A Modest Proposal
“Last week, a guest made special arrangements to propose to his girlfriend at dinner. We get these kinds of requests all the time. We set aside a nice table for them with a great view of Central Park. I mean, we really want these nights to be special for people because (hopefully) they will only have one of them in their lives.
The guest arrives and comes up to the host stand with a plastic baggie full of toothpicks with flags attached to them that spelled out a sentence. We were supposed to put these on the dessert at the end of the meal. Ok, kind of lame, but whatever he wanted.
I took the bag back to pastry and found the following four words
WILL, YOU, ME, and of course, the fourth word was MARRY, right? Nope. It was DATE. That’s right. He wanted our help to ask his DATE if she would DATE him.
I had to leave work before this glorious proposal happened. There are only two things she could have said: ‘Of course I will! It’s 1950 after all and I haven’t accepted anyone else’s pin yet’ or ‘Umm… aren’t we on a date now? I really need to swipe left a lot more often. Goodnight and good luck’.”
You Can’t Eat Gluten You Say…
“I have worked as a head chef and kitchen manager for a few different restaurants. People can be incredibly weird about their food but these are some of my favorites.
-Double order of every cheese on the menu for a burger. We have 10, it was 40 slices of cheese.
-Cheddar cheese melted on an apple pie. Apparently that is a thing somewhere? Seemed really strange to me.
-Wings tossed in melted American cheese.
-Wings submerged in a bowl of butter.
-4oz of melted butter to pour into an 8oz bowl of chili.
-Burgers and steaks half rare, half medium-well.
-Medium-rare no pink.
-Turkey burger medium-rare. You are going to die.
-Kids chicken fingers medium-rare. Even worse, you are going to kill your kids.
-French onion soup, no onions. They wanted me to strain all of the onions out of their soup. Hey guys, if you don’t like onions, maybe don’t pick onion soup?
People can be weird with their allergy requests also. Had a woman call me out of the kitchen to speak to me personally because she claimed to have such a serious gluten allergy that if any even touched her food she would be seriously ill. She had me at the table for the better part of 10 minutes going through exactly how she needed her food prepared. I went back out to the table a few minutes later to clarify something with her to find her chowing down on the table’s slider burger appetizer served on regular rolls full of gluten. I rushed over to tell her what she was doing and she just shrugged and said, ‘Well I’m sure some gluten will be ok.’ Great…thank you for making me scrub all my cookware and prepare your entree in a completely different area of the kitchen to avoid any potential cross-contamination during a busy Saturday dinner service.”
That Is Definitely Rare
“It’s a Saturday night and I am working the broiler station, responsible for cooking steaks and chops. On any busy night, I have to cook a hundred or more steaks to the customer’s specifications (rare to well done).
The kitchen closes at 10:00 and an order comes in at 10:10 for a filet mignon, rare. This calls for cursing, complaining, and the demand for a cold one. I cook the filet (6 oz., bacon wrapped) to rare and send it out. I resume my cleaning; I want to get out of the restaurant. There had been a function for 150 and I have worked since 8:00 AM, a fourteen hour day. I am a little on the testy side.
The waiter returns with the steak. It’s too rare.
I turn the broiler back on and begrudgingly cook the steak to medium- just a little pink in the center.
In two or three minutes the waiter returns with the steak. Still too rare. I am now mad. Apparently, this yahoo has no idea of what a rare steak looks like. I butterfly the sucker and cook it into a state of unmistakable well-doneness. I glare at the waiter. Not his fault but I have lost any reasonableness I might have possessed. ’86!’ I yell. Close the kitchen down.
The waiter returns yet again. Still too rare. I am now Samuel L. Jackson incarnate. I take the steak and throw it into a fryer, a deep fat fryer at 375 degrees and leave it in the hot fat for five minutes. The steak now looks like a deformed hockey puck, it has become a shriveled up piece of charred animal flesh.
The kitchen staff gathers around, eager to see how this last move will play out.
The waiter returns with a big smile. ‘Compliments to the chef.'”
A Really Special Drink
“When I was a bartender at Macaroni Grill, I had two customers sit down at my bar. One ordered a mixed drink, a classic Gimlet. The other guy ordered (sound this out) a ‘Wooder.’ Perplexed, I ran over to my fancy-schmancy bartender’s guide and looked for such a mixed drink. No luck.
I sheepishly wander back to the guys, Gimlet in one hand and confess that I couldn’t find the recipe for the Wooder. A bewildered look appears on the man’s face and he says, ‘A Wooder. All I want is a Wooder.’ Slightly snide, but very perplexed as well. Still, I was lost. I was lost because he thought I knew how to make one of these magical Wooder drinks that little ol’ me had no clue how to make.
Feeling like I’m about to get punched, I muster up my least _condescendingvoice (I was a jerk back then) and said, /I’m lost. I’m sorry. Help me out.’ Finally his friend who isn’t from freaking BOSTON says, ‘My friend wants a _water.’ Freaking Bostonians. Forget your stupid accent. Forget that nonsense. Get a freaking better accent. God!”
A Strange But Harmless New Regular
“It was a Sunday night, about an hour or two before closing. The only people in the joint were me, the owner and my first wife. We were discussing closing early, if I remember correctly, as it had been a particularly slow day and night when in walks this guy and sits down about halfway down the bar (the three of us are all sitting at one end of the bar, near the hatch, I’m behind the counter on my own). So I get up and go over to him, say the usual ‘hi, what can I get you’ sort of thing, and as I’m walking over I notice he’s not looking at any of us, he’s just staring straight ahead with a goofy look on his face. He orders a drink, still not looking at me, pays me, I make his change then I go back to my seat. I reckon he’s a little bit weird, but not the strangest customer I ever had, I’ll just keep an eye on him.
About 10 minutes or so later I hear someone clearing their throat in that ‘you haven’t noticed I’m waiting to be served’ kind of way, which takes me by surprise because I can see the door from where I’m sitting, and nobody has entered. So I look around and, lo and behold, here’s the guy, now sitting at the other end of the bar (I swear he was like some kind of ninja quiet lol, I never even noticed him move) and motioning me to come over. I get up, head past where he was sitting, where his untouched drink is still standing, and go ask him how I can help. He proceeds to order a drink. I politely point out that he already has a drink and ask him if he would like me to bring it over to him. He seems quite surprised by this fact but says yes please, so I deposit his drink in front of him and go back to my seat, and my conversation. Of course, my wife and my boss have both clocked what’s going on, so needless to say, there was some eyebrow waggling and eye rolling going on.
Maybe another 10 minutes goes by when I catch movement out of the corner of my eye and here’s the guy hiding behind a pillar and the movement I caught was him peeking out from behind the pillar watching us. This goes on for a few minutes, with him peeking first round one side, then round the other, before he goes and sits back at the bar in his original seat and, yeah, you guessed it, orders a drink.
I’m gonna take a moment here to point out that, when he walked in, he seemed perfectly sober, if a little kooky. I had, by then, been working bars for over a decade so I’m pretty sure I knew what I was doing, so the guy hadn’t already been drinking, didn’t seem to be high, at least not on any substances I recognized, so I had no real reason to refuse him service. I mean, if bartenders stop serving people drinks because they’re strange, who is ever gonna get a drink?
So anyway, I once again point out his, still, untouched drink and, once again, bring it over to him. He, once again, thanks me, but this time he wants to chat. I would be lying if I said I can remember the whole conversation, all I remember was he asked a few questions, only one of which stuck in my head. He said, ‘If I’m, you know, not here (in the bar) would it be ok if I came in for a drink sometime?’ To which I replied, ‘Dude, even if you are here, you’re more than welcome anytime!’ Well, that put about as big a smile on his face as I’ve ever seen, he thanked me profusely, put a nice tip on the bar counter and left, never once having touched his drink.”
“Customer: ‘Chicken Caesar Salad
-Hold the Caesar dressing, add Ranch
-Hold the chicken, add ham
-Hold the Parmesan, add cheddar
-Switch the romaine for iceberg lettuce.’
Me: ‘So, you want a Chef salad instead of a Caesar Salad?’
Customer: ‘No, your Chef salad comes with cucumbers and I don’t like those.’
(She could have ordered a Chef Salad with no cucumbers and it would have been what she converted the ‘Chicken Caesar Salad’ into).
The Chicken Caesar cost $2 more and there’s a $1 upcharge for custom orders, so she basically paid $3 extra to get a Chef Salad without cucumbers because she insisted it gets ordered her way.
The only things she didn’t ask to be changed were the cherry tomatoes and croutons, but those are on both salads.
Customer: ‘A hamburger plain, add cheese.’
Me: ‘So, you want a cheeseburger with nothing else on it.’
Customer: ‘No, I want a hamburger plain, add cheese.’
Again, it’s all in how you ring this up. A hamburger is $9.00. A cheeseburger is $9.50.
Adding extra cheese costs $1.00.
It’s 50 cents more to buy a plain hamburger and add cheese instead of just ordering a plain cheeseburger.”
He Offered Her $2,000 To Do What?
“A generous tipping regular sat at my bar one Tuesday night after all my customers were gone. Normally he spoke very little, but, he opened up this particular evening, emboldened somehow. He told me he’d lost a football bet with a coworker; the wager was getting smashed in the face with a pie. I giggled. Seemed weird. It got weirder.
He looked at me stoically and asked, ‘how much would you charge to smash a pie in my face tonight?’ ‘Ummmmmmmm…’ I said, grossed out but curious.
‘I’ll go get 200 out of the ATM right now.’ Realizing he was serious, I told him to procure the pie and I’d smash it happily in his face at my bar. ‘No problem,’ I said. That wasn’t good enough.
‘Yeah, you have to do it at my place. Don’t worry about anything. You don’t have to get smashed with a pie in the face, but, it would be nice if you did.’ Now I was just plain squeamish. ‘No, no… Go ask the bartender upstairs, I’m sure she’d be happy to help you.’
‘No, Nicole. It has to be you. Come back here, please – don’t tell anyone.’ I was scampering away blabbering updates to the door guy and my manager who were both in fits. ‘2,000 dollars,’ he said. ‘Nope! Sorry! You’re weird!’ ‘How much then?!!’ ‘Nope!’
He finally got up and wagged off while the staff stared at him wryly and a tad hopeful. The door guy told me after he left that he’d have gladly gone over there with me and kicked the door down once he heard the pie land.”
This Order Still Makes Her Uncomfortable
“I worked at a new hot restaurant in Florida. We were a huge place with 3 dining rooms and a banquet room. We had people waiting at the door every day at 4 PM waiting to get in because we had awesome specials like our 1lb. Prime rib with a baked potato, salad, and our homemade croutons….all for $9.95. People went nuts over this! Well, once a year in the summer we ran a special with a Maine lobster for $15.95. One evening a server came back and asked the cooks that this lady was requesting a lobster barely cooked.
So she wanted it still somewhat alive and moving, medium rare! I was very uncomfortable with this and disturbed. I know it’s just a lobster and we throw them in hot boiling water ALIVE, but they die instantly. She wanted this sucker still moving so that means she would be eating it while it’s still alive. I refused but the manager approved it and did it himself. I was bothered by this for some time and it still bothers me to this day!”
Anything For The Sake Of Convenience
“I once had a customer come to my restaurant and ask to buy five steaks takeaway. Not so strange except for that she wanted them uncooked as she would grill them at home later.
I explained that we source our meat from the local butcher and that I would have to charge her our normal price cooked or not. She accepted even when I told her that the butcher was only a mile away and still open. She even left a tip.”
And He’s The Moron
“Many years ago I worked in a tearoom in York. We sold coffee, cakes, light lunches, that sort of thing.
Late one Sunday, a woman comes in and, after going through the menu asks;
‘Can I just have a teacake with cheese?’
Now, we had teacakes. To most right-thinking people, a teacake is an enriched bread roll with currants and peel. You toast it, slather it in butter. Yum yum yum. The perfect slightly sweet teatime treat.
But this lady wants one with cheese. Bit weird, but it’s what the lady wants so I’ll try and be accommodating.
‘Do you want the cheese to be, like, a little melted on top?’
‘No, just cold, as it comes.’
‘No, just the cheese.’
‘Untoasted.. with cheese?’
Some people are funny but we can do that. I take the order up to the kitchen, explain that yes, it is definitely what she wants.
A short while later I bring out her untoasted teacake with cheese. It’s the saddest, most depressing thing I’ve seen. I set it down in front of her and she says, in a voice of aggravated bewilderment;
‘What. Is. This?’
‘Teacake with cheese.’
‘I WANTED just a teacake with cheese.’
My cool is evaporating. I fix my face with the rictus grin all waitstaff use when the customer is, quite obviously, wrong.
‘Why is this so hard for you? I just want a teacake, this isn’t a teacake. Who would eat this?’
‘Madam,’ I say calmly, ‘Would you like to speak to the manager?’
‘No, just bring me a teacake, a normal teacake, with cheese.’
‘Madam, these are the only teacakes we have.’
‘No they aren’t!’ she says indignantly. Other people are starting to stare. ‘You have teacakes in the window, bring me one of those.’
Now I know we don’t have teacakes in the window display. We’ve got cakes, cream buns and…
‘A bread roll? You want a plain bread roll with cheese?’
‘YES. Finally. Why would this place hire such a moron?’
See, in England, there are lots of words for ‘a bread roll’; a barm, stottie, bap, butty. I’d never heard of one being called a ‘teacake’, but apparently, where she’s from, they are.
That’s all well and good, but I don’t see how I’m the one who’s a moron when, if what she wanted was a cold cheese roll, she could have asked for one off the ‘filled rolls’ part of the menu.”
That Is Not How That Works
“As a server many years ago I was working at a very reputable 3-star restaurant in Manhattan. I was serving a large party of approximately 18–20 guests for whom we had planned a prix-fixe menu with only a few options for each course. Now, keep in mind that someone else had pre-arranged this menu with the party’s host and I had no input but, since we had a reputation for great service, I was going to do my best.
The second to last guest very politely said: ‘I’m sorry to trouble you but I’m vegan. I try not to be picky so I’m sure whatever the chef is able to prepare will be fine.’
I said, ‘Certainly, sir, I’ll let the chef know and we will do our best’ (but to myself I was thinking, ‘oh no, I’m going to have something thrown at my head because the chef has already planned the night around having the proper food for this group.’) The chef does come up with a gnocchi dish and I return to tell the delighted guest.
The next guest to order (who also happened to be the other fellow’s girlfriend) said: ‘I’m also vegan… but I really like shrimp. Can you have the chef come up with something for me too?'”
When A Customer’s Flirting Goes Too Far
“I was 19 and working a split shift (lunch, a couple hours off, then dinner). I had one couple that was really camping out after the lunch rush. All the other tables were clear, all the other servers gone, owner of the restaurant upstairs in his office, only the dishwasher left in the kitchen. Throughout the meal, the wife is flirting outrageously with me, right in front of the husband, who just had this bemused look on his face the whole time and barely said a word. I was used to getting positive attention from women at this time (I had an Australian accent and was in great shape, etc.) but this was making me really uncomfortable. The wife was blonde, in her late twenties, and VERY attractive and throwing all these compliments at me. ‘Nice butt’, ‘I love your accent’, ‘I bet you get all kinds of girls to come home with you here’, and on and on. Finally, all is cleared away and the check is on the table. The wife gets up and gives me this seductive glance and walks downstairs to the restrooms. I go over to the table to grab the guy’s credit card and he tells me, all nonchalant ‘I need you to go down there and sleep with my wife. She’s not going to let us leave until you do.’ I look this guy in the eye, and he is dead serious. I think to myself, you’re either going to be murdered or, you’ll have a great story to tell
As I recall, she signed the credit card and left a tip of about 100% of the bill.”