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 bring you some of the most unfathomably dumb customers I've ever heard of. As always, these are real e-mails from real readers.
"After college, I moved to NYC, and got a job waiting tables at a mid-level, super corporate restaurant named after a city in Texas (Editor's Note: We have these in DC, and my mother always loved them for some reason I still can't fucking fathom). This restaurant attracted all kinds of clientele because it was inexpensive enough for NYC's wealthy to eat there regularly, but just fancy enough to qualify for a nice meal out for less-experienced diners.
One night I was waiting on a couple who were on a date. The husband was asking me about a few of the dishes when he came to our pork chops, which were served with polenta. He nicely asked what polenta is and I quickly explained it's a starch made from cornmeal.
He looked at me and said, "I thought polenta is that thing that comes out after a baby is born."
I was speechless and stared at him for any hint of a smile or indication he was joking. None. I turned to his wife, who had her head in her hands. She told me I could just walk away. So I did.
He did not order the pork chops."
"When I was assistant managing at my job, a guy came in on quiet afternoon and sat at the bar. The bar uses Foster's oil cans as place holders for the menus. These oil cans don't get rotated out at all; they had been there since the dawn of our grand opening, many years ago.
This guy sits down and cracks open one of these room temperature, old beers, takes a swallow and spits it out. He complains to the bartender that it's gross. The bartender said yeah, it's been there for ten years and it's not supposed to be consumed. The guy gets upset and wants to talk to me. I come out to talk to him and he demands a free beer because he claims the bartender served him the old-ass Foster's can.
"No, he didn't." I wasn't even trying to humor this guy. I pointed out that there were seven other sets of oil cans spaced sporadically around the bar, with menus between them, and that 100% of people who sit down at the bar manage to not drink the decorate beer (I really wasn't trying to humor this guy). However, I offered him some (already complimentary) bread for his inconvenience. I also pulled the bartender aside and told him to keep an eye on him — I wasn't sure if the guy was on something or just that stupid.
A while later, the bartender comes and gets me and says that the guy, who ordered food, found a rock in his steak and wants to talk to me. I go back out there and the guy's making a scene. He's saying, first the beer, now the food, were we trying to kill him? What type of establishment was this? Etc. I apologized, tried to calm him down, apologized again and then our FOH manager came out. The bartender had taken the plate of food back into the kitchen to get it a recook and our manager looked at it. He noticed something about the "rock": it matched part of the material from the outside construction that was going on. It was a very specific color (imagine a bright blue piece of rubble). This guy mixed it in with his food so it looked like it was cooked into the steak. Keep in mind, our policy, when people claim to have a found a foreign object, is to rinse it off and inspect it ourselves. Sound nuts, yes, but it's because of this exact reason. This guy had picked up a piece of rubble and put it in his food to try and pass it off as a foreign object.
My manager called the guy out, told him to pay, and then asked him to never come back again."
"I worked for a while at a cheese shop in the mail order department. I dealt with a lot of upset people, because that's what tends to happen when you take something that stinks by definition and wrap it in airtight plastic, then put it on the back of a truck for 24 hours, and then somebody opens it. So I was used to talking to people about smells (not something I miss), but one day a woman called and was complaining to me about the cheese "in the white plastic wrapper." I asked her some questions about what the cheese looked like and what the problem was. She described it as a "dark jelly" sort of cheese and her issue was that the flavor was very bland. I asked her to describe the wrapping again (I was looking at her order and had NO idea what she was talking about), and she said it was a white wrapper with our company logo on it in black.
In a horrifying epiphany, I realized she was talking about the ice pack. She cut open the ice pack with scissors, spread the gel from the inside on a cracker, and then called me to complain that it was bland. I quickly put her on hold to determine from our supplier if she needed to call poison control. When I picked back up and explained to her that she had eaten the ice pack but good news, it's non-toxic, she yelled at me for putting her on hold, because she is very busy and doesn't have time to wait on hold. Busy eating ice packs, I guess."
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. Submissions are always welcome! Seriously, don't be shy, I can always use as many submissions as possible. In particular, if anyone has a crazy customer story, I would really appreciate it.
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