Restaurant Business is starting a weekly feature to recognize the customers who force restaurants to go above and beyond. Any establishment can handle the problem-free patrons who interact politely, relish their visits and generally act with decorum. It’s the demanding guests with no sense of propriety or reserve who truly test a place’s service and diplomatic skills.
And then there are yahoos like these, the standouts who’ll be remembered for the length of a career because they posed challenges in a different league altogether. The first step in resolving a situation is admitting you have a problem. What a problem these characters were.
Have a guest who tops these? Please share the experience by dropping us a line.
Honorable mention: The Dallas scammers
Two women who present themselves as mother and daughter are conning money out of Texas restaurants with the help of some props. A few bites into their meals, they call over a waiter to see the glass shards they allegedly found in the food. A bloodied napkin adds credibility, as does a phone number that’s left with the place as the pair dashes out to find a doctor.
They get back in touch with a demand that the establishment pick up the $2,500 in medical bills that weren’t covered by insurance.
Dallas restaurateur Amy Severson told D magazine blogger Nancy Nichols that something didn’t feel right about the interaction. She talked to her insurance company, which said the same turn of events had been reported by three other restaurants in the area. No money was paid, though the women apparently got a free meal.
Runner-up: Man in a rat suit
A 30-year-old Oregon man thought it’d be a good idea to put on a rat suit and pace for four days, in blocks of 30 minutes to three hours, outside the Green Gables Italian Café in the town of Newport. Why? He didn’t have an answer for authorities, who issued an order for him to keep away because the proprietor felt the six-foot-tall man was stalking her (her residence is in the same building as the restaurant.) The rat impersonator, Matthew Zekan, challenged the order—and won. He’s now free to pace outside again, or even pop in for some cheese.
Customer of the week: Unknown with a mouse torso
The identity of this week’s most outstanding customer hasn’t been revealed yet—but McDonald’s Mexican operation is on a mission to learn it. The business has vowed to hire a private investigator to track down the prankster who inserted the head of a mouse inside another patron’s burger. The discovery forced the site of the ruse, a unit in Mexico City, to close, and drew headlines as far away as Europe. McDonald’s pledged to press charges against the culprit.