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August 11, 2009

I think I have Restaurant/Bar Stockholm Syndrome

sigmund freud

I think I have Restaurant/Bar Stockholm Syndrome -- if there is such a thing.

In yesterday's post about the service horror story to end all service horror stories, I mentioned how I keep going back to the restaurant that treated us so poorly. It's like I'm in an abusive relationship.

Sure, the restaurant treats me bad -- but I love it. It means to do better, it really does.

You just don't understand.

Hee hee.

I ran this by a coworker, Maryann, who said she too has Restaurant/Bar Stockholm Syndrome with a spot near her house ...

She writes:

after a particularly bad experience, I won’t go back for a few months, but then they’re the only place open on a day when I want this particular sushi roll or drink or whatever, and I shamefully return. it’s like an abusive relationship: "maybe they’ll be better this time."

Why do we keep going back? Is it convenience? Is it the fact that this particular spot fills a particular void like none of the other restaurants around it?

Or is it all of the above?

I know we're not alone here.

We can't be alone.

(Baltimore Sun file photo of Sigmund Freud)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:00 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Bars & Clubs


A restuarant specific specialty
Location or convenience
Too forgiving
just a glutton for abuse
a combination of any two from above

I know exactly what you mean. I used to go to a place where I got treated like crap on a regular basis. When I finally ditched them I was suspicious of the friendly behavior of the people at my new hangout. Why? Probably for the same reason that I used have girlfriends that treated me like crap. The answer: who cares, just change your behavior and eventually you will get used to be better bar/restaurant/GF relationships.

Ugh. Way too deep for a Tipsy Tuesday.

Question: Did the guy who passed out at the restaurant ever go back? Did he eat there that day?

Exact opposite. If a bar/restaurant(/bartender/car dealer/etc...) goes out of their way to provide insultingly bad service, I never go back.

I'm positive that the loss of my business provides such a negative impact to their bottom line that they'll be left with no choice but to come crawling back to me and beg forgiveness. That'll show 'em!

Yeah, right.

I do not feel as though it is a syndrome, but a lack of urban 'optionality'. For instance, if you live in NYC, and you don't like the cheesesteak place in the West Village, your co-worker likely knows an awesome place in Grammercy.

In a "B" city such as Bmore (not meant to be perjorative), Magerks may be as good as it gets. If a place is convenient, that represents the whole reason we choose to live in an urban environment and deal with unparalleled crime, raucous harassing teenagers, idiotic Red Line debates, and other collateral damage of 'gentrification' (a word I hate).

I swear this is not shameless promotion, but I honest-to-God started my blog because I was sick of the apathy that Baltimore urbanites have, in many respects, but particularly with respect to half-assed attempts at a good bar/restaurant (and the first review on there is a commentary on that very apathy)

The only way these bars will bring their "A" game (or at least, "B" game to go along with the city) is if people make the choice NOT to patronize these places. Its all about dough, which is a good thing, but as consumers and as people, we have CHOICE....let's use it.

I will stop this diatribe before it gets any longer.

I smell PJ

I am confused about this concept and about the reason for the initial post. What purpose is served by recounting something that happened on New Year's Day 2007, and why and how is that relevant today?

"Stockholm Syndrome" is a problem. Going back to a place that has treated you poorly only serves to validate the behavior. If we desire a better/superior dining/drinking scene, we have to demand it.

Yea, we have to deserve it. And if we keep going back to places that feature poor service, nothing will change.

I really don't understand why people, such as yourself, with a voice that can help push the change for the better always seem reticent to do so.

If I'm treated poorly at a restaurant/bar, I just don't go back. Maybe the food was tasty, maybe it was delicious - at that point, it no longer matters. Service and cuisine need to go hand-in-hand, it's high-time we started demanding it.

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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