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Jul 27, 2006 10:01 PM

Over-the-top rude service as shtick--I don't get it

I went to Peterson's in Kenilworth NJ- a hotdog joint- today, where one of the two order takers was downright abusive! My friend had warned me to know my order before I got to the front of the line. This counterman character starts berating his coworkers and rolling eyes at the customers. The guy behind me chuckled to his 10 year old son, "isn't he great?" The guy to my right tipped a buck. Tipped him! For listening to the order, repeating it to a cook, and doing the cash transaction. Oh, and I guess for barking "Next(1/2 second pause)...NEXT!" This place has been around since the fifties and I guess everyone in town likes it more than they should... and I'll go along with that. But I don't understand how normally non-masochistic people can enjoy rude, nasty service as "part of the charm."

Ratner's in NY was that way the one time I went. Had an experience at Carnegie Deli like that once too, although other times the staff was civil. Guess I better stay away from the Soup Nazi.

If anyone likes this treatment, please explain why!

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  1. Yeah, I'm not a fan of that either. I understand if the server is quick and efficient. Fine. But when it's rude, I don't return. Esse Bagel in Manhattan (the one near 21st street) has this going. Others will say "it's part of the charm". Charm, schmarm. It's rude.

    1. I totally agree with you. I was reading a review about a bbq restaurant I was thinking of visiting but the review said the line moves fast and that you better know what you want because the staff has no patience if you don't. Not for me.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Velma

        Is it Gates BBQ in Kansas City, by chance?

        1. re: Katie Nell

          No, definitely not Gates. I do live in Columbia but, I travel a lot and it was further afield than KC. I'm racking my brains trying to remember where it was. I will come up with it eventually I'm sure!

          1. re: Katie Nell

            Just ate at Gates last month and definitely did not have a negative experience.

        2. Agreed.

          I have never understood why that sort of treatment is so appealing to some people. I did some consulting work in NYC for a few months in the late 90s and knew people at the place I worked who would take an extra hour of person time at lunch so they could go up to get soup from the Soup Nazi. After a while, I just sort of rolled my eyes and thought about the fact that if anyone ever talked to me like that, I would simply leave the line and walk out, never to return.

          I guess I don't find the humor in it.

          1. the order takers at pat's cheesesteaks in south philly are like this. when you are 'up', you must know exactly how to order what you want ... whiz wit' [basic sandwich w/cheese whiz and onions, provolone wit', whiz without, you get the picture] and heaven help you if you order a drink or fries while in the sandwich line ... my husband has witnessed folks being scolded and told to go to the back of the line and order only when they know what they want.

            2 Replies
            1. re: ericalloyd

              When I was in Philly my sis took me to Pat's. I had heard about the need to know your order when ya get to the window. My sister ordered...when the guy gave her lip..she gave it right back and all was well. Hey, she's lived in Jersey for 30 years and her hubby grew up in S. Philly. They take no guff.

              1. re: ericalloyd

                i always forget and order fries at the sandwich window. i was just told to go to the next line. never had an attitude. i guess i got lucky and have only been on good nights. the closest thing that came to a bad attitude was when the fry lady rolled her eyes at me when i asked her for a bag.

              2. there's a place in greenville, sc, the beacon drive-in, where treatment of this nature is common. when you get to the counter, the guy there yells "TALK", you place your order (double chili-cheese plenty, etc.), then he yells "WALK", and you move on to pick up your food. it's loud and brusque, but i wouldn't call it rude, and it's not directed at anybody personally; it's just the way the place operates, and, yes, it's part of the charm. the only time it might get rude is when the place is really busy, then they'll send you to the back of the line if you take too long. given the volume they do, a couple of people diddling around when they get to the counter can really back things up. if it's not so busy, they'll give you a few moments to gather yourself, and, generally, the other people in line with you will clue you in on how it works before you get to the counter. and, in the end, it's still the south; manners and decorum ultimately win out. little old ladies get called ma'am, and aren't told to "WALK".

                the only person i've seen get really flustered by this is my wife, who startles easily. the first time she went there, the guy yelled "TALK", and she flapped her arms like a bird and didn't know what to say. i ordered for her, and since then she's been fine (although she does rehearse her order).

                i've never been to the real soup nazi, but if the seinfeld depiction is accurate, i think i'd have a problem at a place like that. noisy and boisterous is one thing, but refusing to serve because someone orders incorrectly, smiles wrong, or talks too much is another. also, like the op wrote, if they're berating coworkers/customers, i'd have an issue with that, too.

                so, i guess, for me, there's a level where this type of treatment is part of the fun, even kitschy. hell, given the pedantic pace and required niceties of most diurnal interactions, i enjoy a burst of refreshing, cut-to-the-chase efficiency. but, it can go too far, and then i can't condone or find the humor in it.