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Feb 6, 2009 06:01 AM

Early Clean-up

The other day I stopped at the store on my way home from a late meeting and decided to go to the deli counter to get a sandwich. The guy behind the counter said the deli closed at 8 and he had already put all the stuff away. I looked at my watch and it was only 7:45, when I asked about this he repeated that they close at 8 and he had already put all the food away and he was in the middle of cleaning up (which he was). He never even asked what it was I wanted.

At 15 minutes before closing was it unreasonable of me to expect him to pull out the makings of a pastrami sandwich, fill my order, and then go back to cleaning up? I probably would have given him a decent tip (something i don't usually do at the deli counter.) Instead I stopped by the customer service counter, expressed my displeasure - politely (they said they would check into it), and went three blocks down the street to another grocery where they happily made my sandwich.

My feeling is that if a food service place is open till 8, that is the time they stop taking food orders, not the time they finish cleaning up. Am I off base? How late is too late? 1 minute, 5 minutes, 10 minutes?

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  1. I'd have been upset too. If they close at 8, then they should be open until then. You're just talking about a sandwich at a grocery here, not a 3 course fine dining meal.

    I'd write a letter to corporate.

    They don't say that the store closes at 11, and then actually lock up at 10 so they have time to "clean up" before closing.

    1. You are not off base. The deli guy has the responsibility of serving customers until the department closes and then clean up. They don't kick you out of Macy's a half hour before closing so they go home at 9. And shame on the "customer service" person who said they'd "look into it". I'm pretty sure that was a clerk who probably would not pass on such a comment to his/her peer in the deli or inform a manager. How annoying!

      8 Replies
      1. re: coolfoodie

        Get over it. The guy wanted to go home.

        1. re: beevod

          My attitude is close to yours. I try and not let others actions bother me. My motto when it comes to incidents like this is, "You can be happy or you can be right, I choose to be happy".

          1. re: beevod

            Just because he wanted to go home doesn't mean he puts things away 15 minutes before closing. I used to work in retail a LONG time ago, and the only time I cashed out my register early was when the floor manager told me to do so because it was a slow night. But there was *always* another register a customer could go to. Regardless, one or all of us worked until AFTER the store closed - as there was always clean-up or cashing out.

            If this deli is open until 8pm, they shouldn't have shut down the deli counter until 8pm when they locked the door. The fact that he wanted to go home doesn't mean a hill of beans.

            1. re: LindaWhit

              i don't think you can say that without more information. On a dead night, perhaps there hadn't been a deli customer in quite some time, and little or no traffic in the store. Is it excellent service? No. Is it excusable in certain situations, expecially in tight times where companies are trying to save money wherever they can? Likely yes. My market also has cryovaced deli meats, so when the deli is closed, many of the products can still be purchased. Do we know if this was the case here? You also mentioned "8pm when they locked the door". We do not know that the store clsoes at 8, only that the dlei closes at 8. Perhaps the store is opened late but the deli counter isn't. Very common. What if he arrived at 815 an the deli department was closed but the store was still open?

              I have worked retail or food much of my life, and often people are sent home early during slow times.

              Another good example-- meat departments. How often do you see a butcher on duty in the evening? Where I shop, never. If it isn't in the display case, you aren't getting it, even if there's some in the walk-in.

              1. re: AHan

                If he arrived at 8:15 and the deli was closed, he doesn't get a sandwich. That's quite simple.

                I'm fully aware of stores closing early - I mentioned that exact situation in my post. And yes, without more info from KaimukiMan as to what type of store it is (store *with* a deli counter, or just a deli itself) we don't know whether the store stays open past the time the deli is supposed to close.

                However, from a customer service point, not to be able to pull out a few items and make a sandwich at a time that is still 15 minutes before closing (the deli counter) isn't good customer service. In tight times as these, that wouldn't bode well either.

                1. re: LindaWhit

                  Do you know what is involved in cleaning a deli counter, meat slicer, etc.? it isn't as simple as "pulling out a few items to make a sandwich", not by a long stretch.

                  1. re: AHan

                    I know. He's still in the midst of cleaning up, per the OP. We also have no idea if the meat is pre-sliced where he could just take a pile of whatever the OP wanted or it has to be sliced.

            2. re: beevod

              you're being snarky right? you cant actually excuse that behavior because the guy "wanted to go home"? would your boss be cool if you just up and left the office(or whatever it is you do) say 20 min early, because you wanted to go home? Me thinks you might be said deli guy.........?

          2. There's probably a pretty good chance that the deli worker was scheduled to work until 8:00 and was therefore expected to clock-out at 8:00. And I really doubt that his manager would be very understanding about any overtime.

            I worked in a grocery store deli while in college and we always had to start cleaning well before the deli actually closed. We did the best we could but at a certain point you simply can't do much more - once that sanatizer is on the slicer, you are down - no exceptions.

            I'll grant you that he could have been a little nicer or at least asked what you wanted...and if you wanted a turkey or ham sandwich, I bet he could have done it. Pastrami? Maybe...maybe not...beef, pastrami, etc. is usually more expensive so most delis try not to have much (if any) on hand by the end of the day.

            Oh, and to the inevitable, "but they advertise that they're open until 8:00!" objections, well, honey, they are...but that's just so they can try to sell the salads that require no work whatsoever. And although they are a food service place, they are NOT a restaurant.

            Oh, and I certainly wasn't allowed to accept tips.

            1 Reply
            1. re: sebetti

              Exactly. I worked at a real deli, and it took close to a half hour to wrap every meat and cheese, put all the trays of food away in the walk in, wipe down everything...the last thing was the slicer; we had several but when you got to the last one, it was all over. The reason we closed at 8 was because by 7:00 it was all over. If someone was late and starving, there were lots of hot sandwiches we could throw in the microwave, or tuna/chicken salad etc. Would never turn someone away completely.

            2. Thanks for all your replies.

              It was a deli counter in a grocery store that is open 24/7.

              They don't have any of their deli meats available after hours, would have to go buy "cold cuts".

              He was in the middle of cleaning up. Have no idea if he had sanitized the slicer of not.

              No, I don't expect that he has the knife skills to slice the meat (although I would have paid for whatever weight he carved, I was gonna order "double meat" anyhow.

              Again, thanks for the input. My take is that yeah, he probably should have been open, but its no biggie, get over it, next time plan to get there at least a half hour before they close.

              1 Reply
              1. re: KaimukiMan

                That is a very healthy attitude on your part.

              2. I worked at a cafe/bookstore. We were paid until closing time. Period. If I was late on my clean-up, at least two other staff members were also late leaving, because there were certain procedures I can't remember around locking up - there was one keyholder who had to ensure everyone was out and lock the front doors, and then someone else who knew the safe combo, or something like that. Anyway, I often had to tell people who reasonably expected to buy a coffee at 15 to closing and sit for half an hour that they wouldn't be able to stay. We also had a tight half-hour closing procedure and it was hard enough to get it all done without any customers coming in for the stuff we still served in that half hour (coffee, muffins). I would not have been able to get out the sandwich stuff out either. And of course I was making minimum wage, the odd "nice tip" which was tallied & split between the team based on hours worked on a weekly basis did not really add up to much.