Strange restaurant event
A few years ago myself and my spouse went to a great Cuban restaurant in south Florida. Many minutes went by so we inquired about our meal that we had ordered. The manager came out and said our waitress got po'd and quit. We were left hanging with no server. Needless to say we left. That was one of my strangest restaurant happenings.
My two favorites, both from the same chef:
I normally have a no-bashing policy, but I will name these restaurants without reservation. Years ago my family planned a big dinner at the now-defunct Sour Octopus in way, way north Kansas City. Not an inexpensive place. At the time, I was vegetarian, so when making reservations, we asked if there was anything without meat on the menu. "Oh, no problem at all. The menu changes often, but the chef will happily make something if that night doesn't feature a vegetarian entree already on the menu."
We make the (considerable) trek up to the restaurant. The evening's menu is all meat, so I ask the waiter, "Could you please ask if the chef could make me something vegetarian? I like everything, so there are no restrictions on what I'd eat." Everyone else at the table gave her their orders and the server headed to the kitchen.
She disappears for maybe five minutes, then returns and tells me, "The only thing vegetarian we have is the salad."
The first-course spring greens salad, as in the one on the menu with the soup and starter courses? As in the one that costs $4 at a place where entrees are far from cheap?
"Yes, that's the vegetarian option."
"Can you make it a large, meal-size salad with other vegetables then?"
"No, that's the one on the menu. The chef says he doesn't have time for anything else."
Mind you, this is maybe a 40-seat place (a converted lowbrow pizza parlor, with the old-timey bar still intact and unused, and a vacuum cleaner leaning against a corner). It was absolutely not slammed by any means.
Shocked beyond words, I ate my 120-calorie salad while the rest of the party had large meals. I absolutely insisted on not clearing out, though everyone else wanted to. The lengths I (used to) go to not to create a scene...
Cut to years later. Same restaurateur (Ray "Pete" Peterman) had opened a new place called SORedux, this time downtown. For some reason I can't fathom, I agreed to go with friends. This time, he decided he had the time to prepare me a vegetarian meal (a fact I verified by phone an hour before arrival).
The food was fine. Not great, but fine. About halfway through, we ordered another bottle of wine, this one a nice white. The waiter brought out new glasses and made the first pour. It was good to the taster, so she poured for the rest of us and headed back to the bar.
Another friend started to take a sip and recoiled. "SMELL THE INSIDE OF MY GLASS!" she gasped. By that time, the other two of us had already done the same, and found our three glasses REEKED of cigarette smoke. We waved the server over.
"Are they smoking back in the kitchen?" we asked.
"Oh yeah, they smoke like chimneys," she laughed.
"Well, our $90 bottle of wine has been ruined by these glasses, which smell like they need a chimney sweep."
The waiter took them up and swept into the kitchen. A few minutes later, the chef came out and had the audacity to ARGUE with us over the glasses. They couldn't possibly smell, he said. He keeps the smokers away from the clean dishes! My foot. They could have come straight from Lindsay Lohan's powder room.
We refused to pay for the wine, which we didn't drink, though we did pay for the parts of the meal we'd eaten.
Mind-blowing. Both his KC restaurants went out of business in short order. What a shock.
There was a very popular Indian restaurant in San Antonio in the 1980's. It was close enough to the business district to get a nice lunch crowd and close enough to some upscale residential neighborhoods to do well at dinner. One day I couldn't get away for lunch there with some co-workers; when they returned they told me the place was "Closed by Order of the Health Department."
The story as reported in the local paper was that during a packed dinner hour a huge rat ran through the dining room. A quick thinking waiter snatched up a carving knife and stabbed that sucker right through the heart. Then to make things even worse, he took one of those domed plate covers off a bus table, put it in top of the defunct rodent and hurried off to his assigned duties, no doubt happy with the satisfaction of a job well done.
By that time, of course, diners were all but breaking windows to get out.
This particular happening may need to be classified in a different category from the others in this thread. Perhaps it should come under the heading of "Restaurants that play Practical Jokes on their Customers"?
I was on holiday by myself in London and I made friends with an Aussie who was staying at the same B&B as I was. He said he was waiting for two friends from home (Melbourne) to show up and that they were planning on renting a car and driving around GB for a week and wondered if I wanted to join them? What the heck.
We were coming back from the Isle of Skye and had stopped for the night in some small village whose name has escaped me. The one little restaurant was open and we went in for dinner. Very friendly folks with a smattering of locals eating in the dining room (maybe 10 or 15 other people). Sue ordered a curried chicken dish and after the waitress gave it to her Sue asked her if they had any chutney to go with it. She came back with a little jar with the lid still in place. When Sue unscrewed the lid one of those joke snakes went 3 feet in the air and Sue screamed. The whole dining room started laughing, all of them knowing what was coming. We had all jumped and we ended up cracking up along with everyone else. Talk about a "Scottish Surprise" - one I'll never forget.
Once in a small riverside town outside of London two of us went to a restaurant that had been recommended. The place was casual and a decent size. When we arrived the place was empty save for about three tables Six or seven people at most were in the dinning room. The hostess said she could not seat us for half an hour as she did not want to overwhelm the kitchen.
We decided to make her job easier and left.
Way back in the mid 80s, when bike racing was enjoying a great resurgence in America on the heels of the '84 LA Olympic games, I drove my son and a bunch of other bike racers to a 7-Eleven stage race in Phoenix, from El Paso. On Sunday, after the ProAm awards ceremony and everyone had collected their prize money, three cars of us filled up our gas tanks for the long trek home, and decided to grab some fast food as well. They were talking about McD;s, but I had spotted a Carl's JR, and talked them into going there. Well, Carl's Jr in Phoenix ain't like Carl's Jr in California! But we managed to fill about four tables and (surprise) they had a wait staff!
When one of the junior riders at my table was served, he opened up his burger to add some extra ketchup and... Look, Ma, NO MEAT! I called the waitress and pointed out the omission. She didn't know what to do so called the manager. The manager studied the burger and said, "How do I know he didn't already eat the patty?" I glared at him, "Show me the meat stains on his bare naked bun and I'll pay you for two hamburgers!" He still refused to make good on it. We left. I wrote to Carl's Jr HQ, but never got a reply. Never set foot in one since! But in California, they had GREAT cheese steaks.
This happened many years ago when I was a child in the early 1960's.
On a Saturday, my parents took my sister and I
for a Saturday drive in country in southern California.
I was about 9 and my sister was 5. We stopped at a roadside diner
for lunch near Riverside, CA. There was also a small motel
in the rear of the property.
My family walked into the diner and took a seat at a booth as
it was self-seating. We sat there for about 5-minutes waiting
for the waitress.
As we looked around we noticed that there were a lot of
pretty ladies sitting at the counter and in some of the booths
by themselves. They seemed to be wearing a lot of makeup.
The waitress finally came over and said, "We don't serve
children here, you are going to have to leave."
So we left. My parents thought it was kind of odd. We ate lunch
down the road.
A few weeks later there was a story in the local newspaper about
a bust of a prostitution ring at that diner and associated motel.
Several years ago a friend and I went to a restaurant that was near an event we were attending. It was 11:35 am. We saw the hostess stand sign that said breakfast served until 11:30, so when we made contact with her she said yes breakfast is done being served, and lunch starts at 12:00. She left with no offer at all, so we left also.
Walked into a local restaurant one day for lunch with two friends. Stopped dead in my tracks, just inside the doorway, as I realized that there was a man yelling and swinging a large knife at the rear center of the place. I quickly backed out the door pushing my two companions with me.
No sooner did we get outside....... and with my fingers still dialing 911 on my cell..... when the knife-wielder came tumbling out the door with a rather large man holding him in a headlock, trying to gain control. Apparently our entrance had distracted him enough for someone to have jumped him, though he dragged that guy all the way to the door with him. He tripped on the way out and was easily subdued from there until the police arrived.
Never did find out what his issue was, but THAT was definitely my strangest restaurant event.
I have told this story before here on CH - but I shall tell it again....
Many years ago my mom took us to a famous Brooklyn Ice Cream Parlor...
My mom ordered a banana split..
Her order came and lo - it was just ice cream, syrup and nuts....NO banana.
My mom called the waitress over and told her there was a mistake...The girl was emotionless.."oh well we don't have any bananas"
Ok... what can you do.... ? She was dissappointed - but what can you do?
When the bill came - my mom was charged ....you guessed it - For a BANANA SPLIT!
(which was obviously more expensive than a regular sundae)
She called the girl over and pointed aout the error.
The girl blankly looked at my mom and said: "but you ordered a banana split."
My mom said: "Yes - but I didnt GET a banana split!"
This went on for a bit before my mom asked for the manager...surely he would get it.
But he did'nt.
He said "But - you DID ORDER a BANANA SPLIT!"
"BUT I DIDNT GET ONE!!!"
My mother ended up paying for the banana split.
And probably left a tip
But on our way out she was shouting to everyone waiting to sit down -
"DON'T ORDER A BANANA SPLIT!!!"
walked into a restaurant/bar and stood at the hostess stand for a few minutes waiting for someone to notice me(in all fairness this was approaching 4pm and the place was dead, so I assume staffing was minimal...). when the hostess came over, I asked(while halfway into the bar area, kinda looking around wondering where everyone was)if the bar was open. Her exact words, "OH YEAH! OF COURSE!(very bubbly and nice)....sit where ever you would like" then after I took about 3 steps into the bar, and several seconds after we had concluded our exchange she pipes up with, "BUUUT, there is no bartender and no one can make drinks here...". I swiveled around and we had what was at least a 10 second staring episode where as I couldn't figure out what that meant, and or what to say in response. I slowly exited with my head cocked(you know, like when your dog is trying to figure out what it is exactly you are doing in the bathroom) and muttering to myself, trying to make sense of the nonsense I was just subjected to. To this day, I still think about that and wonder if what she said sounded as incoherent to her as it did to me.
Reminds me of being a brand new server working Father's Day lunch. I work at a nice place, definitely not cheap. Every high-maintenance, non-tipping person in America showed up that day. The cooks got overwhelmed, somehow wound up in a fist fight, people tried to walk out on their checks. One table wasn't watching their 4 year old as she broke a glass on the table, cut herself. The parents threatened to sue, cops and fire department came only to find the father had a gun on him and he got arrested. I never worked another holiday again.
The're been so many, I barely think of them as strange any more:
I've had more than one server quit in the middle of a meal (during economic boom a couple years ago it was common).
I once had a server's shift end and no one take over...our food was ordered, then nothing...when we found manager he actually brought it to us, had been prepared and sitting for 1/2 hour...needless to say we left.
Once got seated in a restaurant for lunch, placed order, and sat and waited...about 1/2 hr later flag down server who tells us that there is a gas problem, the whole kitchen hadn't even started up yet, they had a repair guy there and it would be another hour or so, would we like a refill on the sodas...
Once went into a South American restaurant (can't remember what culture exactly) in Toronto, waited at door, finally seated ourselves, and sat as everyone - customers and staff - stared at us, the only caucasion people there. Sat like that for maybe 15 minutes, never had a word said to us or about us, but got the feeling we were not wanted, so we left.
Was having late lunch alone one day in a strange city, small upscale diner, burger and fries...place wasn't busy, so had been chatting with server over the course of the meal about the town, etc., and at one point while standing and talking to me she actually took a fry off my plate and ate it.
I could go on...
i once tried to make reservations for two for new year's day dinner at a long established restaurant known for special occasions. the person asked what time I was looking for and i told her 7pm. she requested i hold which took her approximately 5 minutes to return. she then said she could fit us in at 8pm. when we arrived we were the only two people in the entire restaurant and for the whole evening, with the staff sitting at an opposite table staring at us and smoking cigarettes the entire time.