According to the owners of a Cape Cod organic restaurant, the verbal abuse from rude customers became so severe that some employees cried. The final outrage came on Thursday when a man cursed one of the young restaurant workers who told him he couldn’t fill his take-out breakfast order because the restaurant had not yet opened said Brandi Felt Castellano, member of Apt Cape Cod in Brewster, Massachusetts (northeastern US).
“I never thought it would come to this,” she said.
Then Castellano and his wife, Regina Felt Castellano, who is also a chef and partner, announced on Facebook that the restaurant would be closed for part of that day to offer restaurant employees “a day of kindness”. The measure has gained wide attention in the community and on social media. Other restaurant owners have had similar stories, which they say show the pressure of the full reopening on an industry that has been wiped out by the coronavirus pandemic.
“Many did not survive the pandemic,” Castellano said of the restaurants in an interview on Tuesday (13). “People are so aggressive with those they have led, it’s disheartening.”
It wasn’t always like that. At the start of the pandemic, most customers were nice, according to Castellano. The motto of the restaurant, which is published on its website, is “Come as foreigners, leave as friends”. But since the state’s restaurants were allowed to reopen fully on May 29, the treatment of Apt Cape Cod’s 24 employees, many of whom are young and including the couple’s two children, has worsened.
“It’s kind of abuse,” she said. “These are things people say they wouldn’t show on TV because they would be paged. People are always rude to restaurant workers, but that far exceeds anything I’ve seen in the course. of my 20 years in the company. “
Castellano, 39, said some customers thought the business would operate as usual, but didn’t realize restaurants were still struggling with a shortage of staff and supplies. This could mean longer wait times and some menu items are not available, causing verbal abuse against restaurant workers, according to the owner. When a group of people couldn’t get the table they wanted, she said, they threatened to sue me. “I would say this is another epidemic.”
The restaurant’s Facebook post resonated with many, who condemned the aggressive behavior. “After the past 15 months, you would think people would be grateful if they could just eat a meal away from home,” wrote a Facebook man who identified himself as David Degan of Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts. “Very sad that much of society has become rude and arrogant again.”
Tyler Hadfield, a partner at The Rail restaurant in Orleans, Mass., Near Brewster, said in an interview Tuesday that he had encountered similar issues at the restaurant he and his brother, Cam Hadfield, opened this spring. Last week, he said, a group of diners shared their frustrations with employees after waiting 40 minutes for a table and even longer because of a computer glitch. They asked for the food to be wrapped after it was brought to the table and then threw all the contents in front of the restaurant when they left, Tyler said. “This is the worst behavior I have ever seen.”
As restaurants adapt to the changing contours of the pandemic, Hadfield, 27, said he wanted customers to be more patient with the people who prepare and serve their meals. “Giving us a little time to go from zero to 100 would be nice,” he said.
In Rhode Island, a neighboring state of Massachusetts, Dale Venturini, president of the state Hospitality Association, said in an interview Tuesday that several restaurateurs had recently complained about mistreatment of customers and employees. One of them, she said, expressed concern that their employees would quit their jobs. Venturini also recalled an episode last summer when an ice cream shop closed one of the stores for the remainder of the season due to rude customers.
“I think we need to remind people that we are doing our best with the resources available right now,” Venturini said. “I think that’s a pent-up demand. People don’t have the patience they used to have anymore, and I hope that will change.”
The president said the association, which represents around 900 restaurants and hotels, recently launched a “Please be kind” campaign to help businesses and their employees. It includes signs that restaurants can hang, urging customers to be sensitive to staff shortages, and a poster with links to mental health resources for hospitality workers.
After more than a year of eating and drinking at home, Venturini said, some restaurateurs have changed their expectations. She said, for example, that a customer complained to the bartender that there was no alcohol in his drink. “We heard that at home he was taking triple doses,” she said, continuing. “But at other times it gets unpleasant. They see an unoccupied table and don’t understand why they can’t sit down.”
Castellano said many customers and other businesses have expressed solidarity with his restaurant and employees after announcing its closure during part of Thursday. A regular customer left restaurant employees with a gift card to use at a local ice cream shop, while a parasailing and jet ski shop in the nearby town gave them a free day of fun, a- she declared.
“A lot of people said, ‘Thank you for saying what we wanted to say.”