Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Dine And Dash Without the Dash

Today we have another episode of “Great Moments in Hospitality.” It turns out there is such a thing as a free lunch . . . and dinner. The following is a true story told to me by an acquaintance; only the names have been changed to protect the innocent:

Bartender Arch was working a slow afternoon shift alone in the bar at a large hotel convention center when suddenly, without advance warning, one of the conference rooms burst open, spilling fifty to sixty thirsty, hungry women into the bar. Lucky Arch: the adjoining dining room didn't open for another hour. And these women were thirsty and hungry.

Arch did the best he could taking care of the demanding women, singlehandedly taking lunch orders and mixing drinks, serving the food and then mixing more drinks, and ringing up tickets. But after a long, grueling hour and a half he thought he had everyone satisfied. There had not yet been any complaints.

As the room emptied out except for a few tables, Arch began clearing plates. As he pulled the dirty plates from a table where three well-dressed women sat, in his best Fridays/Applebees/Chili's waiter spiel, he said, “So can I interest you in some key lime pie, turtle cheesecake, or maybe just some coffee?”

Um, we're still waiting for our lunch,” one lady said haughtily.

Arch looked down at the dirty plates in his hands that he had just removed from her table.

Yeah, and we've been waiting forty-five minutes,” snarled another.

Dumbfounded, Arch didn't know what to do. He looked around at the now deserted dining room for clues. The bar area had been completely clean before the avalanche had descended on him; he was positive no one had sat at a dirty table. He took the pile of empty, dirty plates back to the kitchen and talked to the manager. They were both positive the ladies had been served their lunch, and indeed, a quick search produced a used, time-stamped ticket for that table showing as much.

What should we do?” asked Arch. "They clearly already ate their lunch."

Fire up the grill,” said the manager with a shrug.

Ten minutes later, Arch brought another round of entrees to the table and apologized for the long wait. The "starving" ladies each took a tiny nibble of food, pushed pack their chairs, and asked for to-go boxes.

Since their food sort of, took so long to get to the table, the manager comped their meal. Make that meals, with an S. And they left no tip. Why should they, for such rotten service?

This is like breaking into a grocery store, stealing a hundred pounds of beef, then walking past the night guard and asking him to validate your parking stub. And then pointing to the beef and saying, “Oh and could you supersize this?”

What's really amazing is that this was an entire team of women pulling it off. It's one thing for a lone sociopath to attempt such blatant theft with a straight face, but how do you get three people to do it? I would argue that it takes a lot of training to accomplish such a feat.

And I suppose you have to work your way up to that level of expertise and daring. I imagine Level I begins with a first-timer being required to go into a convenience store, carry a magazine to the checkout counter, then grab a pack of cigarettes and stuff it in her purse while the clerk is busy ringing it up. Then the clerk says, “Oh wait, that's five dollars for the cigarettes.”

What cigarettes?” the thief-in-training replies.

The ones you put in your purse.”

I ain't got no cigarettes.” Then she has to calmly light a cigarette in front of the clerk and walk out with a straight face.

From there, she can work her way up to Level II: stealing gas; preparing a meal at a grocery store salad bar and consuming it while standing at the salad bar; pouring drinks from a bar while the attendant isn't looking and then denying it. After those, perhaps she's finally ready for Level III: The Full-Service Restaurant Double Whammy Power Punch Team.

I'm not sure I have ever heard or will ever hear a more brazen story. However, the same convention is booked for the same hotel next year. We can only hope that the Level III team can top themselves. You go, girls!


  1. After quite a number of years spent in the hospitality industry, and at one stage running my own greengrocery store, the behaviour of some members of the general public doesn't surprise me. It does disgust, frustrate and annoy me, though! ;)

    I reckon you and I could fill a couple of books with the tales we could tell!

    1. Indeed. I always thought I'd write more restaurant in this blog, but I guess maybe I'm trying to repress those experiences. Thanks for the comment!

  2. I read your blog on my iPhone on the way back from the lake and was shocked at the gall of this group of women. I would of responded immediately with my outrage...but of course typing this out on a phone would have taken the whole trip.

    Anyway...I gather from your post and Lee's comment that this type of behavior isn't unusual. I just can't imagine people justifying this type of behavior. The only time I worked in the food industry was in the summer during high school but that was a small town cafe. I don't recall anyone stiffing me on a bill and certainly no one claimed that they hadn't been served. Truly..I am shocked.

    I know you had restaurants according to past posts. Would you of comped them and given them a second meal as well. I don't think I could of done that. I guess, I might not be destined to be in the hospitality biz.

    1. I've wondered what I would have done in that situation. Of course, owners and managers have different motivations and as an owner I could have taken the responsibility for negative fallout. If I had actually seen them eating the food, there's no way I would have comped it. But then again, if they were that brazen, they probably would have thrown a very loud raucous fit in a crowded restaurant so maybe it would have been easier to just make the problem go away. In reality, I probably would have just given them more food and stayed in the back office with some Scotch wondering why I got into the business.

      I think in Arch's situation, the manager just shrugged it off as a small price to pay for a very lucrative convention weekend.

  3. Wow. How isn't that theft, exactly? It's not like they all had dementia. And no tip, for double service? Well, karma will bite them in the rear end one day.

    1. Yeah you would think a thief could at least leave a tip, I mean they know how tough it is out there. Thanks for the comment!

  4. Also! I have tried multiple times to follow your blog and add it to my display of blogs, and each time (though I have copied the link from your page), it adds "Google Chrome Updates" instead of your blog. Serious WTF to Google!

    1. Yeah, Lee had a similar problem. Wish I had an answer. Well maybe one of these days I'll get around to moving the blog somewhere else.

  5. Hi Riot Kitty...sorry to stick my nose in here but I have the same thing going on. I finally subscribed to Dexter's blog via email as the Google updates come in on his reader feed. Odd problem but I can't figure it out.