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BO from table nearby

We went out for a casual, though not low end, dinner last night and about three quarters through, the table next to us turned over and a couple was seated. About two seconds later, I noted a really powerful, foul whif of BO. The whif turned into an oppressive cloud that quickly filled the space - heads were turning, the waitress looked uncomfortable...really, really bad.

Needless to say, it was just gross. There was no way to enjoy, let alone stomach, the rest of our meal, so we had the rest boxed up, I downed my wine, and we made like a banana and split.

But I still feel a bit incredulous about this whole scenario. How the heck is it that a person can carry such a powerful odor and not know it? How did his DC (well, in fairness I guess it could have been her stinking up the place) not manage to say "honey, you need a bath and some deordorant before we go out"?

Anyone else ever have this experience? What does one do in a situation like this, as a patron or proprietor?

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  1. There are few things more offensive than body odor. Talk about an appetite suppressant.

    1. If the restaurant is large enough to move out of the aroma field that would be the easiest, but I think the restaurant should reseat the offensive group in a remote area. I had this happen but it was someone with a massively heavy cloud of perfume, we requested another table immediately.

      1. bleck! that's just awful, how does their DC even handle it? I feel the same way about perfume and cologne. I just can't handle it.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Foodnerds

          I have breathing problems and overwhelming perfume will make me wheeze. I think that the hostess, or whomever seats a person with BO, or heavy perfume, should really take care to put them in an area with either good ventilation, or off the beaten path!

          Off topic: what is a DC?

          1. re: Foodnerds

            I've written about this on Chow before only to have my post pulled. I can't abide strong perfumes or colognes while I'm eating either and do wish there were a delicate way to handle this scenario. I've had quite a few meals ruined when other aromatic patrons have been seated next to me.

          2. I am one of those people with a sensitive nose. Bad odors go straight from my nose to my stomach, and it's hard for me to keep from gagging when I smell something terrible, and BO is one of them.
            A friend, also with the same type of nose, had this same experience at a nice Italian restaurant. She, her boyfriend, and another couple went to a nice, upscale Italian restaurant in out town. Appetizers were ordered and brought out by the waiter. My friend said when the waiter reached across the table the smell made her eyes water. She said it smelled like he had not bathed in years. She couldn't eat the appetizer, and by the time the entrees were served, could not eat anything at all. She said her stomach was churning, and she had to keep a napkin to her mouth when he came by. (in addition to holding her breath). She was seriously afraid of throwing up at the table. Her boyfriend just came back from serving in Afganistan, where sanitary conditions are dismal, so he is oblivious to bad smells. The other couple said he smelled, but admitted that neither of them had a great sense of smell.
            My friend said she could not get out of the restaurant fast enough, and took her meal home. The rest of the night she ate nothing. She called me to ask how I would handle such a situation. I wondered if she should call the restaurant and explain what had happened the night before with the smelly waiter. She elected not to do anything, but absolutely refuses to ever go back to the restaurant. Because of this, I also have turned down all attempts to try this newer restaurant. Too many other nice places to try!

            6 Replies
            1. re: mschow

              When the offender is one who is waiting on your table, I think it's not only permissible to report that to management, it's necessary. I'd feel the same way if the waitperson were doused in cologne or smelled from cigarette smoke. Any odors that would detract from your dining experience are out of line, and the restaurant has a responsibility to make sure they're dealt with.

              1. re: CindyJ

                Absolutely. This should be reported to management immediately. Yes, they work in a hot, hectic environment, but Body Odor that bad is unacceptable for waitstaff. It isn't just a comfort issue but a health issue.

                1. re: Aimi

                  How is body odor on a server a health issue?

                  1. re: KTinNYC

                    I think it could be health issue because if the waiter is that oblivious to his personal hygiene, then he could be oblivious to other hygienic practices, like not washing his hands etc.

                    1. re: HungryRubia

                      Not washing of hands is a health issue, not body odor. It is quite a leap to assume because someone doesn't use deodorant s/he also doesn't wash their hands.

                      1. re: HungryRubia

                        Exactly. It wasn't just that he wasn't using deodorant -
                        "She said it smelled like he had not bathed in years."
                        That is clearly a hygiene issue. It is not a great leap at all to think that someone who doesn't bathe might not be washing their hands.

              2. Asked to be moved or leave and only pay for what you have eaten.

                What bugs the heck out of jfood is when the server has his "butt break" and then comes back smelling like an ashtray. That is major buzz kill.

                1 Reply
                1. re: jfood

                  uugh. i hate that. especially when the odor is not really from the server's clothing, it's from their dominant *hand* and is sniffed by the customer when the server is clearing dishes or setting down new items/beverages etc.--because that of course means they did not wash their *hands* when re-entering the kitchen from their cig break, which means they don't have much/any regard for cross-contamination, and perhaps they don't wash their hands after a lavatory break either. ***eeeeeeewwww*** total buzzkill Jfood, agreed.