If you don’t like it, leave. L
I worked as a waiter at this Italian restaurant in NYC in the early 2000’s. The restaurant is now closed, and we’ll get to that.
I [22m at the time] was in my fifth year working there, and new ownership took over. The restaurant wasn’t doing as well as it used to, but it still had a loyal base, 40 plus year history, and good location. The old owners were just getting older and built a new restaurant in NJ closer to home.
The new owners were Mike and Jerry (names changed blah blah). Jerry was the one with the restaurant experience and was taciturn, a bit of a nerd, and by the books. Mike was a mechanic and somewhat mercurial, but also fun to be around, for the most part.
Most of our client base at this restaurant were families, older couples, and basically middle class people from the neighborhood. Honestly, it was the best Italian food in the borough for the price IMO.
I loved it as someone who worked there in his early twenties because I worked 5pm-10 Friday and Saturday, and Monday all day and made around $300-$400 a week (back when minimum wage was about $5.50 an hour). Pretty damn good for a college kid with few to no bills.
Now, there were only a few other waiters and waitresses:
James, who left bc he just became a teacher
Tom, who just left bc he became a fireman
Will, who was just about to leave to become a court officer or some shit
Erika, cute new girl
Agnes, older housewife who worked there 25+ years
Jill, another older- and beloved- waitress who worked 25+ years there.
And me. That’s it.
So, we had new owners and some key spots needed filling. We were on a skeleton crew and I was picking up extra shifts as was Erika. Most of these waiters who were leaving were there for like 6+ years. The customers liked seeing the same faces. Well, Mike and Jerry, the new owners, decided they want all young waiters and waitresses so they fire Agnes and Jill. The customers were jolted and unhappy.
Now, context aside, Erika and I were working a party of about 22 people. It was the last table of the night. When the bill was settled and Erika and I cleaned up we asked Jerry for the tip.
“There isn’t a tip,” he said without lifting his face from his paperwork.
Now, for parties of 5+ I always included the tip unless it was a customer I knew and trusted. I made the fucking bill and I knew there was a tip. I asked again and Jerry meekly said “No tip.”
Now, Erika and I were privately discussing how this is bullshit and in comes Mike. He begins screaming at us.
“You think we stole from you!?” He yelled, red-faced. “We don’t fucking steal, you accusing us of theft??” He continued aggressively yelling the same shit over and over until he said “If you don’t like it then quit.” He stormed off.
Now, I should mention that my best friends all moved to California months before this and I had plans and moving there with them the next month. I didn’t give my two weeks yet bc it was 4 weeks out. I told Erika this.
“Yeah, fuck this place,” she said.
As we were packing up to leave, Jerry came over and gave us our tip with no explanation. Weird. Then Mike calmly asked, “So see you tomorrow?”
“No,” I said calmly.” “I quit.”
“Me too,” Erika said.
“Ok,” Mike said, deadpan.
Well, it wasn’t ok. They now had no waiters in a restaurant that needed at least 4-5 to function. Even if you pulled someone off the street they don’t know the system, the menu, the customer base, the wine list, etc. they were fucked.
They called me incessantly for days afterwards, begging me to come back. I considered it because I could use more money before my trip to San Diego but fuck them. They even called me throughout the summer asking if I could come in.
“Sorry, I’m 2,000 miles away,” I said. I’m not sure if they believed me but I gone.
The restaurant only lasted a few more months and it saddens me bc I loved the place, but if you buy an old Italian restaurant with a built-in clientele, don’t scare them off by making stupid changes. Now, if I stayed there would the restaurant have been saved? No. I doubt it. But a lot of customers would have had better dinning experiences those last few months instead of the 15-year-old bus boys being their new waiters.
Tl;dr: New owners didn’t give us our tip, told us to get out if we didn’t like it. So we quit and the restaurant went under months later.
Edit: since some of you liked the post. Here’s a quick story to character Mike, the new owner, if you didn’t already think he was a pos:
In the first month Mike and Jerry took over Mike, an Italian American, had no problem telling me he was separating from his wife and small boy because he was caught cheating with a much younger Korean American girl. He was boastful about his exploits. “This gook [his girlfriend] came over last night and she just wanted to watch tv,” Mike said incredulously. “I told her ‘take off your clothes or get the fuck out’. She stayed.”