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 stories of restaurant customers so dumb they beggar belief. As always, these are real stories from real readers.
I used to work as a server in an upscale burger restaurant in Phoenix. It was the kind of place with a small menu, fries had to be ordered extra, fancy milkshakes, etc. We opened for lunch at 11, and one morning my first table of the day was a three-top, two men and a woman. The men were pretty quiet, but the woman would not shut up about how excited she was to finally be eating there, and how she lived nearby and had been wanting to try our food, and how cute it all was, and had she mentioned how excited she was? I smiled, told her I was happy she came in, and took their drink orders. I returned with their drinks a few minutes later, and the woman was looking at the menu with a frown. I asked if they had any questions about the menu, and the woman said, “Well, this all looks good, but I think I really just want breakfast. Do you serve breakfast?”
“Burger” is in the name of the restaurant. She’d spent ten minutes telling me how excited she was to eat there. One would assume she had understood what she coming in for. I just stared at her for a minute, and then apologized and told her that no, we only served burgers, chicken, and salads. She frowned again and said, “Well, I really just want eggs and toast. Can I just get eggs and toast?”
We did serve a burger with a fried egg on it, so I eventually talked the cooks into making her two fried eggs, bacon, and a toasted burger bun. She ate it happily. I never saw her there again.
I was eating at a local Italian pizzeria that offered a wide array of gourmet pizzas and pasta. After getting a little too excited about ordering food (as college students do), I got talkative and asked about a bunch of different pasta specials, looking to see what sounded the most appetizing.
In the middle of my talking, I told the server “Okay so I’m thinking of getting the Chicken Alfredo pasta special with artichokes… wait, is this one of the dishes that has chicken in it?”
Seconds later, the server watched the light leave my eyes as I realized what an unforgivably stupid question I just asked her. I abruptly stopped talking and sheepishly paid for my meal.
Next time I’ll just read the menu on my own.
I work in a shoreline New England seafood restaurant. Recently, I had a table order our Prince Edward Island Mussels, a dish with shallots in it.
I bring the dish over and the lady starts poking at it. “Are these onions in here? Because I am VERY allergic to onions.” I confirm that there are onions in the dish — they’re shallots. “But are they onions?” “Well, they’re shallots, and that is a type of onion.” “Well, shallots are okay, I just can’t eat onions.”
As I’m walking away, I hear her say to her husband, “Don’t these look like onions?”
I used to work at a Tex Mex/Mesquite Grill chain in the KY/OH/IN area called Tumbleweed. During one summer, we ran a weekly All You Can Eat Ribs night. A half rack of ribs and sides to start, and as many half racks as you want from there, for one price.
The night is going fairly well until two people come in: a man who looked in his mid-40’s and his mother. They both order the all you can eat ribs with the same sides. When their order is up, I bring their plates out and set them down. I’m just about to walk away when the man says “Hold on. Her ribs are bigger than mine.”
I turn back and look at him quizzically. He repeats it and I look at the plates. I see no difference in the size of the actual ribs. It’s possible there might be one more rib on her rack, but I couldn’t tell. Still, I decided it’s pointless to argue. I apologize and remind him it’s all you can eat, so he can start on the ones he has and I can put in another order to have out before he’s done.
He refuses. He wants me to take his plate back and get him bigger ribs. I just stare at him half smiling/half cocking my head like a puppy who looks like it’s trying to understand when words are being spoken to it. I again try to reason with him that it’s All You Can Eat Ribs night; I can put in two or three more orders right now. I can give him some to take home later. Hell, I can make it rain ribs like we’re in some sort of rib nightclub. Nothing doing. The mother is no help either as she’s just sitting there refusing to touch her plate too.
Noticing this, I look down and get an idea, but they guy beats me to it, saying, “Don’t even think about switching our plates. Take mine back and get me another rack.”
Still in shock by such a stupid, pointless, petty request, I take his plate back to the kitchen. It takes about three minutes of explaining to convince the kitchen manager I wasn’t screwing with her, but the whole time she gives me the same puppy cocked head look as I talk.
The guy gets his bigger rack of ribs and then orders a few more during his stay (as did his mother) with no further complaints of rib size. I don’t think he even bothered checking again.
I was in line at an airport Starbucks. It was very early in the morning and there were only two baristas scrambling to handle a decent sized line of travelers. One was taking orders and handling food, the other was churning out drinks as quickly as she could.
The lady in line ahead of me had an order that came to $9.01. The cashier took the order, accepted a $10 from the customer, handed her a dollar back, and started to get the food portion of the order ready. The customer immediately objected and demanded, in a tone that only the most self-righteous of customers can manage, to speak to the store manager. The two baristas were probably all of two feet from each other at the time, and there was no magical or invisible third employee stashed anywhere. The barista making the drinks asked if she could help. The customer immediately launched into a tirade about how the other employee had failed to give her the change she was owed for her order. She wanted her 99 cents and she wanted it now.
The employee who’d taken the order and then had to explain that while it was true that she’d not given the customer her 99 cents in change, she had given her a dollar bill instead, as she didn’t have any pennies in the till.
Self-righteous customer then stomped away and continued to huff and puff about how rudely she was treated until she snatched up her order and left.
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.