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Would You Still Goto A Restaurant If The Owner/Chef Was A JERK?

so, there is this restaurant in my snall town that is very good and locals along with weekend NYers love it.

BUT the owner/chef is a jack-ass! i see him almost everyday at the market i work at buying his newspaper. he always just throws his dollar bill on the counter and looks pissed off at the world. i have tried to say HI and make small talk but he wants nothing to do with it and is just plain rude.

other people have said the same thing and i keep saying " i am never going back to so & so..." ( but i do...)

what do you think? we are the locals who keep his restaurant alive while the NYers arent here. shouldnt he give a crap?

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  1. No. Once I started getting the inside scoop regarding what happens at the restaurant where my SO works, and I won't go there anymore. I don't want to give any money to people like that.

    1. Yes. When you eat there, just throw your payment on the table and refuse to talk to him.

      Seriously, is he sincere about his work and does he do it with dedication? Some small owners excel in their work but suck at dealing with the public. If so, I would overlook his personality; however you might find ways to remind him that he needs his local customers. But if he mistreats him employees that's a different story; I hate giving my money to people who do that.

      1. Depends on the jerk.

        There's a place in DC where the Chowhounds rave about the food, but the lead chef is something of a perfectionist. No substitutions, no condiments on the tables because the food is seasoned the way SHE wants it to be and too bad if you don't like it, etc. Some folks are willing to put up with it, but I'd be inclined to avoid the place.

        1 Reply
        1. re: monkeyrotica

          I was going to leave a similar post about the same place in DC. My wife and I do choose to visit somewhat regularly because we love the food and the place itself. Chef has a certain rep, and so far, for us, it's been great. If you have an issue with something that comes out of the kitchen, tho', beware -- and I do think that that's a fair thing to consider re choosing to patronize the place.

        2. For what you described above, I'd still go to his restaurant. I dealt w/a jackass who was flat out rude to customers....when he aimed it at me, I gave him a piece of my mind and would never go back.

          1. It would depend on the situation – and to be honest, on how amazing the restaurant was. If the restaurant was otherworldly and I didn’t have to deal w/ him at the restaurant, I would probably still go. But a night out is such a subjective experience, if I had a bad feeling about the place, I’d be unlikely to want to spend my money there.

            We do cut neighborhood restaurants more slack than we would other places – a bad meal or subpar service can be outweighed by the convenience and our desire to support local businesses. We have never encountered outright rudeness, though.

            I should note that your description does not, however, in my mind, necessarily mean the chef is a jerk. My husband is a sweetheart but 1) generally reserved with people he doesn’t know and 2) a scientist, with all the attendant distractedness that can come from mulling over this and that. I have been working to try to make him more comfortable with small talk with people behind counters, because I can tell he sometimes comes off as brusque or unfriendly when that is not his intention. So I would probably be inclined to cut your chef some slack under the assumption that he might be the same. (Not to say that you should, but you asked what we would do.)

            1. Service with a smile is all I ask, so if the wait staff can offder a grin, the owner doesn't have to..good food is hard to give up :)

              1. Actually, there's a chef that frequently chats on egullet and Chowhound and is a complete and utter jerk, and I refuse to go to his restaurant. I've heard wonderful things about the food (not the service), but there's so many more wonderful restaurants where I don't have to deal with that crap! Your situation doesn't really come across as that severe though, but I could be reading it wrong.

                1. Your problem is that he is a jerk OUTSIDE the restaurant? He is a jerk at the shop you work at? So what? A lot of people are jerks outside of the work place. As long as they perform the task I am paying them for in a professional and competuent manner, what do I care if they are snappy when they buy their paper/cofffee/gum etc.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: chow_gal

                    Because jerks make the world a sadder place to live in.

                  2. Food should reflect the chef's personality, and if you don't like the personality you might not like the food. I'm in no hurry to go to Gary Danko because of things he's quoted as saying. He just seems like a pompous ass and I don't want to eat a pompous ass's food. For just one example, I remember an article in the SF Chronicle where successful chefs were telling embarrassing stories of kitchen mishaps. Instead of playing along, Danko said he's never made a serious or embarrassing error and instead told the story of something a colleague had done. I mean come on! There are too many other places to eat that I don't need to go to a place with no humility.

                    1. To the OP: Then why do you return? Is he not rude enough to you as he is toward other former patrons, or do you have a higher tolerance level?

                      We have soup and sushi nazis. I guess we can also have chef/owner nazis. For me, I think it's a bit more difficult to accept the latter case because the good food isn't necessarily enhanced by his notoriety. Somehow, it diminishes the quality of the entire restaurant.

                      1. The OP never said that the guy is rude in his restaurant. If he doesn't bother you while you're enjoying the hospitality of the house, why, out of sight, out of mind. If he's rude in his restaurant, then the expected hospitality is lost and why go back. Or order take out.

                        Think of all the entertainers and sports figures who are jerks, but we still buy their cd's, cheer their teams, go to their movies and concerts.

                        1. There are degrees of jerkiness. I once applied for a host's job at a restaurant run by a guy I know, and he frankly told me not to do it because he's a complete butthole to his employees, and he didn't want to lose me as a friend - even though we've never been really close.

                          I would generally not want to patronize a place run by someone who let his attitude show in public. I have avoided restaurants whose atmosphere was tense and unfriendly, and I avoid on principle any place whose management dictates what you will eat, how you will eat it, and what if any seasonings will be allowed. If it's my money, you gotta play my tune, period. To reiterate a favorite theme I've uttered before: the customer may not always be right, but he's ALWAYS the customer.

                          1 Reply
                          1. I remember a similar experience. A friend loved this particular cafe in Montreal and whiled away many an evening studying, spending a student amount of money and feeling very cosy and comfortable there. I joined her a few times and felt the vibe.
                            In the meantime the cafe I worked at had a man who made and delivered our soup every day - boy was he grumpy and rude, and I didn't much like the soup either (it was homemade and vegetarian though).
                            I was so surprised to realize one day that the owner of the cosy cafe and the soup guy were one and the same!
                            The moral for me was that it's all about context, and not everyone is a morning person (I certainly am not). I was willing to cut the guy some slack.

                            But I can also see where what you describe would totally piss me off - I had a customer who was totally rude at a bar I worked at, and I never understood why he would do that to potential clients of his vet practice across the street. And I never took my cat to him.

                            1. I think that if you're going to stop going to someone's restaurant because he's a jerk, you might want to tell him next time you go to the restaurant (of course, that would be your last visit). I always think a boycott is more effective when the target knows he's being boycotted.

                              When I used to work in the Wall Street area of NYC, there was an Italian lunch place that was very popular, near Goldman Sachs. Decent food. But the guy (owner, I think) was horrible. I could (and did) live with him being rude to me. I could roll my eyes and get over it. But one day I saw him dress down the poor fellow who was serving me. He was so abusive that I couldn't help but yell back at him. I told him you can't treat people like that and I wasn't coming back and I was going to tell all my colleagues not to come back. I just hope I didn't get the server into trouble.

                              The point is, you just have to decide how much rudeness you can take. It's hard when sources of good food are scarce. Luckily, I didn't have that problem.

                              It's also worth trying to elicit a smile or some conversation out of a sourpuss. I usually find that I can break the ice with a joke or a question or a compliment.

                              1. I do not see the level of rudeness in the OP that would stop me from going to a resto. He may be deep in thought, an introvert, or just is not a people-person.

                                If the chef is a jerk or rude at the resto that's a different story. I eould never subject myself and my company to a less than relaxing, enjoyable meal knowing the chef may disrupt. If the chef has an issue w any emploee, take it our of earshot of the customers. Not my issue and I have no interest in the resto employee relationship.

                                Although I like the chef wondering the dining room to say hello, if he is not comfortable in this role I would rather him stay in the kitchen and oversee the cooking. I am there for the food, not to make a new friend.

                                1. There is a fairly popular and well-known Mexican restaurant where the chef/owner and his family take all the tips from his (mostly illegal) staff. For the reason alone, I will never step foot in that place again, no matter how good the margherita.

                                  1. No way - food needs o be prepared by kind people in a loving environment free from negativity!

                                    1. It just sounds like he's not much of a people person. As long as he makes good food that's all I care about. One of the chefs at a restaurant I love can be a little moody, but he makes the best food I've ever had and I wouldn't hesitate to go there just because he doesn't have the best people skills.

                                      Also, when he's at the market, maybe he feels like he's not 'on the clock' and doesn't have to be fake and nicey like he might have to be at work for customers.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: yumcha

                                        if this guy is only pretending to be nice because i'm giving him my money, then i'd rather spend my money somewhere where the restaurant actually cares if i'm enjoying myself. he needs my patronage more than i need his.

                                      2. I would not go back to a place if I knew that the staff had to suffer abuse at the hands of the owner.

                                        I liked the comment about how some people are not morning people and are just very off in the morning.

                                        Other than that, has anyone wondered about Gordon Ramsay's following, especially since you have seen his reputatin through his show? Or the Soup Guy in NYC? Not a happy go lucky guy but still, there is a following.

                                        It is all relative.

                                        1. Food for me is 'like water for chocolate'
                                          Who'd want to eat food from a poisonous personality?

                                          1. Here is my restaurant jerk story: once when a niece and nephew were visiting I (female) called an Eastern European restaurant (Little Bucharest, in Chicago) to make a dinner reservation and was told there were no tables available. Two seconds later our nephew (male) called and immediately received a reservation. When we got there the oily owner kept oozing around our table making comments about the waitress' breasts. After dinner he brought complimentary liqueurs and offered them only to the men in our party. We never went back. The restaurant soon changed hands; I wonder why this guy's business didn't succeed.

                                            1. probably not. especially if he/she directs that jack-assery to his/her employees. something tells me that if this guy is flat out rude to the smiling employees who work at the market he patronizes on a daily basis, then he's probably not much fun to work for in a high-stress environment like a restaurant.

                                              this thread makes me think specifically of a pretty well-known chef/owner here in boston. former co-workers of mine who have worked at his restaurants have had several issues ranging from not getting paid (the payroll $ was financing his drug habit instead), to getting fired because they happened to be in the path of his post-all night bender tirade, to having a one day notice that they no longer have a job because the restaurant is closing. he's C.O.D. with the majority of his vendors because of his history of non-payment. apparently he's a very talented chef, but i will never find out for myself because i will never step foot in his restaurant.

                                              1. If I knew the chef or the owner of a place was a jerk, rude to people etc. I wouldn't go to the place. But I would basically take this action based on personal experience, or the word of someone I trust... not reading about it on the web or other hearsay. Why support a person who's disrespectful to others?

                                                The good thing is that I've found it's very rare to find a great place where the people running it are jerks. Why? Cause it would typically be reflected in their operation. Same thing with wine. Those that make great wines are typically great people. Food and wine is very much all about "people".

                                                1. We have a n uber-ass-chef in my town too. Big ego, bigger attitude. I heard of him before I ever met him.
                                                  Now he is a client of mine and I know him in a different light. Actually he's quite nice.
                                                  Let's hope sometimes they have good days too.

                                                  1. His being a plain old jack-ass would not keep me from eating
                                                    at his place. If he were a neo-Nazi or a wife beater, then I wouldn't.

                                                    Does he keep his staff happy? If there is little turnover
                                                    he may actually be OK.