I have been working in the food industry since I arrived in this country and Marilyn has been working as a chef for at least for 20 years and we have both worked for different companies and clients. We can spend hours telling you many stories regarding awful experiences and also great ones. When I read at Eater National about the chef that closed his restaurant because of picky patrons, I totally understood his reaction, but it doesn’t mean that I would have done the same. Unfortunately, in this country, some people are losing their boundaries and basic etiquette when they go out to eat. The chef, James Chu, said that he felt he had enough when a guest said “the rule is if we don’t like it we don’t have to pay for it“. How rude is that?? Are these people out of their minds?? When you buy ingredients at the grocery store and whatever you made didn’t taste good, you don’t return it because it didn’t taste good, right?!. You eat it or you don’t and deal with the waste of your time and money. That’s it!! And also, it did cost money for the restaurant to make that plate. It cost money to keep the restaurant open and pay all the staff to serve you while you are sitting there. I feel that some people think that they are doing a favor to the restaurant and the server by going out to eat. It feels like it’s only one way for some people: “the restaurant needs me, so I do whatever I want”. It’s not true!! There are many reasons that people go out to eat: they don’t want to cook, they don’t know how to cook, to have fun, to not have to do the dishes… no matter what the reason you go out to eat is you NEED that place too.
The other thing that I loved about what James Chu said is that he doesn’t give a shit about gluten-free or organic food and it is his choice to create his own menu with MSG. Now, it is my choice to not go to a restaurant that makes food with MSG, so the natural choice would be to find a place that cooks food without it or stay home and make my own food. There are so many restaurants in this country! You can’t just go to a restaurant and change the menu or get mad because they don’t make it the way you think that it should be done. Who has/had experience as a server will have very similar stories like this one. I had one guest that the minute that she sat at the table she started complaining about the tap water (why not pay for bottled water????) the saltiness of the food and the quality of desserts. While these people were going on and on I was thinking, “WHY you are here??? Why???? To get free food?? Is it worth it?? ” For so many people unfortunately, it is…
I worked so many years for corporate restaurants and I hope that I will NEVER EVER work at one again. It would be punishment for me!! LOTS (NOT all of them) of people that go to corporate restaurants are searching for free food and they will do whatever it takes to get whatever they want. I have been yelled at by guests for no reason, I have been called stupid and physically abused (having a crazy lady throw a pager at my chest.) The worst part is that most corporate restaurants (because I don’t know all of them – Thank God!!) reward behavior like this crazy lady who didn’t pay her bill and got a gift card because she got upset that she couldn’t sit with a minor at the bar. And, I guarantee you that you can talk to any server in this corporate industry and they will tell you a very similar story.
I have never posted anything regarding the food industry because I felt that I was too bitter to talk about it. When I saw his interview and a separate article about employees quitting Chipotle, I felt like the luckiest and happiest person in the world. Now I can just share stories that helped me to grow as a person and a professional. Some people don’t understand that being nice has more of an advantage than being mean. How many times did I give an extra liquor pour while I was bartending for a nice guest, an extra dessert or even made sure that my guest would have the best experience ever? Many!
But I can’t just finish this post without mentioning two things. First, for some people ( I hope we don’t have any readers that treat people like this) that treat servers like they are useless, make a scene to get free food or tip your server less than you should and keep coming back every week to the same restaurant.. just remember. That person is carrying your drink and food and I have seen so many disgusting things ( I never did it but I confess that I wished horrible things to some customers – sorry, I am a human being too!!) If you can’t treat your server with respect, the way that you should treat every human being , you should at least pretend to be respectful because at the end of the day you don’t know what happens “behind the scenes”, before the plates you ordered arrive on your table. #justaheadsup.
The second is about foreigners. I can talk about this because I am foreign and I have had so many frustrating experiences with foreign guests, including Brazilians. When I came to this country I didn’t know any English. I didn’t know anything about American culture, but I made sure to learn the language ( I am still learning it and I still have a strong accent…) and every single day I ask Marilyn or my American friends how things work here. It’s not my obligation to know everything, however it is my obligation to learn how things work here because I live here. No matter what reason brought you to this country it is your obligation to know at least the language. Once you know it you will get a better job, you will feel included in American society, people will treat you with respect and you will feel like a citizen. As I am talking about the restaurant industry, I want to extend my point of view of how most foreign people tip out badly. It’s very frustrating when you have guests that don’t speak any English, knowing that they have kids that were born here (that means that they have been living here for awhile) and you need to grab someone to translate or when you know that they will leave a tip less than 5% of the bill. I know that a lot of people don’t know that as a server you need to tip out the busser, food runner, bartender (all restaurants) and some restaurants you need to tip out the host and the kitchen too. The ideal of the amount to tip out should be 20% over the amount of the check.
When my French friends came to visit us I explained to them how to tip out, because I know that in France it is completely different, but as a foreigner I feel it is my obligation to explain that even their American friend told them that it should be 15%. Even Americans have different opinions about how much should be the right tip out. Of course, that’s what I have been talking about here is about the average experience (great experiences with food and service that we all have more often than bad).
I want to hear your opinion! Do you agree or disagree with any of this?
Beijos e Tchau!