Rusty Bellies Almost Disappoints
Located at the end of the sponge docks, Rusty Bellies is a staple in Tarpon Springs. Despite the great location and reputation, though, Aric and I don't go very often because it's almost always very busy. The business has attempted to make it easier on patrons by using Yelp. Theoretically, you can put your name on the list early and head to the restaurant when the app tells you to, but this isn't always as easy as it seems.
This past weekend, Aric and I decided to do Rusty Bellies for dinner and sunset. He put our name on the list at 4:30, and we were 40th in line. The Yelp app told us to arrive there at 5:40, but we ignored this notification because we were 28th in line. We started walking shortly thereafter and arrived a little after 6:00. The app shows that we were 4th in line. We arrived a little out of breath, but feeling relief because we had just barely made it...or so we thought.
Over the course of the next hour, I got a drink at the bar after waiting in line for 30 minutes. We listened to the live music - it's always a plus when the musician knows as much Tom Petty as that guy did! We also kept an eye on the app. While we were "first in line," we watched table after table get sat. Aric spoke to the hostess, who was indifferent and pointed us inside. He spoke with those at the desk inside and they informed us that we were next on the list and would therefore be sat next. They did not listen as we explained that if that were actually the case, we'd already be sitting.
On our way out - we decided going on 3 hours was enough time to try to get a table - Aric spoke with a manager, who we later learned was Steve R - and explained the situation to him. He expressed true empathy, sat us right away, and gave Aric a wine. I was nursing mine from the outdoor madhouse.
Nicole N was our server, and she was great. We had extra hush puppies. Aric's grouper was large and tasted great. I finally tried their sushi, and I loved it.
In short, Steve and Nicole have saved our business for now, but the owners of Rusty Bellies really need to do something about their system, like take actual reservations or something. We'll give them one more shot.