Diner Stewed Over Steak

March 18, 2009

in Diner Stories

I was managing a very busy steakhouse one Saturday evening, and a server informed me of an overcooked steak that had been sent back to the kitchen at one of his tables. Although regrettable, it does happen and I approached the table to make apologies and let them know their steak would be out very shortly.

It was a middle aged couple and before I could open my mouth, the husband starts saying how terrible it is that a good restaurant can’t even cook a steak to the correct temperature, on and on as I try to settle him down. He starts eating his steak, and in under three minutes, his wife’s steak is replaced and I ask her to cut into the steak to check the temperature. She does so and agrees it’s to her liking.

The server comes back to me a few minutes later to inform me the husband is still not happy. I return to the table and agree to comp her steak from the bill for the inconvenience of waiting three long minutes for the recook. At the end of their meal, the server again comes to me and tells me the husband is refusing to pay for any of the meal. Now, there are a few cocktails, bottle of moderately priced wine, his dinner and two desserts on the check. He starts complaining that he had to eat his steak alone while waiting for his wife’s steak to be recooked and feels the entire check should be comped.

Enough, I tell him I am glad to pay for his wife’s dinner, but not the entire check. He is persistent and I finally tell him, “Sir, if you refuse to pay your check, I will call the police. Now, let me tell you what he’s going to do when he arrives. He’s going to ask you if you ordered this food, and you’ll say yes. Then he’ll ask you if you are going to pay the bill. At this point you’re going to want to go into this whole story again, but he will stop you and ask again if you are going to pay. At this point, you will say no. The next thing the policeman is going to say is, turn around and place your hands behind your back.”

The guy calls my bluff, I call the police on my cell phone right in front of him at the table. Since we are in a very busy tourist area, there are bike patrols and a cop is there in under two minutes. The rest is perfect; the cop looks at the guy, and word for word goes through the entire script I had just told this guy he would, right up to the point he told the husband to turn around and place his hands behind his back. At this point, the guy decides to pay for his dinner. After he left, I comped off the guys steak so the server didn’t get stiffed on his tip. Idiots !!

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Rob April 2, 2009 at 2:35 pm

Nice call!

Steak seems to be the worst food to serve to leeches. I once, years ago, had a lady try to send back 3 bites of a steak (the rest comfortably chewed and swallowed – devoured by her gaping MAW was what I was thinking at the time) because it 'wasn't done right'.

She didn't get another steak. And she paid. I tipped the server myself for her patience and professionalism.


April April 3, 2009 at 8:55 pm

Good for you for standing up against the whole "customer is always right" shenanigans. If you didn't, it would just confirm his ridiculous sense of entitlement.


Hugh April 6, 2009 at 8:29 am

I'm a so happy to see that you stood up for your server. Good for you. I hate people that try to take advantage of businesses like that.


Max October 24, 2009 at 12:35 am

This story made me smile. It's sad, but oh so amusing when obnoxious people have to learn the hard way.

Nice call on the police


Xiao Gou May 16, 2010 at 10:32 am

Late to the party but this story made me smile, too.

Why is it that within the last 10 years or so diners think that they can demand complimentary meals, and drinks, if the very slightest error is committed by the restaurant? 40 years ago when I started eating out, I was encouraged by my parents to be patient and kind to those who're serving you, and you'll have a fabulous time when dining out.

Years ago this business of "comp" this and "comp" that was unheard of. The "comp" I remember getting was when I'd just turned 18 (yeah, legal age was 18 back then) and I asked for an anisette with the espresso I ordered after my meal at a local Italian restaurant. I'd been treating myself to a meal there on a weekly basis, often alone but sometimes with a friend, since getting my first job at 15. When the owner came over with my favorite waitress, I first thought I was in trouble for something. Not at all. The guy actually sat down with me, with his own espresso, and shared not one but two different types of anisette with me. He also took the time to let me know that his waitress had watched me over the years come in week after week, and was impressed with my adventurous ordering habits. Now, that's the only kind of "comp" one got in the "good old days." I remember that fine man and the wonderful woman (my favorite server) who worked for him, to this day. Years later, the woman was pushing 60 and she still worked at the same place. It was like coming home for me every time I ate there. Sadly, both the owner and the waitress are no longer with us — they're having a splendid meal in Heaven every night!

Oh, what would happen in those days if, for some reason, you were unhappy with your meal or service? You'd just pay the bill and never go back. Since when has this option become no longer acceptable? Since when did diners start writing their own "money back if not satisfied" guarantee for restaurants?


Robert February 14, 2013 at 3:36 pm

If your late to the party what does that make me! LOL!

Anyway, story I read on another site. Late teens kid comes in alone, orders an appetizer and an expensive entree. Eats it all then tells the server that it was no good and he doesn't want to pay for it.

The manager comes over and explains that if he had let them know he was not satisfied they could have remade it or refunded him but since he ate everything he is going to have to pay for his meal.

Kid: But…but…I don't have any money!
MGR: Why in the world would you come into a restaurant and order a meal if you knew you didn't have the money to pay for it?
Kid: My friend told me if I complained about the meal I wouldn't have to pay for it!


College Kid November 2, 2010 at 12:37 pm

xiao, tldr


Nycgirl November 17, 2010 at 10:23 pm

Xiao, that was a lovely story and unfortunately, would just never happen now.


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