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Etiquette - What's the Best Approach When Something Unpleasant Happens at a Restaurant you Really Like?

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I enjoyed a lovely birthday dinner at an oft recommended neighbourhood restaurant last night. All was well until I made a mid-evening trip to the bathroom. When I turned on the light, several large cockroaches scurried out of sight. Yuck! I really like this resto and the food is very good - but this experience was off-putting to say the least. What's the best thing to do? Mention it to our waiter? Follow-up with a phone call?

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  1. I would ask discreetly to speak to the manager or whoever is in charge, describe the situation, and say the restaurant needs to contact its exterminator. Most good places have an exterminator on contract. If you want to be thorough, follow up with a mailed letter, not a phone call or email.

    1. Cockroaches are not at all uncommon around restaurants and the owners/managers should want to know if you saw them. Whether they have an exterminator or not, they can and should do something to get rid of them. I would think any jurisdiction would have a health department that inspects periodically and they could be closed temporarily if the inspector finds them before they do. Sometimes pests are not obvious and they might not know.

      Since you're no longer there a phone call would be the thing to do. Just ask for someone in charge and tell them you wouldn't want them to have a problem if they don't know.

      1. I agree with the other posters. If you didn't care and were not planning to go back why would you bother? Let us know what happens, I hope management appreciates your time and effort.

        1. One word, decorum.

          Do not make a scene and do it out of earshot of others. Ask the MOD if you could have a private word with him. Tell him calmly what you found. His reaction will tell you whether it is the norm or an anamoly.

          1. One of my favorite spots was recently shut down for a week or two because the health inspector found cockroaches. It embarrassed the owner so much and stressed him out to the point that he ended up in the hospital.

            This is a man who takes pride in the cleanliness of his restaurant and the quality of the food he serves. I presume that he was unaware of the bugs or would have done something about them. If a patron had discreetly informed him of the problem, he would have had an opportunity to get rid of them without the public humiliation of a health department shutdown.

            So yes, mention it. Not to the waiter, but to somebody who has authority to do something about it. Mention it discreetly and, if possible, non-judgmentally, but by all means mention it.

            1. I’ve owned and operated restaurants for 30+ years – what Jfood said is correct,

              “One word, decorum.

              Do not make a scene and do it out of earshot of others. Ask the MOD if you could have a private word with him. Tell him calmly what you found. His reaction will tell you whether it is the norm or an anomaly.”

              If this is the norm than never return, Cockroaches are easily eradicated from restaurants if they make it a priority and all restaurants should. If you are still curious tell the server you remember working in restaurants and the all the extra sidework you had to do on ‘bug nites’ then ask - does he/she have to do all the work here?

              If the server is clueless the restaurant does not take pest control seriously IMHO – it’s time to eat somewhere else.

              1. Thanks for all the suggestions. I took your advice and phoned the manager to discuss the situation. He did not have a big reaction (nor did I) but he did seem receptive to looking into the issue. Since I do really enjoy the restaurant and the food, I will continue to frequent this restaurant. If I have a similar experience during subsequent outings, I think I will assume it's an ongoing problem that is not being dealt with properly or regularly.