Another week has come and gone. That means it is Saturday and time to count down this week’s strangest restaurant stories. This week is a little more special than most because I am writing up this list 35 years to the day after my Mother struggled through giving birth to me. I was already pretty unappreciative then. I mean I got to lay around naked and warm all day while someone fed me. Little did I know that 35 years later I would be writing about restaurant robberies and indecent exposure.
Speaking of indecent exposure, it is time to revisit one of my favorite past stories. This guy has the best name for a flasher that I have ever heard of. His mugshot is priceless and really takes the story over the top. Apparently exposing yourself to patrons of the restaurant you own does not land you in jail. I’m not sure what type of community service this earns you, but the possibilities are limitless. (Steamboat Springs, CO)
Good thing he did not fondle anyone. One restaurant recently paid $80k each to three employees that were fondled by the chef. I am not much of a fondler myself. I would be worth millions at these prices for the number of times it has happened in a restaurant. Some people call it sexual harassment. When it happens to me, I generally chalk it up to taking to long to ring in an order. (Scottsdale, AZ)
Something tells me that the next owner probably will get more than a fine or community service. Authorities have frowned upon being part of a human trafficking ring since that whole Civil War thing. On a related note, restaurant employees do not make a ton of money to begin with. If you think they make too much and need to replace them with slaves, you might want to rethink your business model. (Largo, FL)
I’m still not sure that human trafficking trumps manslaughter though. Bar fights are always problematic. The problems increase infinitely when someone dies. This story was blowing up my phone when it hit the papers. It happened at a nice restaurant several blocks from where I live, and a block from where we decided to go after work that night. I prefer recapping stories to being a part of them. (Kansas City, MO)
Onto the lighter stories of the week, I have heard it said that an owner treats the register as his ATM. These crooks did it backwards. They just took the ATM from a restaurant. This story would not have made the countdown if it were not for surveillance footage. I love spy cameras; they make the news far more interesting. (Orange, CA)
I have reported in this column on many stories featuring crooks breaking into a restaurant. This crook learned his lesson from these failures. He went in while the restaurant was open. Then he hid in the bathroom ceiling until everyone had left. When the coast was clear he dropped out of the ceiling and hit the safe. I write about dumb criminals every week. This might be the first time that a criminal’s ingenuity has actually impressed me. (University Place, WA)
Enough already with the crime. A survey recently came out on ‘green” restaurants. 65% of people said they would pay 10% more to dine at a “green” restaurant. Two thirds of those put 10% as their maximum. This is the kind of token environmentalism that would make Captain Planet proud. The same study said 70% of people thought it is good for restaurant owners to be environmentally conscious. The other 30% wished for more restaurants to provide larger parking spaces for their whale oil fueled Hummers. (Columbus, OH)
Many restaurants decorate for the holiday season. Let’s be realistic here, I don’t see many Hanukiahs adorning restaurants. They are Christmas decorations no matter how inclusive you want to make your celebration of the birth in a manger. This restaurant takes it a bit over the top though. Take a look at the slideshow and you will know what happens when Clark Griswold opens a restaurant. (Arlington, TX)
There are non-religious aspects of the Christmas season too though. Like Santa and his reindeer. So while this next restaurant isn’t exactly sacrilegious, it does strike me as a bad publicity move. I have tried bison, ostrich, emu, deer, and a number of other animals. This time of year (or any) I am not sure that eating reindeer has ever crossed my mind. This place also server rabbits for Easter. I will go ahead and say this might be the worst promotional idea ever. (Tempe, AZ)
I have run a few stories in this column about conservatively religious folks protesting new restaurants opening in their area. This story is the exact opposite. A church wanted to move into a space where a restaurant was. People are now protesting it. It is now official; people will protest anything. (Chicago, IL)
This week’s Chef Justus Award for the restaurant hero goes to Megan O’Connor. Megan is a 16 year restaurant industry veteran who quit her job after reading a memo posted by her boss. A quick quote from the memo, “You are the LOSERS!!!” Kevin Fitzgerald, her boss, posted the memo after reading several bad reviews online. Nothing makes you want to work harder to improve service than being called a loser by the owner of your business. Megan did what I would do and walked the hell out the door. I’m sure that the service at Jacob Wirth’s did not improve any. Mr Fitzgerald seems pretty concerned about what is written about his restaurant online. So here is one for him to read. Jacob Wirth’s is run by the worst owner in the restaurant industry. There you are Mr Fitzgerald, your memo seems to already be making things much better. (Boston, MA)
This week’s newly renamed Kevin Fitzgerald Award for the restaurant jerk of the week goes to Kevin Fitzgerald. Congratulations Mr Fitzgerald. I have written about owners convicted of nearly every crime imaginable, but you take the cake. Judging from what I have read any service inadequacies at Jacob Wirth’s are eclipsed by the management inadequacies demonstrated by you. Calling your staff “losers” and threatening termination during the holidays tells me one thing. The only thing that makes anyone on your staff a loser is continuing to work for the worst owner in the industry. (Boston, MA)
Now onto the scoreboard.
I think this may be the first time the Mountain region has won the weekly prize. New England scored twice by sweeping both awards. Next week will be our last weekly contest. On Christmas Day, I will be presenting a year in review list. Each week of stories will be considered and the 12 best will be republished. All 12 of those stories will earn double points for their region. Consider it my Christmas present to you as I am working a double on Christmas Day.
This week I went through 25 pages of yahoo news stories. Of those 63 made the first cut. Not one of those happened outside of the United States. This week the world has disappointed me. For this reason I am declaring it a forfeit and giving the points to the US. This brings the running total to USA:9 World:7.
That is all for this week. Next week weird restaurant stories will be coming to you from it’s new home. You didn’t know it was moving? You must not have listened to my appearance on The Dave Scott Show last night. There is still time to listen though. Click the link in this paragraph and download the 12/10 show. That is me talking on the other end and introducing five new sites for your reading enjoyment. You could wait for the big reveal on Monday, but then you wouldn’t get to hear me talking about crop dusting, flirting with your server, and campers on the radio.