A fine-dining veteran once confided that his servers were instructed to feign unawareness of any drama that might unfold in the dining room, be it a love affair going awry, a clash of principles or a drink flung in anger. Discretion was always preferable to contention, a no-win situation for sure, he maintained.
If only restaurant guests and employees had heeded that philosophy this week and let private matters stay private. Instead, they dragged some contentious issues into the dining room, creating nightmares for the host establishments.
Here’s a recounting.
Knife skills on display
Part of sushi’s appeal is the art and craftsmanship that goes into making it. But the flashy knife work that erupted at Ichiban Sushi in Oakdale, N.Y., drew attention of a different sort.
Two unidentified chefs allowed a disagreement to fester into a full-fledged public argument inside the restaurant. Then they grabbed their knives and really went at it, leaving one of the combatants in need of an emergency room visit. The other chef was arrested for assault.
The knife fight brought the restaurant more than 15 minutes of fame. “It was not clear what caused tempuras to flare,” the New York Post quipped to its millions of readers.
Pushing a viewpoint also brought consequences for a customer of the Hell’s Kitchen restaurant in Minneapolis. A male patron who identified himself as Eric criticized the place in a post on Google. The sum total of his assessment: “Too many gay people.”
The restaurant responded immediately with a post on Facebook: “We ask that you not return to Hell’s Kitchen again.” It went on to say that the restaurant wants to function as a home for everyone, but couldn’t brook his intolerance.
“While you’re certainly free to post any comment you want about us, we’re equally free to say you cannot enter our home again.”
But the matter didn’t end there.
Eric and his family told the media that the anti-gay post had been taken down. That prompted Hell’s Kitchen to update its Facebook post, inviting the young man and his family to stop at the restaurant and learn why management and staff were so incensed by his original post.
At post time, there were no indications of Eric accepting or declining the offer.
Is a canoodle just a canoodle?
A restaurant in Port Orange, Fla., was accused this week of harboring a prejudice similar to the one that Eric suggested with his post about Hell’s Kitchen. But you be the judge.
A patron of the Original First Turn Restaurant spoke with the media after he, his boyfriend and some friends bolted the place, saying they were offended. James Lacey acknowledged that he was hugging his boyfriend, holding him in his arms and kissing him on the lips. A manager approached and said that some guests were discomforted by the canoodling, and asked that Lacey be more reserved.
Convinced they were singled out for being gay, Lacey and his party left instead.
A manager told a local news station that the staff didn’t indicate that Lacey was unwelcome, or that it had problems with their orientation. Indeed, it professed that it stresses tolerance and accommodation of all guests.