Tuesday, May 10

Questionable service; worse decision-making

I'm a sucker for this kind of story: the one about the weird or offensive or wonderful thing that happens between server and diner, especially because of something on the dinner tab. I'm not sure why I like to read them other than to feel good about myself--that there are others who seem to make stupider decisions than I do.

This story of a server-diner brouhaha at Peter Chang in Washington, DC struck me as interesting for a couple of reasons.

First, there's the insolent server. That happens, but why make that kind of sarcastic remark that doesn't seem to be intended to be funny? Especially when you haven't yet gotten your tip.

Second, there is the manager who "apologized and explained the servers were just joking with one another via the POS [point of sale] system. They meant to delete the comments before presenting the check." Making derogatory remarks about patrons of your establishment is "just joking"? And using a company resource to make such comments is somehow okay, too?

Then I managed to raise my eyebrows even more when I read that the manager said "the servers had previously been warned about leaving offensive comments in the system." Really? Just warned? They must be truly astonishingly amazing servers to be permitted just a warning for such unprofessional behavior.

But wait, there was more. The manager went on to say, "They always do that. I've warned them so many times. And they did it again."

Oh, there's more. At the time the story was written he was trying to decide if someone needed to be fired. As a form of punishment, I guess, the manager reduced their hours and will not allow them to work prime weekend shifts. That is some punishment because that will impact their tips.

I was really outraged when the manager said he gave the diners a $20 gift card. Like they'll ever go back to that restaurant.

In my now more settled opinion, the manager should have comped the diners their meal. He should have, at the very least, suspended the servers. They're just going to keep behaving badly until they do something stupid enough to warrant a lawsuit. And the manager? Yikes. If I were the owner of that restaurant, I'd seriously consider the wisdom of having that guy responsible for my reputation.

A recent update to this story is that the manager and the servers have been or will soon be fired. While I want to be satisfied with that, I can't help but wonder if the situation could have turned out differently had the manager responded differently, had he disciplined the servers differently or if he had fired or suspended them earlier. It's a good lesson for future restaurant managers and for potentially snarky servers everywhere.