JUNEAU — Now, we're not the type to complain … unless our socks get wet or our mittens aren't right (then all bets are off). But, sad to say, things at Mom & Dad's Great Alaskan Bed & Breakfast have started slipping lately.
We're regular customers, having eaten at Mom & Dad's at least two meals a day, seven days a week, for several years — it's also our go-to spot for drinks and appetizers — and we like to stay here whenever we're up here, which is pretty much always, except for occasional trips to the Lower 48 to visit Target. In many ways, we think of Mom & Dad's as our "home away from home" (our real home being an old tent in the den crammed with pillows, sleeping bags and "stufties").
Well, you wouldn't know it from the staff's attitude! Even the wake-up calls are pushy.
• Menu: Fare at Mom & Dad's is a crapshoot — anything from scrambled eggs to Costco spinach ravioli to weird curries only the adults you're forced to share your table with will like. Point is, you never know what you're going to get, although it almost always involves salmon. And the servers act all snotty when you ask what the other entree options are or if the kitchen can just whip up a hot dog instead. Plus, menu items don't always arrive as advertised. I mean, you order a box of Annie's Organic Peace Pasta, and that's what you should get. It shouldn't come with a side of kale or have broccoli all mixed up into it — am I right?! Cocktail options are few: water or milk; the only juice you ever see around here is that gross sour grape stuff the bartenders are always drinking. Guests should also be advised Mom & Dad's dessert menu is extremely limited, and don't even ask to see it until you've finished all your salmon (which you didn't even order in the first place).
• Service: Service is inconsistent, especially early in the morning. Sometimes staff is really cheerful and singing Beatles songs, ready to whip up heart-shaped sourdough pancakes and watch "Scooby-Doo" with you; but mostly it's like, "Take this iPad and don't come back until the little hand's on the seven." Any time of day, there's no telling how long you'll wait to have your bed made, your laundry done or your butt wiped. Even more unpredictable: the shuttle schedule. By the way, the van could use a good cleaning; we're almost repulsed enough to stop eating in there. And what happened to the customer is always right? At Mom & Dad's, you can wait up to five minutes for someone to unwrap your cheese stick and when you politely remind your servers, they have the nerve to suggest you try doing it yourself!
• Accommodations: The place is cozy and the view is nice, you know, if you like snowcapped mountain vistas. But frankly, that kind of thing is too "Alaska" for us; we prefer to look at Disney's "Frozen." The lounge is usually available any time of day (once you climb up on the coffee table and start belting "Let It Go" it usually clears out pretty quick). But the housekeeping leaves much to be desired. I mean, what other B&B makes you pick up your own dirty underwear, then demands explanation for the streak marks discovered therein?! Also, we've been in the owners' bedroom and they have a Tempur-Pedic mattress and we don't, which is totally unacceptable. Attempts to swap rooms have been met with minimal success, as have alternate compromises, e.g., extended nighttime hours; addition of Froot Loops to the continental breakfast bar; a baby sister.
• Overall: Mom & Dad's suffers from being a large player in a small market. If you ask us, this lack of competition has bred laziness — for instance, the Halloween decorations are still up but ground remains unbroken on the tree house management promised to "think about." And without notice, Mom & Dad's appears to have suspended concierge service. Used to be they'd arrange boat excursions, fishing outings, camping trips and day hikes — sometimes the porters would even carry you on their backs (although that seems like years ago). These days, most tours are self-guided — unless it's really sunny and the staff wasn't up late the night before drinking that sour grape juice stuff.
We will, however, admit the value here is pretty good, as everything is free. Plus, as members of Mom & Dad's customer loyalty program, "Allowance"™, we get $1 cash back each week to spend on temporary tattoos. Bottom line: In whatever ways we may find Mom & Dad's Great Alaskan Bed & Breakfast lacking — PlayStation! — we don't have many other choices. Of course, there's always Grandma & Grandpa's, but that's a few thousand miles away. And their Wi-Fi's always down.
Geoff Kirsch is a Juneau-based writer and humorist currently working on an essay collection based upon his long-running column in the Juneau Empire.