All throughout Shitshow Week, New York's best food writers have been anonymously griping about the restaurant scene these days. Now it's time to turn it over to the chefs and restaurateurs. They were less eager to share, but their complaints are just as passionate — if not more passionate — than the ones from the food writers.
Here are their grievances:
The Anonymous Grievances of Chefs and Restaurateurs:
1) Restaurant bashing: In almost every other commercial marketplace, when a customer receives bad service or a bad product, they simply don't seek the service or product again. In the hospitality industry, unhappy customers see themselves as martyrs, having taken a bad experience for the team, and will go to great lengths to insure that the operator is publicly shamed and hurt.
2) Questioning value: Most customers do not understand how a restaurant works or how most food is made so how are they in a position to question how much a menu item should cost? I love the comment: "It was absolutely delicious but seemed to cost $1-2 too much." Perhaps it's fucking delicious because it costs a little more to make.
3) Condescending service, whether intended as tragic sophistication or otherwise, is a buzzkill. The industry's gene pool has been diluted but there's never an excuse to make a customer feel as if they'd pistol whipped your dog just for attempting to order some barbecue...at a counter...on a slow night.
4) My biggest pet peeve is people that book big birthday 20 person parties for themselves, agree on basic terms and conditions to secure the reservations, don't tell any of their friends, and then have massive meltdowns when the bill appears, and everyone feigns poverty. End result tends to be: A) Threats of violence on staff, B) The birthday girl/guy crying drunkenly about how their birthday is ruined C) Some inebriated junior associate lawyer demanding to see prix fixe menu "signed contracts." D) A full poker deck of credit cards that takes an hour to process and breaks the Micros. Good times. Don't throw parties you can't afford.
5) My second biggest pet peeve is customers that come in with an outside beverage (can of soda, coffee, or whatever) and drink it at the table. Normally happens at brunch. Sometimes they ask for a glass. Or ice if they are the classy sort.
6) I am really tired of being served super-oxidized or bacterially spoiled wines that I am told are "natural. " Most wines that I like do fit into the "natural" category, but this concept is being used to sell some terrible, punishing wines these days. I think a lot of diners are suffering through these wines because they are afraid to say they don't like them.
7) I am frustrated by complaints that a menu item or an entire restaurant is "overpriced." I personally do not feel like I can call something overpriced unless I have a full understanding of the cost of producing and selling that thing. Something may not fit your budget, that's a different matter. There is, of course, some egregious price gouging in our city. It's almost all at mediocre, expensive restaurants, though, places where you're paying to be in the room, not to have a great meal. For the most part, it's amazing that prices are as low as they are.
The misconception is totally understandable. It costs you $30 to make a nice dinner for two at home and you go to a restaurant and pay two or three or ten times as much. This is because there are hundreds of additional costs that drive our prices up. It's then our responsibility to give you a wonderful experience that you could never have at home. Trust me, most restaurants bend over backwards to keep prices down, pay their bills and pay employees decent wages. Compared to almost any other industry, our margins are shockingly low. Your shampoo is overpriced. Your entree is a bargain.
8) The phrase "whenever possible" on a menu. As in, "we use local and organic ingredients whenever possible." This statement undermines our credibility. Anything is "possible." If you want to only use local and organic ingredients, it can be done. It just seriously limits your options for about eight months of the year. I think it's just fine to make a salad from California lettuce in January, if the salad tastes great and people like it. We can make these decisions honestly, without pretending that someone has a gun to our heads.
9) The current state of Williamsburg.
10) Chef and restaurateur Twitter trolls who pointlessly attack other chefs and restaurateurs in their professional community, for nothing more than the giddy, ego-puffing delight that comes from hearing their own voices and high-fiving the meat-headed bro-cooks egging them on. Here's a pro-tip for them: mind your own sauce, and we'll just tend to ours like we always do.
· All Coverage of Shitshow Week 2013 [~ENY~]