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FW: A Warning to Restaurant Goers

From: [an eater]
Date: Tuesday, April 3, 2007
To: eater complaints dept.
Subject: A Warning to Restaurant Goers

As a born-and-bred New Yorker, I have always been somewhat upset about our reputation for being rude; I have always felt that a few bad apples have left a bruise on the Big Apple. After my experience last night at The Press Box (a sports bar/ restaurant on the UES) I feel compelled to tell my story, in order to alert similarly perturbed New Yorkers, who do not want support a restaurant that so blatantly disseminates the stereotype.

My best friend came out from San Francisco this week to meet her new nephew and to celebrate her birthday with family and friends. We had a lovely dinner at Máma Mexico on 49th Street. Afterwards, we walked up to The Press Box on 2nd Avenue, looking for a place to have a few drinks and talk. The bar was completely empty except for two diners and a pair of friends at a table having beers. After having sipped on one of Mama’s aptly named “Killer Margaritas”, and knowing my limits, I decided to not have anything else to drink. I sat politely with my friends while they ordered drinks, and when asked, told the bartender I would like water. After about ten minutes, the drinks had come and my water had not.

The bartender approached us again, and I presumed that he was going to be a proper host and offer us more drinks. Instead, I was told that if I was not going to “even make an effort to spend money” then I needed to leave. At first I laughed because I presumed he was making a joke. The idea was patently ridiculous since the bar was so utterly empty. Five more minutes passed before he came back and in a very nasty tone, told me that I needed to leave. He said it wasn’t his rule, it was the manager’s. But when asked, it turned out that he was the manager, and hadn’t the courtesy to be truthful or hospitable.

Frankly, I have never been treated so appallingly by a bartender or wait staff, let alone a manager, in my entire life. When I asked why my abstinence was so offensive, given that the bar was empty and I was not blocking any customers, he became irate and started yelling. Evidently I would “never try something like that in another bar in the city” and would “grow up someday”. Though our group hadn’t dropped an enormous amount of money on drinks, we were paying money for what we had ordered, thereby making us customers. Apparently, manager (and owner!) Joe Ryan has never heard the first rule of hospitality: the customer is always right.

Now, I may not be the “grown up” Irish alcoholic with no tab limits and a Swiss cheese liver that Mr. Ryan had hoped for, but I have enough city savvy to know that no customer should ever be treated in such a manner. We were not being destructive, rude or violent. We simply wanted to be together as friends and to be able to hear ourselves. I will never return to The Press Box.

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