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 the worst restaurant customers ever. As always, these are real stories from real readers.
It’s been 5 years and this lady still pisses me off.
My Mom is down for a visit and we go to Olive Garden for lunch. Get seated, our lovely server takes our drink order, and we settle to eat and catch up/make fart jokes for the next 45 minutes. Then This Bitch sits down in booth behind Mom.
This Bitch (TB) is accompanied by her kid, and (BF) Bitch Friend. Our server comes over with a smile, greets them, and offers them a sample of red wine. Before she can even finish TB responds with a snotty, venomous tirade about how much she hates red wine with just enough volume to catch my attention.
TB proceeds to bitch about everything — the menu, the kids’ menu, something about the drinks, that the salad took to long to come out (it didn’t), to which all her BF agreed and added her own stupid two cents. Server’s responses are all dripping with politeness and a gritted-teeth smile.
Then the entrees got there along with her kid’s grapes. And TB nearly lost her shit.
TB starts up about how she needs these grapes crosscut. Server starts to say something about how they don’t do that and TB LAYS into her about how EVERY Olive Garden within 50 MILES will CROSS CUT THOSE GRAPES because her CHILD CHOKES ON WHOLE ONES (Kid looks up at this point — “No I don’t!” TB — “Yes you do!”, then back to snarling) and finally to GET THE MANAGER.
Manager comes out, gets the same speech, goes to the kitchen and returns with this kid’s fucking grapes cut up. TB spends the rest of lunch complaining to BF about all her perceived slights. They finish, call the manager over again to tell her how horrible everything was AND, in this retelling, the server was slow and rude the whole time.
We were done and rather than being confrontational, paid and met the manager up front. We gave her the whole story about TB being a twat with teeth. Server thanked us for standing up for her and we gave her a hug and left.
My “favorite” customers as a barista in a busy local suburban cafe with specialty coffee (which is pretty damn good if I do say so myself) used to come in every Thursday. I nicknamed them Mr. and Mrs. Painful. Firstly, they were the most fake people I’ve ever met, simpering to my face and rolling their eyes at me when they thought I wasn’t looking. The guy’s order was fairly normal — a hot half-strength cappuccino in a cup. It was Mrs. Painful who was the most…well, painful. She would order a chai latte in a tall glass made on almond milk with a half shot of decaf (note that we grind our coffee on demand as each order comes in, nothing is pre-brewed), no foam with extra cinnamon and chocolate on top. And she would want it extra hot too.
Now, that in and of itself makes her annoying during rush hour, because for a specialized order, it holds up the workflow. No, she was painful because she was never fucking satisfied. Too much foam, too cold, not enough cinnamon, not enough chocolate. I had to remake it every single time she came in, even though I had made the drink to her exact specifications. Not only that, she would send my floor staff back and forth with her constant demands. “I need more cinnamon on the side, I need more almond milk on the side, no I wanted it hot, silly girl, where’s my extra chocolate?’
Every. Single. Time. My manager finally caught on and told her that we would not be remaking her drink again if it was done properly.
I used to work at a local Greek restaurant as a waitress. Nothing fancy, it was actually one of the most affordable places to eat a savory, full-fat meal in a high class, friggin’ expensive neighborhood. The boss was a nice, well-meaning guy and the food was generally good, if you did not have a history of heart disease. Problem was the prices attracted a very specific type of customers who should burn in hell next to sadists, dictators, and people who talk at the theater.
In comes Pancetta Guy. It was lunch hour on a Wednesday when he walked in in his blue suit and tie, looking all important — in a cheap Greek restaurant, filled with builders, plumbers, and road workers. I greeted him promptly and returned to take his order after he had checked our menu out.
“What would you –“
“Is the pancetta bacon? It’s bacon, right?” he interrupted me, annoyed by my manners. Possibly, he was new to this politeness thing.
“Sir, both pancetta and bacon come from the pork belly, but –“
“So it is bacon!” I was once again interrupted. “Why do you charge for bacon so much?”
“Pancetta is an actual, grilled piece of meat.”
“But why would bacon be so expensive?” (aka, 8 euros for our Barbeque glazed, two-piece pancetta dish with a side of fries, mashed potatoes or rice)
“Sir, it is not bacon. They both come from the same part of the animal, but they are not the same thing. Bacon is a cured meat.”
He wasn’t persuaded, and I had to fight some more to prove that I wasn’t trying to pass him the expensive kind of bacon we were keeping for our annoying customers only. I had already repeated more times than I care to remember that it’s two, 7oz each, pieces of pork meat, with a side of his choice, when he sighed theatrically and said, “Oh well, bring me all three sides. I do not want to leave here starving.” Yeah, coz that’s how people starve: 14oz of extremely unhealthy meat and a french fry mountain are just not enough.
“This is not a problem. But we charge every extra side 1 euro, which would bring the total to 10 euros.”
Shocker. He was furious. “What! That’s plain theft. You said yourself it goes with a side dish!”
“Yes. A side dish, emphasis on the “A.” You will only pay for the other two, one euro each, which is a reasonable price for such a big portion.”
Skipping forward, cheap-ass douche shuts up, gets his crapload of grease and heart attack on a plate, eats like a hoard of hungry, hairier chimps and calls me over to pay the shocking 10 euro bill. He hands me the money, no tip blocking the way, but not before he hisses, “You know, the bacon at the next door joint is cheaper and sliced better. You should think about that.”
For about six months after I graduated from college, I worked as a barista at Starbucks while I reevaluated my life choices regarding higher education. It was the highest volume store in the district and thus incredibly busy, but most of the shift supervisors were decent and it really wasn’t that bad of a job.
Except for fucking pumpkin fucking spice.
People started asking when pumpkin spice would be back starting in July. And not just white girls in leggings, oh no. They may get mocked for it, but everybody wanted to know when we could start pumping that delicious orange ass into their drinks. We had tons of people ask jokingly if they could bribe us into making them one early, but corporate did not fuck around when it came to pumpkin spice. People got fired for not abiding by the release date they set. None of us were losing our jobs for someone’s caffeine.
The day before we were allowed to start serving, the manager set up the pumpkin spice pump to the counter, because each barista was supposed to try any seasonal drink before it was released. Naturally, seeing the pump, we told a lot of people that unfortunately, they couldn’t have one yet, but to make sure to come back tomorrow and we’d sell them a cup of pure syrup if that’s what they wanted.
Late that afternoon, right before the mid-shift people headed out, this guy in a suit walked in. He looked like any of the other nine hundred businessmen we sold coffee to on any given day. Working the counter was my very tiny and very pregnant coworker. (She actually went into labor during her last shift a week later.) Businessman asks for a pumpkin spice latte, pregnant coworker says we can’t serve them until tomorrow, but she’s happy to make anything else.
Businessman loses his fucking mind.
He started screaming that he wants a fucking pumpkin spice latte and he can see the pumpkin spice right there and we are going to make him his fucking latte or else! Pregnant coworker, who has worked at Starbucks for almost a decade, is completely unfazed She’s had people throw drinks in her face, threaten her with death, and was there when we were robbed. A yelling dude didn’t scare her. She repeated that it was a corporate rule, so sorry, and was there anything else she could offer him.
Businessman, never pausing in his rant, hauls back and punches her in the face.
Pregnant coworker goes down, spraying blood from what actually, thankfully turned out to be a pretty minor cut on her lip. Businessman starts trying to come over the fucking counter, still ranting. The shift supervisor (short dude, but built like a brick shithouse) launches himself at the businessman while I lunge for pregnant coworker.
It’s complete chaos. Businessman is still ranting. Shift supervisor is grappling to keep him on the customer side of the counter. Pregnant coworker is crying and yelling at businessman at the same time. Customers are shouting. A regular sitting in the drive-through is the only one who has the presence of mind to call 911, and for the record, when you mention that a pregnant woman has been assaulted, cops haul ass to get to you.
Businessman was arrested and horrified customers left almost $200 in the tip jar. But best of all? Pregnant coworker declined to go to the ER, took fifteen minutes to get her lip to stop bleeding, and when the supervisor tried to send her home, she looked him in the eye and said, “Never let the bastards win.” She finished her goddamn shift.
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.