Champion Plumbing, Eagan, MN


Really, Champion? I can’t remember the last time I’ve been this disappointed with a company.

We had (still have, actually) a leaky faucet in the bathtub. A friend had recommended Champion, and they were out here within hours of calling. The guy took a look and said we needed a new cartridge, charged us an $85 “truck fee,” and said they’d be in touch. The following week, another Champion guy came out, removed the cartridge and took it to his truck, came back and said this particular cartridge is no longer being made. He said he’d cleaned it up, though, and it had stopped leaking. He then charged me $75 ($160 service call less the initial $85 truck fee, I assume). When I went to the bathroom to check it out, the faucet was still leaking. Really, Champion? $160 and nothing? He also gave me an estimate of $686.20 for a new shower valve with installation.

I called their office and reported the still-leaking faucet and was told I could leave a message for the general manager, Troy, which I did not do at that point.

The next day, Champion calls and says, “Good news! We found your cartridge online and can return to install it for $385.” I asked about the $160 we’d already paid, and there wasn’t anything they could do about that…it’s $385 for installing the new one. I said I’d get back to them.

The following day, another call from Champion with a 20% discount offer on the $385 price. I responded, “So, for $469 ($309 plus the initial $160) you’ll install the replacement cartridge? That’s almost as much as your quote for an entire new valve setup. No concessions for the $160?” Nope.

My husband has left several messages for the elusive Troy to get back to him, with no response. We have since found a handyman to come out this week to take a look at the situation. I guess we’ll consider the $160 a pretty expensive learning experience…”Champion” Plumbing’s service is inferior, at best, and criminal, at worst.

Matt’s Bar, Minneapolis


3500 Cedar Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55407
(612) 722-7072

Matt’s on Saturday for lunch? Yep, we did it. The wait standing in line for a table was the same as the wait for our food (about 20 minutes at 12:15), but with an open mind and a healthy appetite, the experience is always worth it. Our waitress had a bit of an edgy, sarcastic attitude (don’t expect a return visit after your food is delivered, either), but with the constant buzz and chaos, a natural human response. Jucy Lucy’s are now $6.50 each, still not a bad price for this little iconic eatery. FYI: We left around 1:30 and the line was overflowing onto the sidewalk outside, so earlier is better on a Saturday.

P.S. Cash only, no credit cards accepted.


No Birthdays at Red Lobster

We were recently out celebrating my sister’s birthday at the Red Lobster in Bloomington. When our server saw the gifts, he asked if it was someone’s birthday, and subsequently bestowed birthday wishes upon my sister. When it came time for dessert, I asked if they offered a birthday treat, and he said, “No, but we can try to sing,” to which we declined. Since this particular chain seems to have fairly hefty prices for simply adequate food (cheddar bay biscuits notwithstanding), a little birthday treat does not seem out of line for the amount of money spent (over $100). At least the Olive Garden offers a variety of tasty birthday treats, candle included.

No Problem!

A plea to owners and managers of the retail and service industries: PLEASE train your staff to respond to “thank you” with “you’re welcome.” To scan groceries, hand over a receipt, deliver a meal, or take a reservation, which is what they get paid for, should not be a problem, so the response of “no problem” is flippant at best and disrespectful at worst. Better yet, “my pleasure” will go a long way to ensure repeat business. Some time ago, our server at the Cracker Barrel in Lakeville ( consistently threw out “my pleasure,” and although I was tempted to get on one knee and propose to him, I compromised with a large tip and a note to the manager about this young man’s impeccable manners. (He was originally from North Dakota, by the way.)

Coming soon: “Done” or “Finished” — I am not a pot roast.

Jensen’s Food & Cocktails, Eagan, MN


A friend and I had lunch at Jensen’s on Thursday, October 9th. We were seated right away, and the restaurant was not busy. Our server was prompt and told us about the drink specials being offered.

We both enjoyed our food very much (I had the chicken bacon chop sandwich with shallot yukon potatoes for $14), and our server, Trisha, gave us some of the best service I have had in a very long time — can’t say enough good things about her!

Jensen’s is located right next to the Twin Cities Premium Outlet Center, has had a recent makeover, and is a great place for lunch.

Massage Haven, Eagan, MN


I just returned from a massage with Megan at Massage Haven. This is maybe my fifth massage here in the past couple of years, and I have never been disappointed. These therapists are definitely nothing like the run-of-the-mill franchised professionals; they use a variety of manipulations to produce the best results and are very concerned with the client’s comfort level. I highly recommend Massage Haven. Rates listed below are copied from their website. (Watch Groupon for specials throughout the year.)

Regular Rates

$38 for 30 minutes 
$70 for 60 minutes 
$99 for 90 minutes 
$125 for 120 minutes 

Purchase a “5-Pack” (60 minutes each) for only $295 
(That’s $59 for each 60 minute massage. A $55 savings!) 

Purchase a “10-Pack” (60 minutes each) for only $525
(That’s $52.50 for each 60 minute massage. A $175 savings!) 

Aromatherapy Massage: Choose from a variety of scents to enhance you​​r 
​massage experience. 
$75 for 60 minutes​

McDonald’s Restaurant, Eagan, MN


The McDonald’s on Silver Bell Road (near the new Premium Outlets) has always been a bit of a crap shoot when it comes to order-filling accuracy, but tonight’s incompetency would have been laughable if I didn’t have to make a return trip and then finally come home to cold McDonald’s (ugh, the worst).

Items ordered and received (confirmed on the order board):

2 cheeseburger meal, only ketchup (correct item received)

10-piece McNuggets, SS sauce, BBQ sauce, Buffalo sauce (no sauce in bag whatsoever)

20-piece McNuggets, same sauces as above (again, zero sauces in bag)

Filet-O-Fish, no tartar sauce (received fish with little to no cheese and no tartar)

Filet-O-Fish, regular (correct item received)

1 cheeseburger, ketchup only (received a cheeseburger with everything on it)

Side salad with Southwest dressing (no salad, no dressing in bag)

Medium Sprite (got that one right)

Of course, we discovered all of the mistakes when we got home. (My son thought he’d checked the bags pretty thoroughly in the parking lot, but obviously not.) I usually let their mistakes slide, but five inaccuracies put me over the top, so I drove back. After waiting in line inside, they brought over a salad in a bag, like they were expecting me to come back for it. (I had even asked in the drive-thru if they’d given me everything that first time around — yep, all there!

While waiting for the fish filet, the young man pulled out three containers of sauce for the chicken nuggets. I said, “We have 30 McNuggets,” and he said, “These are the three sauces you ordered.” I said, “Yes, but we have 30 McNuggets, so we need at least 2 of each sauce,” which is exactly what he gave me. I took a quick peek in the salad bag, and, sure enough, there was a packet of French dressing, not Southwest. I didn’t even mention (forgot to bring it back with me) the cheeseburger that had everything on it.

I will drive out of my way from now on to avoid this particular McDonald’s. Not only was the service bordering on absurd tonight, but there was absolutely no effort made to placate a very inconvenienced customer.



Traffic at KSTP

I love our local stations, always have. But…the addition of Josie Smith as the KSTP traffic person is leaving me confused. She talks about  the horrible traffic and back-ups with a pretty creepy smile on her face…what?? I think Josie has a beautifully calming voice, but when reporting ugly traffic, she could perhaps show a little distress and/or discomfort for the listeners who are soon to be stuck in it. There should  be just a little tweaking in the presentation — identify with your audience, Josie. (BTW, you could totally be a commercial voice-over person, soooo soothing.)

Dr. Jennifer Eisenhuth, Orthodontist


My son is currently going through his second phase of braces with Dr. Eisenhuth’s practice. First of all, kudos to the doctor’s marketing team — geniuses! She has many “perks” to help the process of braces seem much less traumatizing than in the olden days. There are customer appreciation events, various contests, and a wonderful waiting area with free wifi, fresh-baked cookies, bottled water, coffee, and smoothies. The kids are given a token for wearing their Dr. Jennifer t-shirts to appointments, a token for being on time, and tokens for a variety of other reasons. Tokens can then be traded in for gift cards, etc.

I’m pretty sure there are many orthodontists who offer more affordable braces (we paid around $6,000 for this latest round), but the overall experience at this office is always positive, including the friendly staff. FYI, they do offer a payment plan.

I highly recommend Dr. Eisenhuth’s services.

Twin Cities Premium Outlets

Twin Cities Premium Outlets

I took my son school shopping at this beautiful new center the week after it opened (August 2014) in Eagan. It is mostly open-air with some covered walkways. I found the prices to be comparable to the regular retail stores; although, we only went into a few shops. At Famous Footwear, I had a coupon for BOGO 50% off with an added 20% off. They would not honor the BOGO (due to their “outlet” status), but they did take 20% off the final cost.

The restrooms are plentiful, and the food court area is indoors. We ate at the Villa Fresh Italian Kitchen and enjoyed the pasta and salad (cost was average for “fast food,” but quality was much better).

Tips: Go online before you shop and join the VIP Club. Then stop at the Information Center (in the food court building), and they will give you a coupon book with many specials. For parking, the surface lots were completely full (on a Friday afternoon!), but there was plenty of parking in the ramp.