A rash response to any irritation, be it a pang of hunger or a customer’s insufferable lingo, can land a restaurant in deep trouble. Witness the situations that turned nightmarish this week for a handful of establishments, including a number that weren’t even the ones responding.
Here’s a rundown.
Who’ll miss a pepperoni or two?
Domino’s probably checks on its test of self-driving delivery vehicles several times a day. Nailing that technology would spare the brand immeasurable embarrassment by knuckle-headed delivery drivers, including the Einstein who figured no one would notice if he stole a few toppings off a pie he was hauling.
The driver even waited until he was in an elevator before he slid the boxed pizza from its hot bag and commenced picking off the goodies, figuring no one could see him. The lad was smart enough to pluck the toppings from all quadrants of the pizza, so no section would look pillaged. But visits to high-rise buildings in his store’s British Columbian market hadn’t taught the youngster that elevators routinely sport closed-circuit TV cameras these days. Which, of course, his lift-turned-snack-table did.
A doorman witnessed the on-camera pilferage and alerted the customer. Domino’s Canadian operation responded with deep regrets as the video was circulated, stressing that the deliverer wasn’t exactly following protocol.
A famously persnickety establishment in New York City didn’t like the way some customers were fracturing the English language by packing too many “literally’s” into their speech, usually inappropriately. So The Continental banned the word.
It posted a sign alerting patrons that they would have five minutes to finish their drinks and get out if they dared to drop the word into their conversations. If they started a sentence with “literally,” they would be thrown out immediately.
“This is the most overused, annoying world in the English language and we will not tolerate it. Stop Kardashianism now,” read the new-policy statement, referring to the famous reality TV family.
The tongue-in-cheek poke at hipster speaking habits ignited a firestorm, in large part because it drew attention from media around the world. Some objectors accused the place of being sexist, noting that the most prominent Kardashians are women and presumably have their strongest following among women. Others championed the move as a noble effort.
The Continental, an East Village institution that first came to prominence during the punk age, laughed off the backlash and stuck with the policy. The establishment has nothing to lose; it had already disclosed its intention to close in a few months.
The place has been known to set unusual standards for customers. It had previously set off a kerfuffle by banning patrons wearing saggy jeans that exposed their underwear, a move that drew accusations of racism. It shrugged then, too.
A stab at reducing litter is usually appreciated in a state like California, but that’s not the case with a measure introduced in the state Assembly by Majority Leader Ian Calderon. The proposal calls for jailing or fining the owners of full-service restaurants that automatically provide guests with a straw for their drinks.
Under the bill, patrons could only be provided with a device for sucking up their beverage if they request one. The setup is neither novel nor particularly controversial. Other areas in the state already have only-on-request straw rules on the books. Plastic straws will be banned outright in Seattle come July.
But Calderon’s bill was assailed because of the harsh penalties it would level: up to six months in jail or a fine of $1,000. The lawmaker noted that he didn’t include any punishments in his proposal. The sanctions are mandated by civic codes covering litter restrictions.
Calderon said he could lighten or annul the penalties by amendment. But protesters still aren’t happy. They accuse the Democrat of overreaching and focusing on minor issues when the state has far more serious matters to address.
Law schools must be appending their curricula to include a course on suing Starbucks. The coffee giant has drawn some of the most creative lawsuits of recent years, from actions seeking redress for over-iced cups to allegations of false advertising because of excessive milk steaming.
Now comes another action that’s not exactly the usual slip-and-sue situation. A family in California is suing the coffee giant because drinks they were served two years ago had a smear of blood inside the cups. According to the announcement of the action, Starbucks confirmed that an employee was bleeding, and it offered all five family members a payment of $1,000 each to settle the matter.
But the family’s legal representative, Frish Law Group, said the offer is insufficient and that it is suing Starbucks for, among other things, assault and battery.
Starbucks has not responded publicly to the announcement.