Weird Restaurant Stories 3/19/2011

What is worse than seeing this on your door?

In the restaurant industry, we all get pretty good at playing the blame game.  The servers blame the cooks.  The bartenders blame the managers.  The managers blame the hostesses.  Everyone blames the servers.  It turns out there is plenty of blame to go around.  This week’s stories show that every group from the government to the guests has a bit of blame to take responsibility for.  That is why this week the theme is: The Blame Game.

Let’s start with one case that has the Fairfield County, OH Health Department pretty squarely in the wrong.  Restaurant owners have plenty to be upset about when the health department closes their restaurant.  It is terrible for business and viewed as a warning to potential guests.  This is all the more reason for an owner to be irate when the Health Department closes down the wrong restaurant. (Millersport, OH)

Now if only that health department had shown the integrity and ethics of the Tampa Tribune.  Did I just say ethics and integrity when talking about a newspaper?  A norovirus breakout happened in Tampa, but they refused to name the restaurant because there was no evident the restaurant was to blame.  I for one will salute this decision.  Any restaurant can get a case of contaminated vegetables.  There is no need to place blame on a restaurant for something that is not their fault.  (Tampa, FL)

The China Inn restaurant in Chicago is in for plenty of blame.  They catered an event at a Chicago school and were specifically told to avoid using any ingredients using peanuts.  They did not follow these instructions and a 13 year old girl died as a result of her peanut allergy.  We all need to make sure to not deserve blame of this magnitude.  (Chicago, IL)

The owner of The Original Pancake House in Boulder, CO is being called before a judge to take the blame for the actions of his staff.  A server complained to her manager that three cooks her harassing and groping her.  The manager did not take her complaint seriously and allegedly began fondling her as well.  The owner failed to take action and fired her.  A judge will assess blame on this matter.  (Boulder, CO)

A woman in Farmington, NM got a free tongue piercing at her local Chili’s.  Unfortunately, she did not want one.  She found a two-inch sewing needle in her ribs when it poked through her tongue.  An investigation preliminarily found that it was used by one of the cooks to clean his pipe.  They allege that it took 52 days to send the needle off for testing.  Something tells me that a settlement is in the works to prevent taking blame on this one.  (Farmington, NM)

A North Carolina restaurant owner has no one to blame but himself for some negative publicity.  He recently posted a sign on the door that said, “No Speak English, No Service.”  He seemed legitimately surprised that some people did not appreciate this sentiment.  I am surprised that anyone who thought that phrasing was the best way to convey his message is critiquing the English skills of others.  (Lexington, NC)

While these are all pretty stupid moves, I think that this guy may take the cake.  A hidden camera in the women’s restroom is not a good way to run off your customers.  If you are in the country illegally, it is also a good way to get deported.  It also leaves you plenty of time to blame yourself.  (Hamden, CT)

I suppose there are benefits to naming your chain Ruby Tuesday’s.  When you close a restaurant though, you can’t blame a reporter for using the headline that comes naturally.  (Woodland, CA)

A woman from Chicago is suing McDonalds for an injury from a broken toilet.  As a man who has taken plenty of blame for leaving the seat up on the toilet, I am on the restaurant’s side.  If you don’t look before putting your bare butt somewhere, you have to take some of the blame.  (Chicago, IL)

Finally, we end with a story with plenty of blame to share.  Groupon recently found out that Massachusetts’s law prevents discounting alcohol.  This means that their certificates cannot be used for alcohol.  While this billion dollar startup negotiates with the government, restaurant owners are left taking the blame from guests.  (Boston, MA)

That is all for this week.  Want more weird restaurant stories?  Don’t blame me, I only share the stories.  In the meantime there is six months worth of weird restaurant stories to be found at the top of the page.  If you miss out on them, don’t blame me.

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4 comments on “Weird Restaurant Stories 3/19/2011

  1. MikeQ on said:

    David, … this is the second week in a row that I’ve forwarded a link from your sites to Johnny D’s owner Carla DeLellis. Last week it was a link about YELP!, and this week a link on Groupon. I look pretty good, keeping up with all the things in this business that directly effect us … I forgot to tell Carla that I was just having a good time. Love your blogs.

    • David Hayden on said:

      I had some friends trying to convince me to put the Restaurant Industry Insider into a newsletter format and charge for it. I assured them that some weeks I can’t get anyone to read it for free. Glad you are getting some benefit from it.

  2. SkippyMom on said:

    I gasped when I read about the peanut allergy death. As I parent I blame the parents as much as the restaurant because who doesn’t provide medical documentation when your child has an extremely deadly allergy, plus the required epi pen. Even tho’ the restaurant did cook with peanuts and were told not to, aren’t the parents liable too? It is so sad.

    The McDonald’s toilet seat – well I don’t see where she could’ve known the seat was broken before hand – we girls always look where we are sitting in public restrooms and my guess is it didn’t look broken. My bets are on the fact that she was probably a “tad bit” overweight and might have stressed an already old toilet. With the exception of handicap stalls there is no reason to have handrails or somesuch – and as a regularly sized woman – if the seat looked normal I would think that if I sat on it and slipped I would be able to catch myself. Those stalls are not that wide – nearly claustrophobic – so the walls should’ve stopped her. I have no idea how she hurt her arm.

    And finally the no speak English thing – I just have to say – I worked with my husband in the swimming pool industry here in Northern Virginia for a few years and I had a woman call in and ask me in English if we had any Spanish speaking employees that she could discuss a heater with. I told her no, I was sorry, but we didn’t. She began cussing me out in Spanish and telling me that it was unjust and we HAD to have Spanish speaking employees. I understand a lot of Spanish, but I cannot speak enough Spanish to talk about a pool heater. She was livid and wanted to know why we didn’t have any employees that spoke Spanish. I finally had to say “We couldn’t find any that spoke good enough English as well to converse with our clients.”

    It was the truth. She didn’t like it, but I couldn’t do anything about it. Our customer base was English speaking.

    I do agree the sign is wrong – but why do we have to be berated and penalized because we don’t speak Spanish? As everyone loves to tout “There is no official language in the US” – which is technically/legally true – but do we really have to hire an entirely bi lingual staff – what country does that or requires it? Where does it end – Spanish, German, Swahili…..

  3. SkippyMom on said:

    PS – don’t get me wrong – the girls death was absolutely tragic and so unneccessary. I could not even imagine.

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