Customers will walk into a restaurant, look around, and think the place looks clean and well serviced. Even the food may pass off as well-made. But then the waiter says something that ruins the whole meal. Whether it makes the customers nauseous or furious, certain comments from the servers can send people running.
Read on to see times where waiters should've just kept their mouths shut.
“Don’t Let The Door Hit You Where The Dog Bit You”
“My experience was fairly recent. It occurred last winter, while I was vacationing in Fort Lauderdale, FL. I travel with a small, well-mannered, clean, friendly Service Animal. He’s a toy poodle named Buddy and he brings smiles wherever he goes, plus he tends to my health needs very well. One of the things he is tasked with is intervening in any PTSD episodes I might have. He senses it immediately and begins to nudge and lick my hands and face, which ‘grounds’ me. I pull out of my ‘fugue’ and become aware of my surroundings, time, place, etc. I’m unable to take most psych meds, so Buddy is a real lifesaver.
Anyway, I got a gift card for Longhorn Steak. I liked Longhorn Steak. I’d eaten there many times at other locations, so I was expecting to be treated with respect and have a nice meal. Apparently, that was too much to ask. We were seated, brought menus and ordered our food. We were waiting, drinking our beverages and chatting, when the manager appeared. He began to talk to me about Buddy, saying that I needed to put him on the floor. I explained that I NEED him within arm’s reach at all times, so he can perform his service task, should I need him. If I’m getting lost in a PTSD experience, I’m not going to have the presence of mind to think ‘where’s my dog?’ He decided that this was less important than his ‘policy.’ We had a long conversation, which was seriously complicated by the fact that he was so freaking passive/aggressively polite that it took me THREE tries before I finally got the message. That message? ‘Don’t let the door hit you where the dog bit you.’ In other words, GTFO. He made it plain that they would not serve me until I put my much-needed Service Animal under the table. I attempted to explain why I needed the dog next to me, but he stood fast. I guess he thought my dog had cooties or something, that might jump off the bench and transform all the food on the table into deadly poison. To me, that is every bit as reasonable as the idea that a dog is ‘unhygienic.’ I’m a parent and a grandparent. I love children, but let’s be real. If we want to talk unsanitary, how about a 2-year-old in a soiled diaper? We’re talking a couple of pounds of human fecal matter, reeking, maybe leaking out wherever the child is sitting. Just a FEW germs going on there, most of them harmful to human beings. This happens wherever toddlers happen, but they don’t get asked to put their babies under the table.
I left, promising that we weren’t done yet. I spent several hours over the next week on the phone with his corporate overlords. They promised me to review the situation. After all that, they eventually said that their legal department said they were within their rights to deny me service if I had my dog next to me at the table. Never mind that I carry a physician’s letter stating specifically that the dog must be next to me at all times. Never mind that. Just ‘take your dirty little dog and get out.’
I left a couple of scorchingly bad reviews on Google and a few other travel sites, but it still galls me. The confrontation was so stressful that I actually HAD a brief PTSD episode, triggered by the embarrassment and stress of being harassed by him. I always liked Longhorn’s meals. I wouldn’t walk across the street to pee on their restaurant now, if it was on fire. Shame on them. If you have a disability, do NOT go to Longhorn, as they will shame you, and refuse to serve you. Not a disabled-friendly place.”
“It happened at Philadelphia Airport. I lived then in Boston and flew down every week to Philadelphia as part of a management consulting team (Monday through Thursday) for a client engagement in the latter city.
This one time I was returning back to Boston along with my manager at the end of that week’s work. We had a couple of hours to kill before our flight arrived. So we popped to the pub right by the gate to grab a bite and some drinks.
We sat at the bar and weren’t given a menu for more than fifteen minutes. The bartender (a young woman) walked around and looked like she couldn’t care less. No, the place wasn’t crowded, there were no more than half a dozen people sitting at the bar. We had little choice of course since that was the only place to eat by the gate and it was nearly an hour before we even got our meal.
The bartender then walked up, started chatting with us and told us that the rude service was on purpose but nothing personal, she was doing that to everyone. Huh? Her reason was that the owner of the bar was closing the place in two weeks, she’d be out of a job and so the staff was deliberately trying to get back at the owner by being rude to customers and driving off any business.
My manager and I stared at each other as if to say, ‘Did she just say that?’
Look, if she hadn’t been so rude, I’d have tipped her well over the usual amount like 30–40% even for just regular service because who doesn’t feel empathy for someone who is about to lose their job. Not this time, not a chance! It was a total prick move to have some temerity to tell a customer to their face that you’re being rude to them on purpose. Some nerve!
And no, I don’t buy into this rule that you have to tip X percent no matter how bad the service. Yeah well as far as I was concerned, two could play at this game of triple-A prickery. Sloppy service is one thing but deliberately insulting the customer to their face? That is quite another.
When the bill arrived, I wrote down “Service so bad, you should be paying us!” And the tip section not as a number but in BIG FAT letters -“ZERO!”
My manager started laughing because he was as mad as I was and we walked out of there.
But that wasn’t the end of it.
A few minutes later as our flight arrived and we were standing in line to board the plane, the stupid woman came charging at us all red in the face, yelling…
‘Which of you two wrote that down?’
‘You’re such a prick!’
‘No I’m not.’
‘Yes you are.’
‘Okay well yes I am.’
‘Same to you.’
I was calm throughout that exchange with a deadpan expression which enraged her all the more!
My manager watched the whole exchange wide-eyed and while he understood that my reaction was justified as a response to such impudent ‘service’, he couldn’t wait to tell the guys at the office the next day ‘You’re not going to believe this…'”
Attitude On Mother’s Day
“We went out to breakfast for Mother’s Day, and part of my mother’s order was hash browns. Now, neither of us like the mostly-raw barely-warm grated potatoes that comprise ‘hash browns’ in a lot of places (how can you call them hash browns when they’re not brown??), so we always request them extra-extra done. I actually always put it to my server this way:
‘Listen, you or the cook or both are going to think I’m nuts. But I literally want them at the point where they’re so crispy, you think you have to throw them out. You can’t possibly burn my hash browns unless you turn them to actual charcoal.’ I’ve used this at Denny’s, IHOP, and a dozen independent restaurants that make food in a similar vein, and at none of them have I had a problem.
But this particular restaurant?
The server rather nastily goes, ‘Well, we’re busy. I’ll see what I can do.’
I’m not too happy about that. I’m pretty easygoing about my food—when I lived on the East Coast my regular restaurant would actually put trainees on my table on purpose because they knew I wasn’t a crazy psycho hyper-specific impossible-to-please customer—but like . . . it’s Mother’s Day? You think we don’t know you’re busy? We can look around and see that you’re busy. We’re not asking anything more complicated than ‘the hash brown version of a well-done steak.’ Yes, it’s not everyone’s taste, but I’m clearly here with my mother, and it’s Mother’s Day. Be nice.
But I let it go.
Until he brings out our food.
Our hash browns are stone-cold and limp. I turned mine over with a fork and actually found out the entire inside was raw—as in, if you picked up a potato and grated it directly onto the plate. There was still liquid starch in them, even—which even a quick flip in a pan would have evaporated. My mom’s eggs hadn’t been cooked right—she asked for over-medium and got scrambled—and my French toast was rock hard. So I flagged him down. And I politely say:
‘I’m sorry, I know you’re busy, but we’ve got a couple of problems.’
And this prick looks at me and, in the same tone as a teenager going ‘whatever’ says:
‘I can’t help what your grandmother wants. That’s how they get cooked.’
My mom can be extremely histrionic and over dramatic, but in that moment, she was genuinely hurt. She looked like she’d been slapped. She’s had a lot of health issues in the last few years, and they’d aged her very badly—but most people are at least tactful enough to not say so.
So I gave him a very gentle smile, and said, ‘I can’t help that you’re an prick, but my mother is not going to be treated this way on Mother’s Day, and I’d like to speak to your manager.’
He didn’t say a word, just walked off. I eventually had to go get the manager myself.
The manager, luckily for her business, was extremely good at her job, because I was ready to walk. I told her I didn’t need a comped meal or anything extra, but I wanted a different server.
She served us our remade meal herself and insisted we take home a piece of pie, which genuinely was not necessary. I just didn’t want that prick anywhere near my mother’s food again.”
Forced To Pay For A Show They Didn’t Want
“Years ago, my now-husband and I stopped at a local restaurant for a bite. It was early in the evening, we were hungry after a busy day, and we were trying to beat the dinner rush. The hostess seated us right away in the near-empty dining room.
Then we waited. And waited. And waited. Meanwhile, the dining area filled with customers. We could hear the people at other tables growing impatient, wondering out loud where the wait staff was. But there were no restaurant employees in sight, aside from the hostess.
Thirty minutes after we’d been seated, a man appeared with a stack of menus. He dropped a few on each of the tables before sauntering off. He completely ignored the customers.
Hubby shot a perplexed look at me across the table. ‘Should we go somewhere else? I don’t know what’s going on here, but it’s clear that this restaurant doesn’t have its act together.’
‘I dunno. I’m starving, and I’m sure they won’t make us wait too much longer.’
We decided to stay. Big mistake.
After another 30 minutes or so, a waiter stopped by our table to take our drink orders. Hubby requested his drink, and I asked for a diet soda, our usual drinks. We also told the man that we’d been waiting for over an hour, were very hungry, and wanted to order food.
‘Sorry, I can only get your drinks. Someone should be by shortly to take your dinner order.’
The drinks showed up in a reasonable timeframe, but there still was no one to take our food order. Hubby and I were baffled. What kind of a restaurant seats you at a table and gives you a menu, but doesn’t let you order food?
Finally, a waitress that we’d not seen before showed up to take our food order. We were thrilled, since we assumed that meant we’d be eating soon. But it was not to be. We waited and waited and waited.
Hubby saw our waitress and flagged her down. ‘Any idea how long it will be before our food will be ready? We’ve been sitting here since 5:30, and it’s nearly 7:00 now. Why is it taking so long? Is there something wrong?’
‘Your food should be ready any minute now, no worries.’ She disappeared.
The restaurant had a stage along one side, covered by a curtain. Banging noises and voices started coming from behind the curtain, then a microphone being tested. Hubby and I gave each other perplexed looks. ‘What on earth is going on back there?’
We soon found out, when the drink waiter returned. ‘Would you like to order another drink?’
‘No, we just want our food.’
‘Sorry, I’m sure it will be ready soon. But now, I need to collect your cover charge for the band that’s going to be playing. It’s $10 per person, $20 total.’
Hubby and I looked at each other with our mouths agape. ‘No one said anything about a cover charge when we came here! If your service wasn’t so slow, we would have eaten and been gone long before now. We didn’t come to listen to a band, we came to eat! We are not paying the cover charge.’
‘Well, I can’t waive the charge. If you’re in the dining room while the band is playing, you have to pay.’
Hubby threw enough money on the table to cover our drinks, and we walked out.”
This Guys Knows His Brand
“My dad, not me. He’s conservative, rocks no boats, etc. but he had a favorite kind of drink when we were much younger. He also knew that it was a common thing for a bartender to swap out one particular different brand. They were about the same price but he didn’t care for the taste of the other one and behind it were a religious order he didn’t care to support.
He’d order his brand and always tell the server to be sure that the bartender did not substitute this other brand. If the bar didn’t have what he wanted, just let him know and he’d get something else. He never blamed the server the first time around if he ended up getting the brand he didn’t want.
And that’s what happened this night. But the server said ‘Oh no, sir, you’re wrong … I told Billy your exact words and that’s what he gave you.’
‘Sorry, miss … no he did not. Please get me another drink and as I said, if you don’t have what I want, just let me know.’
A long time goes by and I have to go to the bathroom. That takes me past the empty except for the bartender and our server bar area. They’re clearly more than ‘friends’ but then they both see me. That must have been his clue to pour the drink because she was arriving back at the table just as I got back.
My dad tastes it and says, ‘This is NOT what I ordered.’
She starts to say, ‘Yes it is, I watched him make it …’ when I pipe up. I was about 15 at the time and so I said, ‘Dad, she was out there all right but I think she was more busy watching something else …’
At this point, my dad says, ‘I’m giving you one chance. If I walk out to that bar, am I going to find my brand in stock or am I going to need to call the owner? I don’t like being lied to.’
She stood there, looked him straight in the eye and said, ‘I’m telling you Billy poured your brand. You don’t know what you’re talking about.’
‘Okay fine’, says my dad, ‘I’m going to go look and if you’re right, I’ll be the first to admit it. If not, I’ll be calling Mr. X, who I assume you know is the owner of this restaurant.’
She turns white as a sheet and starts to stammer that well maybe she didn’t actually see Billy pour … and almost runs out toward the bar. Meanwhile, my dad left exactly $0.01 IN the glass of not-his-brand drink and we walked out.
That was a restaurant my family had gone to for close to the 40 years it had been open. This was also the last time we ever went and the owner was told why.”
Ignore Them Until They Go Away
“It wasn’t so much what he said, as it was what he didn’t say.
There is a nice but expensive restaurant that my parents like to go to for special occasions. They have good food and a nice dining area and this particular occasion was for my mom’s birthday. My parents picked me up so we could go together since it’s a bit of a drive.
We had made reservations in advance to ensure that we could get a table, since it is a smaller restaurant and sometimes in high demand.
After walking a few blocks (in heels for me) we make it to the restaurant and walk inside. The host is waiting and greets us amicably enough. But he gives us some news we weren’t expecting to hear.
‘And are you aware that we have closed down the kitchen until dinner service?’
‘Are you serious? But we booked reservations for this time. Is there anything you can do for us?’
He tries to tell us that it’s not possible that someone would have booked a reservation for us. But we ask him politely to check for a reservation under our name.
He types on his computer and reads, then freezes. He glances up at us, back to the screen and then proceeds to straighten uncomfortably.
‘Will you give me just a moment?’ he asks before walking away. He is in full view as he walks up to a man sitting with his back to us at the bar. He is in a suit and looks like he must be the owner or the manager.
We watch as the waiter says something to the manager. The manager glances back at us briefly and then says something and waves his hand dismissively.
We then stand and watch, in a bit of disbelief, as the waiter nods and then goes about busying himself doing anything but looking at us.
There was only one other couple in the restaurant, who were at the bar and after asking if they were okay there wasn’t a whole lot for the poor man to do. There was another couple who were waiting in line behind us at the entrance, who were also just standing there and watching in confusion as the waiter and manager both steadily refused to acknowledge our presence.
He tried, I will give him credit.
He asked the couple at the bar if everything was okay. He got his rag out and wiped a few things. He picked up some menus and moved them from one surface to another. And all the while he kept trying to take sneaky glances in our direction to see if we had left yet, all while we just stood there staring at him.
Once it became clear that they were just going to ignore us until we left, we just walked out and went to go find another restaurant to eat at.
While I understand that the kitchen was closed, the mistake was on them. They gave us a reservation for that time. A simple apology, a free dessert coupon, anything would have sufficed.
Instead they decided that simply ignoring us and refusing to acknowledge their error was appropriate. What great customer service.”
A Cruel Prank
“I was about 15 or 16 years old, eating out with my parents at a restaurant about 45 minutes from home- I think it was Ponderosa steakhouse. Anyway, when my parents were up at the salad bar, a waitress, maybe about 20 years old, comes to my table and, grinning, says one of her co-workers saw me come in and was instantly smitten with me, and wants to meet me in the kitchen, plan a date, etc.
Now, I was all lanky elbows and knees, extremely skinny (a kid in the lunch line once mused to a friend that he didn’t realize Cambodians were allowed at our school), “funny looking” to be charitable, dumbo ears and everything. This had happened to me at least twice before, once by a popular girl in 9th grade suddenly throwing herself all over me as her friends snickered, and once at summer camp, similar circumstances. I knew that grin on the waitress’s face, I can’t describe it really, it was the same grin those other girls had had, the same grin the bully has as he trips you down the stairs. I could see the two other waitresses, also around 19 or 20 I would say, hanging back with that same grin, too.
So I ended up pleading for 2 minutes with this waitress to leave me alone, please, etc, and she left when my parents came back with their plates. That was the end of it, other than the shame and humiliation. It’s amazing I got through high school without killing myself. If this ever happened to my kids today, and I found out about it, firing the lot of them would be the least I would see happen.”
“I’d Never Felt So Humiliated”
“Just a normal day. I used to work on a business estate that was nearby a motorway so had a service station. There was a Starbucks inside of there.
I would go in for coffee every day and then as a Friday treat, I would have a mocha. Just a simple medium size mocha, no cream or any of that mess.
One time, I went in there, ordered, paid and waited for my drink to be made. The person who handed it to me seemed perfectly friendly as I thanked her and took my drink. As I turned and walked away, about two or three steps, I heard, loud and clear as day, the server say ‘fat hag’. I stopped in shock. There was a man frozen with a panini halfway to his mouth, mouth wide open in shock staring at me and then the server.
It was a quiet afternoon, I was the only female customer in the shop. There was absolutely no mistaking it was aimed at me. I’d never felt so humiliated. I genuinely couldn’t take it in, so I just walked out.
The next day I returned with a letter detailing the incident, a description of the server and the time I was there along with my receipt. I asked to see the manager who was the nicest person ever. I told her that there had been a problem yesterday but that it made me to upset to talk about. I gave her the letter. She tried to coax it out of me but I teared up. I was mortified.
Two days later, I had a call telling me that they had done an investigation and that another staff member had confirmed what had been said and that it was indeed aimed at me. The manager said that there had been action taken against the server but was not allowed to give details.
The manager asked if I could come back in so she could give me a £50 gift card as an apology. I told her that I don’t think I’d be able to return there. She asked for my address and sent out a £100 gift card along with an invitation to come back and have a coffee with her.
I never did go back to that Starbucks but i appreciated all that manager did.
It’s been nearly ten years and it still stings. It was the completely unprovoked attack that bothered me, much more than the words.”
He Thought His Explanation Would Smooth Things Over
“I was out with a group of work colleagues, who wanted to celebrate the fact that a particularly hated team leader had been bought out of his contract.
So we went to a restaurant we used to use at lunch time. We got a table, menus and our drinks order in good time, a waiter came to take our food order, and we were just chilling and talking about work. I and two of the women in the group happened to be sitting facing the doors to the kitchen, and every time they opened we looked up to see if it was our food (the food was not late, we were just hungry). So all three of us saw the sight that caused us a problem – one of the waiters opened the door and started a conversation with the kitchen staff, and our waiter was sitting on a chair inside the doors to the kitchen corridor, with his shoes and socks off, scratching at his feet. Another waiter, trying to dance around the waiter holding the conversation, dropped some meatballs from one of the plates he was carrying… yes we are going there… and our waiter leaps up, picks up the meatballs with his bare hands and puts them back on the plate (I guess the 5 second rule applies in restaurants as well).
The two girls were a bit pale at seeing that, and we had a brief discussion around the table, explaining what we had seen and discussing if we should stay or leave. Everyone agreed to the ‘leave’ option, and I called the head waiter over and told him to cancel our food order and send us the bill for the drinks, explaining what the 3 of us had seen. He was quite apologetic, comped the drinks and ran off to the kitchen. A minute later, our waiter comes out and asks for a chance to explain what had happened. Apparently his athlete’s foot had been acting up because he had forgotten to put powder on it before work. Apparently that was supposed to make us feel better (or maybe sorry for him) and convince us to stay, but it just made us really pleased that he was never working the lunch shift and we never went back there again.”
“You Only Get Married Once”
“We came to this nice burger place a few blocks from our place.
They sat us next to a big group of guys. Their attitude, the way they were dressed showed that they were not from Paris. To put it simply, I thought that they were the kind of guys you see in reality TV(you get the idea).
I didn’t care at all, we ordered food and drinks and had a nice conversation.
Within a few minutes, their behaviour got worse and worse. They were completely trashed, talked loudly, and did obscene gestures to me and the other ladies in the restaurant.
All the costumers showed their anger and started leaving, but the waiters didn’t do anything.
Then they took some illegal substances and started throwing those substances at each other. Yes, they really did throw illegal substances at each other’s face! Like… seriously? I couldn’t take it anymore and told our waiter that this was a real inconvenience, my head started aching.
I really thought that he would be comprehensive and apologise, I didn’t care, I just wanted them gone. To my surprise, he replied, ‘This is a bachelor party, you only get married once, you’ve got to understand.’
WOW. WOW. YOU. HAVE. TO. UNDERSTAND.
‘Man, you, yes, YOU, will understand. You will understand that no one, I mean, NO ONE mimes obscene gestures to my face. You will understand that I will leave without paying, and you will kindly put my note on theirs. You might as well pay for it yourself!
After that, I calmly sipped my drink, and left.
The looks on their faces were priceless.
You should never underestimate a 5’3 angry woman.”