Hello, and welcome back to Off The Menu, where we explore the craziest stories about food from my email inbox. This week, we’ve got more beautiful stories of restaurant vengeance. As always, these are real stories from real readers.
When I was 16, I worked at a sushi restaurant. Not fancy, but we had tables and servers. The food and drinks were delicious, but a bit expensive.
One day, a 6th grade New Yorker and his “posse” walk up to me, the lucky server, and order…pizza. I told him we didn’t serve pizza here, but we did have a cheese covered sushi, and he replied with this gem:
*exact wording* “Man. Bitch, Imma boutta come back here with a mofucking uzi and wreck this shit, caps? Get me a fucking pizza or I will flip my shit.”
At this point I’m trying not to laugh at this fucker, and get into the kitchen just in time.
I ask the chefs if they can make a pizza. One raises her hand and says: “I call it Pepper pizza. It’s spicy, but my family loves it.” Now, I was a bit of a “risk my job for kicks” kind of guy, so I told her to make one. When it’s ready, I give it to the little angels.
The primary fucktard grabs a slice, bites it, and immediately flips the FUCKING TABLE. “BITCH I KNEW THEY WERE OUT TA GET ME, BITCH, WHO TOLD YOU TO PUT FUCKING POISON IN MY MOFO PIZZA!” He runs out crying, along with his posse.
I later asked the chef what was in that pizza. “Oh, I lied. I never served that to my family. You know how I went to that vacation in Quebec?”
“Well, I picked up a few ghost peppers for emergencies, and this seemed like one. I put ghost peppers inside the sauce.”
To this day, me and that chef remain best friends.
I’m a closing manager in a mostly Italian, upscale-casual restaurant, a small business in a weirdly insular suburb of a big city. The clientele is mostly rich but cheap white people, but we get all types.
One Thursday night, I take a call for a pick-up order from a woman, a pizza and a small house salad. It’s not slammed, but we’re steadily busy, and I ring her husband up when he comes in while my coworker bags the order.
Thirty minutes later, I answer the phone again. It’s that same woman.
“Hi, I had a to-go order, and I didn’t get any tomatoes or pine nuts on my salad.”
“Oh, sorry about that. Next time you come in, you’ll get a free salad. I’ll make a note of it.” While there’s no official policy on what to do when this happens to a takeout order, I know my boss, and err on the side of comping. Anyway, it seems to work, the woman hangs up begrudgingly happy. I ask my coworker, who is still a little new, if she’d checked the salad before she bagged it. She pauses.
“I didn’t check it super closely,” she admits, “Because a lot of food was up. But I definitely would have noticed if the salad didn’t have tomatoes. But it could have been missing pine nuts.”
I believe her, since our somewhat ditzy night salad chef does forget pine nuts on the house salad occasionally, though I can’t do much about it since I already offered the comp. But when the woman calls two nights later, there’s enough of a seed planted in my mind to bag and double check her order myself, even though we are slammed.
I apologize to her husband when he comes in and tell him his salad on this order has been comped. He adds an iced tea with no ice to his order. I know he and his wife like a lot of ice when they dine in. I’m now pretty sure that he and his wife are just cheap.
Thirty minutes later, she calls again, and my coworker hands me the phone.
“Hi, I had a to go order and they messed up my salad again. There’s no tomato or pine nuts.”
“Wow, I’m so sorry about that. Are you sure?”
“Of course I’m sure!” she squawks.
“Well, that’s funny, because I bagged your order myself, and both were on there.”
“Well, they aren’t on there now!” she barks.
“I don’t know what to tell you. It left the restaurant correct.”
“So they just… magically disappeared on the way home?”
“Again, I don’t know what to tell you. It left the restaurant correct.”
She threatens to tell my boss, tells me they’re very good friends. My boss is one of those who is pathologically incapable of telling a customer “no.” My boss also is “known” by basically everyone in a thirty mile radius. I have a 50/50 chance of being punished for pissing off a “regular,” even if I’m positive she’s scamming us. I stick to my guns and apologize for the trouble, but insist that she won’t be getting anything comped because the salad left the restaurant correct. The woman hangs up, enraged. I call my boss immediately to attempt to get ahead of the issue. I’m informed that this woman is crazy, and not to worry, I’m not in trouble. Relief!
Unfortunately, I wasn’t there the following Monday when the husband came back, holding the two-day-old salad with the tomatoes and pine nuts picked out, and trying to get a free replacement. But I heard my coworker handled it well, though it took twenty minutes for her to convince him we weren’t comping him anything. They also never even attempted to complain to my boss about the issue. Now, whenever they see me in the restaurant, they act overly nice.
Victory is sweet.
While working as a manager at a national pizza chain in my younger days (when I could still deal with the public) I was working a busy Friday night during high school football season. Two older couples in their mid-twenties came in and sat down.
The waitress quickly went over and took their drink order and left menus. After she delivered the food, left the check, checked on them later, all was well, just like any other table. Shortly after they finished eating, one of the guys got up and headed towards the bathroom. However, the waitress noticed that instead of entering the bathroom, he looked around and headed out the door to the parking lot. Since we got a lot of “dine and dash” on football Friday nights, due to the dares of teenaged friends, we were sensitive to this, so our radar went up. In another minute, the two girls headed to the bathroom, but followed their friend out the door. The remaining guy left to “pee” a minute or so later.
I immediately sent the waitress over to the table to make sure they didn’t leave money for the check on the table and sent a cook out to get the license plate and called the police. The cook reported back that no one was driving off the lot, and there was no one there. I figured they walked, and we were out the money.
The waitress reported back with a big smile on her face. She said there was no money there, but when I asked why she was smiling, she held up a set of keys. I started smiling and called the cops.
After about 15 or 20 minutes, the two couples came back in, spewing some story about being in a hurry and forgetting to pay before they left and they would like to pay now — and by the way, did anyone happen to turn in a set of keys? At that point, the police arrived. After explaining the story, the police told me they were paying then, so we could not prosecute.
Before the police left though, they ran the license plate of the car that belonged to the keys. The cuffs came out, and everyone was detained. Turns out, it was not the first time they had left without paying, and the plate was hot. The driver had a warrant, one of the girls was wanted for questioning in a robbery, and the other two were not strangers to the police. The car was impounded, one couple was arrested, and the other couple had to walk home.
That $25 pizza and pitcher cost them jail time, towing and impound, and they still had to count out the $25 for the bill. They did stiff the waitress though, but she said it was worth it. We both got to testify about the circumstances of their arrest.
I worked as a burlesque dancer (stripper for all you uncouth jagweeds) at the Condor Club in SF for almost four years to put myself through school. Honestly, if I still lived in Santa Cruz, I’d keep driving 1.5 hours each way just to work there. It was one of the best jobs I’ve ever had; close-knit staff, a very competent manager who respected the hell out of us, damn good money, and a rich history to the club (seriously look it up).
I rarely drank, because I always had a long drive after work and I will not drive intoxicated. But men love to engage in the fantasy that you’re there with THEM, so they order you drinks. Since I’m a freak, my go-to substitute was a tumbler filled with olives and olive juice. The guys never got charged for this, and I think some of them even fetishized it because now they get the novelty of watching their dancer suck down a glass of olive juice after consuming ~8 olives with her fingers — where else but a strip club in SF, right? All the cocktail waitresses/bartenders knew that unless I specified an actual drink, this is what they should bring me when a guy wanted to buy me a drink.
I should mention that under our badass manager, dancers and waitresses were treated like Queens. I mean you REALLY had to fuck-up big time to even be sternly reprimanded. As anyone with experience in this industry will tell you, this is fair. The customer is rarely right, and you get a lot of shitheads who deserve every slap, insult, poured drink, crushed foot, and “no you can’t have a refund because your dancer popped you in the mouth for grabbing her crotch” they get.
So one evening I’m chatting up this group of Aussies, total Bogans the lot of them. They order a round and out comes my cup of olives. After some confusion on their part I explain to them that I don’t drink on the job unless they buy an hour in the VIP lounge, where I will happily have a few whiskeys. I assure them the olives are free, no biggie. This was apparently, the wrong thing to say. The entire table becomes convinced that we are running a scam on them by trying to force them into the VIP room. I calmly explain that we all offer this VIP service to everyone, drinkers and non-drinkers alike, and the reason why I don’t normally drink.
They proceed to berate the waitress for refusing to “liquor up their dancer” and “loosen me up for the sticking.” To all you wanknuggets out there thinking, “Well, you’re a stripper, what do you expect?” I’d like to offer you a giant go fuck yourself. I expect to be treated like a human being offering a service, not a blow-up doll.
The waitress leaves, and then returns to the table with our largest glass filled to the brim with pure olive juice. She then tells them that to make their experience more authentic, she’d be happy to ring the glass up as the most expensive drink we offer. Of course they respond with more insults: “You’re both ugly anyway, you’re probably stupid because you work here, at home we get naked strippers, etc.” Basically the same shit we’ve heard a million times. Their booth faces the stage. I stand up to leave, and because the wall behind the stage is a 16′ tall foot mirror, I can see the lead Bogan in said mirror grab the glass of olive juice and begin to tilt it towards me. Him being shit-faced, me being sober, my reflexes allow me to swing around and knock the entire glass of juice (we’re talking over a pint) right into his stupid face, chest, and crotch. This douchenozzle is now COVERED in olive juice, no one will sit with them, and he still has to pay — in full — his enormous tab before they leave.
They stiffed the waitress on a $400 tab, but the surrounding tables were so amused at his fate that they forked over enough cash to both myself and the waitress to totally make up for it. And my manager congratulated both of us for handling these bastards in such a satisfying manner, who’d been hogging a booth for nearly two hours without buying a single dance, or tipping the stage once.
When I was 18/19, I worked at a restaurant that rhymes with Willy’s. It was a fucking Chili’s, is what I’m saying here.
As a closer, I spent lots of time with our GM. Imagine, if you will, a squatty (yet somehow giant?), angry, 50-year-old man from New Jersey with a weird spiky black hairdo and a paunch. Now give him black, soulless eyes. That’s Rod, proud GM of Chili’s in rural-ish Georgia.
Rod would stand on the QA line with his arms crossed and scrutinize our work, publicly humiliating us with biting criticism at a deafening decibel. He took especially great pleasure in bringing his mostly young, female staff to tears. He was vicious, striking at personal life choices, appearance, ability, etc. Only one server could escape his wrath, but that was because they were boinking. (Of course they were!) Never mind Rod’s wife and toddler son.
Once, when I was sitting on the kitchen floor, scrubbing the underside of the QA line with a brush slightly bigger than a child’s toothbrush, he decided to berate me in front of the closing staff for my slowness and lack of attention to detail, as well as other nasty personal comments. I’m an angry crier, and I think he needed my hate-filled tears to quench some unnameable thirst inside him because he just WOULD. NOT. STOP.
Finally, he decided to let me in on his secret: he breaks his staff down on purpose so that they can rebuild into stronger people. He was only doing this for my own good, because I was weak, because all Southern people and all women were weak and needed to be “toughened up.” This would help me in the end. I should thank him for this “help.”
I closed up and went home.
The following week, he went on vacation. On his scheduled return date, he never came in. Nor the next day. Nor the next. We had a staff meeting at which it was announced that Rod had gone on vacation and had WOKEN UP BLIND. He woke up and couldn’t see anything (due to a degenerative condition that had suddenly worsened) and therefore could not return to the restaurant. We rejoiced at our fortune, but that wasn’t all.
Because he was no longer there to protect his little side piece, to make her schedule, and also couldn’t drive to meet up with her because he depended on his wife for everything, she quit her job dramatically (to our collective relief) and then wrote a letter to his wife describing their entire affair in explicit detail.
Don’t worry, Rod, it’s for your own good. One day, you’ll look back and thank her.
Do you have any food-related stories you’d like to see included in Off The Menu?Feel free to submit them to WilyUbertrout@gmail.com. New submissions are always welcome! (Seriously, you don’t need to ask if I want you to send them in, the answer is always yes). If you’d like to stay up to date with OTM news, my Twitter handle is @EyePatchGuy.