Pink Dress Shirts

I knew something was wrong last night when a friend and I walked into Sant Ambreous, a little restaurant at the corner of West 4th Street and Perry Street. It was around 9:30 pm. The atmosphere felt a little too stiff and formal, and they were all too glad to see us. Restaurants that have their act together never show excitement when a customer walks in. It’s always a sign of desperation. They need to just smile and keep their zen cool.

On top of which the waiters wore pink shirts with black ties. Village restaurants should always use waitresses who look like Sylvia Plath and who wear black leotard tops or somewhat tight sweaters, or…whatever, young, sharp-looking guys who may or may not be gay but who look it. But nobody wears ties — what is this, the Radisson in St. Paul?

Another trouble sign was that the bartender, a young girl from Brazil, spoke with heavily-accented English, and a little too softly. Bartenders always look you in the eye and speak plainly and with confidence, like a banker.

A voice was telling me to leave right away but we stayed because it was cold out. The voice was actually screaming at me to leave. As Lawrence Tierney‘s gangster character said in Reservoir Dogs, “When you’ve got instinct you don’t need proof.”

The pasta I ordered was so drenched in oil and garlic that it was almost pasta soup. But the defining death blow was the fact that my friend and I had brought a bag with two pieces of cake (i.e., that pear cake from a couple of nights ago) inside some tin foil, and we wanted to sample it. We’d already spent about $62 dollars and had a relatively decent time, but we were the last people in the place and asked the bartender if we could have a couple of forks. It was the end of the night, we’d spent our money and we just wanted a couple of bites of that Dean & Deluca cake.

The bartender asked the manager — a guy in his late 40s or early 50s, also wearing a pink shirt and black tie — and a minute later he came up behind us (we were sitting at the bar) and said he couldn’t oblige. “We have many fine desserts here,” he explained. “You should try one of them.” I saw red. I told him I would never return to his place, and that I would do what I can to dissuade others from visiting. Which is what I’m doing right now.

If it were my restaurant and it was late and a couple that had just ordered a fair amount of food and drink wanted to sample their own dessert…fine. If it was right in the middle of the dinner rush, I might politely decline. But when it’s pushing 11 and your staff is cleaning up and putting chairs on top of tables, what’s the difference?

  • Rich S.

    “The atmosphere felt a little too stiff and formal, and they were all too glad to see us. Restaurants that have their act together never show excitement when a customer walks in. It’s always a sign of desperation.”

    They were just reeling you in so they could crush your soul with the whole cake thing.

    Seriously, though, you are on a roll today.

  • Wrecktem

    Perhaps if they had charged a $3 frostage fee it’ve been OK?

  • Sabina E

    Waiters wear ties at the Cheesecake Factory (yes I go there sometimes and yes the food is good). Once I went on a faux date to the Olive Garden and they wore ties, too, but the food was awful so I never went back.

  • Josh Massey

    You have it backward.

    If it were in the middle of the dinner rush, there likely wouldn’t be a problem. But if you’re the only people in the place, and I’ve been there for 12 hours and just want to get the hell home, I am going to be irritated when you’re eating somebody else’s food on my time.

  • televisiontears

    Jeff, it is the absolute height of low-thread count when you try to eat your own food in a fucking restaurant. As a self-proclaimed advocate of all things classy and luxurious, I thought you would’ve known this. A nice bottle of wine when you’ve already dropped $100-plus – fine. But bringing a bag of some cake wrapped in tinfoil – rude, trashy, and unacceptable.

    On another note, I have a big soft spot for failing restaurants. I don’t know why, but every time I walk past an empty restaurant around dinner rush I feel an urge to go in and order something. It’s hard as hell to run a successful restaurant, especially in competitive markets like NYC or Portland. The last thing they need is some livid asshole raging about being denied his tinfoil cake.

  • mccool

    You’ve just invented a new type of restaurant. BYOD. I say roll with it.

    Bringing a half-eaten cake into a restaurant….now that’s class. I would expect that from some hispanic who works at Sam’s Club, or perhaps someone who voted for McCain, but not an enlightened, erudite fellow such as Jeff Wells. Scratch that, I don’t think even the low-rent latinos above Wells would even think of pulling something so tacky.

    Seriously, are you just putting us on that you think that you’re right here? Is it April 1 yet? What am I missing?

  • Wrecktem

    Hey, I just checked out their menu and it looks like this place advertises itself as a confetteria. That is, a cafe that specializes in desserts.

    What Wells did is like going into a Starbucks and bringing your own thermos of joe, or going to the Peninsula Hotel and bringing your own cot.

  • Geoff

    I’ve never gotten around having to pay a corkage fee when I bring my own wine. Even if it’s a nice wine it’s an extra $15-20.

  • Jeffrey Wells

    The night was over! We’d eaten, drunk and paid. We were about to get kicked out. Cleanup time. The guy could have been cool but he chose not to be. I would have been at that hour, I can assure you. Go to Europe some time.

  • KC

    You are on some serious nightmare-to-the-service-industry business today, is Seth Rogen getting chubby again or something? And just cos you’re bringing Dean and Deluca cake into a cute West Village pasticceria instead of taking a piece of pie across the parking lot from Walmart to the Cracker Barrel doesn’t mean that’s not some country-ass shit!

  • Gordon27

    This complaint is like something Larry David would say on ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’. And it isn’t one of those “He kind of has a point this time!” ones, it’s one of those ones where you roll your eyes and go, “Oh, Larry!” and wait for the punchlines to come in. Maybe you and yo

  • Gordon27

    hit post too soon… but I had nothing else to add to it anyway, I was just going to try and work in a reference to Leon Black.

  • Rich S.

    I’m still trying to picture you wandering around New York at night with a bag full of two-day-old cake. Had you stuffed so many cans in your shopping cart you couldn’t carry the cake there?

  • Glenn Whipp

    Go to Europe? Damn straight. You go to Liz-buhn and break out that crumpled-up bag with half-eaten cake and they not only let you eat it, but they send someone over with a fork to feed it to you. That’s Old World culture, folks.

  • televisiontears

    “The night was over! We’d eaten, drunk and paid. We were about to get kicked out. Cleanup time.”

    I don’t see how that puts you in the right. If anything, that makes it worse. It’s like hanging out in a bar well after last call and asking the keep, “Hey could we get a couple classes for this bottle of Maker’s Mark I brought?”

    “Go to Europe some time.”

    Maybe you should have lit up a smoke after dinner, too.

  • Wrecktem

    How did Wells choose this spot to begin with? He and his friend couldn’t have just been walking around the Village and ducked into this restaurant because they were hungry and cold. Why? Because he was carrying cake from a few days ago in his pocket. So…they specifically chose this restaurant, and should have known that it was a cafe that specializes in their dessert menu.

  • NotImpressed1Yet

    Eating your own dessert in a sitdown restaurant that specializes in dessert offerings? That’s some seriously low-threadcount behavior and in all serious pretty insulting and disrespectful to the establishment, regardless of the time of night.

  • Noah

    One of my favorite Italian spots in my neighborhood. I’ve never had a problem there, they’ve always been friendly, the place is always packed (every outside table was filled today because of the beautiful weather). The food is great, not your typical red-sauce Italian and the place is a fine-dining establishment, so it’s no surprise that they wouldn’t be cool with somebody bringing in their own food. It’s not something I would really think to do at a restaurant like that, especially when I could just wait until I got home.

  • I LOVE this site.

    “Go to Europe some time.”

    Carrying around old Dean & Deluca cake, expecting another restaurant that specializes in desserts to let you eat it in their dining room and then throwing a hissy fit when they understandably get a bit peeved about it.

    Noting that Village restaurant waitresses should look like Sylvia Plath.

    And of course, throwing in the usual jab at the backwards folks in flyover land.

    Chastising a poor Expedia dude for mispronouncing Lisbon.

    Whether or not you’re utterly clueless at the extent of your snobbish ways, it’s hilarious either way.

  • Ryansi51

    theyve been there all night and just want to go home- you think they want to sit there and watch you eat cake that you BROUGHT from home in tinfoil? fucking unbelievable.

    try to put yourself in their shoes.

  • NotImpressed1Yet

    “theyve been there all night and just want to go home- you think they want to sit there and watch you eat cake that you BROUGHT from home in tinfoil? fucking unbelievable.”

    Precisely!! This is an epic fail in social manners.

  • televisiontears

    Somebody here seriously needs to send this thread to Sant Ambreous. I’m sure they’d enjoy it.

  • Dude, you do NOT bring your own effing food a MCDONALDS, let alone a sit-down resturaunt and especially not at closing time. Do you have any idea how much people who have to WORK at these places DESPISE people who hang around while they’re trying to get the hell home?

    And if you ARE gonna pull this kind of “homeless-chic” hipster shit (do you wear a scarf, btw? just asking…) you bring your own damn utensils with you. For pity’s sake… I have TWICE gone out to a damn Unos wearing workboots and a wife-beater (for the gym) and even in THAT circumstance it’d never even cross my mind to bring outside food unless I had a picky two-year-old with me.

  • Wrecktem

    Bartender (speaking softly with a thick Portuguese accent): “They’ve brought their own cake and would like us to give them dessert plates and forks.”

    Manager (looking at his watch): “Are you kidding? We’re closing up here. They want to eat their own food? When did they request this?”

    Bertender: “Just now, after we cleared their dinner plates.”

    Manager: “They didn’t ask if it was OK when they sat down? What, have they been hiding the cake in their pocket throughout the entire meal.”

    Bartender: “Yes, sir. The old one with the hair just pulled tinfoil out of his coat pocket and demanded dessert plates and forks. Chilled.”

    Manager: “Dude, that’s high. Don’t they know we have one of the biggest dessert menus in the Village?”

    Bartender: “He said that your pink shirt looks gay, too.”

    Manager: “Yeah? Let them eat cake.”

  • Mark G.

    Well, I’m from Europe – believe me, our restaurants here wouldn’t let you eat your own food either… At the most they would give you some plastic forks to go just for courtesy’s sake…

  • Dan Revill

    I’m totally going to have to check this place out now. If ever I make it to NYC that is.

  • televisiontears

    Question: If you want to make a reservation there, do they accept cowboy hats?

  • T. S. Idiot

    At least some folks can afford to eat in restaurants.

  • Circumvrent

    I figured it’d never get any better than the emotionally vivid cowboy hat. I figured wrong.

  • mccool

    televisiontears, your comment takes the cake…

    ….but I’ve got to give Wells one thing …. “low-thread-count” is becoming an acceptable english phrase. Merriam-Webster may soon have to admit it as an adjective. Actually I don’t know if it;s his doing or that of his readers (who are the ones who have mockingly put it to good use). Either way …Jeffrey may be one miserable SOB whose misery is so profound he gives us all perspective, but inventing a word or phrase is not an everyday feat.

  • Ju-osh

    Inspired by Wells and his “Can I have a fork so’s I eat the old food in that I brought in my pocket?” lunacy, my brother and his gal are going out to eat tonight — at Sant Ambroeus.

    Looks like your plan back-fired, Jeff!

  • Limping Lucy

    Uh, Wells is in the right. He already gave them 62 bucks. The least they could do is be courteous and give him that fork.

    I mean, it wasn’t as if he ordered as little as possible just so he could eat food he brought.

    It was the desperate restaurant that lacked class here, IMO.

  • Gordon27

    “He already gave them 62 bucks.”

    He didn’t so much “give” them 62 bucks as enter into a standard social contract whereby he rents the table for the length of a meal which he is buying from the proprietor. If he was planning to deviate from the standard social contract, he should’ve asked before reaching into his pocket to pull out the cake.

    Plus, let’s be honest here folks — Jeff already paid, which means he already gave them a tip. The cynic would say “Of course they’re not going to do you a favor if they have nothing further to gain by it.” The realist would say, “Maybe you should’ve tipped better.”

  • rr3333

    Geez Jeff. You put yourself in another pickle (or should I say ‘tin foil’) here.

    It reminds me of the time I had a leftover lifesaver deep in the wool of my jacket pocket that I suddenly found and then walked into ‘Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory’ .

    At least business will pick up now because of your blunder.

  • Ghost072

    I’m not sure where this falls on the hospitality ethics scale, but I know one thing for sure: it was stupid of that manager to refuse a paying customer a couple of forks. Is it really worth losing two customers over something so petty, especially in these economic times? Not in my book.

  • creepingmalaise

    $62 for two in New York City is not exactly last of the big spenders…but what is more disturbing is the though of Jeff carrying around two pieces of left over cake wrapped in tin foil. “We just wanted to sample it.”

    Hmmmmm.

  • rr3333

    This blows the roof off the ‘Salvador Dali Upside Down Mustache’ thread by a country mile.

    This is like a ‘Curious George’ episode for the more ‘mature’ set.

  • Ryansi51

    Limping Lucy, I would BET MY LIFE you’ve never worked in a restaurant. it was 11 O’CLOCK ON A MONDAY, dinner service had no doubt been over for at least an hour- they probably didn’t even want him to ORDER dessert much less pull it out of HIS POCKET.

    bringing in a cake in a box with candles is one thing, sneaking it in tinfoil is another.

  • Deathtongue_Groupie

    Have to side with Jeff on this one, as a former bartender (Italian restaurant, no less) who served many a meal on the bar, there is an informality to bar service.

    I’m guessing he meant “already spent $62” colloquially, as in what the bill was up to at that point. So, right there the bartender committed a big mistake by not pleasing the patrons right before they pay the bill and her tip.

    There was no need to get the manager involved. Bartenders have a fair amount of autonomy compared to waiters and it’s an easy judgment call to make: if someone had ordered food, drinks and hadn’t been a big hassle, then of course you let them have some forks.

  • byanyother

    Yeah, having worked in many restaurants myself – it’s one thing to ask if you can bring in a birthday cake (and even then, that can be tricky) but digging out cakes in bags? Tacky. Should have been checked up front, when you first walked in.

  • Jeffrey Wells

    Wells to Ghost072, Deathtongue_ Groupie: We park our cars in the same garage, guys. Only you two seem to get it.

  • Gordon27

    “and hadn’t been a big hassle”

    DTG, you’ve been posting here for a long time. What that Jeff has ever written would make you think that he wouldn’t be exactly the sort of customer bartenders hate? I think “hadn’t been a big hassle” would be a huge assumption at the best of times for Wells — and now you’re talking about a Jeff who already has his dander up (“Ties? Pink shirts? Appalling!”).

  • Gordon27

    “Only you two seem to get it.”

    How long would you let somebody post here who ignored everything you wrote and just posted their own movie reviews? Just curious.

  • Gordon27

    “Is it really worth losing two customers over something so petty, especially in these economic times?”

    I should say, I agree with you that the manager should’ve given over the forks, because they’re obviously not losing anything (other than the wages of paying employees to wait after hours, I mean).

    However, I think it’s above sentence is silly; do you really think that giving forks trumps “We hated the food and your wait staff dresses like gays!”? That must be great silverware, if it would single-handedly make a person return to a restaurant they didn’t even like.

  • DeafBrownTrashPunk

    Waiters wear ties at the Cheesecake Factory (yes I go there sometimes and yes the food is good). Once I went on a faux date to the Olive Garden and they wore ties, too, but the food was awful so I never went back.

  • Ryansi51

    Ju-Osh-

    I think we’d all like to hear the other side of the story from your brother and his girl after their dinner…

  • televisiontears

    Jeff, what *you* don’t seem to get is that what you did is extremely insulting, even more so since the menu indicates this place specializes in deserts. Gordon27 gives a great analogy, but I’ll offer another for good measure.

    Imagine you’re a director and you’ve worked your ass off on a film. You spent a lot of time and energy in editing, trying to get the pacing and performances down. It’s finally done, and you’re really proud of it. You sit in at a public screening, and some guy comes up to the B.O. and asks, “I don’t wanna pay to see this film, but is it cool if I sit in the theater and watch episodes of The Office on my iPhone?”

    Chefs spend a lot of time tweaking recipes until they’re just right. It’s their passion. For you to walk into their house and shit all over that is the ultimate insult. Maybe you just didn’t understand that, but it’s no reason to attempt to fuck up their business on your blog. That’s just cold.

  • dangovich

    The bartender should’ve given up the forks. It’s not a big deal.

  • televisiontears

    “Desserts” that is. God, I’m a moron.

  • travis b

    In the amount of time it would’ve taken Wells to finish his dessert, I highly doubt the restaurant staff would’ve been through with their closing duties and standing around waiting exclusively for Wells and his friend. I’ve worked as a bartender in a similar establishment, and trust me..it would’ve been no big deal. The two seconds it would take to clean up after them isn’t a big deal in the scheme of things.

    Similar situations such as this happen somewhat often, especially in big cities. I had a guy come in with Chinese food from across the street, but he ordered a drink..it’s not a big deal as long as something is being ordered. The job of the bartender in a restaurant such as this is to be the face of the establishment, no matter what time it is or how close you are to being done with your shift.

  • Gordon27

    “I highly doubt the restaurant staff would’ve been through with their closing duties and standing around waiting exclusively for Wells and his friend”

    Seems like “they wouldn’t finish cleaning in the time it took to eat cake” and “it would only take them two second to clean up after Jeff” are completely contradictory thoughts, so I’m not sure which to respond to, but they’re both non-starters anyway; the point isn’t even how long it would take (other than, as I said, having to pay wait staff extra money for extra time that they wouldn’t otherwise be working), the point is that if a restaurant chooses to let you eat something else on their premises, they’re doing you a *favor*. You are absolutely not entitled to do so.

    This is the same sort of entitlement that leads people to think they can bring food into a movie theater, and God knows we’ve heard how much Jeff hates that.

  • byanyother

    Funny thing is, if it were two hicks doing the same thing at a table over Jeff would complain about them being classless rubes. I don’t get the mentality of someone who would bring cake in a bag into a restaurant, haul it out and then ask for forks.

  • Ju-osh

    Rich S. Wrektem, DeafBrownTrashPunk, Josh Massey, Glenn Whipp, televisiontears, mccool, Geoff, KC, Gordon27, NotImpressed1Yet, Noah, Maxfm, Ryan5, MovieBob, Marg G, Alladin Sane, T.S. Idiots, Circumvrent, rr3333, creepingmalaise, Ryansi51, byanyother, Gordon27:

    We park our cars in the same garage, guys. Only you twenty-four seem to get it.

  • creepingmalaise

    I won’t sleep for nights. I just can’t get out of my head the exact moment where the crumpled up tin foil is pulled out of a bag and then carefully unwrapped on the table–this is like some 2009 version of Joe Buck and Ratso Rizzo in the Village. Priceless. (Is there anyway to bronze this entire thread?)

  • mccool

    It’s past 11, chairs up on tables mean GET THE FUCK OUT. And you expect them to hand you a fork so you can sit there and cavort with your friend for another 15 minutes while chortling and chomping on some moldy piece of cake?? Jesus, I mean come on with this cake already. Dean and Deluca’s, we get it. The way you’re talking about it its as though this is what must have been in the briefcase in Pulp Fiction. And $62 bucks is a fair amount of food AND drink?? Where? Tulsa? Maybe a glass of white zinfandel, a miller chill, fried calamari, and two plates of pasta.

    So boiled down, you’re a cheap pair who stayed way past your welcome with the audacity to ask a manager, a waiter, a busboy, a bartender, and some poor dishwashers to stay even longer while you obliviously “sample” an outside dessert. Only in your head is there even a car, let alone a place to park it.

    I am far from a stickler. My employees show up late, I say fuck it, as long as they’re doing a good job, cut them some slack. Were I the owner of this place, and this transpired before the customer threatened to never come back, I would tell this big-headed schlub with his crumpled up tin-foil and grease-stained bag to take a hike, and not only would I tell HIM not to come back, I would tell him to tell all of his friends and anyone like him to never stop by.

  • travis b

    Gordon….

    My point was that it takes about an hour to close a restaurant (i.e. count the till, mop, prep the restaurant for the next shift, refill any oils or liquids, etc.), while it only takes a couple of minutes to clean up after a specific customer. Thus, you could do the closing duties around any lingerers, then clean up after them when done without really working any extra time (as you seem to keep bringing up..which again, has never been an issue in any restaurant I’ve worked in. Overtime happens more often than not). I would’ve allowed him to stay, it wouldn’t have been a big deal, obviously it was to this establishment and now we have this great thread because of it. So, everyone wins.

  • Aladdin Sane

    I’m totally going to have to check this place out now. If ever I make it to NYC that is.

  • longrunner

    televisiontears says…

    Somebody here seriously needs to send this thread to Sant Ambreous. I’m sure they’d enjoy it.

    Done. I hope they get as big a laugh out of this as 99% of us here have! Tacky behavior, Wells.

  • mccool

    travis, you’re assuming that all that hadn’t already been done. Asking for forks is a sign that these guys have no intention of picking up on the cues around them and leaving anytime soon. Enough is enough, already It wasn’t even the principle of bringing in the dessert (which is just simply off and tacky in so many ways), it was that the manager wanted these guys OUT, and obliging them would have kept them around even longer. Sounds like the restaurant had already accomodated their complete ignroance by not approaching them and asking them if they wanted anything else (i.e. please leave). It wasn’t until the bizarre request that the restaurant tactfully tried to get their last, laggard patrons out the door. The offer to order a dessert was just his way of politely asking them to leave. Yes, restaurants and people who work in them (and I did many years ago while in school) must endure much ass-kissing and humbling, but there are also ways to handle situations with tact.

    I would even dare to say that had the request taken place 30 or 60 minutes before closing, some forks may have been slipped to them by the bartender for a “sampling”. Guess those of us who park together will never know because a) considerate folks don’t keep a wait staff waiting around so they can finish a conversation and b) would finish the conversation at a bar or coffee house where it might be more acceptable to “sample” a dessert from a bag.

    For reference, there are clear signs you’ve stayed in a restaurant too long. A check presented without request is one. Presented too soon and the waiter is wrong, but if there’s been a considerable amount of time passed since anything has been ordered (especially during a rush), then it’s less obnoxious. The words “cashed out” uttered by a bartender are another polite way of saying “finish up and leave, please, I have a life and you are preventing me from living it.” I’ve never personally encountered chairs. Chairs up on tables, to me, SCREAM that you have been there WAAAY too long and they are trying in earnest in every way to tell you to leave without disrupting you or insulting you. Then they ask for forks. And the rest is history….

  • travis b

    Agreed McCool…but, i think there’s a lot of assumption on your end too. there’s nothing in Jeff’s tale to tell how long he’s been there, or how far along they were in their closing (or if they were even in the process of closing). there’s nothing in his story about tables being up and waiters standing around looking at their watches. if there were tables up, then yeah, there’s an issue for both parties. but that’s not anywhere in Jeff’s story.

  • travis b

    and i can’t believe i’m arguing with a random person on the internet about someone else’s dinner experience. i’m out.

  • travis b

    bah…i didn’t read that last bit of jeff’s post. i lose.

  • capn vic

    Probably my favorite post ever! I am reluctantly siding with Jeff on this one, but the thought of Jeff pulling out the tinfoil cake from the bag to “sample” two day old cake. . . hilarious! I understand Jeff’s point completely, but on the other hand . . . the cake was premeditated. Uncool! I call a double fault!

  • People are getting hung-up on whether or not the employees were being “dicks” about this. From what I can divine, they WERE being dicks – and he deserved it.

    “Customer Service” of ANY kind is hell on earth, and food service is the 9th circle. Resturaunt employees are the lowest rung in terms of actual “power” in the whole retailscape (even guys at Best Buy get to have a sliver of “product knowledge” to earn them some defference once in awhile) so EVERYONE who gets shit on by everyone else in turn shits on THEM. No matter how careful you are at it, you go home with sticky hands and crap in your hair and ‘bar rot’ (look it up) under your fingernails and you smell like the kitchen floor. And no matter HOW polite and give-110% you are, your ‘living wage’ depends on a tip which depends entirely on the whim of the customer… and HEAVEN HELP YOU if it was an expensive meal or they’re well-off folks, because that means they’ll be paying by credit for the WHOLE thing, which means you’re tip will be TAXED (seriously, ALWAYS tip cash so they get to keep the whole thing.) It’s awful, degrading, humiliating work… and you have to smile through it anyway.

    So, here’s the thing: Food-service folks RELISH the opportunity when they can legitimately be a dick to a customer. Y’know when you go in and try to order a “lunch special” and it’s been over for an hour? They wait ALL DAY for the satisfaction of saying “no” to that. Ya gettin this, Jeff? You made those peoples’ MONTH by giving them the opportunity to put you “in your place” about outside-food. There’s now some guy at Sant Ambreous right now who gets five or six laughs a DAY in the kitchen with his spot-on impression of “that fork guy.” I guess there’re worse legacies 😉

  • LuckyWilbury

    The question nobody is asking, and which Jeff is coyly not answering: “Was this cake emotionally vivid?”

    If so, the proprietor should have realized it was cool for Jeff to eat it in his establishment.

    He just should have known, you know? That’s how these things work. The eating of the cake is a Wells family tradition that signifies, “We shall be back here in exactly one year, so save this table for us.”

  • scooterzz

    i pretty much agree with moviebob….that said:

    i’ve never (and i’m old) been in a situation like this that couldn’t be charmed or finessed…if he’d slipped the bartender a ten, the manager never even would’ve gotten involved….if he’d tried to charm the manager by saying that he’d gotten this incredible b/d cake made by his aunt that the friend couldn’t sample because he was at his dying brother’s bedside, the manager would’ve accomodated in a heartbeat…….

    i have a feeling he just flailed his little $62 reciept and questioned if they knew who he was……

    contrary to popular (entitled) belief, people in service are not ‘the help’……

  • Gordon27

    “My point was that it takes about an hour to close a restaurant (i.e. count the till, mop, prep the restaurant for the next shift, refill any oils or liquids, etc.)”

    In my experience — likely more limited than others’ — these things are often done pre-closing, depending on how crowded the restaurant is.

    “while it only takes a couple of minutes to clean up after a specific customer.”

    I believe your equation is not factoring in time spent waiting for the person to finish and leave so that they can be cleaned up after.

    “(as you seem to keep bringing up..which again, has never been an issue in any restaurant I’ve worked in. Overtime happens more often than not).”

    I do agree with you on this; I’m only bringing it up because people seem to leap immediately to the assumption that it doesn’t cost anybody anything to keep the restaurant open; apart from costing personal time to employees, there are ways in which it could easily cost the boss money. OT happens all the time, sure, and it wouldn’t be a whole lot of money — here’s a question, if you assume five employees out front, how many minutes of overtime can you get for $62?

    “I would’ve allowed him to stay, it wouldn’t have been a big deal”

    Yeah, I would certainly agree that, personally speaking, they should’ve been willing to do him this small favor. But I disagree with the overall idea (which I don’t think you’re saying) that he was right to ask, or to expect to get it.

  • scooterzz

    this really has nothing to do with ‘trying to close’…i’ve been invilved with service all my life…it’s about presentation….we all know wells…read his entry…on being told ‘no’: ‘i saw red’…right there, he should’ve changed tact…..

  • The Hoyk

    Of course, I could hear what the manager was really saying…

    “Listen, you fuzzy little shit head! I’ve been fucked around in my time by a fairly good cross-section of mean-tempered rule-crazy blog critics, and now, it’s my turn. So fuck you diner’s club! I’m in charge!”

  • frankbooth

    “How long would you let somebody post here who ignored everything you wrote and just posted their own movie reviews?”

    How about someone who ignores everything he writes and posts random links?

    For yeeeaaars, that’s how long.

  • televisiontears

    Oh my God, Hoyk. I’m just coming from the bar, so I don’t have the energy to check it out, but me and a few buddies are racking our brains trying to figure out that reference. It’s on the goddamn tip of my tongue (and everyone else’s). Ahhh… you beat us.

  • Deathtongue_Groupie

    Gordon27 – yes, I have been here for far longer than you even know and have called Jeff on his shit more than enough times.

    However, as a long time visitor I’ve come to understand that Jeff online is not Jeff in person. Several of his colleagues have mentioned far more than once or twice about this dichotomy of persona.

    It’s also not unheard of to have a bad experience with food at a restaurant, but return again because it happens and foodies know that they have off nights just like people.

    As a former bartender in both New York and LA, I can tell you if someone is seated at 9:30 then you can plan on dealing with them until at least 11:30. You even start breaking things down around them to give them as much time as possible.

    Also, if they were kind enough to settle the bill so you can close out the register, then indulging their fork request is a complete no-brainer. Plus, at that hour on a monday the after-work bar traffic is nil, so they are doing you a favor by not taking up tables.

    Had this been about Jeff just ordering a coffee, I might have sided with the thick headed manager. But on a Monday in the non-tourist months in this economy, the smart manager sidles up and says sotto voce “No problem, but just this once because we are a confetteria, so outside desserts are kinda verboten, capice?”

  • Deathtongue_Groupie

    It is the service industry, after all.

    Wrectum – forgot to give you kudos on the excellent sniglet of “frostage fee”

  • TM

    This is one of THE best threads I’ve ever read on this blog. Hilarious.

    Let’s review. Wells and friend arrive at 9:30pm. The restaurant stops serving dinner at 11pm (according to the menu at the link). He is appalled at the uniforms. Did he make a comment which the wait staff might find insulting? He appears not to have enjoyed his food. Did he leave a plateful of food? Again, did he respond if the wait staff asked “How is everything?” What did he say? Now he’s paid his check and is sitting at the bar. What kind of tip did he leave? If he projected onto the staff even a small portion of the tone of this piece, I can easily understand why they wouldn’t be cooperative.

    I spent some time working in food service. It is hell. And some restaurants have very strict policies about people bringing in outside food. You’d be surprised the number of people who try to hustle you and bring in food (pizza, McDonald’s, Chinese take out) and try to eat it because their “friend” is having coffee or dessert or whatever. And not all of them are what Wells would term “low class” or “no class”.

    And if the kitchen closes at 11pm (as per the menu), the staff would only start to put chairs on tables only if they had been instructed by the manager.

    If you wanted your friend to try the cake, why not invite him/her back to your place? Or take them to Dean & DeLuca and get a fresh slice?

  • byanyother

    TM, you’re exactly right. I had the same thought. Wells complained about the soggy pasta he was eating – I am quite sure he made mention of it to someone. I am quite confident he was already presenting himself as a disagreeable customer by the time the cake came out.

  • Ghost072

    There seems to be an assumption that the restaurant was closing or past closing and that this is a good reason for the manager to deny Wells the forks. But the manager suggested that Wells try one of their desserts, so obviously time was not the paramount issue. I still say a smart business person gives the forks up and bitches about it later, instead of pissing off two customers for such little reward.

  • Ghost072: There is a lot of assuming going on. I agree in principle that a smart business person would give the forks up, but as byanyother and others have noted, our HE host was already in a cranky mood as soon as he entered the restaurant, and the wait staff may have sensed the mood pocket vibe in which Wells might have been.

    I also agree in principle that it’s just rude to bring someone else’s food to another restaurant.

    When he asked the staff for forks for another bakery’s dessert, that was likely — no pun intended — the icing on the cake.

  • rr3333

    Boy, Jeff got us all with his April Fools story.

  • mccool

    ghost — offering the dessert was a polite way of saying “no, you can’t have forks, so please leave already”. The puss on Wells’ face told him it was a safe offer that would keep things professional. Chairs were up on tables and these guys at the bar ask for forks so they can sit their for another 15 minutes? Forget about the bizarreness of bringing in outside cake in TIN FOIL, it’s just completely inconsiderate. Anyone who doesn’t see that must be the same type who cuts in front of a queue of cars exiting a highway because they are in a rush and their time is worth more than everyone elses.

  • rr3333

    I wonder if Jeff brings in a Paper Bag into an ‘All You Can Eat’ restaurant?

  • Ghost072

    Again, I’m not arguing whether it was inconsiderate to bring in an outside dessert (although, I wouldn’t have minded it when I was a bartender, as long as it was a paying customer), I am merely saying that it was bad business on the part of the manager. As as been previously mentioned, those employees have closing duties that will take them well past the time it would have taken Wells to eat his cake. From all of the provided information, it seems to me that the manager was acting like he was managing a trendy restaurant in the late 90’s and not the late 2000’s and that is the kind of thinking that will get you closed down in this economic environment.

  • George Prager

    Funniest thread ever. Your first mistake was dining at a restaurant on West 4th. This street is a graveyard of failed restaurants, trying to woo tourons. The second mistake was bringing in outside food. I once observed a couple of fat kids bringing in a bag of popcorn to a Burger King and asking for water. What you did was worse. I think you should go to a doctor and get a checkup. You might be suffering from early dementia.

  • ketut

    St Paul says “Hi Jeff! we just learnid to tie are fancy neck knots.”

  • Floyd Thursby

    One of the great pleasures of dining out in Manhattan over the past thirty years has been seeing the most beautiful waitresses in the world. But haven’t been having much luck lately. Either going to the wrong places, or the cuties are drying up. Shouldn’t seen the two yesterday at the Blue Water Grill–like something out of an Omaha steak house. At least they weren’t wearing pink.

  • televisiontears

    One more thing:

    Pink on a man = bold, confident, sexy

    Pink on a woman = tacky, unflattering, drab

  • Gordon27

    “How about someone who ignores everything he writes and posts random links? ”

    That’s not fair; DZ responds directly to anything Jeff says that directly relates to Tarantino (of course, he responds the same way to anything within six degrees of Tarantino).

    — from the “broken clock twice a day” department

  • dartheater

    If you have a problem with a soft spoken woman bartending, then leave. Nothing in bartending rules that you must speak like a banker.

    You went home to doggy bag two slices of cake to a restaurant? If your economics is that bad where you couldn’t afford to order the restaurant desserts, maybe you shouldn’t be spending that $62 at the bar and buy takeout to eat at home. And the fact that they were closing shop and putting chairs up means they want to go home as well. Hell, I am considerate enough to leave and forgo paying for a dessert if I ever see a chair go up. West Village has plenty of late night spots for after hours. Why should everyone have to stay past closing just so they can watch you eat your pathetic stale cakes off a tin foil. You went that far, you might as well have brought your own forks!!!!!! Whats next? Bring your own appetizers?

    Seriously, there are much more important factors to a restaurant than pink shirts.

  • jodaroma

    This is a restaurant, this is how they make money-buy selling you food. Do you think they should let you bring an entree? This industry is hurting now and more than ever when you go to a restaurant you should try to go in there and not be so skimpy (COME ON GUYS-SPLITTING A SALAD AND AN ENTREE FOR TWO is not the way to go), because next time you want to go to your favorite NYC restaurant – IT MIGHT NOT BE THERE.

  • jimb12345

    You are so rught about running a restaurant. YOu should never act suprised when have customer come in. IT is a sign of desperation.

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  • nice post! I don’t get the mentality of someone who would bring cake in a bag into a restaurant, haul it out and then ask for forks.

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