Blame it on Simone Biles and her fellow Olympians. Certainly, something inspired middling knuckleheads to reach higher this week in their efforts to complicate the lives of restaurateurs. Their nightmarish feats merit recognition—or maybe a dunking in a green diving pool.
Here’s what we mean.
‘And don’t use the app, either’
A Florida prankster was legally banned from placing delivery orders after costing local pizzerias almost $700 in wasted pies. Randy Riddle was arrested earlier this month for calling the restaurants and requesting the delivery of a pie—usually to a vacant lot or an address that didn’t exist.
This was no teenager’s prank. Riddle is 49 years old and worked hard at his ruse. He used five different phone numbers to make his calls, and would often reach out afterward to the punked pizzerias to complain about the quality of their food. Similar behavior had led to an arrest eight years ago.
Riddle was charged this time with making obscene and harassing calls. He was released on $5,500 bail and the condition that he not place another delivery order.
A manhunt for another extreme customer was stepped up this week in San Francisco, where legal authorities released a surveillance video of the man as he bit off a bartender’s finger.
According to the police, the suspect was so determined to get back into the Silver Clouds Restaurant and Karaoke Bar after it closed that he broke a window and climbed inside, only to be confronted by a bartender. A fight ensued, and the unidentified bartender lost his finger in the brawl.
The police have asked the public to help identify the culprit and reveal his whereabouts.
From wrong to wronger
Sometimes transgressors come to their senses and try to right whatever wrong they’ve inflicted on a restaurant or its staff. That’s not the case with this week’s highest-profile nightmare, a story that reverberated far from its beginnings in Harrisonburg, Va.
In case you missed the social media eruption, an 18-year-old waitress of Hispanic descent was stiffed on her tip by a couple who ran up a charge of $26.11 at a restaurant called Jess’s Downtown. Being shortchanged on a $4 gratuity wasn’t as much of a slap as the insult that the couple scrawled on the check: “We only tip citizens.”
The waitress, Sadie Elledge, is a U.S. citizen, born and raised in Harrisonburg.
Outraged, Elledge’s grandfather blurted on Facebook that he’d gladly do jail time if he could just punch the bigots in the face. He later acknowledged that his post was intemperate and voiced regret for it.
Not so for the offending couple. The woman of the pair reportedly came back to Jess’s and complained about the post and all the heat she’s taking. The woman was so infuriated that the proprietor called the police.
‘I only count 10 spices’
Presumably less trying was the situation dropped on KFC this week by yet another assertion the chain’s top-secret chicken recipe had been found in the public domain. Headquarters was quick to dismiss the contention that a handwritten copy of Colonel Harland Sanders’ recipe had been found in a scrapbook by a freelancer for the Chicago Tribune.
The twist this time is a plausible connection to the Colonel. The scrapbook was the former property of Claudia Ledington, the Colonel’s second wife. It is now kept by her nephew, Joe Ledington, who showed it to freelancer Jay Jones, who was visiting the birthplace of KFC for a color story about the Colonel and his brainchild. Jones had asked Ledington to share some anecdotes of the famous Kentuckian. Leafing through the scrapbook together, they came upon the recipe, which lists 11 herbs and spices along with a key ingredient: white flour.
You can see it for yourself here.
Some of the more senior members of the team smile at the junior staff who are excited to uncover an interesting trend in “eatertainment” or the latest single-ingredient concept. We try not to be condescending when we suggest they do some research by looking at past issues of Restaurant Business or old Technomic top chain reports before calling it the next big thing.