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Sukie

Customers that make your 'top ten worst'

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I was posting in another thread ('ordering fish undercooked?'), about a customer that made the statement "tell the chef to take his pride out from between his legs and cook the tuna the way I want it!"

It reminded me of another story I was going to post there about an 'unruly customer' but rather than derailing that particular thread, I decided that this subject had enough 'juice' to have a thread all it's own...

So....wa-la....here it goes:

I've read a few threads around here of the 'worst service' and while in agreeance (altho you'd never see that in my restaurant, heh) restaurant folk also need the chance to vent about the 'worst customers'...

This particular Chef of 'the tuna incident' is actually famous for an article he posts yearly in a foodie mag around here called 'Great Restaurant of LI' called 'Top Ten'...and not a 'Top Ten' Great Restaurants....or 'Top Ten' Best Customers...it is a Top Ten WORST customers list...which is a funny and great read for those of us on the other side of the table who do not always think 'the customer is always right'.

And oddly enough, his 'fans'...food and wine customers....are not offended by it and actually love it and some even take pride in actually making it!

So, I thought it would be fun to share any stories here that anyone may have that would make his 'Top Ten'

I'll start by sharing the other story I was reminded of...which happened in the same Chef's restaurant...that made 'The List':

I'm taking a dinner order for a four top who is abusing the menu (I want this and that and can you remove the heads of the prawns and I like my salad chopped and split in two and no onions in one half and fresh drinks and remove this butter and take that glass and we want more bread...) and are taking up a large chunk of my time...

I look behind me as this is going on to see my entire station (five other tables) all being sat at once as it is now prime time (7pm) on a saturday night...

When they are finally thru, and I have my now bookbinder of notes, the 4 steel clipboard menus in hand (large and awkward) my tray with their now empty martini glasses and the absolute stress that I am now so 'in the weeds', the woman says to me "oh, and I'd like you to take me to the bathroom so you can check for me that a stall is free" and I'm like (in my head)....???....are you kidding me, lady???? .... all I could mumble is "I think I'm a little to busy to do that right now" and turned in the horror of it and scurried away.

Later, as they left, they complained to the manager about me when she got to the part about me not taking her to the bathroom my manager said, "she wouldn't take you to the bathroom....are you kidding me right now? Lady, she's your waitress, not your servant"

that one still kills me with absurd laughter about 'life in a restaurant' to this day....

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That is a horrible, but hilarious bad customer story. You should check out customerssuck.com, it's full of tales like that from restaurants and service industry people.

I've had to take people to the bathroom before, but it's because they are disabled and need a hand. That, I dislike, but understand. To check if a stall is free? That is completely outrageous AND crazy.

I'll try to think up a good story.. there haven't been any truly stupid customers for awhile (knock wood), but I know I have lots.

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Here's another story that was told to me by a customer:

A famous pop songstress (without saying her name, let's just say she can sing in over 5 octaves), makes a reservation in a NY restaurant.

When she arrives and is shown to her table, she does not approve. She glances over at a table that she likes better where people were already seated at having their dinner.

"I want that table," she says. The Host complies with, "I'm sorry, there are already people sitting there having their dinner."

The songstress marches over to the table and says, "Excuse me, I'd like this table"

The customers say, "I'm sorry, we are in the middle of our dinner here"

The songstress annoyed: "Don't you know who am am??"

and the customer replies, "Yes, and we didn't realize you were such a bitch"

oh, lol...

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I'm a big fan of the customer who forgets what he orders. I was waiting on a party of older gentlemen last weekend, and one of them ordered hot tea. We have those fancy Forte tea bags that come in a cute little pyramid shape (good tea, too, and so adorable with the little leaf thingie), and so as I presented the tray to the one guy and had him pick which kind he wanted, another guy said he wanted some, too. I gave him his Earl Gray tea bag and then went to go get hot water, since I hadn't anticipated him wanting tea, too. When I came back with the hot water, he said, no, no, nothing for me, I don't want anything, what are you doing with all that?

Er...did he want to take the tea bag home? Did he just not want tea?

Sometimes I just give up.


"An appetite for destruction, but I scrape the plate."

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We once had an object thrown through one of the plate glass windows, leaving a round, porthole-like hole in the window. So we're in there cleaning up and this middle aged bitch pulls up in her car -- doesn't even get out -- and sticks her head up to the hole and says "what kind of scones do you have today?"

Contrary to popular belief, it does not take all kinds. And if it does, there are certain kinds we have way too many of.

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A famous pop songstress (without saying her name, let's just say she can sing in over 5 octaves), makes a reservation in a NY restaurant.

Mariah Carey? :biggrin:

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So, I'm helping my friend cater a swanky mother's day brunch hosted at this fabulous house. They rented very nice china, a silver-plated coffee urn, you get the idea. The event planner decided that they would start the brunch with mimosas for all of the attendees. Instead of renting champagne flutes, she decided to buy the cheap disposable plastic ones. Fine, whatever.

As people finish their mimosas, my friend and I collect the glasses and toss them in the garbage bin. The ladies have now mostly moved on to eating the brunch items that we've placed in the main dining room. The event planner, who just now has a small chance to come back to the kitchen (and our staging area), walks in with her champagne flute and asks what we did with the rest of the used flutes. After telling her that we threw them in the garbage, she shakes her head back and forth and says, "Oh, no, no. I think we'd like to use them again. Please retrieve all the ones you've thrown away."

I look at my friend, the caterer, and she looks at me. I wait to see what she says (it was her event after all). "Certainly!" my friend says. And so she and I spent the next twenty minutes digging through the garbage collecting used plastic champagne flutes.

1) You're willing to rent fine china and silver plated coffee earns, but too cheap to rent real champagne flutes?

2) You can't put the plastic flutes through a dishwasher, they'd melt. You're telling me that someone is going to HAND WASH 75 plastic flutes?

3) You're actually going to ask people to dig through the garbage for you ... for used plastic glasses? It's not like someone's diamond ring was accidentally thrown away.


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so, tino27, did you hand wash the 75 (cheap) plastic flutes and reuse them?

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so, tino27, did you hand wash the 75 (cheap) plastic flutes and reuse them?

The flutes were brought in by the event planner (not my caterer friend). Did we wash them? No. Were they reused? I hope not, but I don't really know. :shock:


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what I meant to say is did the event planner have you wash the flutes and reuse them later in the day....

I see now she was just having you fetch them out for her to use at another time.

Yeah....that's just 'off'.

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I'm surprised people don't have any funny juicy stories!!

Oh, well....I guess living in NY, I am full of them....

Here's another:

A woman is complaining about her fish:

'It's not this and not that....it's overcooked, not cooked enough....underseasoned but too much pepper...."

yadda, yadda....you get the drift.

My then manager talks with her hands:

"Well, we can take it back for you....cook it more, cook it less...scratch the whole thing...make a new one, less pepper..."

she is motioning with her hands in front of the woman as she's speaking...

The woman takes this as some sort of 'sign' swoops the salmon up off her plate and places it gingerly in the managers hand.

Eyes start to blaze.

Manager looks at the piece of fish now sitting in her hands, looks back at the woman:

thru clenched teeth:

"take that piece of fish out of my hands"

woman:

"oh...I...what????"

"Nothing", the manager says...."Now you get NOTHING"

storms off to clean over peppered fish off her hands. :raz:

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I'm surprised people don't have any funny juicy stories!!

Oh, well....I guess living in NY, I am full of them....

Here's another:

A woman is complaining about her fish:

'It's not this and not that....it's overcooked, not cooked enough....underseasoned but too much pepper...."

yadda, yadda....you get the drift.

My then manager talks with her hands:

"Well, we can take it back for you....cook it more, cook it less...scratch the whole thing...make a new one, less pepper..."

she is motioning with her hands in front of the woman as she's speaking...

The woman takes this as some sort of 'sign' swoops the salmon up off her plate and places it gingerly in the managers hand.

Eyes start to blaze.

Manager looks at the piece of fish now sitting in her hands, looks back at the woman:

thru clenched teeth:

"take that piece of fish out of my hands"

woman:

"oh...I...what????"

"Nothing", the manager says...."Now you get NOTHING"

storms off to clean over peppered fish off her hands. :raz:

Sukie you need to look here

http://www.bitterwaitress.net/smf/

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So, I'm helping my friend cater a swanky mother's day brunch hosted at this fabulous house. They rented very nice china, a silver-plated coffee urn, you get the idea. The event planner decided that they would start the brunch with mimosas for all of the attendees. Instead of renting champagne flutes, she decided to buy the cheap disposable plastic ones. Fine, whatever.

So since we're talking about our peers now too :hmmm: ... I passed on a cater gig a while back. It was supposed to be fairly lucrative, and my first gig ever. I passed because the family kept downsizing the wedding menu for financial reasons - cool, fine, whatever, its part of the job. Well, I had already done the tasting, and won over the hearts and minds of the betrothed. They HAD to have my sweet potato biscuits and potato salad (both were very good btw). After two downsizings, I just said, "no thanks" thinking it was over, time to move on - I had already spent how much time and money on this non-gig?!

Two months pass. Mom of the groom shows up asking me to do the biscuits and salad again - pleading. I explained that I couldn't because it was too small of a job to tie up my time and kitchen, but I offered my recipes for her to make (I just yanked them from the internet). She was appreciative.

Two weeks pass. (and now we get to the story!) Out of the blue I get a call from a local caterer who in her opening breath makes sure to tell me that she is a successful caterer and has done much highly acclaimed baking before, and "your recipes don't work. They don't taste good...well, I wouldn't serve them, and the biscuits were dry." Now, she does this at 10 minutes til my lunch service which I am still madly prepping for. I explain that now is not the best time, but she can certainly come in in two days after 2 pm and I'll give her all the time she needs. She responds, "The wedding is this Saturday, I can't wait two days." I of course think, "Why the hell are you calling me now then - why didn't you call me a week ago?!"

But whatever, I'm a nice guy, and this is a small town, so I want to be friendly. She launches into an explanation of the problems with the recipes even though I told her I didn't have time. Grrrr...Fine! She gave me a few hints at the problems with the biscuits, so I suggest that maybe she has overworked the dough. Common mistake right. Very likely right. My money is on that explanation. Showing her appreciation, "Like I said, I am a very experienced caterer and baker and that is not the problem." My response, "I've got lunch to prepare, if you're interested I'll be here Thursday at 2." Click.

WTH! If you're an experienced caterer and baker, why the F%^K are you calling me in the first place! Get your own damn recipes or fix the ones that you got from me. Its a recipe jerk, not the friggin Bible!!!

Yes, I was fuming all through lunch. She did not come in on Thursday, but of course mom of groom did...she was much more willing to listen to my suggestions. I should send that family a bill anyway!

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2) You can't put the plastic flutes through a dishwasher, they'd melt. You're telling me that someone is going to HAND WASH 75 plastic flutes?

I hate to say it, but I learned from my mil that you can in fact wash plastic disposable dishes and utensils in the top rack of the dishwasher. I know, because she reused all the plastic plates and forks from her daughters wedding several times.

(I'd get in trouble for throwing them away...)


-Becca

www.porterhouse.typepad.com

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2) You can't put the plastic flutes through a dishwasher, they'd melt. You're telling me that someone is going to HAND WASH 75 plastic flutes?

I hate to say it, but I learned from my mil that you can in fact wash plastic disposable dishes and utensils in the top rack of the dishwasher. I know, because she reused all the plastic plates and forks from her daughters wedding several times.

(I'd get in trouble for throwing them away...)

All I have to say is :shock:


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This is my 1st post, and I'm going to tell you about the one time I lost it in the kitchen. Some first impression, huh.

Lunchtime, busy summer day at a beachfront retaurant. Kitchen is hammered. I'm on saute.

Order comes in for the fish special, halibut piccata, served with sauteed veg over linguine.

Piccata is a line-cooks best friend because its the one dish that you can SMELL on the way to the food-slide and know its just right. It's a taste you don't improvise with.

So the order comes in, but the lady wants it on rice. I have the waitress explain that I think it would ruin the dish, but if she would like to change her order, I would make anything else for her.

Fine, she'll take it on pasta. I send the food and the waitress comes back. The lady would like tartar sauce. I refuse, same reason.

Next trip, waitress tells me there is now about a half bottle of catsup atop my piccata.

I wince, swear under my breath, and accept the condolences of the rest of the line, and try to let it go.

Shortly after, the waitress comes back to the kitchen to tell me the just-departed piccata lady sent 'compliments to the chef'. Only the presence of 3 cooks larger than myself kept me from chasing her down the Boardwalk was a cleaver.

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breathhhhhh.....it happens all the time...ketchup, tartar...kill the dish. I had a customer tonight who only wanted the Rare seared pepper crusted tuna NO pepper ONLY with spinach NO oil, garlic, yadda yadda...which 3 other orders for the tuna for the same table came into the kitchen...

this is it on the menu (which the other 3 had):

Peppercorn Crusted Rare Tuna

with boniato-queso fresco cake, avacado relish,

and mango-black truffle emulsion $28-

this guy basically got a tuna steak on a plate with plain sauteed spinach for 28 bucks. The chef would not even slice it for him as the others came.

whatever....he paid for it.

let it roll...they complimented the chef and appreciated your compliance to the dish....

diet people...tartar/ketchup people are just not foodies....

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breathhhhhh.....it happens all the time...ketchup, tartar...kill the dish.  I had a customer tonight who only wanted the Rare seared pepper crusted tuna NO pepper ONLY with spinach NO oil, garlic, yadda yadda...which 3 other orders for the tuna for the same table came into the kitchen...

this guy basically got a tuna steak on a plate with plain sauteed spinach for 28 bucks.  The chef would not even slice it for him as the others came.

whatever....he paid for it.

let it roll...they complimented the chef and appreciated your compliance to the dish....

diet people...tartar/ketchup people are just not foodies....

No but they pay the wages. You know catering is a business it's a place of work for those that choose to cook and wait. A kitchen is not a meeting place for egotistical jerks.

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The chef would not even slice it for him as the others came.

uhm yeah that chef should be ashamed of himself. what a ******* douche.

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This was a table right next to us at a restaurant.

Boyfriend and girlfriend, mid 20s. Guy gets a Bud light, burger and fries. Girlfriend gets water. She orders a salad and makes a number of special requests, eventually reducing it to romaine lettuce and a grilled chicken breast on top. Food comes. She pours (I kid you not) at least five packets of Splenda over the whole thing, then tops it with ketchup. She cleans the plate then promptly goes to the bathroom and throws it all up. Returns to the table, boyfriend finishes his food and they leave.


Edited by FlourPower (log)

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This was a table right next to us at a restaurant.

Boyfriend and girlfriend, mid 20s. Guy gets a Bud light, burger and fries. Girlfriend gets water. She orders a salad and makes a number of special requests, eventually reducing it to romaine lettuce and a grilled chicken breast on top. Food comes. She pours (I kid you not) at least five packets of Splenda over the whole thing, then tops it with ketchup. She cleans the plate then promptly goes to the bathroom and throws it all up. Returns to the table, boyfriend finishes his food and they leave.

you mean they came in ordered ate then paid?

No shit..

sounds like a really classy place by the way


Edited by David Naylor (log)

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I agree with you both Ypants and David....and have said the same thing here and in previous threads and was approaching tecolote in this manner....(this morning I can see how it wouldn't come off that way, but was very late last night and I was tired)...but what I was trying to say is, just let it go, don't get so 'attached' to what a customer wants to do with their food...not everyone is a foodie (someone who appreciate's the skills of a Chef) and wants to smother it with ketchup (which 3 out of 4 chef's I know will not even keep it in the house, ours included) or want it PLAIN because they are on a diet. My point, he paid the 28 bucks for it, and, yes, is paying your salary the least you can do is slice it for him (my 'whatever' was commented towards my own chef for not doing so)...

Absolutely, shame on him, that's what I thought when I saw it go out. And every time he does something like that (his decision as an Executive Chef) shows me the kind of professionalism he has toward the customer.

As I've said before, I too would rather work with a Chef that is as customer oriented as I am (GM FOH) and also do not think the kitchen should be an ego breading ground. I've just worked with too many Chef's that approach it in that way....and, to me, yes, it's a shame.

Hope that makes my point clearer.

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Didn't mean to give the impression I was a hothead. In 25 years back-of-house, that was the only time I lost it. AND I lived long enough with all that inside me to retire.

I won't say I never gave a toungue-lashing to a "camping" waitperson or two, but I endured almost 25 years of orders like "eggbeaters, over easy, side of hollandaise" with great humor.

But nobody has a right to mess with something as perfect as picatta.

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