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"Waiters can and do spit in people's food ..."


The writer of the blog Waiter Rant has been revealed, and there was an article about it.


I got upset with Lesson No. 1 -- "Waiters can and do spit in people's food ..."

There was a discussion on the boards over the weekend that got deleted where one of the posters said that if you don't tip well, expect the waitstaff to spit in your food. I think what got a lot of people incensed was that the poster's handle implied that he/she is in the service industry. And judging from the link that was on his/her My Chow (not a smart move), he/she used to be a server who's been "scarred for life". It probably got deleted because it was getting pretty heated, and I wouldn't be surprised if the poster got a few pieces of hate mail over the weekend. So I'm hoping that the mods don't delete this as I'm not naming any names, and I'm hoping the other posters would also refrain from mentioning his/her name and try to keep this discussion civil. I think this is a topic that is worthy of discussion.

It really bothered me that some people would have the gall to engage in this type of behavior. Will it increase their tips? No, as customers are not aware that this is being done. It fails to accomplish anything but only to make the immature server temporarily feel better. And then I started to think about the other behaviors servers can engage in such as stepping on the food, urinating on the food (it's happened recently), etc. This behavior could be potentially harmful to those that are immune-compromised. It's unethical, irresponsible and downright criminal. And please don't respond with tipping 10% is unethical as well -- it's not the same, and we all know it.

I'm sure a lot of people have had this paranoid thought in the back of his/her minds at one point. We then read tons of stories about how that it's just a myth and it just doesn't happen. And then we read posts from the poster that I've mentioned earlier and the article that I liked to above and my wheels start turning. As I don't undertip, I'm pretty sure that the waitstaff won't spit in my food for that reason. But then I start wondering if you've got people who would spit in my food because of various other reasons like they don't like Asians, they don't like what I'm wearing, I send back food because it's not cooked properly, etc. Didn't an employee at KFC spit and urinate in somebody's food because he was a cop? The kicker is that the food was also served to his wife and kids. The kids were the ones who got sick from the food.

Before I receive the onslaught of responses from people in the service industry that say that this rarely happens, I understand that this behavior is probably the minority of servers. But I'm still not happy reading about these stories. I hope those who engage in this behavior rethink their actions, and I hope those of you who are customers that undertip rethink your actions as well.

  1. He's shown pouring Metamucil in food? Is this an incentive to buy his book?

    Um. Not.

    3 Replies
    1. re: dolores

      Have you read any of his blog? He's a terrific writer. And about the spitting on or doing anything else gross to people's food? Having waited tables for 8+ years, I saw it occasionally. Definitely.

      1. re: southernitalian

        I have read the Waiter Rant blog off and on for awhile now and I agree that the author is often a funny and perceptive author. I was thinking about ordering his book on amazon.com but a couple of concerns have made me reconsider. First, is the book new material or is it simply a regurgitation of the blog entries? Second, the photo in the nypost story linked above really bothered me. I know its the post, and I also realize that the photographer or writer or some publicist or publishing honk may have suggested the picture. But I find it offensive. If the point of the blog and the book is to elevate the discussion of the server-patron relationship, that photo is a definite sellout to sensationalism.

        I guess I'll delay my purchase until the seconds are selling on amazon partner sites for 99 cents plus shipping. And in the meantime, once again I will recommend "Waiting" by Debra Ginsberg.

        1. re: nosh

          I totally agree with you. As much as I love his writing, there's no point in buying the book if it's just a compilation of his blog. And it is a stupid photo.

    2. pardon me for sounding dumb, but you don't know how much someone tips until AFTER they have eaten, so it sounds like that statement must only apply to people who have been at a particular establishment for a long time and in which the establishment has a cadre of "regulars" or else how would this work?

      2 Replies
      1. re: rockandroller1

        Yes, this is in reference to people who come back to an establishment the second time.

        1. re: rockandroller1

          Unfortunately I've been out with friends who didn't tip well and have ended up slipping my servers twenties on one of my trips 'to the ladies room'... hopefully that helps avoid future extra ingredients in our meals! Geez, after reading this thread I'm beginning to think that we should go back to tipping before being served like in the olden days T.I.P.S. = To Insure Prompt Service!

        2. I have been in the service industry over twenty years and I have never seen anyone do this. Plus, it makes no sense, how can you spit in someone's food after you get the tip? Unless they come back, they are done with their meal and leaving by the time you see what the tip is. Most servers (if they know someone is a poor tipper from previous visits) just give minimal service for a minimal tip (and I am talking 12% or below not 15)

          11 Replies
          1. re: Missmoo

            While the amount of tip is not known until after the dining experience. there is a myriad of behaviors that can really piss a waiter off, even before they are seated at a table.( ie. Get the owner, I am a personal friend of his, I want THAT table in the window, I don't have a reservation and I want to be seated now, etc....)

            1. re: MattInNJ

              That's why I personally *never* send anything back no matter how much I don't like the food.

              1. re: jgg13

                Yes- I've heard other people say that too and then add on "because you don't know what the server could do to your food!" It's like people are held hostage in fear of the server spitting or doing something else unmentionable to the food, and I find it unacceptable. I've had several server friends who admitted to spitting/licking/dropping food, so I don't doubt that it happens. These people did generally work in chain establishments where employees were typically students who didn't tend to stay on very long, but it was a disturbing trend. I worked at a high-end resort and you wouldn't believe what happened to some of that room service food. I've never ordered room service since!

                1. re: queencru

                  Kind of like how servers are held hostage w/ the threat of getting stiffed. I suppose it levels the playing field in a twisted sort of way.

                  1. re: lynnlato

                    Depends on what level you're operating.

                    1. re: lynnlato

                      Servers sign onto that possibility. A customer shouldn't have to sign on for getting his food spit in just because he goes to a chain restaurant and sends his steak back for being overdone.

                      1. re: queencru

                        I agree that no one should fear getting their food spit in - that's barbaric and foul and in most states a crime.

                        I also don't condone the behavior of a server OR a diner who would use threats and intimidation (implied or spoken) to get their way. I don't think servers should expect to be stiffed - that's just wrong too.

                        1. re: lynnlato

                          Thank you for writing what I would have so I don't have to, lynnlato.

                          1. re: diablo

                            Ditto. Why hasn't jfood chimed in to this?

                2. re: MattInNJ

                  Exactly! You must be a Topflight a**hole if you piss off your server that bad before the tip is even given.

                3. re: Missmoo

                  i too have never seen this in my 18 years & counting, i work only at indies where everyone has some pride in the food. i have heard of this happening in chain restos, but never, ever for poor tipping. this kind of horrendous revenge-type stuff (which i believe happens, but very, very, very rarely) only makes sense in situations where a customer totally and completely power-trips and humiliates a server who is expected to take abuse and possibly a cheap grope from a sleazy customer with a smile. hooters etc type places-- and spit in the food is not anything that anybody but the absolute worst jerks on the planet would have to worry about. apart from the most jaded chain resto drones (and an *extremely* tiny percentage of *them*), pretty much everyone else has some pride and doesn't need to stoop to such disgusting behavior. i agree with Missmoo that servers who are aware of a poor tipper tend to merely expend the minimum energy on that person's service, not engage in losing their cool over it and messing around with the person's food. they put their energy into serving their good customers, not being negative, as being negative has a huge (negative) impact on their overall tips.

                4. I got a dirty cup once as a teenage when we were being dumb at a steakhouse. I know it was dirty because there was still lipstick on it. Who knows what else they did to my steak. Now I rarely dine out because I don't trust any place where the food is not prepared in front of me.

                  20 Replies
                  1. re: The_Whistler

                    Lipstick is notorious for being difficult to remove. It may have been missed after it came out of the dishwasher.

                    1. re: Missmoo

                      yeah--glasses often come out of the dishwasher with lipstick marks still on them. service staff should look at them closely, but sometimes they don't. doesn't mean they weren't washed.

                      1. re: nc213

                        That's encouraging to hear.

                        1. re: mrbozo

                          What, you've never had that happen on a coffee cup run through the dishwasher at home? All of my travel mugs are permanently stained due to lipstick, so much so that my husband has divided up the mugs into "his" and "hers".

                          1. re: Suzy Q

                            I certainly wouldn't serve coffee in those cups to guests, especially ones who are paying.

                            1. re: mrbozo

                              Right, but the point is that they don't intentionally use them. A restaurant can easily go through 1000+ pieces of glassware a night. It's impossible to catch every smudge of lipstick every time. It's been sanitized by both heat and chemicals.

                              1. re: pollymerase

                                Sheer coincident that I got one of those cups I suppose.

                                1. re: pollymerase

                                  They can intentionally make sure they don't use them. Allowing such glassware to arrive at a table hardly makes a good impression.

                                  There is such a thing as quality control and the better restaurants (any type of business) practice it. Dining out is not just about the food but also ambience, service and spotless dishes and cutlery. Unless of course the establishment just doesn't care ...

                                  1. re: mrbozo

                                    Even the restaurants of the highest caliber with the happiest, most efficient and most professional employees make a mistake every once in a blue moon, whether through negligence or otherwise. Unless you are willing to admit that they should be placed in an impossibly high standard or that you yourself are the very model of perfection then it is somewhat unrealistic...

                                    One lipstick-stained glass does not a horrible restaurant make.

                                    1. re: Blueicus

                                      What's wrong with high standards? If anything, standards are too low (and not just vis-a-vis spotless glassware). As the venerable American philosopher John Lee Hooker said, "Now for the best. Later for the garbage."

                                      One lipstick stained glass can nip a business deal in the bud or derail a date with a desired mate.

                                      1. re: mrbozo

                                        There's one thing to have expectations and to do one's best to meet or exceed them and another to crucify somebody or have it destroy your life when those expectations aren't quite met.

                                        You could say there are many things in life in which one's standards should go up.

                                        1. re: Blueicus

                                          And I do. It's the kind of guy I am. Denny Crane.

                          2. re: nc213

                            Lipstick is horrible to remove. All of my wine glasses are done by hand, after a meal. I always soak the first wine course glasses by 200%, an scrub like heck, to remove the lipstick. Yes, it looks nice on the ladies, but it's heck on the beverage containers.

                            To me, it's a whisper to the server, and a fresh cup/glass/whatever, is always brought. It is never a big deal, and I have yet to be refused. Still, what happens behind the kitchen doors, is up to them.

                            On that respect, I had the opportunity to dine with the head of Ritz Carlton, just after they won their first Malcom Baldridge Award for quality service. He left me with one sentence on how his organization won this award (I think they now have five), "We look upon ourselves as ladies and gentlemen, serving ladies and gentlemen." I have never forgotten his words. I only hope that more restauranteurs (and inn keepers) heed those words. It makes for a much better situation.


                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                              That catches the spirit of what I've been saying better than I've said it. Thanks.

                              1. re: mrbozo

                                I only wish that I had said it. However, the impression was left, and I have borrowed on it, in many phases of my business and in my life. I wish I could give full attribution, to the CEO, but this was decades ago, and my grey-matter is not what it once was. Still, I recalled the words, and the setting, and the gentleman's position in that corporation. The best I can do now.


                              2. re: Bill Hunt

                                >>We look upon ourselves as ladies and gentlemen, serving ladies and gentlemen."

                                Bill Hunt, good adage.

                                Hmmm, let's see.

                                I said: or as I noted, treat others as you want to be treated.

                                And yet there are dining patrons and restaurant managers and servers who don't live by this adage.

                                1. re: dolores


                                  All too many, in my humble opinion and on both sides of the dining table.

                                  That is why, if I have a problem, I work up the chain of command, and try not to put anyone in the middle. If the server cannot handle my problem, we move upwards and quietly. My situation, whatever it is, should not be known to the other diners, even at my table. It is between me, and whomever I need to speak with. Ninety percent of my problems are handled at the first level. The rest are still done in private with the next level, and so on, and so on. I have yet to have a dining problem, that could not be resolved and most often in a totally equitible way for both, the diner and the establishment. I expect a great deal, am ready to pay for it, and anticipate that the establishment can agree with me on this.

                                  Yes, a good server "might" have spotted something amiss, but if they cannot correct it, then I talk to the chef, or the manager. Some establishments empower their staff, more than others.

                                  Back to the Ritz Carlton episode. Another comment, made to me at that diner was that all employees were empowered to fix any guest's problem - without question. I try to ascribe to that philosophy, as well. Matter of fact, my wife took those words to heart, as well, and she's over 5,000 employees in the healthcare field. She learned that any problem needs to be addressed, and quickly. If the employee cannot do so, they are free to move the problem up to the next level and get it handled.

                                  Some restaurants are micro-managed, and it shows. Train the entire staff, and make them feel responsible for the enjoyment of all patrons.

                                  OTOH, too many patrons do feel a sense of "entitlement," as mentioned in other replies. That is just not a good attitude. I hope that no server, busser, chef, GM, etc., ever feels that I have that attitude. Yes, it's about my enjoyment, but one needs to conduct themselves with comportment, at all times - except maybe when dealing with government bureaucrats , but that is another story, and not fit for CH.


                                2. re: Bill Hunt

                                  My DH used to sell dishwasher systems to restaurants, so if we got a cup with lipstick, or spotty flatware, he would ask them to bring us replacements, and then go the next day or so to either check their machines (if it was one his company had provided) or to get them to upgrade to a better system. That really is an equipment malfunction. Should not happen if the machine is in good working order.

                                  1. re: danhole

                                    Man, what a great rep for that company, and probably a great salesman, should the equipment NOT be his.

                                    Very interesting - thanks for sharing that,


                                3. re: nc213

                                  As a bartender I was trained ALWAYS wipe every glass to remove lipstick stains the minute you open teh dishwasher,especially wine glasses.

                                  Lipstick has a petroleum base, which makes it near impossible to remove with just a dishwashing... you need elbow grease.

                            2. I worked in the industry for a while, and I do think that these stories are incredibly rare, maybe dramatized, and generally isolated to places like KFC/Roadhouse/etc (just generalizing that these places have high turnover, tend to hire people who have little to no experience in the industry, pay them very little, and are therefore more at risk of having these types of incidents).

                              I also would like to say that, as MattinNJ points out, it's not so much the lack of tipping that causes waitstaff to be angered and curse a patron's food (more common) or spit on it (less common) - it's the patron's treatment of waitstaff. While the majority of customers are polite and courteous, there are some who act outrageously rude. I have had customers at a high-end restaurant make lewd sexual comments (even before their drinks were served!), rudely and loudly demand to have something (food sent back, food taken off their bill, be re-seated numerous times...), yell "girl - come here" (or some variation) across a crowded dining room, allow their children to smear food on the tablecloth and chairs and then demand I clean it up and change it before the next course, and on and on...

                              Now, I have no problem doing any of these things (well...the sexual comments are never acceptable) if a customer asks politely. It's REALLY not that hard to say "You know what...this steak is overcooked. Could you ask the kitchen to make another?", and that's no big deal. But when someone says "Girl. This is terrible. How can this be served here? You've totally overcooked it. Get me another one and make sure it's medium-rare. That's M-E-D-I-U-M R-A-R-E - get it right this time" it really makes me want to step on their steak. Not that I ever did, but seriously...it makes you think evil thoughts to be treated that way.

                              Obviously, I could vent about this for hours. But what I'm really saying is just be decent. If you are a customer, take the time to understand that waitstaff typically work hard and deserve to be treated politely. And if you do this, you probably won't be subjected to anyone spitting in your food, or even cursing you behind kitchen doors.

                              1. I recall reading an article in The Charlotte Observer couple of years ago about an officer who arrested some guy for spitting in the officer's coffee. I don't remember the specifics but when I tried to find the article on google I had many hits for incidents that happened in other cities.

                                I worked in the biz for many years and never once saw it happen. We used to joke around in the back though, saying "remember people, we have control over what goes in your mouth"... just blowing off steam.

                                1. Has anyone under 30 years of age read George Orwell's "Down and Out in Paris and London"? Given today's generally malicious environment why would this suggestion surprise anyone? Slaves get back at their masters however they can. You can look it up. I'm not saying that it's right, but it's far from being earth-shattering.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: mrbozo

                                    Yes. A good, quick read. The fact that the book is based on Orwell's real experiences is frightening. I assume the service industry on that side of the pond has become more civilized in the past seventy years.

                                    1. re: mrbozo

                                      I was wondering if someone was going to mention this book, which is one of my favourites of Orwell (not that he wrote much I didn't like, but I digress..). It is available on-line, for free (as in beer) at "www.george-orwell.org".

                                    2. I would also like to add that in my years of waiting tables/bar tending/catering I never saw anyone spit in someones food, ever.

                                      13 Replies
                                      1. re: MattInNJ

                                        I'm with Lynn and Matt. I worked FOH for 15 years and never saw it happen, nor heard a credible tale of it happening.
                                        (I know that it can, and probably has, but I believe it's exceedingly rare.)

                                        1. re: nc213

                                          A big lipsticky smooch for you.

                                          At what level of restaurant were you working at? I take it you worked under people you at least respected. We obviously cannot assume that this experience is common throughout the industry.

                                          1. re: mrbozo

                                            I worked at places that ranged from corporate chains to family-owned neighborhood restos to high end places (where I spent most of my time).

                                            my respect for those who I worked under (I think you mean management) ranged. Some of the worst, most foolish, most incompetent managers were at the highest end places, as were some of the best.

                                            The same went for guests. Most good, some wonderful, many, many horrible. The ratios were similar for those ordering a $35 steak and those ordering a $7 burger.

                                            I can only speak to my experience, but that did include 15 years, 10 restaurants in four states, and a range of places. honestly, it's a lot of experience. and I do think it's common throughout the industry. Most people who serve work hard and are decent people. Decent people don't spit in people's food.

                                            1. re: nc213

                                              My resto background is extremely similar to nc213's and I never ever saw anything like this either. We were too busy trying to get everyone served, keep them all happy and hopefully go home with their money in our pockets. Agree too that most servers are decent people and decent people wouldn't do anything like that.

                                              1. re: GretchenS

                                                although it occurs to me that I *did* once spill a Bloody Mary on someone who had made everyone's night a living hell... but I was young and as Karl S says, my character was in formation. Sheesh, I hadn't thought about that in years.

                                                1. re: GretchenS

                                                  An accidentally tipped drink tray is a server's' best ally to the obnoxious patron.

                                                  1. re: The Ranger

                                                    it seems a bit surprising people would be more likely
                                                    to restort to spilling a drink on somebody they wanted
                                                    to "punish" [which would presumably generate blowback
                                                    to them, both from the customer [tip lower] and possibly
                                                    from their line managment], rather than resorting to
                                                    anonymous/stealthy techniques.

                                                  2. re: GretchenS

                                                    gosh sometimes the temptation is just too strong, when you are dealing with a real a-hole who's treating you like crap & has an entitled attitude. gosh, i'm. . . *so* sorry about that sir, all over your nice suit and everything!!!

                                                    bodily fluids in the food though, is a line that 99.9something percent of servers won't cross. that's just gross.

                                                    1. re: soupkitten

                                                      To plagiarizer a comedian, "Oops..."

                                                      As far as adjusting ingredients in food, I'll agree with you that it's 99.9something percent that don't (and add that the veryveryvery few that will are mental.) :)

                                                      1. re: soupkitten

                                                        I agree totally with this. I am even "guilty" of a few spills in my years. I used that word in quotes because those people that got the business deserved it, probably more.

                                                        1. re: MattInNJ

                                                          they may have deserved it, and you may have deserved to not be employed anymore.....

                                                          1. re: thew

                                                            Yeah, oh well, never got fired and they ended up with crap on them. Never going back to that industry, I'll put that in the win column. Game Set. Matt

                                            2. re: MattInNJ

                                              I never saw anyone do it to a customer's meal, but at one steakhouse I worked at, one cook hated one manager. When the manager would order lunch, Steve would smile and say "Sure", and throw a steak on the grill. Once the manager sat down with his salad, Steve would take the steak off the grill, throw it on the (exceedingly dirty) floor, stamp on it a few times, and then put it back on the grill. The manager would invariably complain about the taste, and Steve would feign ignorance. We all thought this to be quite hilarious.

                                            3. I have seen it happen, not very often but once or twice.

                                              I have also seen cooks in the back of the house who didn't care about their jobs pick-up and serve food that had fallen on the floor. But when you are the only gringo on the line you keep your mouth shut, and keep working.

                                              5 Replies
                                              1. re: swsidejim

                                                In 20 + years of hashslinging in better joints, I never saw a waiter or busser do this, although I've been tempted. I did see a cook who once rubbed a steak on his balls (ever so gently) before sending it out for the 4th time to a particularly obnoxious guest. Worst I ever did was pour someone regular coffee for decaf bcuz I hated them ;)

                                                1. re: adamshoe

                                                  Hopefully they didn't have health problems that made it a necessity for them to drink decaf.

                                                2. re: swsidejim

                                                  One of my old favorite sayings: "Why would you piss off the person who's going to be alone with your food?"

                                                  1. re: adamshoe

                                                    A worthy adage, but from the sound of some of these posts, from food service personnel, it sounds like a patron might do that, without ever intending to, or knowing that they have.

                                                    Maybe this is one reason that I tend to frequent the same high-end spots, when in town. We dine there often, and also see many of the staff at large, catered events. We tip well, based on the level of service, which is most often great. If they wish to “punish” us, then it is beyond our control Perhaps, I’m paranoid, or maybe it’s that I have great tastes, and enjoy excellent service. Still, the results are the same. I always treat the serving staff, the sommelier and the chef, as I wish to be treated. If something is amiss, we discuss this away from the table and in hushed tones. No one else ever needs to know that there was any problem. It’s between me, and them, and maybe the kitchen.

                                                    Now, I do not avoid Outback, because I think their servers might not be ladies and gentlemen, but rather that I am not a fan of their fare, regardless of the cost.


                                                    1. re: adamshoe

                                                      Suggestion for those that can't get these horrible thoughts out of their minds if going out to eat. Watch the movie "Waiting". Happened to be on at a friend's house while ago. Funny--albeit sometimes gross movie, but has some truths to the industry. Having GMed restos for a number of years, I have NEVER seen this done. (Although I know it happens.) I like to think I am very observant of my kitchen, and also feel that those of you who have seen some of these things done--you should've reported it. That's almost as bad as the act itself. Maybe that person getting fired a few times will rethink their retribution process--or better yet, get out of the industry all together.

                                                  2. I've seen waiters do much, much worse than spit in the food. It's had nothing to do with tipping and everything to do with obnoxious customers. I don't want to give away too much, since you never know who reads these things, but I've seen bodily fluids/matter at a few different places (none of which are chains and all are pricey+).

                                                    12 Replies
                                                    1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                      I think that this points to a total lack of class on the part of these employees. Now, I do not doubt your comments, but these folk should be sitting on a street corner with a sign, "Will serve your meal for food. God bless." OTOH, I think that they would degrade the homeless popuulation. Some folk are just not "well bred." Class is something that one develops with good parenting, worthwhile life experiences and maybe a few good genes in the process. One cannot buy it, and after a dozen, or so years, is not likely to develop it. You have it, or you do not. Unfortunately, too many will never come close to it.



                                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                        Bill, I totally agree with everything you've said.

                                                        However, there are some real a&&hole customers who get off on belittling waiters for no reason. Do they deserve to have their food tampered with? No, of course not. Sometimes I've been really tempted, though. ;)

                                                        1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                          I concur. There are FAR too many. Their parents should have done a better job at raising them. The people in their environment should have taken them aside for a lesson in class.

                                                          I am so glad that I am not in a profession that has to deal with the general public. I also get to pick my clients to eliminate this type of client.

                                                          I've had far more meals ruined by other patrons, than all of the restaurants in my life. Most of these miscreants do not belong in a public dining establishment, or inn, or almost anywhere. Unfortunately too many of us, whether diners, or service staff, have to endure them, all too often.

                                                          A lot goes back to the “ladies and gentlemen, serving ladies and gentlemen.” That’s why I brought those words up. Whether a patron, a busser, a server, the sommelier, the chef, or otherwise, everyone should ascribe to those words.

                                                          Once, in the world, it was considered to be a trait of the very poor, and “low-class.” I do not know when that changed, but I find all too many, in a position of wealth and power, behaving badly. Maybe it was always that way, but those who chronicled history, glossed over the indiscretions, because of imagined “class.”


                                                          1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                            BH, what is classy about this book? The OP started on the premise of a line right out of the pages: "waiters can & do spit in people's food."

                                                            There should be no agrument that treating people as you would like to be treated during food service is preferable...and working up the chain of command when a problem occurs is a lovely idea (altho not always possible). BUT-

                                                            This book plays on diners fears..playing to the attention such headlines will get. I don't see a correlation btwn how one should behave (be it resto customer or staff) & the behavior this "author" illustrates.

                                                            1. re: HillJ

                                                              Until this can be confirmed, all we know is that this line comes from the New York Post. I'm not surprised that they would play on diner's fears to sell an article about the book. Is the book doing that? Can someone who has read it weigh in?

                                                              1. re: Lizard


                                                                The author has added comments to his own book review. Getting paid for detailing bad behavior irks me. Waiter has been compared to David Sedaris...now that's some publicity train if I ever saw one!

                                                                1. re: Lizard

                                                                  Lizard, I am curious about the validity of the veracity of what the Waiter puts forth. His blog was interesting, but his book appears to be only sensationalism.

                                                                2. re: HillJ

                                                                  My comment was to the post by invinotheresverde, as per the indentation. I was not commenting on the book, there, as I have not read it. I realize that it was the topic of the thread, but there have been a few tangents develop, that are related to the general subject, though might not directly apply to the mentioned book.


                                                                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                    Bill, at this point it doesn't matter what is written in the book. There have been enough posts here confirming what Steve revealed to keep people from ever going to a restaurant or fast food place again. But we take our lives in our hands and go anyway.

                                                                    I'm curious why, when I asked this question many moons ago, I was told 'oh no that is only an urban legend'? Turns out it wasn't.

                                                                    Oh well.

                                                                    1. re: dolores


                                                                      My guess is that either there was enough marketing of the book, or that a certain amount of validation was added with the referenced article.

                                                                      It's like the blurb, that one often sees in advertising, "As seen on TV... "

                                                                      Until it appears on YouTube, some folk would never believe that something has happened. [Grin]

                                                                      Some of what is mentioned, appears in snippets in the movie, "Fight Club." Brad Pitt's character seems to have a penchant for doing things like that.


                                                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                        There are some posters here for whom I've developed a great deal of respect, but I am dissapointed by the fact that they feel eligible to weigh in on a book (and in some cases) a blog, that they've never read.

                                                                        I've read both, and I recommend that you do the same instead of making judgements based on "sound bites" or the New York Post. If you are unwilling or unable to make the financial commitment to buying the book, I'm sure your local library has a copy (although there's probably a waiting list). The blog (NOT the same content as the book, but with the same sensibility) is available for free at www. waiterrant.com.

                                                                        I will look forward to your comments all the more once you've taken the time to look into this subject. You are an astute, intelligent group of people who share my love of food-related knowledge, and I apologize if any of my irritation has managed to poke it's dirty little head through my appeal to your sense of fairness.

                                                                        For what it's worth, my copy has already been through the hands of six or seven of my industry buddies, and there is a great deal of appreciation for The Waiter's point of view.

                                                                        1. re: chefbeth

                                                                          jfood always enjoyed ready most, but not all, of the blogs that he wrote. Will he buy the book, probably not. Will wait for his library to order (hasn't yet).

                                                                          BTW - the correct URL is www.waiterrant.net

                                                        2. So my husband and I were just discussing this thread. He worked in restaurants for about a dozen years--7 restaurants in 2 states, all but one high end (that one higher end chain). 3 places we worked in together. He's never seen anyone spit in or otherwise tamper with a customer's food. He knows one person who claimed to have done so, which he believes because the 'customer' was an owner whom the employee had hated for years with a particular hate.

                                                          what we have seen:
                                                          *the FOH staff join in a group walkout (probably the most common server fantasy/urban myth)--4 servers and the bussers walked out while 2 servers stayed
                                                          *a guest die in the bathroom and his dining companion sit down at a neighboring table and order a cup of coffee
                                                          *a man try to run over a guest (with his vehicle) at a sidewalk table (yes, intentionally)
                                                          *the BOH and FOH get so high on Christmas day that the chef was crying behind the restaurant and had to be talked back in to return to the line

                                                          so, in our combined experiences, each of the above extraordinary events is more common than a server tampering with a guest's food.

                                                          Obviously, these are just our experiences, but I still find them telling.

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: nc213

                                                            Boy that walkout sounds great! Definitely a waiter fantasy. We once had a waiter disappear from their section, no notice or anything, just felt slighted with table seatings and disappeared. When someone noticed that her deuce hadn't been greeted we figured it out. Nice Friday night shift!

                                                              1. re: hotdoglover

                                                                Back of House and Front of House, HD.

                                                            1. In 12 years working in restaurants I saw it a few times. And it was always in response to barbaric behavior on behalf of the customer. I never tampered with anyone's food, but will admit I was sorely tempted a few times.

                                                              1. A former son in law, who was a waiter at a little diner type place, was a bit demented, to put it nicely. Now I have no idea what he did at work, but he shared a few"tricks" he pulled on people when he made them cookies, or soup. I cannot even begin to reveal any of these "tricks" in a polite way, but they were gross, immature and so disgusting that we refused to eat anything he cooked . . . EVER! I think mental illness is the only explanation for the abhorrent behavior that was described in that article.

                                                                1. It happens. Not nice, not right, but it happens. I've heard some horror stories from relatives who used to work in the restaurant biz.

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: gloriousfood

                                                                    This is more than not nice or gross.
                                                                    It's bio-terrorism.
                                                                    An annoying or cheap customer does not justify assault.

                                                                    1. re: Leonardo

                                                                      Like I said, it's not right, but it has been happening for years that I know of. (Frankly, when I read the piece, I thought, this is news?) But it's important to keep in mind that not all waiters/waitresses do this. Many of them take pride in what they do and it is their pleasure to "serve the public," so to speak.

                                                                  2. This is why my dh will leave a restaurant rather than send a dish back. If a steak arrives under/over prepared he's out the door.

                                                                    Why chance pissing off the kitchen and winding up in the ER. Even if 1/2 of these tales are urban myth, why pay for potential harm.

                                                                    22 Replies
                                                                    1. re: HillJ

                                                                      Sadly, I guess this confirms what I believed, that this stuff does happen. That article was pretty darned scary.

                                                                      So am I safe in assuming that it isn't 80% of customers that treat servers as they want to be treated?

                                                                      And I am safe in assuming that a customer should fear retaliation if they send food back?

                                                                      Then again, if a customer is a jerk, what 'is' a server to do?

                                                                      Too bad the customer has no leverage except for not tipping. The really bad server I met couldn't care less about his 0% tip.

                                                                      1. re: dolores

                                                                        d, I suppose we all do what we must under the circumstances of health & safety. If a customer is a jerk that's one thing and there are probably subjective examples for what constitutes "jerk"...but if a server/the kitchen is willing to take matters into their own "hands" and place a customer at risk-that's enough scary behavior for me to never send back a dish. I would rather leave a restaurant disgruntled (and likely never return) with my health in check. No meal, is worth the risk.

                                                                        1. re: HillJ

                                                                          What if a customer comes across as a jerk, but they aren't trying to be one? My DH is a picky eater, and a bit hard of hearing. Most of the time there is no problem, but there is one mexican restaurant that I really like, that we don't go to anymore because of the service we get. When he orders his fajitas he specifies "No bell peppers. Okay? Got it? No bell peppers." (He does this because too many time places disregard that request and cook them with the peppers anyway.) Then when they ask him something in a very thick accent, he looks at me and then I answer for him, so it comes across as if he doesn't think they are worth him speaking to, but he just either doesn't understand them, or he can't hear them. We had been going to this place for a long time and had one waiter that knew us, and was fine, but after he left, the others copped an attitude with him, and in turn us (even though I was always as polite as I could be) and our service got to be increasingly slower and slower. Others around us would be seated and served before we would even get our drinks, or have an order taken. So we don't go there anymore. Now, do I think they spit on his food? No, they just made us wait a long time for anything we wanted or needed, even though we always tipped at least 20%. There are other ways of revenge that don't put your health in danger.

                                                                          1. re: danhole

                                                                            danhole, I hear ya and two of your comments stand out for me: "we don't go there anymore" and "...other ways of revenge that don't put your health in danger"

                                                                            to my way of thinking a paying customer who states a preparation preference and is told by servers that they can accommodate rather than being told to select another item should expect their request met. Why should a customer be made to feel badly about asking? As for using the word "revenge" in connection with any food service that illustrates just how fearful customer CAN (not always) become and again, I would walk out before I'd pay for such an experience.

                                                                            1. re: HillJ

                                                                              Exactly, HillJ. When polite behavior isn't being met with equally polite behavior, vote with your feet.

                                                                              Hopefully, such places will go out of business.

                                                                              1. re: HillJ

                                                                                Hill & Dolores,

                                                                                You would not believe how popular this place is. They expanded the restaurant and now have a second location. I have to admit I really like the food. Nice blend of Mexican and Tex Mex, and some killer margarita's. But the waiters have their favorites, and we are not on that list. It's amazing to me that we would be "outcast" like this because we were eating there before it became "all the rage" in our neighborhood. The waiters are the same ones that have always been there (except the one we liked) and the young women who are hostesses, drink servers, and chip "bringers" are the same ones as always. We have actually watched a couple of the grow up! Now, if I go with my girlfriend at lunch, we are treated very well, but she is well-endowed, not that that should make a difference, but it does. But you are both right. Walk out, and don't look back!

                                                                                1. re: danhole

                                                                                  Dani - now Im curious -- is this restaurant in our neighborhood?

                                                                                  1. re: Cheflambo

                                                                                    Yes, but I won't name it here. I'll tell you later.

                                                                          2. re: dolores

                                                                            Probably, so long as your server is not a sociopath with hepatitis, or other. Then, it might well be the last meal that is not served via a feeding tube.


                                                                            1. re: dolores

                                                                              Dolores, please don't become a victim of paranoia. Servers and kitchen people are not out to get you.

                                                                              95% of the time when a dish gets sent back to the kitchen there is at least one cool head who will acknowledge that some one on the line messed up. It sucks, because at that point they're probably so busy that it's hard to back track and make it right, but in the majority of the cases they'll suck it up and do the right thing. It's their job, and they know that. Then there's the habitual refusers who just want attention and we can't help but asking ourselves "If it's wrong EVERY TIME why do they keep coming back?" Probably because they've pissed off every other restaurant for miles around or they're looking to rip us off and get a meal comped. It happens.

                                                                              I've been in the business for more than a decade. I don't hesitate to send back an improperly prepared dish. I do not fear retaliation. Nor should you. Restaurant employees, for the most part, want to do the right thing.

                                                                            2. re: HillJ

                                                                              if 1/2 of the tales were true, there would be no restaurants. courteous diners have absolutely nothing to fear from either the foh or boh staff, they have *much* better things to do than mess around with people's food, especially for returning an undercooked steak--gimmie a break! now if your husband was at a tgi fridays that was staffed entirely by nineteen-year-olds who've watched "jackass" a few too many times, and he stood up at the table and yelled across the crowded restaurant at the server: "hey bitch, get your scrawny ass over here!"-- well then maybe he'd have something to worry about. but we aren't talking about normal humans interacting normally with other humans. most experienced service people who've weighed in on the thread have never seen this *ever* happen in 10-20+ years, yet people still feel the need to accuse the industry broadly of tampering with food. hello, it's our income, why would we compromise the food products we're trying to sell? sheesh.

                                                                              1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                > it's our income, why would we compromise the food products
                                                                                > we're trying to sell?

                                                                                Because there is "news" footage that exists showing that single exception to the rule, unfortunately (even though it's been revealed to have been staged.)

                                                                                I know (with 100% surety) the cooks I've worked with over the years _NEVER_ doctored anything that was sent back, no matter how often -- even with that guy that blew through a Caesar, multiple bread servings, a bowl of soup, a huge baked potato, a side of rice, and 12-of-the-14 oz of sirloin right before the grill was shut down for the night. My lead simply fired up a new steak and waited by the guy's table as he cut into it to make sure everything was fine. That lead's attitude reflected everyone else's: Customer's always right.

                                                                                1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                  Interesting sk. Restaurants do close for health violations. Enough customers get turned off to a place, eventually those restos close too.

                                                                                  Whether it's spitting, poor hygiene, servers caught in the act or kitchens caught on tape...whatever the reasons..restaurants do close and reputations do take a nose dive.

                                                                                  Do I enter a restaurant expecting a problem, absolutely not. But am I going to waste my time and money over gross neglience or even a potential health problem no way.

                                                                                  I'm glad to hear you say that people in the trade have better things to do than mess around w/people's food. On the other hand, for those servers/kitchens who would do harm....I say, what goes around comes around...sadly, integrity can't always be assumed.

                                                                                  1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                    My problem with the "you have nothing to worry about if you treat the server with courtesy" argument is that if a person is despicable/crazy enough to contaminate food, then it's altogether possible that this person is crazy enough to take even a polite complaint about an overdone steak or dirty fork as a personal insult worthy of retaliation.

                                                                                    I guess that to me, the issue is the person. As in the world at large, you have a certain percentage of crazy people in the restaurant industry. My sense is that in the overwhelming majority of situations, everything will be fine. But if you come across a crazy person, whether you know it or not, there's not much you can do. You take your chances.

                                                                                    By the way, it works the other way, too. A certain percentage of customers are despicable crazy people, and woe to the server who has to deal with that.

                                                                                    1. re: Kagey

                                                                                      of course, there are wingnuts in every profession. personally, i'm mad as a loon, but i'd never spit in food-- i regard what goes out on the plates to be very near a sacrament. i spend long hours each day laboriously sourcing the ingredients, physically hauling them around, fanatically preparing them, after all-- so to go through all of that work and then defile the final plate with some kind of disgusting bodily goo-- i just don't think i could do it even if donald trump stood there offering me a million dollars and the assurance that the plate would be fed to a berkshire hog. i would absolutely throw a screaming raving fit if i ever saw or heard about an employee doing this, and they'd certainly be out of a job. i think a lot of the staff in good restaurants are "a little off" about food, in exactly the *opposite* way as someone would have to be in order to spit in the food. sure, you don't know for certain when you hire someone, exactly what their darkest issues are, but that's why restaurants have very sane managers keeping an eye on things. they protect the establishment by watching for covert activities, like stealing, they would catch this stuff if it happened, and that person would be GONE. it's not like a bunch of servers get to run around doing whatever they want in a restaurant, they must answer to management in *both* the front & back of the house, the managers want to keep the doors open, the servers want to keep their jobs.

                                                                                      i suppose if you had an entire crew of batshit crazy drugged-out ex-con cooks in the back of a chain restaurant where they didn't care about any of the food because it all comes out of plastic anyway, a bunch of immature 19 year old fratboys for servers, a foh manager who's falling-down drunk on the job, no cameras, a customer who is rude and insulting to the staff, and not enough business to keep everyone busy, affording the server a few minutes alone with the plate of food, then maybe the likelihood of this happening rises to 1% or so, depending on what exactly the customer called the server's mom. everywhere else, there are checks and balances, and it's hard to imagine them breaking down, *anywhere* enough for this to happen. i think that's why i've never seen it, and i've worked at some real dives (as a bartender, not a cook).

                                                                                      1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                        "an entire crew of batshit crazy drugged-out ex-con cooks in the back " now there's a staff.

                                                                                        let's stay home. it's a scary world out there. thank god for gated "communities"

                                                                                        1. re: hill food

                                                                                          I'd like to see the Gordon Ramsey "Kitchen Nightmares" episode shot there. That would be a hoot!


                                                                                        2. re: soupkitten

                                                                                          I suppose by "despicable/crazy" I could have substituted "sociopathic" or whatever. Crazy is relative.

                                                                                          You would know more than I do about the subject, and if you're right, then a lot of people should probably feel better. I guess my point was just that if contaminating food does happen (and your point taken that it doesn't), my feeling is that it's not simply because of bad customer behavior.

                                                                                          1. re: Kagey

                                                                                            Hey, I don't have any real stats at hand, but I would bet you the contents of my staffs' tip jar that you're more likely to get hit by a New York City bus (no matter where you live) that to consume a well-prepared loogie as a side dish - - even if you sent back a well done steak when you'd ordered medium rare.

                                                                                            And, seriously? If you can't spot a loogie on your plate, you might want to reconsider what you order. I'm no expert, but to judge by the few expectorations that I've witnessed, they're pretty . . . obvious. And not in a decorative way.

                                                                                            1. re: chefbeth

                                                                                              "If you can't spot a loogie on your plate, you might want to reconsider what you order."

                                                                                              You are, of course, assuming that the loogie depositor did not take the time to "blend" said loogie into your food with his (undoubtedly) unwashed forefinger.

                                                                                        3. re: Kagey

                                                                                          "this person is crazy enough to take even a polite complaint about an overdone steak or dirty fork as a personal insult"

                                                                                          Couldn't resist:


                                                                                    2. I was in the business for many years, and although I had heard that "spit happens" I never saw it. It never occurred to me to do it, and given my reaction to Paula Dean's sticking her tongue in a chocolate fountain never would have.

                                                                                      We did have a practice in one place I worked: a particularly obnoxious customer or table would be "over serviced". Every couple of minutes a different server would come by and very politely ask if everything was O.K. It was actually kind of fun!

                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: Richard 16

                                                                                        Oh no. There's a restaurant that we frequent where we always feel over serviced! Now I'm going to wonder if it's intentional!

                                                                                        1. re: Richard 16

                                                                                          Ah yes, the "Is anything alright?" routine.

                                                                                          1. re: Richard 16

                                                                                            oh my gosh....i totally forgot about doing something similar 20+ years ago when i first started out in the restaurant biz. before dinner service most restaurant employees sit down for a 'family dinner' & at this restaurant in particular onion soup was on the menu & we often enjoyed it as part of our pre-service dinner. sadly it left us... ahhh gassy. later during dinnner service whenever one of us had an especially difficult customer the staff who enjoyed the onion soup for dinner were told to go by the table when they felt the urge......i was very young. but never did see someone spit in food in the 17 years in that biz. i did however regularly see the most abhorent behavior on the part of patrons.

                                                                                          2. I think he's just being controversial to sell more books. I've only seen it in a particularly disgusting movie and stories on the internet (we all know everything you read on the internet is true). A person in food service would have to be psychotic to tamper with a diner's food no matter how annoying they are, and while there are likely psychotics in every field of employment it's not remotely likely to happen in any given situation.

                                                                                            1. Ive been in the service industry for ten years and have seen quite a few things, but never actually spitting.. Mainly dropping food on the floor, or eating off the plate before it's served.. The worst was recently at a steakhouse in Houston.. The whole place flooded, sewer water was coming up from all drains; the floors, the sinks and the dishwasher couldnt be run.. They actually washed the dishes in a 3 compartment sink with the sewer water. kept business as usual. ALL employees were sloshing back to their tables with wet, very smelly shoes. It smelt so bad, one emplyee hurled.....

                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: burnonefirst

                                                                                                >>Mainly dropping food on the floor

                                                                                                And putting it back on the dish? I find that horrific.

                                                                                                1. re: dolores

                                                                                                  There was a place that we used to frequent until our daughter worked there as a waitress. The specialty of the house was buffalo wings, and she would come home smelling like the buffalo sauce, and it would be all over her shoes (huh?) She told us that the prep area was so sticky because when they tossed the wings, in the bowl to coat with sauce, sometimes some wings and sauce would spill. What did they do? Picked them up off the floor and re-tossed in the bowl. That was it for me! Even though I didn't eat the wings there I never could go back for anything after hearing that.

                                                                                                  1. re: danhole

                                                                                                    To danhole: there are worse things that picking up food from the floor. Several of my students (see earlier post) who worked at a particular fast-food place which I won't name here lest I get sued, described the common practice of blowing their nose into a sandwich. In the 35 years since, I have not been able to get myself into any restaurant of that chain.

                                                                                                    1. re: Querencia


                                                                                                      That is truly disgusting! Makes you want to only eat at a place where you can actually watch the food being cooked before your eyes! My problem with this place was that the area in question was very high traffic. All I could think of is all those dirty shoes tromping in and out of the area, and my wings on the floor in the middle of it! Gosh I wish I knew what chain you are speaking of!

                                                                                              2. Soupkitten, but we do mess around with them while they're unconscious. Some opt to take out their stress doing drugs, but I think it's much more fun this way. ; )

                                                                                                Yes, I'll have to agree with you that a few stories here or there shouldn't discourage people from eating out at restaurants. It's ridiculous when people say they'll never step foot into a restaurant because they heard a story of somebody spitting into food, finding a rat in their food, etc. It's akin to a woman I know who refuses to get knee surgery because her friend died on the operating table while getting her knees replaced.

                                                                                                I think stories like these, while perhaps sensationalistic, reminds customers that dining out is a two-way street.

                                                                                                ETA: Apparently, snippets of the conversation were deleted. So it may sound like I'm responding like a crazy woman to an imaginary soupkitten.

                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                                                  it just makes me sad to think that there are people out there who are scared of their *food* -- or the people who work hard serving it to them. :(

                                                                                                  i agree that perhaps the stories have their merits as urban parables. "be nice to people" and "be nice to servers" are both very good living/dining habits! the meanest person in the restaurant may not get spit on his/her food, but s/he might also not get the promptest service or the best steak, if the chef hears that the customer is being mean to the servers. the nicest person in the restaurant may not get the best steak, or a huge comp on the meal, but servers always tend to treat nice customers the nicest. . .

                                                                                                  1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                                                    >>reminds customers that dining out is a two-way street.

                                                                                                    Hallelujah -- if it does that, it was worth it.

                                                                                                  2. i tried to post this before but it didnt work- just because someone CAN do something doesn't mean they will. replace 'waiters' and every word that comes after 'do' and the sentence can be true for some but not all- so this type of 'declaration' drives me crazy. that said, if the spitting staff that are 'out there' have such low regard for themselves and zero respect or decency for others, well.... i believe in karma, so i can (and do) rest easier.

                                                                                                      1. Jfood thinks that if the person who engages in this behavior is caught s/he should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

                                                                                                        The entire credibility of the industry is at stake. And one bad apple can ruin the industry just like one bad batch of lettuce could ruin the financial stability of a Taco Bell or the tomato industry.

                                                                                                        20 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: jfood

                                                                                                          ah,but jfood people like this guy get sweet book deals, a prominent shelf at B&N, primetime tv, national press coverage...while people like us get all hot & bothered. It stinks.

                                                                                                          1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                            jfood read waiterrant on and off over the years and always enjoyed his perspective. Not until today did he know of the dark side of his behavior. Maybe a few letters to the publisher and B&N might be in order.

                                                                                                            1. re: jfood

                                                                                                              What dark side? At no point has he said that he spat in anyone's food, only that he heard it happened. How the NYPost chooses to frame the topic is not about the waiter, it's about the spin that gets people all hotted up and ready to talk endlessly about the book that may contain horror stories-- and may be sold as 'how not to get people to spit in your food'. More about publicity than the waiter. Plus, I'm less judgemental of this first time author getting caught in this kind of media work-- he hardly has the power in this situation.

                                                                                                              1. re: Lizard

                                                                                                                Thanks L. jfood did not read the Post. Glad to know waiterrant is not that person. as jfood stated he has always enjoyed the blog and is glad you corrected him

                                                                                                                1. re: Lizard

                                                                                                                  but the author did cop to other foul behavior...hence the book deal (in part) and frankly getting paid for bad behavior has become so incredibly popular I fully expect a litany of books to hit the shelves similar in scope.

                                                                                                                  Splittings hairs over what constitutes a servers revenge when faced with a difficult patron can be handled in so many preferable and safe ways why are we even debating the degree of foulness?

                                                                                                                  The book is a waste of time.

                                                                                                                  1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                    Things he seems to cop to involve giving out bad seats and the like-- no endangering of people, as far as I recall. In that regard, it seems that 'splitting hairs' is perfectly fine.

                                                                                                                    I've read the blog, which I found enjoyable at times, and written with sensitivity and compassion. I'm sure the book will be enjoyable as well although I reckon I won't be reading it as I have too much on that list as it stands. 'Waste of time' seems a bit harsh of a review, when the criteria subject to review seem to be how other media are framing and selling his work, and how well he is managing these practices.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Lizard

                                                                                                                      Fair enough Lizard, I'm not out to hurt anyone.
                                                                                                                      Time will tell. I won't buy the book.
                                                                                                                      As I said, getting paid for bad behavior isn't cool in my book.
                                                                                                                      I've got kids who watch and follow popular culture, this type of hype doesn't make me proud.

                                                                                                                      1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                        Yes, HillJ, but like the clods who mimic reality television, just think of the servers who 'might' mimic the disgusting transgressions noted in this book.

                                                                                                                        How sad.

                                                                                                                        1. re: dolores

                                                                                                                          Right, dolores. It would be sad if a book highlighting the kitchen trickery the author participated in or witnessed is intrepreted as a free pass. Plus, to the servers out there who wouldn't dream of treating a diner in such a manner your job might become a wee bit harder as public opinion sways. A funny blog..maybe...a best seller..commentary on the food industry...with Bourdain endorsing it...another animal (imho).

                                                                                                                          Okay time to move on.

                                                                                                            2. re: jfood

                                                                                                              But apparently, according to some, having lipstick stained glassware show up at one's table is excusable. What's up with that?

                                                                                                              1. re: mrbozo

                                                                                                                An oversight is excusable an proactive event is grounds for whatever.

                                                                                                                A little lipstick residual does not bother jfood all that much, just send it back for a re-do. If it is the norm, then jfood would probably leave.

                                                                                                                1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                  Hmmm, so lipstick stained glassware is set out on the table or brought to table by servers for whom this blemish is blocked by a blindspot and the occular acuteness of the customer must be relied upon to correct the situation. Curious. Who really does care?

                                                                                                                  1. re: mrbozo

                                                                                                                    jfood thinks everyone cares. If the server sees it s/he corrects it; if s/he misses it and the customer sees it then the customer brings to the attention of the server. What's the big deal.

                                                                                                                    1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                      Agreed. I am very sensitive to the whole clean glass issue and always inspect my glass when it arrives at the table (not in a very obvious way - I just calmly look at the glass without picking it up). If I see lipstick I politely ask for another glass. I know things happen, restaurants get busy and lipstick is very difficult to remove sometimes and I don't hold it against them. However, I have quit going to a local restaurant whose glassware has been just filthy every time the last 3 times I've been. I don't mean the stray lipstick markings I mean sticky and full of fingerprints. So I quit going there.

                                                                                                                      1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                        some brands of lipstick are so tough to get off of a glass that we'd inspect and individually & manually scub the rims of the glasses with a cloth towel *before* they went into the dishwasher (where everything is sanitized at 180+ degrees), or the trip-sink, where it's done chemically. has anyone seen those commercials(?) "won't smudge off, wont rub off, won't kiss off. . ." jeebus lady what do you use as makeup remover, a sledgehammer? lipstick is tough--it's a lot like crayon & it clings to the glass despite the rotating brushes etc and often needs to be removed manually glass by glass. a huge part of my tipout to my hardworking barbacks was keeping up on the lipstick smudges, and good servers will hold the clean glasses up to the light when setting the table, to quadruple check for a lipstick smudge. accidents & oversights happen occasionally, esp in a diner type place where you don't see lipstick on every other glass like i did as a nightclub bartender. considering it was pitch black in the club, black painted walls & ceilings etc, i'd say we caught 97% but nobody's perfect.

                                                                                                                        dh is the best at dealing with the lipstick smudge on the glass. he's a big tattooed guy with the typical chef shaved head, and he just smiles & passes the glass to the server: "that's really not my shade/color." he doesn't try to make anybody feel stupid. the server always gets new glassware asap, & we instantly put it behind us & move on. i agree with jfood--what's the big deal?

                                                                                                                        wrt fingerprints/sticky, Boudleaux is correct to not go back to the local place-- seems like their dishwasher is not hot enough to get rid of the stickies. yeesh.

                                                                                                                      2. re: mrbozo

                                                                                                                        Obviously, you do. But it's not necessarily a matter of caring. Ok, in some situations it's about laziness. But aside from those--you have to admit that sometimes even best efforts fail to catch every flaw. As soupkitten said, nobody's perfect. If you strike a restaurant out of your life because of one such flaw, eventually you'll be dining exclusively at home. It goes without saying (or it should) that repeat offenses may warrant more drastic reaction.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Kagey

                                                                                                                          Yeah, something along the lines of "three strikes and you're out." And that only refers to me dining on three occasions with different guests each time.

                                                                                                                          Often one has one chance to impress in a business or personal context. I would hate for that opportunity to be jeopardized by the residue from a stranger's lips.

                                                                                                                          1. re: mrbozo

                                                                                                                            Well, then that's really just a case of bad luck and everybody's been in such a situation (although there'll always be places/case where people are more accident-prone/negligent/spiteful/despicable than others). You don't ever go to that place again and that's that. You can't (well, you can but it's a little pointless) spite the dice when it doesn't roll in your favour all you can do is minimize the chances as much as possible.

                                                                                                                            Random events will happen despite the most careful of planning, all we can expect is to like what we do, strive to excel and improve and learn with time.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Blueicus

                                                                                                                              It may be bad luck or it may be carelessness but it certainly is life. And it pays to know who treats you with respect.

                                                                                                                  2. re: jfood

                                                                                                                    Or they do worse. Umm it is about Taco Bell which doesn't really need tampering to become diarrhea inducing, but....


                                                                                                                  3. Once upon a time I taught high school English and I could not count the students who had restaurant jobs and who wrote about all the filthy things staff did to customers' food. My son, when in high school, also worked in a restaurant kitchen and reported the same thing. Apparently oversight of this practice is not part of the restaurant kitchen culture.

                                                                                                                    1. I hated sour, vindictive lazy wait staff when back in the day when I was a server at a nice restaurant in Philly, because the fact that I worked my butt off (as well as other hard working servers), and we all had to share our tips. Yes, it does occur but I do not know if it's that frequently. If I found out that a waiter/wait staff/ kitchen staff... spat in my food or contaminated it somehow, I would first report the offender and the restaurant to the local health authorities, the police department. I would then go to my local newspaper, news station, food/ restaurant forum and inform them of this practice at that restaurant, and sue the crap out of the offending waiter/staff and the restaurant (if the owner of the restaurant does not seriously repremand / fire the spitter). If service is less than par, then the server does not deserve the same tip as a good or excellent server. I always tip 20% (good) 25-30% (excellent), 30%+ (exceptional). However, I have tipped less for poor service, but it has to be really really really bad service and I usually do not go back.

                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                      1. re: SpdRcr069

                                                                                                                        I think you've hit the nail on the head. Good servers might get occasional poor tips but overall do well (which is why I agree that pooling tips isn't fair). The "sour, vindictive lazy wait staff" get poor tips and think it's always the customers fault. I'd be surprised to find any good server resort to spitting, or worst, in food. Customers can be rude in any business (the same customer who is rude to restaurant staff is similarly rude to bank tellers, grocery store employees, etc.) and good employees learn to deal with them w/out resorting to bodily harm. Thinking about it is one thing but actually doing it shows disregard total lack of maturity. If spitting regularly happens at an establishment, I think some trial lawyer out there would have a field day.

                                                                                                                      2. I guess that the question that needs to be asked, is, "is that spit, or is the chef experimenting with foams?"


                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                          Hunt, I was sort of thinking along those lines myself. I mean, after all, if someone spit on a burger and then added a condiment, would you know if there was spit mixed with your mayo? Or what about soup? They could spit and stir. My DH and his brother used to spit in each others drinks if they were left unattended. Of course they were little boys, and disgusting creatures at that, but neither one of them died from it. I think spit is not really what we have to worry about. You get more spit from a sloppy kiss (which I DO so hate.) I agree with spdrcr069 that any contamination should immediately be reported to authorities, and if I worked in a place where that went on, I would find a new job!

                                                                                                                          1. re: danhole


                                                                                                                            Having been a "little boy," once, so very long ago, I can attest that you are correct - nothing is sacred, including food, or one's sleeping area.

                                                                                                                            As to the subject of the thread - well, I try not to think about it. Jalapeños anyone?


                                                                                                                        2. whew read the whole thread :)

                                                                                                                          I haven't worked in a restaurant since I was a teen but I did witness two things that I could never forget:
                                                                                                                          1) I was a busgirl at a small Italian restaurant (no longer in business) and I remember one of the busboys grabbing a loaf of bread, dropping it on the floor and picking it up and putting it in the bread basket to bring out to the customer. I did yell at the time but I was 16 and it had no effect. I wished I had grabbed it and threw it out.
                                                                                                                          2) A couple of years later I waitressed at a local diner. I witnessed a waitress "re-use" the same pickle and coleslaw for a new plate after taking it off someone else's plate. I did tell her it was gross and she got very nasty with me. Again, I was probably 18 and not strong enough of a person to say something to owner.

                                                                                                                          Because of that particular coleslaw and pickle incident, whenever I eat somewhere that serves it. I make sure to bite the pickle, dump the coleslaw, and make a messy little pile out of it, so that no one else gets my food. yuck.

                                                                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: dani0622

                                                                                                                            I worked with a manager that came from Peppermill that would always doctor his end-of-meal leftovers citing similar reasons. "If you make it obvious then they'll throw it out like they should." <shudder>

                                                                                                                            1. re: The Ranger

                                                                                                                              Ah, the joys of recycling. Waste not want not ... A penny saved is a penny earned ...

                                                                                                                            2. re: dani0622

                                                                                                                              Many, many years ago, at a college cafeteria, a friend broke off a tine of his plastic fork in a sausage. He did not eat it and threw it, along with some other food into the food trash bin. Next morning, a classmate got a sausage with a plastic fork tine in it. Heck, I thought that the uneaten food was being sold to a local hog farmer. Little did I know that it was being reused to feed freshmen!


                                                                                                                              1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                Bill, I don't want to say that this is an Urban myth but what are the odds that you would know the fellow who got the "sausage" with the plastic tine in it the next day? Gotta be pretty damn long.

                                                                                                                                1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                  Definitely an urban myth. Note the tall tales beginning and end: "Long long ago..." and then the punchline. Vague location. Contrast of detail overload and glossing over other aspects. Nice try.

                                                                                                                            3. This thread reminds me of why I never read the Not About Food threads.

                                                                                                                              Alright, we all agree that adulterating food in retaliation for what the staff perceives to be customer misbehavior is reprehensible and is exceedingly rare. Still, it does happen.
                                                                                                                              (And I'm one of those paranoid people who never send anything back for this very reason.)

                                                                                                                              But let's face it: In the vast majority of cases in which the issue is someone spitting in a dish or serving food that has briefly touched the floor, we're talking about something that is more a psychological threat than a real health threat. Most diners' immune and digestive defenses won't be perturbed in the least by these minor affronts.

                                                                                                                              (And the kitchen and serving staff who are carrying germs of such virulence that they would make a difference shouldn't be handling food in the first place.)

                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: racer x

                                                                                                                                You are correct. Even though we do not have children, we still ascribe to the 5 sec. rule, regarding food to the floor (at home).

                                                                                                                                I am more concerned with the various bugs that servers, prep-cooks, and the rest of the staff, might have. Remember, "Employees Must Wash Their Hands... " Yeah, right.


                                                                                                                                1. re: racer x

                                                                                                                                  I've had high school students tell me about "loogy burgers" that they prepared while working at the most famous hamburger chain restaurant. Several years ago in the Bangor Daily News there was an article about a teen delivery boy for a popular mall Chinese restaurant ejaculating on the food. Gross. I tried to refrain......

                                                                                                                                2. Hi all! Based on this thread I bought the book the week it came out and breezed through it in two days. I'll start by saying that I've never read The Waiter's blog so I can't comment on it but I found the book informative and entertaining (this coming from someone who's never waited tables). I expected the book to be a compilation of entries from the blog but that didn't seem to be the case at all. Only one small chapter talked about maliciously tampering with the food and the subject was approched in a realistic, honest, non-judgemental fashion. Once again I have little experience in food service other than a short stint at Taco Bell during high school. The book mostly detailed what it's like to wait tables for as long as he has and even goes into how the blog and later the book came about. If anyone with restaurant experience has read Waiter Rant I'd be interested to know how it compares your service.

                                                                                                                                  1. I know that (once upon a time), an employee disliked this drunk who frequented the small restaurant where he worked (so much that), he refrigerated some of his urine and mixed it with beer and served it to him. He said the drunk never responded to being served the tainted beer, so I don't see how there would be much satisfaction, as with many of the other acts mentioned here. Overt is certainly better and mentally healthier.
                                                                                                                                    I think these deliberate, premeditated types of actions are extremely rare and often perpetrated by sick a-holes who often know another a-hole when they see them.

                                                                                                                                    1. Disgusting. If I ever found out that a server spit in my food. I'd personally hunt him/her down, cut out their tongue and force feed it to them. OK I am exaggerating, but I'd definately rejport them to the authorities, report the establishment (police, health inspectors), publish in the local news, blogs...sue, him/her and the establishment as well as and ensure that this person never works in the food industry...THere is NO reason to spit on the food, drop it on the ground, even if the tip is low. Tipping is to show appreciation. It should not be expected. Fortunately, I've never had to tip below 15% due to poor service. 15% tip for good/expected service, 20-25% for very good service and 30+% exceptionally excellent service. That behavior is psychotic, immoral, classless...

                                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: SpdRcr069

                                                                                                                                        Absolutely. It is pathetic, small minded disgusting behaviour.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: oana

                                                                                                                                          I'm always respectful and nice to people who work in restaurants. They say that restaurants are going to have a really tough time this year. This thread reminds me of the first time I saw Jaws, the movie about the killer shark. I kept thinking, (i was pretty young) and none of those people Had to go into that water. A lot of people I know wouldn't go swimming in the ocean for years after that movie. Heck, my Aunt Mary would never take a shower when she was home alone ever again after seeing Psycho. What does this have to do with chowhound? This thread is making me rethink the whole concept of eating out right now. I am a good cook, and I don't really need to eat out. No worries about did I leave the right tip, what do I do about the really loud diners next to me wearing a ton of aftershave. Why not just cook my own food at home? On the other hand I have worked at several restaurants years ago, and the worst I ever heard of was when my boyfriend told me (he worked in the same restaurant) he saw one of the waitresses get an orange juice for a customer, take a big sip and then refill the juice. I believe him. The restaurant wouldn't let the employees have free juice, they had to pay for it. I don't even think it was spite, she was just thirsty for some juice.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: givemecarbs

                                                                                                                                            good lord ... dining dangers ...home sounds preety good to me givemecarbs..
                                                                                                                                            happy eating, Oana

                                                                                                                                      2. This thread has pretty much run its course and has become unpleasantly personal. We're closing it now.