mile drive, and the drive took about twenty minutes.

Joe's Italian Restaurant Bealeton VA (photo from Google Earth)

Joe’s Italian Restaurant Bealeton VA (photo from Google Earth)

When we pulled into the parking lot around 7pm I was surprised by how few cars there were, but that didn’t set off any warning bells. In retrospect, they should have! We parked our car and as we approached the building, I noticed two very faded, tattered and torn flags flying above the roof-top. One American Flag, and one Italian. For a moment I wanted to stop and take a photo of the tattered flags, thinking that I would later try to show those photos to the business owner and suggest to him that it was time to replace them. But my cell phone was not “at the ready” to take the photo, and I wanted to get inside quickly before my hubby changed his mind, so I didn’t say anything.

hookahs (free clip art)

hookahs (free clip art)

I noticed a banner on the side of the building that in addition to the Italian Restaurant, that the place is a “hookah bar” and mentioned that to my hubby. I wondered how that whole arrangement worked, whether we would be subjected to smelling any smoke from the hookahs.

When we entered the building, we noticed that we had to walk down a hallway to get to the dining room. A few feet into the hallway there was a glass door that led into a darkened room. I could make out the shadows of some idle hookahs on a counter near the door. The room appeared to be void of any human life, and we kept walking down the hallway.

At the end of the hallway, we had to turn left to get to a small foyer where there were chairs and a podium with a cash register. Someone was seated on one of the chairs. I assumed that was a customer waiting for a take-out order.

Joe's Italian Restaurant dining room

Joe’s Italian Restaurant dining room

I couldn’t see any signage advising us whether to seat ourselves, or wait to be seated. We stood there for a moment, and a female employee approached us, looked at us quizzically, and asked us if we wanted a table. I said “yes” and she said “this way” and she walked towards the dining room. We followed her and she directed us (by pointing) to a corner table, and gave us a couple of menus. She removed the two extra place settings from the table and walked away. She did not ask us any questions, or tell us who was going to be our server, or anything. She just walked away.

The small-sized dining room appeared clean and had a nice feeling to it. There were only two other small groups of customers seated at tables. There were two waitresses taking care of the dining room. So far I was thinking that this was going to be a good experience.

Joe's Italian Restaurant entrees

Joe’s Italian Restaurant entrees

Within a couple of moments, before we had the chance to look at the menus, a different female employee approached us and asked us what we wanted to drink. She did not tell us her name. She was a young, slender, fairly pretty young lady with dark hair. We didn’t know it at the time, but she apparently was going to be our waitress for the entire night. I asked her if they had ginger ale, and she said “no” so I asked if they had “Sprite.” She said yes, so I asked for Sprite. She asked my hubby what he wanted and he told her he wasn’t sure yet, and asked for a few moments. The waitress did not understand what my husband said, so I had to tell her that he wasn’t sure yet, and would need a few moments. She agreed, went away, and came back with my Sprite a few moments later. I was pleasantly surprised that it actually tasted like Sprite! She asked my husband again what he wanted to drink, and again he said he would order something later.

We looked over the menu, trying to decide what we wanted to order. We hoped to order an appetizer, one prime rib meal with an extra potato on the side, and dessert. We were thinking we would share the prime rib, anticipating a large slab of meat.

When the waitress came back to take our order, I ordered the cheese-sticks for an appetizer, and my husband asked the waitress to talk with him about the salad. According to the menu, a salad comes with the prime rib meal.  Essentially he wanted some iceberg lettuce, some cheese, and croutons, nothing else. He explained that he did NOT want onions, or tomatoes on his salad. He wanted iceberg lettuce, shredded carrots, cucumbers, shredded cheese, croutons, and Italian dressing. She did not understand what he was saying, and I had to explain it to her again. She still didn’t understand, and disappeared for a few minutes. When she came back, she explained that their Caesar salad had what he wanted on it, but that it also had shredded carrots and onions. (Side note, Caesar salad costs extra.)

caesar salad (free clip art)

caesar salad (free clip art)

So my husband ordered the Caesar salad, instructing her to hold the onions. Then we ordered the cheese sticks, the prime rib and an extra side of potato. I asked her to bring an extra plate so we could share the prime rib. She looked shocked and told me that the prime rib was only big enough for one person. The menu did not explain how large the prime rib is, only that it was “grilled to your pleasure.”

So I decided to order a “steak turnover” – essentially a hamburger calzone. I figured that we could take that home in a take-out box and let my son eat that later on. And my husband ordered a coke to drink.

The six cheese sticks came out the same time as the salad. The cheese sticks had good flavor, but they were not as warm as most restaurants serve them – the cheese inside was quite solid, not melted and gooey at all, and they cooled off very quickly. The salad did not have any carrots, and the dressing they brought was the wrong kind. I don’t know what it was – it looked like ranch dressing. We had to ask them to bring the right kind of dressing.

Before I had finished three of the cheese sticks, much to my surprise, the “steak turnover” arrived and was put in front of me. The prime rib meal had not arrived, so I moved the turnover to the corner of the table. I didn’t want to start eating that before we had the chance to share that highly anticipated prime rib! I remarked to my husband “What kind of service is this, where only two people are dining and one meal comes out before the other one comes out? This is quite odd!”

Joe's Italian Menu Cover

Joe’s Italian Menu Cover

A few moments later the waitress noticed that I had put the “turnover” aside and she asked me if there was something wrong with it. I told her that I didn’t want to start eating that before the prime rib arrived. She replied “the prime rib is being prepared, but it takes a while to fix it.” I replied “that’s OK, I’ll wait.”

Half-way through the salad my husband bit into a piece of onion, and became very distressed. He removed it from his mouth and excused himself to go into the restroom to vomit. He was gone for about five minutes.

man vomiting (free clip art)

man vomiting (free clip art)

When he returned to the table, visibly shaken, he pushed his salad aside. Eventually our waitress appeared in sight and I beckoned her over to the table. I explained to her that we had ordered “no onions” on the salad, but that there were onions in the salad. I asked her to take the salad away and to give us credit for the salad. I explained that he did not want another one. She spun around and left the room, returning with another woman, who decided to argue with us that there were no onions in the salad. She said that she prepared the salad herself and that there were no onions in it. She explained that there are no onions in a Caesar Salad! My husband told her that he knows the taste of onions when they enter his mouth, and there was an onion in it! He had even spit it out! He showed it to her on the side of his plate! I explained to the second woman that our the waitress had told us that there ARE onions in the Caesar salad, and that she is telling us that there aren’t. I asked her “which is it? Who is right?”

My husband then said “please just take it away, and don’t bother bringing a new one. I don’t want to take a chance on getting one with onions in it.” The waitress said “Oh my God” as she picked up the salad plate, turned, and left the room.

The employee wanted to continue to argue with us about the salad, protesting that there no onions in it. I told her that I wanted a credit on the tab for no salad, and they said “no.” My husband said “just take it away please” so they took it away.

Several minutes later a plate with the prime rib arrived, with one potato on it. The waitress brought a bottle of A1 steak sauce and put it down beside me. No steak knives were provided. The extra side potato did not come out right then. No extra plate came out for us to be able to share the prime rib. The plate was put down in between my husband and me. The piece of meat was the sorriest looking excuse for a piece of beef I have ever seen in my life! It was maybe one-half inch thick (at the most.) The meat was about three inches wide and about five inches long.

Steak doneness chart (from steaknight.com website)

Steak doneness chart (from steaknight.com website)

I took my dinner knife and cut about 1/3 off of the piece of meat. There was no pink inside, it was brownish-gray all the way through. The steak was well-done. Disappointed, I decided to take a taste, thinking that if it was tasty I would go ahead and eat it and not say a word. I took a bite, and it was nasty. My husband looked at the meat and told me that he was very upset that it was over-cooked, and declared it “dog food.”

We waited until the waitress appeared again (it took a few minutes) with the additional baked potato. I told her that the meat was “well done” and we had ordered “medium.” I told her that we wanted a different piece of meat.

She told me that the meat was not “well done” and that it was “medium.” I told her (and showed her) that there was no pink in the meat at all. She argued with me, insisting that it was “medium.” I asked to speak to the manager, and she said OK and left.

Expecting to have the manager come to the table, my husband and I waited at the table for at least ten minutes. We talked about the situation while we waited. We were obviously very displeased with the entire experience by now, and just wanted to leave. We did not eat anything else.

Restaurant check (free clip art)

Restaurant check (free clip art)

After a few more minutes, the waitress came to our table and gave me the check! Why she didn’t give it to my husband, I don’t understand, but I gave it to my husband, while telling the waitress again that we wanted to speak to the manager. She told us that we would have to wait! I asked her for a take-out box for the “steak turnover” and she said “OK.”

My husband looked at the check and was quite upset to see that we were being charged $50 for a meal that was, by all accounts, horrible! I told him we shouldn’t have to pay for it because we didn’t eat it. He told me that if we didn’t pay for it we could be arrested for theft of services!

Joe's Italian Restaurant receipt

Joe’s Italian Restaurant receipt

After another extended wait, we were asked to come to the podium around the corner. I thought that was very odd – in the past if I have ever asked to speak to a manager in a restaurant, the manager came to the table and would ask “how can I help you?” I asked again for a take-out box for the “steak turnover.” We left the table and went around the corner where saw a very young man standing there.

I advised him we wanted to speak with the manager, and he said that he was the manager. He did not tell us his name. What is it with this place? No one tells us their name, and no one wears name tags either! I told him that our meal was unacceptable and we did not want to pay for it. He asked what the problem was, and I explained it all to him. Every detail that was wrong. He quickly became very defensive, defiant, and argumentative. He claimed that he was the one that had cooked the prime-rib and that it is illegal to serve meat “with blood still in it.” He said that if it is still pink inside then it still “has blood in it.” He insisted that if the meat was well done it would have been blackened to a char.

well done (free clip art)

well done? (free clip art)

I explained to him I have never gone to a restaurant and been told that! We have always been able to get a steak with a “pink, warm center” and that was the definition of “medium.” He told me that he had been cooking there for five years and he knew what he was doing and that meat was cooked “medium.” He refused to budge on the definition of “medium.”

I told him that the salad was unacceptable, that the steak turnover was delivered to the table too early, and he blamed all of that on the waitress and refused to take any responsibility other than to say that he would “talk to her about that later.”

I told him that I wanted a discount on the tab because the meal was unacceptable. He looked at the tab and said we had been given half-off of the salad (we shouldn’t have been charged extra for a salad to begin with since it was supposed to be part of the meal!) and that was all the discount we were going to get!

McDonald's (free clip art)

McDonald’s (free clip art)

My husband, frustrated and tired, then declared “let’s just pay the tab and get something decent to eat at McDonald’s on our way home” and he stepped up to pay the tab. “Let’s go!” he said.

I told him we still needed to get our untouched steak turnover into a take-out box to bring home with us, so we returned to the table to see if the take-out box arrived yet. A pizza take-out box was sitting on the corner of the table, so we put the turnover, the left-over cheese sticks and untouched baked potatoes into the box. We left the prime-rib sitting on the plate on the table. I did not even want to bring that horrible thing home to give to the dogs!

Leaving the table, I told my husband “don’t leave a tip” and he replied “I don’t plan on it!” As we left the restaurant, the manager called after us “have a good night!” We didn’t respond. We had nothing good to say to him. But I did tell my husband that when we got home, I was going to write a review on Angie’s List and Google Reviews, on my blog, on Facebook, the Yahoo Group that reviews restaurants in Fauquier County, and wherever else I can warn people to stay away from this place! I want to even contact the Washington Post and ask them how and why this place ever got to be rated #1 for Italian Food! Poor service, bad food. We won’t be back. Lesson learned.

Outback Steakhouse (free clip art)

Outback Steakhouse (free clip art)

The worst part of this all is that now it will be a cold day in Hades before I can ever convince my husband to try a “new to us” restaurant! Maybe we should buy stock in Outback!


Posted in Food, Life, Opinion, Product Review, Rants and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , by with 2 comments.

A Peek Into My Grandmother’s Life

Yesterday my mother was visiting with me, and she brought photos and memoirs from her mother’s life to share with me. She left them with me to scan, and share with my other family members that might find them interesting. I have already shared some of them privately with the family members that I feel would be interested, but there is more to be looked at, and considered.

Among the items she left are three very old (circa 1920’s) autograph books. Apparently back then it was the custom for girls to ask friends, neighbors, relatives, to write in their autograph books. They have not been stored in archival circumstances, so they are falling apart. They need to be handled with great delicacy and care. Looking through the books, many of the pages are simply the autograph of someone, an address, and a date. Some autographs, however, included little sayings, or expressed wishes and blessings.

By far one of my favorite ones I have seen is this one that I am sharing with you here today. When I read it, I laughed a good, loud, belly laugh. I quickly decided to share it here, on my blog. Maybe someone else “out there” in the blog-o-sphere will read it someday and enjoy it, too. And I will admit that I probably “represent that remark” to some extent.

(Off topic rant: I find that when I am with other people who I rarely have the opportunity to talk for one complete sentence before someone decides that what they think I am going to say is objectionable, and they interrupt me. I usually don’t get the chance to ever finish my sentence. After a few noble but valiant attempts to clarify what I was trying to say, I give up talking at all. Apparently most of the people don’t care what I think or feel, and don’t want to speak “with” me; they want to speak “to” me.

Because of that situation, some people in my life have no idea at all what I think, feel, or know. That is probably one reason I am a writer and a blogger. At least no one is interrupting me and I can complete a thought somewhere, even if nobody else ever reads it. I know that very few people will ever read what I am writing, and know what it is I’m trying to say, or even care, but maybe someone “out there” might read it and realize that I’m not the total jerk that I have been made out to be by certain people. Of course that might not happen until I’m dead and gone, but maybe it will happen some day. One can hope…)

When I am asked specific questions, I sometimes share “news” that I have heard by listening to people when they talk.

But I digress…. Here is a photo of the page that brought rare laughter to my lips earlier today. I hope it brings a smile to yours as well!

Page from autograph book June 11 1926 Ruth Conroy

Page from autograph book June 11 1926 Ruth Conroy

If you can’t read it (for whatever reason) it says:

“When you tell a man something it goes in one ear and out the other. When you tell a woman something it goes in both ears and out her mouth.” And it is signed Ruth Conroy, dated June 11, 1926 (I think.)


Posted in Blogging and SEO, Family and Friends, Life, Memories, Rants and tagged , , , , , by with comments disabled.

A Plumber’s Daughter Writes About Septic Tanks and Rid-X

Yahoo (free clip art)

Yahoo (free clip art)

The following post is inspired by a question I read from a yahoo community group. The question was about whether Rid-X is a good thing to use. The person posing the question was having trouble with their toilets backing up, even though they had recently had their septic tank pumped. I decided to reply with my opinion, and then decided to share it here, thinking that maybe this will help other people with septic systems.

I am from a family of plumbers, (My step-father was a well-known local plumber, and I have a brother that is still in the business) and I have lived with septic systems since 1978. So far I have lived in three different houses with septic systems, and have had pretty good luck with them.

Setpic tank cleaning (free clip art)

Setpic tank cleaning (free clip art)

Depending on the size of your tank, and how many people you have using the bathrooms, and laundry habits, pumping a system every 2 to 5 years is a good idea.

A good septic tank cleaning service will, after pumping your tank, ask you to flush your toilets, one at a time, while they look at the tank before they close it up. They will make sure that water is flowing smoothly into the tank, at a decent rate. Sometimes things get clogged up in the pipes in a house that will prevent the flow of waste into a septic tank.

Please don't flush (free clip art)

Please don’t flush (free clip art)

Sometimes people will flush paper towels, napkins, tampons, sanitary napkins, baby wipes, even diapers and underwear down the toilet. Some people use the toilet as a way to rid themselves of spoiled food from the refrigerator that is too large to go down a kitchen drain. Some young children will flush toys, or small items such as watches, hair ornaments, ping-pong balls, etc. down the toilet. These items will often not make it all the way into the tank, will lodge inside the pipes in the house, and can be the cause of toilets backing up.

Septic killers (free clip art)

Septic killers (free clip art)

Everyone who uses the bathrooms in the house should be educated as to what should, and should not, be flushed down the toilet. A good rule of thumb should be if it is not something natural coming from a person’s body, don’t flush it! Some families don’t even flush toilet paper down the toilet, opting instead to put it in a trash can beside the toilet.

If toilet paper is to be flushed down the toilet, (and face it, most of us want to flush the toilet paper!) it should be safe for septic systems. Some brands of toilet paper are not safe for septic systems. Toilet paper that IS safe for septic systems should say, on the package “Safe for septic systems.” (To be honest, it has been years since I have looked for that notice – I use Quilted Northern and never had a problem.)

There are a lot of commercials lately advertising using moist wipes to “clean your bum” better than dry toilet paper alone. Their increased popularity has created an increase in sewage problems. Some moist wipes, like diaper cleaning wipes, clearly say they are NOT safe to flush, but people might flush them anyway. If you use a moist wipe for personal cleaning, make SURE that the package says that it is “flushable.” Consider that just because the wipe is considered “flushable” that it might not be safe for a septic system! If it is not both flushable and safe for a septic system, then play it safe and put it in the trash can instead of the toilet!

Rid-X (free clip art)

Rid-X (free clip art)

Rid-X is basically yeast, and will not hurt a septic system. A packet of bread yeast flushed down the toilet has the same effect. If you use bleach in your laundry, or if you have a garbage disposal in your kitchen and use it to grind up meat products, or scrape grease, or pour fat down your kitchen sink drain or flush it down the toilet, that kills the naturally occurring yeast in your septic system that it needs to keep running smoothly. Pipe clearing chemicals such as Drano or Liquid Plumr can also kill the yeast and bacteria you need in your septic system in order for it to function properly. The yeast in Rid-X helps to counter-act the side effects of meat, grease, fat, bleach, and pipe clearing chemicals.

Drano (free clip art)

Drano (free clip art)

I have been lucky and not had to use Drano or Liquid Plumr very often. I have used that little plumber’s snake that comes with the Liquid Plumr, though! I put hair-catching strainers in the bath-tub drains to keep them from getting clogged, and clean them after every shower. I’ll use a plumber’s snake to try to clear out the drains before using chemicals to remove clogs. I’ve lived in this house for eight years now and only had to use one of those products one time in those eight years! I’m sure that has helped to protect the health of the septic tank.

Liquid Plumr (free clip art)

Liquid Plumr (free clip art)

Personally, I have used Rid-X a few times. I think I’ve used it in this house only two or three times. If I used bleach, or pipe clearing chemicals, I would use it more frequently – probably every time I used the bleach or pipe clearing chemical! I know the box indicates that it should be used frequently – I think it says once a month. I think it is a good idea to use it, and all of the plumbers and septic tank maintenance employees I’ve spoken with endorse using it. I know it won’t hurt your system, and it might help.


Posted in House and Home, Life, Opinion, Product Review and tagged , , by with comments disabled.

Justice Prevailed Today

Scales of justice (free clip art)

Scales of justice (free clip art)

Unfortunately we have had difficulties with one of our neighbors since almost the day we moved into our house. Difficulties that eventually forced us to put up “No trespassing” signs up around the yard, hire lawyers, and send out letters advising the neighbor that he is not welcome on our property, and to stay off of our property.

The neighbor I am writing about is a scary and dangerous man who has threatened to kill everyone in our family. He has threatened to kill us himself, and he has threatened to take out “hits” on us. He has bragged that his concealed weapon permit gives him permission to kill us if he wants to kill us.

We have gone to the police for help on more than one occasion for these threats, and the magistrate refused to do anything about it each time. The neighbor continues to violate the no trespassing orders, and we have filed trespassing complaints and gone to criminal court twice now over those violations. The first time the judge dismissed the case. This time, even though the neighbor claimed that he has never stepped on our property since we purchased it (He has been on our property a lot and caused much aggravation from his presence on our property, which is why we served him with papers to stay off the property) however, the judge found in our favor, and found the neighbor guilty of trespassing.

The neighbor was fined $400. The judge suspended $200 of it. The neighbor was sentenced to 60 days in jail, all suspended. The judge told both of us to have no contact of any kind with each other, and instructed the neighbor to stay off of our property. He warned the neighbor that if he violates the order to stay off of the property within the next two years, that he will have to pay the rest of the fine, and serve all of the jail time.

Upon arriving home, I called the Culpeper Sheriff’s Office and left a message for the officer that has been helping me with the troubles with our neighbor to please return my call. Within a few minutes, he called me and I filled him in on the verdict. He was very glad to hear that justice prevailed today, and he agreed to increase the neighborhood patrol to help keep us safer from retribution by the neighbor.

Although I am very glad that the judge found our neighbor guilty of trespassing, I have concerns that the animosity and bad feelings will now escalate into something even more ominous, with sinister results.

We already have a security system installed, and we are going to have a better one installed really soon. My hubby is a crack shot with his guns, and has a concealed weapons permit. I’ve resisted going to the gun range to learn to shoot, but maybe now is the time to give in and do it, for my protection. I have concerns that the kick-back (recoil) will hurt my hands and/or shoulder. My hubby insists that he has at least two or three guns I could learn to shoot that won’t hurt me with their recoil.

We have two very vocal, protective dogs to sound the alarm and help protect us. I don’t know, maybe we’ll buy a trained guard dog that will attack on command as well. We will have to wait and see.

If anything bad happens to us, and we all end up dead, please tell the police to look very hard at the neighbor that we are having problems with. Thank you all!


Posted in Community, Family and Friends, Legal, Life, Opinion and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , by with comments disabled.

The Aldi’s Adventure

Aldi store (free clip art)

Aldi store (free clip art)

Yesterday my sister took me into Culpeper to run a few errands. The last stop before heading home was to go to the Aldi’s store. I had only been in the store once before, several years ago, when it first opened. I remembered that the general design of the store was like a small warehouse club, and most of the brands were store brand items, which I had never heard of before. I’m always up to trying new brands, but my family is often very reluctant to try new things, so I decided at that time to not shop there.

Recently I have been hearing a lot of good things from a variety of people who are in my circle of Ruritan acquaintances and Facebook friends that they shop at Aldi’s and they love it. So, I decided to take another look when the only thing I really needed to buy in the way of groceries was a gallon of 1% milk. After all, I reasoned, it should be difficult to ruin a gallon of 1% milk!

So, off to Aldi’s as the last stop before heading home, to check it out in general, and to buy a gallon of 1% milk, to be specific.

I remembered that it cost a quarter to get a shopping cart, and I had a quarter with me, ready to go. What I had not remembered, however, was the procedure as to how to use the quarter to get the cart! There was no signage outside that we could see that gave instructions on how to use the quarter to obtain the cart, just a sign telling you spending a quarter to get the cart saves you dollars in the store.

how a quarter saves you dollars

How a quarter saves you dollars

So I approached the carts with trepidation and looked them over. On the handle of the cart, there is a little coin box to insert the quarter, and a chain that is attached to the back of that box. That chain attached that cart to the other carts stored in front of it. Seems simple enough, right? I surmised that if I inserted the quarter into the box, the chain will fall out, and I can pull out the cart and do my shopping. I expected the quarter to go all the way into the box, but it did not. The quarter only went half-way in and stopped. The chain did not fall out! What the heck?!

stuck quarter

stuck quarter

Now, I reasoned, that I have somehow got a faulty cart, and the smart thing to do was to remove that quarter from the box and insert it into the box of a different cart. Sounds simple enough, but that quarter was stuck. It would not go in any further, and would not come out! And that darn chain was still attached to the back of the cart!

So I tried to wiggle that quarter, to coax it to come out of that coin box, but it was firmly stuck. I looked at my sister, and told her “the quarter is stuck, and won’t come out!” Just then a gentleman approached, and he saw that I was struggling to remove the quarter. He asked me “are you trying to get it out?” I told him “yes.” He said “No worries, here’s a quarter.” He placed a quarter in my hand, then he simply gave the cable in the back of the coin box a tug. The cable pulled out, the cart was freed, and the man whisked that cart into the store!

My sister and I started to laugh! What had just happened? “Our” chosen cart was getting away! Granted, the man had given me a quarter, but I had struggled to get that cart, and it was heading into the store without me! Too funny!

Now that I had seen someone actually perform the required steps to obtain a cart, I took the quarter that the polite man had given me, inserted it into the coin box of a different cart, tugged the chain out of the back, and we headed into the store, still laughing. The man who had given me the quarter and taken my originally intended cart heard us laughing and turned around to see what was going on. His eyes got really big when he realized what had happened, and he exclaimed that he was so sorry – he thought that I was trying to get my quarter back because we were finished shopping! He hadn’t realized that I was trying to get the cart to start our shopping!

We laughed again, and I told him it was no big deal – I told him that it was my first time shopping there and had no idea how to get the carts. He explained he had been shopping there for years, but that it obviously didn’t make him any smarter! We all had a good laugh over that!

After all was said and done, we went about shopping, and comparison pricing. I could see that their prices seemed a bit lower than the other stores, but when it comes to comparing store brand prices to store brand prices, they were about on par with the other stores. Maybe a bit lower. Maybe.

gallon of milk (free clip art)

gallon of milk (free clip art)

I was hoping to buy 1% milk, but was surprised and disappointed to find that they don’t sell 1% milk! (Now remember, the only item I knew I wanted to get was a gallon of 1% milk!) So I purchased 2% milk instead. I also decided to buy a jar of spaghetti sauce, a couple of boxes of chicken broth, and some ground beef. I felt that the prices on those items were pretty good. Their prices on Greek yogurt was good, too, but they only had strawberry flavor in stock, which gives me heartburn, so I didn’t buy it. Their signage claimed they also had blueberry, which I would have purchased, but they were out of stock.

I was hoping to find some refrigerated, prepared, mashed potatoes (like Bob Evans) but the store manager told me that they don’t sell anything like that. That was a disappointment.

For the most part, they seemed to have most of the items I would need from a normal grocery store shopping trip, if I were happy with the taste of the store brand. We did try their All Natural meat flavored spaghetti sauce last night, and I will admit that it tasted better than the other store brands of similar type. I would buy and eat that again.

reduce reuse recycle poster (free clip art)

reduce reuse recycle poster (free clip art)

I knew that I had to provide my own bags, and that I would have to bag my own items, so I was prepared for that. Not a problem, I always try to keep an insulated shopping bag, and reusable canvas shopping bags in the trunk of the car. I try to reduce the amount of plastic shopping bags coming into the household – they are a nuisance and a pain in the neck to try to recycle properly since many local stores have stopped taking them back for recycling. I’m an advocate for reduce, re-use, and recycle. (Yes, I’m a tree-hugger!)

In a nutshell, I think I’d go there again if my family would agree to try their store brands. But it would not be a “one-stop shopping trip” which makes it less convenient, so we will have to just wait and see. Having to drive the extra distance, and stand in a cashier’s line at a second store on shopping day may not actually save me any money in the long run.


Posted in Family and Friends, Food, Life, Opinion, Rants, Ruritan, Shopping and tagged , , by with comments disabled.
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