Editor Mike Sanson’s dining experience at a restaurant where the waiter was stoned and the cook quit really riled up a lot of readers. Here is another round of letters in response to this February Sanson Sez column.
I am a long-time restaurant owner and operator (35 years so far). The story you relay is a possibility to any restaurant. I’ve heard of entire staffs walking out. Luckily it never happened to me. Comped meal? Absolutely! It was not Stoney’s money, anyway. No management, big problems.
Flying Fish Café
Kill Devil Hills, NC
I am part owner of a small Cuban restaurant 10 miles north of Baltimore. The curse of a small place is also the blessing—a small work force. The blessing is (can be) controllable labor costs; the curse can be a smaller labor pool, with fewer persons trained for any one position.
Personally, I avoid hiring stoners or people who are so young that they think they know everything. That said, as long as there are cooks, there will be walk-outs. I make sure that in our restaurant, if there is not an active partner on hand, someone trustworthy is always left in charge. No exceptions.
As far as the bill is concerned, the stoner had no authority and a compromised decision-making capacity, it appears. He could have as well handed you an umbrella as a check. One of the hardest things to teach, in my experience, is a sense of hospitality. He must have missed that lesson.
Michael D. Storey
Havana Road Cuban Cafe
After working 55 hours in four days, I have to tell you reading your article this morning was just what I needed. I currently work for a family-owned operation. The stories I could tell you would take years! I have seen it all from actual fist fights, mice running across a full restaurant, a broken elbow, a cut off finger, a mother slapping her teenage daughter and a lot of drunk and stoned employees and customers.
Working in this industry my entire life has made me immune to the things that happen in restaurants and the people who are generally employed within. Just recently I started dating a gentleman who had no knowledge of restaurants other than how to eat at them. Just over the summer we were eating dinner on my restaurant’s patio after my shift and he looked at me and said, “Are we at the gates of hell?” He has had a difficult time making sense of all of it. The problem: We ensure that our restaurant employees never have to actually think for themselves, so when they are put in a situation like the one Stoney faced, they have no idea how to react.
Harry’s Steak House
Where was the manager or owner? Who made the schedule? My suggestion would have been for Stoney to lock the front door, stand on a chair and let everyone in the restaurant know that they would be taken care of the best that he could and at no charge. Do you think that you might become a fan of that restaurant for at least the effort?
Rib Crib #21