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Mar 20, 2007 11:39 AM

Pour it like you hate the owner

Last night a member of our group overrode one of our restaurant picks for dinner because
he despised the owner - he doesn't really know him personally, just by reputation through friends (supposedly not the nicest guy). This is a long-standing NYC place that has great food and good service.

ANOTHER pick was also overrode because one of our group "on more than once occasion" had witnessed the general manager of this establishment publicly dressing down an employee on the sidewalk in front of the people sitting on the patio (with words like "You're an effing idiot"). This place is also an NYC institution and the GM has been in her position for years. The food is definitely good, service is eh.

I've seen the threads asking how important service is and whether that's enough to keep you coming back when the other parts aren't as thrilling. My question is, do CHers ever withhold their support of a place for a reason like disliking the people who manage or own it despite how good the rest of it may be?

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  1. I do. If I know the people who own/run the place to be not nice and/or that they treat people poorly, I'm not going to patronize the establishment. It falls under the "life is too short" rule for me; there are places where food is good and service is excellent and the people who own the places or run the places are also decent and treat their employees well, so I'll go to one of those.

    As a practical matter as a part of a group, its also not worth it to me to push a friend or group member on the point because I feel like if we were to go to such a place, if anything untoward happened, you're like to have that group member immediately say "see!" and that would just be annoying.

    1. Totally. If I know the owner/chef/manager is a jerk (I've worked in food service for years, word gets around) then I am definitely reluctant to go to the restaurant.

      1. Years ago, we had a regular place we went to every couple of weeks or so. One night we had 8:00 reservations for 10 people. We got there about 7:45 or so and they said for us to have a drink at the bar and our table would be ready shortly. Long story short, it was 9:30 before we were seated and 10 before we saw any food of any kind (bread, etc.) and when Dh addressed the issue with the owner, he said it was too bad for us that was the nature of the restaurant business. We have not been back and will not be back unless the place changes ownership.

        5 Replies
        1. re: Janet from Richmond

          Please tell me you got up and walked out of there.

          1. re: bryan

            I was thinking the same thing, if managers/owners respond like that, it tells you about the whole place. I've also never understood waiting that long, especially when you have a reservation. Someone has a place you can go and order up some pizza or chinese take out or _something.

            1. re: ccbweb

              We did not walk out (though we should have) because of the people involved and in hindsight we definitely should have.

              1. re: Janet from Richmond

       is hard when you're in the moment. You always end up thinking "oh, it'll only be 10 more minutes."

                There is little worse to me than having to wait a long time for a reserved table. I get that turnover is hard to judge all the time and the restaurant might get thrown a curveball by a particular table.....but sheesh.

                1. re: Janet from Richmond

                  Happened to me 20 years ago in NYC at Il Mulino. The maitre d'/manager was such a jerk, "It will only be a few more minutes." 7:00 reso with 9:30 seated. I do not care how good the food is, no way i am going back there and have nothing good to say to friends about this place. We got suckered into staying.

          2. Oh definitely. Ruth Reichl told one of her experience in her book about a place where the manager was very rude to the workers there who don't speak English well. I have a friend who told me about her experience with a very well reviewed local restauarnt where she felt she was not respected because of her ethnicity. I have high trust in this friend, and as a result have never gone to this restaurant.

            1 Reply
            1. re: PeterL

              When I was bussing tables in a restaurant near Lincoln Center in college, I was young, good looking, clean cut white guy, (and still am dammit!) but a busser (and a bad one) none the less, got every single random customer questions about the menu, while experienced servers, and clearly so, but not so Iowa looking, kept getting yelled at for water and bread. It made me feel really uncomfortable and I didn't stay there long.

            2. After working in food service for many years, I have a lot of patience with servers, seating delays, mistakes in my order, etc. What I have no patience for is rude people. If I know the owners of a restaurant to be mean to their staff or if I or someone I know well has had a bad run in with him/her, I will not patronize their business. You can always ask for a different section if there's a server you don't like. You can't replace management.