Put two withered restaurateurs in retirement home rockers, and one is sure to remark the business would have been a great one if it weren’t for customers and employees. Events of the last week underscore why that observation should be a sampler on the wall of every manager’s home.
Here’s a reason to replace the “Home Sweet Home” embroidery.
Gasping at straws
Customers were understandably upset when they thought the crewmember stationed at a fast-food restaurant’s drive-thru window had neglected to give them straws with their order. The driver of the car, a woman, got out of the vehicle and stood in front of the pass-through, obviously infuriated. The attendant, a pregnant woman, explained that the straws were in the bag.
Instead of checking, the customer reached through the drive-up window, grabbed the attendant, and attempted to pull her out onto the lane and assault her. Other workers at the Wendy’s came to her defense and pulled her back, but she ended up climbing out into the melee anyway, where she was kicked and hit by the angry patrons until coworkers stopped the altercation.
The woman suffered scratches and bruises, and a visit to medical authorities revealed her baby was fine.
The police are still looking for the staff member’s attacker.
'What's this dusted with?'
Restaurant managers might fantasize about a career shift into the burgeoning field of alternative transportation (read: Uber driver) after watching employees accidentally drop a tray loaded with food. But they’d rather take the hit to food costs than watch the staffer pick up the food and offer it to customers as if nothing had happened.
That’s what happened to the operator of a franchised Dunkin’ Donuts outlet in Mendon, Mass. An employee in the bakery area behind the counter was stocking the shelves with fresh-baked doughnuts when she accidentally dropped a whole tray of the puffy delights. Seeing no one was around, she picked up each one, put it back on the tray, and slid it into the merchandising rack, thinking no one was the wiser.
And for seven months, she was right. Then a co-worker posted a video he’d shot on his phone of the Big Spill, and it went viral this week.
Note to self: Add ‘No brawling’ to employee handbook
It’s not clear why a fight erupted at an IHOP in Memphis’ Southland Mall, or why staffer fought staffer as well as customers. But the fisticuffs are there to see on a video that someone—presumably a customer—posted on Facebook, drawing more than 50,000 views.
The low points: one combatant holding a baby in her arms as she brawled, and customers asking with a laugh if they could still get a menu and place an order.
“As a brand that prides itself on being family-friendly, our guests have a right to feel welcome and invited whenever they visit an IHOP restaurant," Stephanie Peterson, IHOP's executive director of communications, said in a statement provided to Restaurant Business. "IHOP nor our franchisees accept behavior in our restaurants that could be considered violent or aggressive. The franchisee has taken appropriate action in regards to this incident.”
One more time: Edit those tickets
Another week or so, another example of why restaurants should set strict rules about the physical cues staffers can include on a tab to help servers or runners spot a customer. This time around, an order-taker at All Stars Bar & Grill in Warwick, R.I., used “fatty” to describe a male customer.
There is some phenomenon that makes staffers forget that the customer eventually sees the thumbnail description they provide to co-workers. This time around, it cost someone a job, embarrassed the restaurant and prompted the patron to say he wasn’t returning.