This is just one experience I had at Alfred's. I can't afford to try them 2 or 3 times and see if service improves, (or make my kids wait for it) so if you've had a better experience recently, please comment.
There's one sure-fire way for a restaurant to burst my bubble of positive thinking. That would be to ignore me for a good 15 minutes, then not appear to notice or care that you did that.
I was just getting up to grab my camera bag and usher my 4 year old back through the door, when the server at Alfred's Cafe decided to stop by and bring us a menu. I knew we were in trouble when I saw the "Please Seat Yourself" sign. In my experience, this never goes well. Part of the job of a host is to recognize your presence, introduce you to your server, and make sure you, your menu, and your server have all met within the first five minutes or so of your dining experience. If you know you aren't going to have time to distribute menus, have them somewhere your diners can take them, themselves. (Or better yet, just seat people.)
At Alfred's, there's a small diner-like space by the kitchen that is open to all ages, the rest of the place is 21+. There was just one other family in this space when we got there around 1:05 pm, and they seemed to be experiencing the same back of the bus treatment. I'm sure alcohol has a much better profit margin than food, but if you're in the food business and you have a 50s diner type atmosphere and a kid's menu, you probably ought to treat families just as nicely as all the business-y types crowded into the bar.
We got to Alfred's around 1:05 on Friday, and by this time I was stupid-hungry, having had one of those "coffee is gluten free! Who needs anything else!" days. We sat down and waited five minutes. We waited another five minutes. I gave the littlest my camera to play with and we waited another five minutes. Then I decided to leave, but while I was gathering everything up our server came by and brought us menus and took our drink orders. Around 1:25, the other family that had been sitting sipping their drinks since we go there at 1:05, finally got their food.
The menu's pretty extensive but kind of pricey for a diner-style lunch. Hamburgers all seem to run in the 9-10 dollar range. I was going to order something simple and inexpensive, but then looking at the menu your basic bacon cheeseburger cost just as much as the blue-cheese stuffed double bacon burger, (About 9.95) so I went that route. French Fries come breaded so that option was off the table, but they have home-made potato chips, which the server assured me were "just potatoes." Turns out, they come coated in some powdered seasoning (I think it was supposed to be sour cream and onion?) which was OK but not really what I was expecting. They're alright, if a little uneven and chewy at times. Honestly, I really wanted breakfast, which is advertised as lasting until 2 pm, but I wasn't given a breakfast menu and didn't really want to have to ask and then wait again.
My burger was interesting. The burger itself was excellent, but the blue cheese and bacon didn't really have any bite, and the bacon was pretty limp. I'm not sure I'd spend all those calories on it again.
The littlest had already had lunch with her daddy, which was the only reason I could get away with waiting so long. I'm a pretty speedy eater, but we still didn't get out of there until about 2:20, with additional waits for food, the check, and change. While we ate, the staff used the diner area to have a little meeting and chat with each other. I don't ordinarily mind this sort of thing, but coupled with ignoring the customers, it made me grumpy.
This was only my second visit to Alfred's (the first being a great breakfast experience a few years and a change or two of management ago) and I can't say what it's like if you sit in the bar. It does appear to be a very popular bar at 1:30 on a Friday afternoon, so they must be doing something right.
402 Puyallup Ave
Tacoma, WA 98421