Restaurateurs often feel as if they should hold their noses as they clean up the managerial messes left by guests or staff. This week, that form of sensory defense became a veritable necessity, along with wearing blindfolds and spraying lawyer repellant.
Read on to see why.
The butt crack bandit
It was bad enough that some yahoo figured he could save a few bucks by yanking cheap plants from a restaurant’s outdoor planters and taking them home in a wheelbarrow. But he made sure the heist would be the, um, butt of jokes by letting his pants slide down to an embarrassing level as he made off with his heist of coleus and impatiens.
Now Cotta’s Kitchen in Turlock, Calif., is known as a victim of what’s been dubbed the butt crack bandit.
He was caught on exterior cameras wheeling away his take, sans shirt and much covering of his posterior.
The Einstein then returns to camera range, wearing a shirt this time.
The restaurant has been a good sport about the dopiness, calling it “landscape larceny” and pointing out that it’s been a victim before. Management acknowledged the irony that a wheelbarrow was one of the items that was previously swiped.
Restaurant says it’s the Yelp critic who stinks
A new low was set in the ongoing battle between Yelp citizen-reviewers and restaurateurs when recent allegations of deplorable service drew return contentions that the outraged customer should wear a diaper the next time she dines out.
A poster calling herself Emma C. blasted Nick’s Riverside Grill in the Washington, D.C., area for overcharging her for drinks and miscounting how many she ordered. With the owner’s permission, a manager fired back in a posted reply that the real issue was Emma C.’s lack of bowel control. The manager, identified as Liz S., said the woman soiled herself right there at the table and then sat in it all night, forcing the staff to form a cordon of empty tables so other guests’ visits wouldn’t be ruined.
“We would be happy to refund your entire bill with the understanding you will never return to any of our establishments until you are potty trained,” wrote Liz S.
The stink raised by both parties turned the dispute viral.
‘Ma’am, your pistol?’
Veteran restaurateurs can tick off a list of the bizarre things customers have forgotten to take with them when they left, from artificial limbs to infants. Now, with many areas permitting guests to carry weapons in public places like restaurants, comes the inevitable leave-behind: a pistol, fully loaded, placed gently in the ladies’ room.
An employee of Geno’s Grille in Southington, Conn., found the weapon and called the police, who were able to trace it to 77-year-old Carmillia Kimmel. She explained that she set down the gun because she thought she was about to get sick, and then forgot about it.
The police charged Kimmel with reckless endangerment.
More woes for the king of buffets
These have not been the easiest months for Food Management Partners, the company that acquired buffet specialist Ovation Brands—only to learn it was on the hook for an $11.3 million court-ordered payment to a former customer. The elderly man had been sickened at a now-closed restaurant in one of the chains that FMP acquired, Old Country Buffet. The company said it didn’t know about the lawsuit, and said the obligation had been absolved in any case by Ovation’s bankruptcy filing.
When authorities disagreed, the company shut about 150 of the restaurants it had acquired, often without warning to employees.
Now FMP will head back to court, this time as a plaintiff in a lawsuit filed by the former employees of a shuttered Old Country Buffet in Chicago. They allege that the company failed to follow federal requirements that employees be given a 60-day warning before a business shuts down. The former staffers want back pay, some punitive money and the payment of their legal fees.
FMP is still one of the largest buffet companies in the industry, with more than 100 restaurants operating under a variety of names.