Welcome back to Behind Closed Ovens, where we take a look at the best and strangest stories from inside the food industry. This week we've got stories about restaurant employees who completely lost it (including one from a customer's perspective, a first for this website). As always, these are real e-mails from real readers.
So, I used to work at this super-trendy restaurant, the kind of place where the servers are incompetent but super hot and stylish — we were once on a list of 'Most Attractive Waitstaffs' for our city. Since the trendiness of the restaurant was prioritized over the actual quality, it was also really poorly-run, with the GM just hiring his party buddies as servers and, more importantly, managers. The most egregious example of this I'll call Rachel — a beautiful, fun, hot mess of an American Apparel wet dream who would regularly take naps on the banquette at Table 30 mid-service. She was always either hungover, high, or drunk. I don't think I ever saw her 100% sober.
Fast forward a few months. I'd been fired on trumped-up reasons (real reason: not hot or cool enough) and had just run into an old coworker. "Oh man!" he said. "Did you hear about Rachel?"
So Rachel had just started dating someone new, and she was really into the guy. Apparently, the night in question she had just met his parents for the first time, they had all gone out to dinner together, and she was coming around to the restaurant for a post-dinner drink. They were just closing up, but since Rachel was a manager and had keys, the Manager on Duty just asked her to close the place up behind her, and he left. A few of the servers stayed to hang out, since shift drinks were OK there at the time.
Rachel et. al proceed to straight up drink their way through the bar. Just pounding drinks. She gets so hammered that she starts making out with one of the servers (a heroin addict that I called Crazy Eyes Sam) in front of her new boyfriend and his parents. They, of course, are pissed, and the new BF and family storm out. Rachel is drunk, distraught, and crying. Somewhere in her addled haze, she needs to pee, but instead of going to the bathroom, she pops a squat in the middle of the dining room in front of everybody and lets it flow. When one of the guys tried to stop her, she pulled his beanie off his head and used it to wipe herself.
Of course, this was all on camera, and she was fired the next day when they saw the video. Astonishingly, some of the other people involved managed to keep their jobs, but I guess when someone else straight-up pisses on the restaurant floor it makes anything anyone else does look tame by comparison.
Kinja user Everything is Shiny:
At my coffee shop/bakery, we had this coworker that no one could stand. He was a serious close talker (you know, the people who have to be an inch or less away from your face when they talk to you) and he was ALWAYS talking to people. We think he was part shark, except sharks die if they stop swimming, and this guy would die if he stopped talking.
So Emily, our baker, was making muffins one day in the kitchen, when the close talking shark coworker comes in the back with a coffee can. He grabs a ziploc bag, dumps the contents of the coffee can into the bag, and starts looking for something else. He then goes up to Emily, gets right in her face, and says, "do we have any rubber bands? These are my great aunt's ashes and I don't want them to blow away so I really want a rubber band for the plastic bag." Emily is appalled, tells him that a KITCHEN is no place to be bringing his great aunt's ashes, and shoos him out (I'm imagining this 1950's mother style, with a wooden spoon when her kids come in all muddy).
She dumped out the muffin batter she had been working on and sterilized the kitchen before starting again.
The close-talking shark was fired shortly after.
So I was travelling with a couple of mates through Europe, and one night in Lisbon, we head out to a fairly standard local restaurant. As we sat down, a plate of bread, olive oil and another dish (long since forgotten) were placed on our table. Being from Australia, we think "cool — complimentary bread pre-meal." We eat the bread as we peruse the menu and order. The second we pick up the last piece of bread on the plate, another full plate is brought to our table — the speed of which raised our eyebrows slightly, mostly because everything else we ordered took a fair while to arrive. Before we started on the 2nd plate of bread, our waiter came over and we had the following exchange:
Me: "Hey, so is the extra bread free or will you charge us for it?"
Waiter: "Free? No no no no…how could it be free?"
Me: "Oh, right – well, maybe you should let people know they'll be charged before placing it on their table."
Waiter: "In your country, the bread is free?"
Me: "If it's on the table when you arrive and if it's automatically refilled, yeah."
Waiter, *angrily*: "Well, maybe I will come to your country then. And eat all of your bread!"
With that, he stormed off in a huff and we didn't see him again for the rest of the night.
So the summer after my freshman year of college, I was waitressing at a local restaurant that was owned by a husband and wife. It was your usual fish fry place with a bar in the front and a patio. It was my last day (college was starting up again), and the owner (Bob) was drinking on the patio with some regular customer who were also family friends. One of the customers got my attention and asked me in a hushed voice to bring him some food. Bob then proceeded to yell, "I want hash browns. I don't give a shit that it's dinner, I want hash browns. Tell [the cook] that if he doesn't do it he's fired." So I rush back to the kitchen and get him his hash browns.
The night progresses and Bob continues to drink. About an hour before my shift was over, he was at the bar and apparently decided to take his pants off (boxers still on) and walk through the dining room (which was full of customers). I told the hostess to call his wife and tell her to come immediately. Bob tried hitting on the other waitresses (all under 18, by the way) so I would physically put myself between him and them in a vain effort to protect them from his grossness.
It was when he was in the bar area, trying to get money out of the register to put into the jukebox, that his wife Laura finally showed up. Their conversation went something like this:
Laura: Robert, you need to leave with me right now.
Bob: You need to shut the hell up. This is my restaurant!
Laura: This is my restaurant, too, and if you don't leave right now, I'm calling the cops and they can haul your ass out of here.
Bob put on his pants, left with Laura, and everyone's meals were comped for having to witness this craziness. And, fortunately, that was my last day.
Kinja user Everything is Shiny:
We work at a small coffee shop where most of the employees are friends and get along crazy well. We always WANT to get along with new people, but there are always some who just don't fit.
One such employee we'll call Mike. For some background, I came in once to see Mike on his hands and knees with a toothbrush scrubbing our (finished) wood floor. He said the floor was his "pet project" because "floors aren't respected."
Anyway, my friend Scott was opening with Mike one morning. Scott comes in, and even though Mike got there first, all the lights are off. Scott goes into the kitchen and just sees one tiny light on (it's 5:30 in the middle of the winter. It's fucking dark outside, and like most kitchens, ours has no windows). He sees Mike sitting there, sharpening knives in near darkness. Repeatedly. Without pausing to acknowledge Scott, who by this point is officially freaked out. Eventually, Scott says "hey Mike, something wrong?" to which Mike murmurs back, without looking up, "sometimes I like to turn all the lights off and pretend no one else is here at all." While still sharpening the knives. Scott just said, "okay buddy, well I'm here now, so I'm gonna go ahead and turn on a light."
Mike did not last very long.
For those wondering why I finally broke my rule and told a story about a crazy server from a customer's perspective: because I finally got a story that was actually interesting rather than "I asked for no mayo on my sandwich, and when it came, it had mayo!!!!!!111!!!one"
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!
Image via Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock.