Tuesday, February 8, 2011

That couple: Customers who love to hate

Posted By on Tue, Feb 8, 2011 at 12:00 PM

click to enlarge food_angrychef3-1_41.jpg

Although they are a "couple," an unjaded, nonrestaurant eye might mistake them for two strangers here to meet other dining companions. She walks in just prior to him, making a bit of an entrance in her obnoxious mink. He takes the last drag off his cigarette, flicks the butt into one of our flower pots (which obviously doubles as an ashtray), pushes past some other guests at the host stand and heads straight to the bar to order a Scotch and get the bartender to change the channel so that he can see how his athletically irrelevant alma mater is faring against some SEC powerhouse.

After years in this business, I can easily identify "that couple" from the expo line as they come through the door.

Their first victim? Our hostess.

The drama begins to unfold as the hostess attempts to bring them to a table, which of course is not suitable for them. We must be kidding, this table only accommodates two people! And everybody else in the dining room (who they don't really give a fuck about anyway) can't see them. Once we've explored every inch of the dining room, the couple settles for a roomy, round booth that was actually intended for your reservation of five that's coming in a bit later.

Now it's time for their server to get his first taste. However, he hasn't been able to fully comprehend the magnitude of the situation because he's far too busy fetching a taste of every red wine that we offer by the glass. While the server is away, our lovely couple settles into their booth. They don't have much to say to each other. He keeps busy on his BlackBerry, she fixes her makeup and gazes about the dining room with a disapproving scowl, neither one of them caring to take a look at the menu. As the server approaches the table with some acceptable wine, he now faces the task of trying to get their attention and attempt to tell them this evening's specials. While our lady painfully grimaces (she even partially sticks her tongue out — so classy) at the thought of some of the flavors that we've paired with this evening's grouper, he decides to look up from his BlackBerry and inform the server that he'd like an entrée salad with steak on it.

Now our server gets to waste even more time and ignore some other guests even longer, while navigating these selfish pricks through "Menu 101" and discussing every conceivable special order we'll allow, only to have her settle on, but of course, the salmon with sauce on the side and him, the Kobe burger, with no bun and a side salad; after all, he needs to keep trim for his girlfriend, who's probably on the other end of that BlackBerry.

Before we delve into the real meaty part of their dinner, the part that usually includes me having to go to the table and hear about how horrible my restaurant is (and how wonderful Indigo use to be), let's freeze frame for just a second.

Why are these folks such a pain in the ass? What is the source of all this tension?

The tension probably originated earlier in the day when he lost a bunch of money on a bad investment. On their way to dinner, where he really doesn't want to be, anyway (especially with her), she's getting irritated because he is such a bad listener. The tension usually peaks as he parks the car in the lot across the street. Now she's irritated because there's no valet and he realizes that what he really needs is definitely out of the question at this point and now we're all pretty much fucked.

That couple is usually married and in their mid- to late-40s. At this point in their lives, they basically hate each other, and why they're out to dinner together in the first place is a fuckin' mystery. But they are here, and now I get to deal with them.

And so do you. By far, that couple's best attribute is that they have absolutely no regard for you. Their arrogance is so blinding, they don't even see you sitting at the table across from them. Besides consuming way too much of your server's time, they have probably summoned the manager so that they can berate him or her, usually for very serious matters: Perhaps the lighting is a bit obtrusive (causing our lady to have to readjust her makeup multiple times), or maybe it's a bit too hot or a bit too cold in the dining room.

Moreover, because I've had to intervene, now I'm not able to focus on my job, which is to actually run the entire restaurant. And forget about their server, he's out back, smoking a cigarette, popping a Xanax and ignoring all the rest of his other tables. One of which John Kessler is probably sitting at.

After my somewhat diplomatic confrontation with them, that couple leaves and probably runs over a puppy on their way home. The air is purged of all their wicked energy, I go in the office to tweet about them and the table that was sitting across from them go home and write a scathing review of Rosebud on Open Table.

Ron owns and operates Rosebud restaurant and the soon-to-open Family Dog bar in Morningside. He also makes people laugh on Twitter.

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