Short Order 

Tables Turned

Last month we mentioned an escalation in complaints to Style about aloof service and bad behavior in several well-known Richmond restaurants. That got the attention of food-service workers around the city, who were quick to itemize their own complaints about customers.

One longtime local restaurant worker writes with particular passion:

"It's time to allow the same platform to those of us that have been working very hard for years in the Richmond restaurant scene and have had to put up with rude, disrespectful and condescending treatment from those same type of people that write your publication to complain. Let's be fair and assume there are two sides to every story.

"The question needs to be asked, what did the customers do in order to be treated the way they were treated? Why would a manager 'drop the F-bomb' on four 'young professional women' unless he was pushed to the limits of his patience and tolerance? I have had the pleasure of dealing with thousands of interesting and cool people over the years that have genuine respect for the staff and for the way the food is prepared and that are out to enjoy themselves and that are flexible enough to understand that not everything is always going to go their way.

"I also have had to deal with hundreds of people over the years with their entitled attitude, their expectation of special privileges and unfair advantages over other patient, understanding customers. Speaking for all restaurant workers that depend on tips and customers to make a living, why would we be deliberately rude to our bread and butter, the customer? It is to our advantage to treat people with respect. …

"So who took the hospitality out of the Richmond restaurant scene? The better question would be how are people in the service industry getting treated? Respect is a two-way street. And if you don't like the policies of a specific restaurant, leave and go somewhere else. You always have that choice." -- V.Z.

Other local restaurant workers, from chefs to bar-backs, named these problem areas:

  • "Realizing that I took the time to put a menu together, not getting the fact that it's carefully planned. I don't tell them how to do their job and wish they'd understand this part of mine."

  • "People need to have respect for the fact that we work our asses off. We're still treated as the bottom of the totem pole sometimes."

  • "People who treat me like a waiter-robot."

  • "Not showing up or calling to cancel a reservation."

  • "Non-tippers or bad tippers." (Some inserted stereotypes here — don't ask.)

  • "Trying to get a deviation from our policy. We don't split checks. It's on the menu."

  • "Some people are just really rude and very demanding. The growing sense of entitlement in the dining public."

  • Customers who use their hands too much. (This includes the grab-ass, the finger snap and the cabbie hail.)

  • Customer gross-outs, such as clipping their nails at the table or vomiting; overt PDA.

    And that's just part of their laundry list, but you get the drift. Here's to a more civil dining experience on both sides of the table.

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