Utterly WTF Restaurant Stories
Welcome back to Off The Menu, where we bring you the best and strangest food stories from my email inbox. This week, we bring you stories for which the only appropriate reaction is "what the fuck?" As always, these are real emails from real readers.
I work at a small, locally owned bakery that's pretty well-known for our bread and donuts. We recently became in need of a new baker after the jerk that used to occupy that position threw the biggest tantrum known to man and my boss FINALLY fired him.
So my boss posts the position on some job boards around town and the next day this girl comes in and asks if the manager is available. I tell her that he isn't in yet, and she says, "That's fine, I just wanted to apply for the baker position if you have an application I can fill out." So I say "You bet. Let me just check and see if we've got some in the back." She proceeds to wander around looking at the stuff on the shelves while I head into the back. Lo and behold, we're fresh out of applications. I walk back out front and am just beginning to tell her when she interrupts me loudly and says, "You know, I changed my mind! It smells too much like BREAD in here!" and leaves.
So for a couple years after college, I worked in the daycare of a cruise ship, and we had a partnership with an on-land educational company that wrote science lesson plans that we had to do periodically. [Editor’s Note: At this point, you’re thinking the same thing I did when I first read this: “What does this have to do with food?” Stick with it.] They were just total bullshit, from top to bottom. It wouldn't have been so bad if I'd been able to just teach science to the nerdy kids while the rest of the kids played Guitar Hero or whatever, but no, I had to shut down all other activities for the duration, leaving me with a bunch of bored-as-fuck kids who just wanted to watch movies.
Additionally, they were also always really messy and unwieldy. Chemistry lessons that would require a ton of setup, a box of life size rubber fish that the kids were supposed to put paint on and then press onto a piece of paper--leaving me stuck with a bunch of rubber fish covered in wet paint, a clay mobile of the planets that had always fallen apart by the time the session was over, that sort of thing. The only good one was Old Reliable, the shark lesson, where I'd list off a bunch of badass shark facts while giving them shark teeth to make necklaces out of, and call it a day.
Well, one day, we get a new lesson from corporate. Squid. The kids were to learn about squid (squids?), DISSECT THEM, and then remove the ink gland and squeeze it to write their names on paper. It was SUCH BULLSHIT. I was going to have to make a bunch of captive eight-year-olds dissect a creature?? And then squeeze one of its organs to make art projects? It was my living nightmare. I protested to my boss what a terrible idea it was, but she was 100% corporate, everything that comes from land is right and true and just, even though I'm the one who works with the kids everyday and the people on land don't. She puts in the order for the ship restaurant for the dead squid.
So I wake up that morning just dreading having to force children to handle squid carcasses (and the inevitable terrible stink that will forever permeate my walls). Half an hour before it is supposed to happen, a waiter from the restaurant arrives with a box. "What your boss ordered," he said.
I open the box.
Calamari rings. It's full of fried calamari rings.
Bless you, cruise ship kitchen. Bless you from the bottom of my heart. I got a nice mid-morning snack, the kids got to play their beloved Guitar Hero, and my boss never tried to make me do the squid lesson ever again.
I work at a trendy upscale-ish BBQ restaurant where all the servers must have previous serving experience, so we should all know the typical server lingo: 86, in the weeds, campers, on the fly, etc.
All our new servers have to follow a trainer server for a few days. I'll never forget the look on one of the new servers following this girl named Bre. Bre is a sweet girl and I have made everyone promise never to tell anyone she's wrong about this one term.
Whenever she has a full section, of course she wants to pre-bus her tables but instead of "pre-bus," she thinks the term is "cropdust." She’ll tell her trainees, "okay, so I'm gonna go cropdust 31 and 32, you go get 43."
No one has corrected her because it's just too awesome, but the first time I saw a new server hear this from Bre, I died watching them watch her.
Here is my tale of when I was Brewster the Bear.
Brewster’s is (was? I don't live in the UK any more) one of those horrible chain pubs that serves terrible microwaved and grilled food, and has a Fun Factory play area for the kids to rage about in whilst their parents get drunk on cooking lager and pay far too much for a microwaved burger and some shitty fries. I was working in the kitchens there as a dishwasher.
The notable thing about Brewster’s theme was that every hour, the sign promised a visit from Brewster the Bear, meaning some poor bastard in a costume. Brewers Fayre, the parent company of the chain, were CHEAP AS FUCK. Brewster T Bear was a giant 198x vintage mascot costume (was 2001-ish at the time), wearing a t-shirt that said his name. If you looked under it, you could tell he'd been representing several other places in the past, as there were patches of his old costumes under there. I always used to laugh at the poor bastards having to caper about in that thing and wave to the kids, not knock over any tables, and generally Bear it up all over the shop. Until one fateful day the manager comes over and says “Your turn to be Brewster!”
I'm all “heh, fuck that, I'm here to wash dishes, not be a mascot.” He does that classy manager thing where he implies I'll be fired if I do not...so off I trot to get fur-suited up.
MY GOD. IT WEIGHS A TONNE. The inside stinks more than the outside does ... I gag. I wheeze. I can't see shit out of the eye holes in his nose. Off to caper about the tables and wave at drunks, and Bear It Up. Gosh this is shite, haha that piss head just punched me in the arm, what a Jolly Wheeze. I'm dreading entering The Fun Factory. My handler grabs me by the paw and starts to lead me to the Fun Factory. Crapola.
“This is the last time I'm doing this, ever,” I think, but how to not be asked again?
Hmmmm. Wandering about the Fun Factory now sweating my tits off, being hugged by foul goblins... Brewster is a BEAR. A BEAR. You'd not hug a giant bear. I'm getting a bit hot and sketched out now. One kid kicks me up the arse! Ice cream gets thrown at me. Burning sweat is in my eyes, my nose is full of the stench of the bear’s previous occupants...I'm not a happy bear. What Would Brewster Do? WWBD?
Ohgodthiskidsjustpukedonmypaws. How much longer, OH GOD I'VE ONLY BEEN IN THIS 10 mins!
Hang on...I AM BREWSTER! Everyone Loves Brewster! Leave It To Brewster! I AM A BEAR! HAHAHAHA HEAR ME ROAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRR!
This is a fine plan.
Brewster drops to all fours (tricky as hell in a fur suit, btw). I/He (we are one at this point), let out a mighty primal ROAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRR! Kids scatter! Result! I Stand up and attempt to maul my handler she does not know wtf do at this point, she says “Brewster, you are such a naughty bear!" and grabs me by the paw and takes me outside.
NO! BREWSTER’S RAGE WILL NOT BE DENIED! We run to the outside play area and unleash another mighty growl. I AM BEAR! BEAR IS PRIMAL! ALL MUST FEAR BREWSTER! I run to the road and try and flag down passing cars. I get honked at. I do a sexy sexy bear dance, and rub my bear belly and behind to allure the nice folks in the cars. I AM BREWSTER! I AM SEX! SEX AND EATING! RAAAAAAAAAR!
RAAAAAAAAAR! RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAR! SEXY DANCE! ROAR!
And that's how I was kindly asked never ever ever under circumstances to Brewster The Bear ever again.
[Editor’s Note: This is the first and probably last time you’ll ever see me say this: this story is probably made up. I do not care. Even if it is, it’s too funny not to use.]
A few years ago, my husband and I were going out to dinner with my mom and her husband. The most frequent thing I often hear from her whenever we go out to eat is, "I forgot my glasses," so it often takes her a little bit of time to look at the menu. As we had made our decisions, the waitress came over to take our order. My mom ordered prime rib.
"How would you like it?" the waitress asked her.
The three of us just looked at my mom for a moment, because we didn't know what she was thinking. The waitress looked thoroughly confused. Then all of us just burst out laughing, including my mother, because she forgot momentarily what she was ordering.
When it came time to order his prime rib, my husband jokingly said, "Sunny side up."
Mom hasn't lived that one down since.
My son Jimmy and I were at Denny's with a friend of mine when Jimmy was around 9 months old. My friend and I were chatting and eating mediocre burgers, while Jimmy happily sat in his high chair and ate fries off my plate. I was a very young parent and didn't have a clue how to raise a child, but I'd had the unbelievably good fortune to have a kid with a naturally quiet and amiable personality. My friend and I were just about finished eating when the middle-aged manager approached our table. He complimented me on my son's exemplary behavior and placed a free bowl of Goldfish crackers down in front of him. Jimmy smiled sweetly up at the guy and, very gently and calmly, poked him right in the dick.
I can't for the life of me remember the manager's reaction, but I'm sure that wasn't the "thank you" he expected.
My husband once received an application from a former Taco Bell employee. She worked at Taco Bell for one month. Her reason for leaving, as listed on the application? "Stabbed by another employee." When she submitted another application six months later, she simplified it to just, "stabbed."
I spent a little over 10 years working in the kitchen of an upscale B&G in San Francisco before the bliss/hell of parenthood prompted the need for an uptick in income and a schedule that didn't include nights and weekends. One of my favorite shifts to work was Sunday morning prep. Sure it could be painful after the usual Saturday night but since we weren't open for lunch it had the benefit of being the quietest shift of the week and was completely unsupervised by any management types. Meaning I was able to smoke all the "hangover-helper" I wanted.
Our pastry chef (we'll call him Lenny) did most of his weekly stuff Sunday morning as well. With me being the only other person working until a couple hours before we opened for dinner he was able to use practically the whole kitchen to spread out in. Plus he was a fellow burner so Sundays were fun, mellow mornings.
This one particular Sunday Lenny is making a batch of chocolate sauce, something he did every two or three weeks. It's on the stove near the back door. Big pot, 5 or 6 gallons. He also had cakes & pie crusts going so pastry stuff is everywhere and delicious aromas are filling the kitchen. It's an unbearably hot late Fall morning so we have the backdoor open. This door opens from the kitchen right onto the parking lot in back of the restaurant. There's a screen door to keep out flies, rodents and the numerous pigeons attracted by the smell (we're close to Civic Center park by City Hall, lots of pigeons around). We've also smoked more than the usual amount because it made us give less of a crap about the heat.
I'm deep in the zone cleaning a couple bags of calamari. Maybe I hear the screen door creak open a bit before this vague streak of motion flashes in my peripheral vision. Then I hear Lenny yelling and turn just in time to see a pigeon fly kamikaze style straight into his pot of chocolate sauce. Instant brown death.
Lenny and I look at each other in stun-stoned silence. He mutters the realization that he has at least $500, maybe $600 worth of chocolate in this pot. WTF do we do?! Lenny says no fucking way am I dumping this sauce. I say you do what you gotta do. He fishes the bird out of the pot, runs over to the backdoor and hucks the dripping carcass into the parking lot out back.
Then things got really weird.
I'm helping Lenny strain the remarkably small amount of dead bird detritus out of his sauce. The stove is right next to a window through which we can see the dead pigeon in the parking lot. Another pigeon is walking circles around his fallen comrade and starts pecking at him. He starts pecking more fervently when a third bird joins him. We watch in abject horror as suddenly there are 7 or 8 pigeons going at this pile of chocolate and feathers in a mad frenzy. They picked that sumbitch clean to the bone in under 5 minutes.
I told Lenny to let me know when it was safe to have another ice cream sundae. Got the all clear sign two weeks later.
Apparently pigeons REALLY like chocolate...
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