Welcome back to Behind Closed Ovens, where we take a look at the best and strangest stories from inside the food industry. Today we bring you stories of customers who were wrong in thinking they were too important for karma to punch them in the balls. As always, these are real e-mails from real readers.
"I work as a cocktail waitress at a very well-known craft cocktail bar in NYC. One busy Saturday night, I was working the front section of the restaurant and happened to be standing next to the hostess when this guy suddenly bursts into the room, strides up to us, and demands to know if we'd "seen his assistant." Neither of us had ever laid eyes on this guy before, so of course we had no idea whether any of the one hundred people in the bar was his assistant or not. He sighed dramatically and wandered away.
Not five minutes later, we found him sitting in the largest booth in the restaurant, by himself, trying to hide the "Reserved" sign that had been on the table top under his jacket. The hostess politely asked him to get up, explaining that we had a reservation coming in for that table in a few minutes. He refused. She asked him again, but he kept arguing and trying to bargain his way into the table ("I'll just sit here until they come! It'll be fine!"). The hostess remained firm, and he was clearly getting really flustered. Finally, he stood up, gathered his things, and yelled at the top of his lungs:
"OH I SEE. You're trying to throw me out! You think I'm TRASH. EXCUSE ME, I AM WEARING DIOR.""
"About a decade ago, I used to tend bar in a pizzeria/taproom. This particular joint specializes in serving nothing but craft beers and pizza, and has won many awards, local and national, for both. In addition there was also a game room upstairs containing pool tables, darts, and tabletop shuffleboard. The upstairs bar, while under the same company banner, was legally classified as an adult game room as no food was served or allowed. Due to state laws no one under 21 was allowed up there and we adamantly enforced this rule.
Back then, customers were allowed to smoke in restaurants. And while we allowed this in the dining area, cigars were only permitted in the upstairs game room. Our customer, who I'll refer to as "Jersey Napoleon" (short, squat, clad in leather jacket and about 5lbs of tacky gold) lit up a cigar in the downstairs dining area. Our manager politely informed him that cigars were not allowed down there but he was welcome to indulge himself upstairs. After replying "Don't you know that the ones who smoke cigars are the ones with all the money?" he complied.
He came upstairs, ordered a beer, and began to shoot a little pool, solo. This was a Sunday afternoon and the bar was only about a quarter full, mostly of my regulars, friends, and a few off duty kitchen guys. Shortly after he began playing, a young, obviously teenage boy came up and joined him. I walked over and calmly explained that I needed to see the ID of the young man. Our conversation went like this:
Me: "Sir, I'm sorry, but I'll need to see his ID. No one under 21 is allowed upstairs."
JN: "He's from out of town."
Me: "That's fine, I just need to see his ID."
JN: "I said HE'S FROM OUT OF TOWN!"
Me: "Sir, I understand that, but when I travel I take my ID with me. If he doesn't have one I can't allow him up here. It's against state law."
So he sends the kid downstairs. Then, about ten minutes later, said kid reappears and they start racking the balls to start another game. I walk over to the table.
Me: "Sir, I am sorry, but I've already told you that I cannot allow him up here without an ID."
At this point, JN flings the rack of pool balls at me and launches into an expletive filled tirade. He is all up in my face, cursing and waving his finger under my nose. All the while I'm watching about 7 or 8 of my friends, regulars, and co-workers from a semicircle behind him. After a minute he splutters to a stop.
Me: "Sir, are you finished?"
At this point a finger, belonging to one of our kitchen guys taps him on the shoulder. He looks around and sees 7 or 8 angry guys standing behind him. His poor kid looked mortified.
Kitchen Guy: "Sir, if you don't shut the fuck up right now, I'm going to lock that door and you're going to wake up in the alley. And I would really hate to beat your ass in front of your kid."
Needless to say, he paid his bill and left."
"Last year, I finally left my God-awful management job at a Japanese restaurant and bar. It was a neighborhood spot, and as such, we had a lot of regulars. One woman in particular, Christina, was really high maintenance and bitchy.
One busy Friday night she came in with her husband, nanny, and infant daughter, whom she carried in one of those car seat-basket thingies (obviously, I don't have kids and have no idea how to speak baby). The first table I tried to seat them at was deemed unacceptable. She marched past me and pointed at a four-top in the center of the room and demanded to be seated there. It wasn't a booth, which is what we usually gave to parents with a kid-basket, so I asked her if she wanted me to invert a high chair so she could put the kid-basket on top. She refused, and instead told me to move one of the chairs so she could put the baby on the floor. I indicated my worry at putting a baby on the floor (hey, maybe I have some maternal instincts after all!), since seating was tight and servers may spill drinks, soup, etc. and could potentially hit her baby on the floor. Instead of taking one of the two other tables I offered her, she made a stink and insisted on a two-top booth. I reminded her she had three adults and the baby in her party, and the table was only made for two. She wouldn't shut up about wanting that particular table, so finally I said okay.
A few minutes later, we all smell smoke. Since they were crowded around such a tiny table, she had accidentally lit her hair on fire from the small tea light placed at each table. Like, legitimately, she lost a good three inches on one side. She called me over, screaming that it was my fault, and that I had to make things right. I pointed out that she was the one who wanted the table, and it was absolutely not my fault, though I was glad she was okay. Then she had the audacity to ask me for free dessert for the table as a result of "your mistake!" Instead of punching her in the face, like I wanted to, I said, "how 'bout I don't charge you for the haircut, and we'll call it even?"
Do you have a crazy restaurant story you'd like to see appear in Behind Closed Ovens? Please e-mail WilyUbertrout@gmail.com with "Behind Closed Ovens" in the subject line (or you can find me on Twitter @EyePatchGuy). Submissions are always welcome!
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