Long-held restaurant suspicions were confirmed this week by an outpouring of revelations about policies and practices that adherents may have preferred to keep secret. Operators and their customers can now say with certainty that patrons prefer fellow diners to be clad from the waist down; that a big party of young people are far from a server’s sweet dream; and that restaurants keep notes on the peculiarities of customers, for no other reason than to laugh at the peccadillos.
Here’s what we mean.
Wrong sort of full-moon view
A case study of sorts revealed this week that guests don’t appreciate a bare-assed patron mooning the dining room while the clothed are eating, even if the restaurant serves a nonconformist crowd. Adding to the nightmare: The establishment’s proprietor reacted angrily to being slammed on a customer-review site for the dress code lapse, since the bum flasher was her child. Social media has tagged the controversy #ButtholeGate.
Here’s what happened, according to the posts: A toddler in the altogether wandered into the dining room of Imagine Vegan Cafe in Memphis, Tenn., drawing the attention of self-professed regular customer Chelsea Bartley. She likely wished the incident ended there. Instead, the little one stood on a chair and “bent over to show me it’s [sic] butthole,” wrote Bartley. Throughout the 15-minute exhibition, the staff just watched and laughed, she reported.
Instead of being apologetic, the woman who owns Vegan warned her antagonist that she’d roused a mama bear. “You will no longer be allowed to come and dine at Imagine. Especially when you lie about our babies,” she wrote under the identity of the restaurant. She then pledged to slam anyone who leaves a bad review of the place.
That’s when other customers piled on, sprinkling their posts with plenty of jokes about bare bottoms.
Beware the tipping pack
A nightmare afflicting the whole full-service sector was revealed by a new study on tipping. The research by CreditCard.com showed the worst return on a server’s time and effort comes from big parties of young people, presumably because they’re both difficult and tight-fisted.
“When I see a bunch of college-age people or people in their 20s, I hope it’s not my table, because I know they’re not going to tip well,” CreditCard.com quoted an 18-year-old pizzeria waitress as telling the company’s researchers. “People who are middle-aged who pay with credit cards are the best tippers.”
The report also concluded that servers aren’t being bigots when they say people of color tip less than whites. Ninety-four percent of white diners told the researchers they tip restaurant servers all or most of the time, compared with an incidence of 82% for Hispanics and 78% for blacks. White are also twice as likely to leave more than 15% as a gratuity, according to the study.
Leak of a nonpolitical sort
Full-service restaurants might have also caught a collective shaming because of an email leak. A routine communication from a restaurant was inexplicably appended with a list of the guest descriptions that a high-end restaurant maintains as a tip sheet for servers. The roster is intended to warn them of difficult customers or peculiar demands.
“Wife is Gina,” read one note. “BEWARE of Gina.”
“Left $11 on a $200 check,” observed another.
“Very handsome,” read a third.
The crib notes might have been nothing more than an amusing read for most recipients. But the spreadsheet of descriptors was sent to Hannah Goldfield, a writer for The New Yorker, who shared her windfall with her followers on Twitter. It was then picked up by Eater.com.