What are the worst things Irish diners do in restaurants?
Steal the cutlery, click fingers for attention, refuse to pay? Oh no, there is worse, much worse
We frequently give out about terrible customer service, but what if we turned the tables and zoomed in on the terrible customers the service industry has to deal with every single day?
Confining it to the restaurant business, we asked on social media for examples of diners behaving badly and within minutes we were swamped with a litany of stories – some hilarious and some horrendous and some just plain disgusting.
Restaurant staff and customers shared stories of elderly men groping teenage waitresses and couples changing dirty nappies at tables no more than five feet from where people were trying to eat.
There were stories of people throwing up in the dining room and and tales of thieves and chancers and bullies and scoundrels. Pity the poor staff who have to deal with these people and if you see yourself as the bad guy in any of these stories then hang your head in shame.
At the table next to ours in a cramped restaurant a few years ago, a tipsy and very chatty diner released both breasts from her dress
Liam Smith made us laugh out loud with his story about a restaurant in San Francisco where a guest ordered the “rare tuna salad”. When it was served, she complained that it was undercooked. When I explained that that was what rare meant, she said: “’Oh ... I thought it meant there weren’t many of them left’.”
We had to laugh at Ronan O’Driscoll’s story, too. “It was in the Celtic Tiger era,” he wrote. “As God is my witness, a woman in my company, when asked ‘Still or Sparkling?’ said ‘50/50 mixed’.”
There is no laughing at Irene McConnell story. She echoes the concerns of many when she says simply: “Customers clicking fingers to get my attention.”
“Full restaurant, diner drinks too much, feels unwell and rushes to bathroom,” writes Paul Jackson. “He doesn’t quite make it and hurls all over the restaurant floor. I followed him to the bathroom where he washed and returned to the restaurant to finish his meal and drink more wine.”
“Stealing,” starts the email from Emma Dillon-Leetch. She says she has seen everything go missing, from “salt and pepper cellars [to] glasses. In one hotel I worked in many, many years ago someone even took the paintings from the wall.” But her worst memory was of a diner, a man, “drinking directly from a milk jug.”?
“Table beside ordered chicken risotto,” begins a tweet from Justin Macartney. “I ordered it also and it was delicious. Gentleman ate it then complained it wasn’t what he had ordered. When he went to pay, he simply only had to pay for his wife. Effortless con merchant.”
“At the table next to ours in a cramped restaurant a few years ago, a tipsy and very chatty diner released both breasts from her dress,” says Tony Kavanagh. She “laid them on the table. Apart from her hot-to-trot husband, everyone pretended not to notice. What else could you do, really?”
Many people’s bug bear is other people watching videos on smart phones with the volume turned up. “I was in a local hotel with my mother and sister last week and the family at the next table decided to watch a short video of something with the sound full up. Very rude and it’s quite common everywhere now,” says Noel McArdle.
Katey Tolan, who works as a waitress, has two stories to tell. “A man grabbed me by the arm and screamed in my face because I asked him to move from a table for four (that he had moved to on his own accord after I sat him at a table for two). He was by himself, I had a queue.”
And then there were the two middle aged ladies who ordered a bottle of white wine. “I asked them if they’d like to sample it, they told me to just pour away. Came back, half of it drank, and they complained and asked for another. Manager gave them one.”
Rhona O’Connor ran a pizza and pasta restaurant in which a customer “argued hard that the lasagne was ‘off’ ”. She told him it had been made that day. “He said it was green and mouldy. I advised that it was spinach pasta” to which he said “he had travelled extensively and that didn’t exist”.
Julianne Savage shared a story of a man at a table beside her in a restaurant in Spain, who was “looking at porn on his mobile when his missus went to the loo”.
Anne Bradshaw wrote pleading with us to highlight inappropriate nose blowing. “Blowing your nose like life depends on full clearance on the serviette, then throwing it on an empty plate or the table, where staff have to pick it up. Please spread the word to stop this, it’s vile.”
It really is.
But there was more.
“Granny and Mammy bring a baby near us in a restaurant in Spain, last September,” writes Colette Cunningham. “They were Irish. They changed baby’s nappy within 3 ft of us having dinner. There are no words.”
Sadly, there were many more words still to come.
Brendan Courtney – yes that one – tells us a story of a TD who was looking for a table in the Unicorn in Dublin (between service). She was told that the kitchen was closed, to which she responded with the always, always ridiculous line: “Do you know who I am?” The water then “silenced the restaurant, asking customers ‘can anyone help, this woman appears to have forgotten who she is?’.”
A DUP Member of the Legislative Assembly has a weirdly similar story. Christopher Stalford tells of a “man shouting loudly at a member of staff: ‘do you know who I am?’. ” Staff member lifts the glass of water on the table, taps it with a knife and proceeds to announce: “Can someone tell this guy who he is? He has forgotten.”
Staff at a seafood restaurant recall a customer having a suspected heart attack and another group demanded their bill should be comped as they found it ‘distressing’
Fiona O’Connor recalls seeing a woman send back a burger “because it came in a bread bun and she was gluten intolerant. The waiter offered to remove the bread but she insisted the burger be completely replaced as it had ‘touched the bread’.”
Rosemary Mac Cabe was in a restaurant in Terenure when she saw a woman take out a portable potty. She “dropped it on the floor in the middle of the cafe and her child (maybe three?) peed in it. Then she closed the lid but some pee went on the floor. When the waiter saw it, and he wiped it with a cloth and SHE SAID NOTHING.”
Thomas Murray was in a fast food restaurant in Dublin when he saw “an absolute scumbag eat 95 per cent of his and his partner’s food before going to the till to say he wasn’t paying as he found a hair on his plate. Staff member barely even reacted as she knew it wasn’t going to be worth the agro. Infuriating.”
Aoife Ní Nualláin has several unpleasant experiences to relate, including the “lovely gentleman who told me I was too pretty to work where I was! He told me, myself and one of the other waitresses were the only good looking girls in the place, and pestered for my number. I told him I only give my number to girls and he stopped.”
And then there was the charmer who “propositioned me three times in five minutes with the last being “Would ye be fit to show me to my bedroom later with all your clothes off?”
There were echoes of this in the response from Hannah Barkhoff. “One thing I could absolutely not stand: male guests thinking because I was serving them they could touch, sexualize or speak to me in a demeaning/inappropriate manner. Nope. Nope. Nope.”
Staff at a seafood restaurant recall a customer having a suspected heart attack “and another group demanded their bill should be comped as they found it ‘distressing’. Didn’t stop them ordering and finishing desserts though.”
Joel Neill once watched a woman “finish her meal and pick her teeth with the menu at a restaurant in Belfast”.
And the last words: “When I was a waitress, I worked in one of the first restaurants to do bottomless brunch in Dublin. A table of, like, eight people came in and went wild and after they left (I had to bar them for their behaviour), I found that one of them had puked underneath the table.”