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Harr's Surf & Turf Customers Speak Out About Coupons, Manager Admits Mistake

Last week, we told you about how Palm Harbor market Surf & Turf is having some financial problems, which the manager blamed on a Groupon deal. Plenty of customers have spoken out, and we've heard from Groupon and Surf & Turf again.

If you've visited Surf & Turf you may have noticed there is not very much food on the shelves and in the meat cases. Photo Credit: Sunde Farquhar
If you've visited Surf & Turf you may have noticed there is not very much food on the shelves and in the meat cases. Photo Credit: Sunde Farquhar

Last week, we told you about how Harr's Surf & Turf market is having some financial troubles. If you've visited this popular fresh meat and seafood market on Tampa Road in Palm Harbor, you may have noticed there is not very much food on the shelves and in the meat cases.

Manager Stephan Innocenzi said a deal with Groupon did not bring in as much money as they had hoped, even though Surf & Turf redeemed close to 40,000 Groupon vouchers over the last two years. He also mentioned that he thought some Groupon customers were manipulating the system by using fake emails to get multiple gift certificates.

Palm Harbor Patch requested information from Groupon about the contract it had with Harr's Surf & Turf.

We've now heard back from Groupon and we spoke with Innocenzi again as well.

Groupon Media Relations Spokesperson Nick Halliwell says Groupon does restrict the use of multiple email addresses and credit card addresses.

He also said that Groupon was not the only company that Harr's Surf & Turf had worked with.

"The merchant has run deals with five other dealers," said Halliwell. 

"That's not something we recommend," he added.

Some Surf & Turf customers had made similar observations in the comments section of our first story and on the Palm Harbor Patch Facebook page.

"I have seen Harr's deals offered in Val Pak and Half Off Depot as well. I have actually seen those deals on an almost weekly basis too, so Groupon is definitely not to blame in this situation at all," commented Anne Marie on Palm Harbor Patch. 

"Then why on earth would they also be doing Half Off Depot and Valpak...really! Did they not ready the contracts and do they not know that people are also in tough economic times and looking for a bargain. Let's also remember their makeup is much higher than most retailers to begin with. Makes me angry that they are blaming everyone else instead of taking responsibility for bad management," said Tammy Painter Urchick on the Palm Harbor Patch Facebook page. 

When we followed up with Surf & Turf manager Stephan Innocenzi, he explained his comments may have been misinterpreted and he also took full responsibility for what happened.

"I think some of the people took it the wrong way," said Innocenzi of his previous comments.

"I know I made a mistake by not doing my due diligence. I don't blame my customers. I don't blame Groupon. It was my decision to do the deals," he added.

Innocenzi says Surf & Turf opened in 1987 and has had a lot of loyal customers throughout the years, who are appreciated very much.

"The only way were able to grow is with our customers. We take pride in what we do here," he said.

Innocenzi explained how frustrated he is about not being able to offer Surf & Turf customers as many products as he'd like.

"I can't provide what they want on a day-to-day basis" he said

However, the situation could be changing soon. Innocenzi is expecting a big influx of food on store shelves in five or six days. As soon as that happens, Patch will let you know.

Halliwell also mentioned that on Monday, a Groupon representative spoke with someone at Surf & Turf and was told that the market was happy with their Groupon experience, but did have a handful of redemption complaints.

Innocenzi said the Groupon representative did not speak to him.

As for any business owners who might be considering using Groupon, Nick Halliwell has the following suggestions-

  • Prepare staff to focus on customer service, look for upsell opportunities and track offer redemption
  • Schedule deal timing based on business needs and seasonality
  • Estimate and understand the promotion's impact on profitability. Monitor customer overspend, repeat traffic, etc.
  • Measure success by using free tools provided by daily deal company, such as the Groupon Merchant Impact Report
  • Encourage repeat visitors with a customer loyalty program
Editor's Note: Palm Harbor Patch would also like to point out that Harr's Surf & Turf had a wide variety of comments from customers on our original article and our Facebook page. Some were happy with the service and prices, while others were not-

"Always have a great experience & great food. Shopped there for years - hope they pull out of this!" said Susan Senger on Facebook.

"Oh my. I have never used groupon and sure hope they can recover. I enjoy shopping there!" said Jennie Wilson on Facebook.

"Tried to use Groupons there today and shelves were bare. Their prices have recently went sky high and service is down the drain, sad because they have been our market of choice for decades, Southern Steer has all my business now," said Jack Clemons II on Facebook.

"I bought 2 Groupon's. When I used them, I bought twice as much as the value of the coupon so they did make money off of me. 
BUT, I will never shop there again because their prices were already ridiculous or they started jacking them up after they started offering coupons. Their prices were double what I can get the same quality product at other butcher shops. They are getting what they are giving. They are just as cheap as the people they were complaining about, if not worse," said Gina Platt on Facebook.

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Lori July 26, 2013 at 10:15 AM
They got too big for their own britches and have the most unfriendly staff...They thought no other entities could compare...So Wrong!
rick July 26, 2013 at 11:30 AM
i really liked shopping there , the staff always went out of their way to be helpful and of course the quality of meet was the best..with that being said, i do have one complaint..i had bought several coupons threw half off/depot...there was a sudden death of my mother in upstate new york and i had to go up there took take care of matters...the time i had to spend there was at the same time of the coupons,,,,because of this the coupons have gone out of date and cant be used ,,i dont understand how my money spent has an experation date???? so i will in the future limit my business with both places....Their loss in the long run..........
Sandy Gina July 26, 2013 at 11:55 AM
Have to agree with Lori, the staff was very unpleasant to deal with. They could restock to the roof and slash prices and I still won't be back. I refuse to spend my money at an arrgoant establishment. Their time has come and gone.
Sidney Caldwell July 26, 2013 at 07:46 PM
I bought groupons almost everytime they were advertized. I gave them as gifts and used them frequently. Did notice the prices escalating and sloppy service. Publix meat is just as good and they do a much better job slicing Boar's Head meat and cheese. We will try to new place in Palm Harbor and certainly continue with Publix.
Natalie July 27, 2013 at 02:44 PM
Rick - yes you can use your half off depot coupon after it expires. But for face value or the price you paid for it. Also, has off will work with you considering your circumstance and should give you a refund for the price you paid or credit for purchase of another half off coupon...
Natalie July 27, 2013 at 02:50 PM
As for bad service, I myself never experienced any, only with an older woman running the register a few times, otherwise everyone was very pleasant and helpful, no complaints there!
mhirschhorn July 27, 2013 at 03:30 PM
Went to Surf & Turf this morning. They were out of everything. I asked when they would be restocking as promised in their article and was told the truck was supposed to be there an hour ago and was late. That is the same story I was told six months ago. The only difference now is the shelves are rusty and not fit for the merchandise when and if it does arrive. As I left I was given a card to call before I would return to see if the truck arrived. This story is getting old....Again, new butcher is fully stocked and very pleasant and customer friendly. I don't think I will be going back to Surf & Turf.
mhirschhorn July 28, 2013 at 03:03 PM
Yesterday (Saturday) I went to shop at Surf and Turf. there were empty. I was told that they were expecting the truck in at any time and that it was so far an hour late. Today (Sunday) I returned to Surf and Turf to see what merchandise was there. Well, they had 5 chicken breasts and 3 whole chickens that were not there the day before. I was now told that there will not be another delivery (if there is really a delivery scheduled) until Wednesday. While there I spoke with other customers some which traveled 40 miles to shop at Surf and Turf or shall I say the Surf and Turf of the post which they remembered fondly. I know that I left there going to the new butcher (you have to eat) on Curlew Road who has a full line of quality products. I am very disappointed in Surf and Turf and would not really be disappointed fi it did close. You can only fool the customers for so long before they give up. With the Fresh Market and a Trader Joe's in the works and the new butcher on Curlew they have a hard job to get back the customers who were lied to and lost. I guess all good things come to an end.
Suzanne Hollin August 09, 2013 at 12:35 PM
Went to surf n turf today. Store still nearly empty.
Jackson Epper August 14, 2013 at 12:41 PM
This place is still completely empty! They constantly lie about a "truck coming soon". They have to be closing.... they have nothing to sell. So sad to see this once great place turned into trash. Bye Bye Surf & Turf.
Bev harr August 14, 2013 at 08:16 PM
I have read a lot of the negative comments posted here, I as the owner of Surf& Turf would like to respond. First of all I believe we were misinterpreted by the Patch.. No one ever called customers penny pinchers, nor did we blame customers for our financial difficulties .. In fact we know we made a bad business decision and are paying the price now. The Patch failed to say that we told them how much we loved and appreciated all the loyal customers we have had over the years. My goodness, we have had customers shop with their children and now their children are shopping. We have been a part of Palm Harbor for 25 years. Have done a lot for the community with donations to all the schools and churches. We have made many a holiday special for thousands of customers. Catered many weddings,birthdays,and such, We have loved this business and this store,and the customers for 25 years. So yes, we may be down right now, but we are not out, so please don't kick us while we are down, I have seen some comments of inflated prices to cover cost of coupons, but that is not true, we only raise prices, like everyone else when the market prices do. We are going through a tough time right now but we will be back. And contrary to comments on this site we know how much we value our customers
Terry Nolan August 14, 2013 at 11:39 PM
Hang in there Bev, you have many adoring clients that love Harr's S&T! I've lived here 17 years and you guys have always treated me well and have had a quality product at a great price. If folks want to graeb their steaks from Walmart let them do it... save the good stuff for us that know. We are all suffering in the economy (in spite of the intentional dstruction of it to keep us all sucking on the government teat) but we will get through it.. and we'll be better for it once. Love your place.
Terry Nolan August 14, 2013 at 11:42 PM
BTW... sounds like mhirschhorn works ofr Trader Joes or is an investor.. if he or she (state your name if you are real) was that disappointed why would he or she keep coming back? I hate fake people...
Susan Schafer August 15, 2013 at 07:21 AM
Not to repeaat but Stephen did say Groupon put him uderm, so why in the world did he also have half off dept, deal chicken etc. Coupons sometimes are good but if business is already bad duh? That's all I;m saying.
Sunde Farquhar August 15, 2013 at 07:31 AM
Hi Bev Harr, Thanks so much for taking the time to comment! You may not have noticed this, but we have mentioned Surf & Turf's longevity or popularity in the community in every article that we've posted. Here are some snippets from the article posted above- ... If you've visited this popular fresh meat and seafood market on Tampa Road in Palm Harbor... .... Innocenzi says Surf & Turf opened in 1987 and has had a lot of loyal customers throughout the years, who are appreciated very much. "The only way were able to grow is with our customers. We take pride in what we do here," he said.... As for some of your other comments about the articles, Patch has not misinterpreted anything. Palm Harbor Patch has also been very fair when covering this issue and has also highlighted positive comments made by customers. I have also told your manager on multiple occasions that we would be back to write a follow-up story when the large delivery of food comes in. He has my phone number, however he has never called me. Just so you know, we reported the story after multiple members of the community asked us what was going on at Surf & Turf and if the market was closing, because the shelves have very few products. You also may not be aware of this, but we have posted articles about Surf & Turf before your market began experiencing financial problems. Some links are below- http://palmharbor.patch.com/groups/business-news/p/local-business-proves-to-be-a-fresh-catch http://palmharbor.patch.com/groups/business-news/p/need-food-for-a-holiday-gathering http://palmharbor.patch.com/listings/harrs-surf-turf-market An article about Surf & Turf's history in the community would also be very interesting, especially if you could supply us with some photos of the market in its early days and throughout its expansion. Please call me at your convenience and I would be happy to interview you for the story. My cell phone number is 727-249-4457. Cheers! Sunde Farquhar, Palm Harbor Patch Editor
Ruth young August 15, 2013 at 08:54 PM
With the way things are right now .Every one is hurting money wise.So keep the faith. I have always been treated with the best of service.You know if your nice you will be treated nice.It goes both ways.
luella frank August 17, 2013 at 12:10 AM
Surf & Turf made money on us! We bought 2 Groupons for a total of $40 and before we used the coupons, they expired...entirely our fault! We also bought a Groupon (or Half Off...don't remember which) for MMMMMMM Delicious Cupcakes on Klosterman and US 19 and they sent us a reminder that our coupon was going to expire if it wasn't used: very nice thing to do! Sunde, maybe if you haven't done an article on MMMMMMMM Delicious Cupcakes, you may want to think about that one...they have the best cupcakes there! After reading about Surf & Turf problems, I think we're going to scratch that store off our list; sounds like they won't be around much longer. Thanks to Sunde for excellent reporting
Mike August 19, 2013 at 10:58 AM
I too got the "truck is coming" line...the last two times I went there. I bought the groupons each time they were available thinking I was supporting local business. Didn't realize I was a cheap penny pinching customer. I have also shopped there many times long before groupon came into the picture. But the last time I went was the last time I'm going. It was beyond empty, so why should I drive there on the, now seemingly, off chance there might actually be something to buy, only to be told "what you see is what you get". Yes, that is the actual quote from the person behind the counter.
DawnMarie Custer August 20, 2013 at 05:08 PM
Their quality has gone down over the 10 years I have frequented their store. Not to mention that when the half off deals came out they increased prices. Also the service is very slow. Stopping in on the way home from Countryside Hospital After work to get a pound of Chicken cutlets should not take 40 minutes. When I go to the butcher I now go to Southern Steer on Curlew and 19. Always fast and very good quality. I don't mind paying market prices for quality meats; as we very rarely eat animal products for health considerations these days. Thank you :)
Teri Adams September 01, 2013 at 04:35 PM
Just wondering, if they are so broke why did they take over the cafe' next door? It is so bad I can't even remember the name of it. I am not the only one that has given it a bad review. The prices are high and the food is less than memorable. I agree with all about the store itself, shelves are bare, it is dirty and smells bad!
mhirschhorn September 05, 2013 at 05:06 PM
Just came back from Surf and Turf. The store as well as the cafe was closed without any explanation. I do hope that they reopen in the near future so I can use the Groupon that expires this Sunday. I will now Whole Foods which is opening in the mall shortly. What a way to treat customers...and then expect them to be loyal.
Suzanne Hollin September 06, 2013 at 11:44 AM
Called today. They said they are closed permanently but may reopen in a few months??
Joanna Varner September 20, 2013 at 08:52 PM
we have been shopping at surf for 20 yrs. best seafood and kbobs in pinellas county. stefan, bev, ervin and staff have always been courteous and professional. we will look for them to reopen and continue to enjoy their great food and service. triedsouthern steer and thought it was waytoo salty, wont go back. first and last post on ph patch. way too snarky and smug for me.
Joanna Varner September 20, 2013 at 08:59 PM
and regarding Groupons i saw many couples come inwith 2 groupons and exploit the intent of the offer. try to get Publix to custom cut chicken or grind meat for you. surf's prices were competitive and Boars head was less than publix. another local butcher told us surf was reopening near Trinity, sure hope so!
Joanna Varner September 20, 2013 at 09:01 PM
also groupon will refund your coupon if store is closed
Jackson Epper September 26, 2013 at 01:47 PM
So much for that "we're not going anywhere" attitude they shared just a few weeks ago. Looks like they're closed for good. Can't say we didn't see that one coming!
Bev harr October 29, 2013 at 10:13 PM
Yes we are re opening in trinity. Brand new start and looking forward to it .... Hope to see all of our loyal customers there

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