The customer is always right?!??!!??!!?

Sometimes in the restaurant business things happen that make you stop and think, “I could NEVER make this shit up!”

 The following just  happened and I’m still reeling everytime I think about it.

 A woman calls up for a reservation, wanting to use her coupon from a well known company that rhymes with the word. Wonderful, that’s why I sent them out. Now, we only take “Coupons” before 6pm and after 8pm on Friday and Saturday evenings, always have, always will. This rule was actually sent to every participant as an amendment from the very company that issued it! 

Said woman calls on a Saturday night looking for a reservation that evening. Dan, my trusted Maitre d’, took the call and explained the “coupon” rules we had set forth in our deal, saying  she could not come in at 6:30 and that we were over booked. He said it over and over and this woman still barked at him on the phone saying, “I’ll come in whenever the fuck I want, I have a “COUPON!” Now anyone that knows me will attest that this is not the best way to get what you want from me. Dan remained cordial and gave in saying, “Okay if you can get here by 6:15 we will squeeze you in but you might have to wait a little bit.” She took the reservation and hung up in mid-sentence.

At 6:50 that evening, this woman and her Napoleonic, scumbag husband pop in, poorly dressed and a bit drunk and this is what ensued – Dan SAID, “We expected you nearly 45 minutes ago, I’m sorry but we had to give your table away. We tried to call the number we had for you but it went right to voice mail.”  “WHAT! yelled the woman, bitch that she was, so loud that the entire restaurant was staring at her! Dan came to the kitchen to tell me of the comotion and I had to come out! When I’m in the middle of a full house, on a Saturday night and we’re short one man in the kitchen, it’s unsettling to have to come out to address a man-child and his savage wife kicking and screaming in MY FUCKING DINING ROOM!

“Sir, how can I help you?” I asked. “You will seat us now! We had a reservation! “Sir, I understand that we tried to accomodate you and in return you show up 45 minutes late for the agreed upon reservation AND your wife had the audacity to swear and yell at my manager over the phone earlier today. “I do not like the fact that you are disrupting an otherwise lovely dining room with your silly behavior and I now refuse to seat you, good night” I turned to head back to the kitchen and this asshole spit on my back! It is only by the grace of God and the fear in Dans eyes that this rotten little motherfucker lived to see fresh air again.

I took $60 out of my pocket, threw it at him and told him he could stick his coupon up his ass.. I am 6’1, 330 pounds and and this guy was maybe 5 feet tall and a buck twenty soaking wet. He was lucky I caught a glimpse of all the wide-eyed guests in the dining room. I, quite out out of charactor mind you, decided to take the high road and allowed this prick to live to fuck with other restaurant owners.

 (I apologize to all my fellow restaurant owners for releasing this animal back into the wild.)

They left in a huge huff threatning of course to ruin me. (Give me a fucking break. These ding-a-lings have to lineup behind the people that want to ruin me.) As they stumbled out, the entire restaurant began clapping  in unison. I promply apologized to each table individually and poured champagne for everyone in the house. We also issued $25 gift certificates to each couple. These neofites cost me a bunch of money that night but everyone loved that I stood up for my staff and the restaurant. After all, there’s a limit to the shit I can take and these idiots tap danced all over that line.

After throwing the happy couple out, Dan, in his infinite wisdom asked : “Michael, what if he’s in the  Mafia or something?” “I laughed out loud and pointed out, “He’s driving a beat up, shit box BMW and he has a coupon! Are you serious? Like I said, you can’t make this stuff up!”


23 thoughts on “The customer is always right?!??!!??!!?

  1. Wish I had been there. I miss all the fun! I manage a conference center so yeah, I get it. I’ve only been to your wonderful restaurant once because I live in Naperville and it’s quite the drive but I’ll be back. Hopefully soon.

  2. I am a former resident of Winnetka and frequent Michael’s when on the North Shore. As a partner in a successful restaurant
    in Sedona, I must admit that I would love to have been in the night Michael called out the “customers from hell”. Perhaps a little less graphic language would have added a touch of class to the scolding, but I must admit applause for standing your ground. I will remain a customer and continue to refer your restaurant to family and friends. Tom Kelly – Wailea, Maui

  3. My wife and I were enjoying a lovely evening at your outstanding restaurant that night. The commotion and brilliance in the way you handled it only added to the thrill we enjoy every time we come in. The prosecco was a perfect exclamation point.

  4. Michael, will you be planning Saturday Night “entertainment” for the rest of the summer?
    Wish I could have been there, …. too funny !

  5. The way you speak makes me think you are no better than the couple you encountered… I might have enjoyed the story more if you didn’t come off like a total jerk yourself!

  6. It’s actually a rather terrifying event. How can people be so terrible? It seems to me there ought to be some clearinghouse where you can list the names of customers no restaurant should allow in their doors. And it also seems that the “coupon company” should be notified to not sell them any more coupons. The coupon website is very clear about the fact that buyers are required to obey the rules. These people should have their coupon account canceled.

    I hope you never have to deal with anything like this again.

  7. Michael- you rock. Being a guest at your restaurant is a treat. We were in on Valentine’s day and saw two older couples raise quite a fuss over not being able to use two “coupons” for one check. Roberto, ever the gentleman, was extremely courteous but could not settle them down. They ended up not leaving ANY tip and grumbling the whole way out the door….on valentine’s day…in front of their wives. You’ve got to believe that the wives were secretly begging for a trade-in. I was mortified. We love Michael’s!!

  8. Oh Michael, How I wish David and I could have witnessed this “main event”. We all have to deal with assholes, however it’s sad they chose this platform to show what white trash is all about. Hugs, John and David

  9. Although my wife and I have enjoyed many fine meals at your restaurant I find your language completely inappropriate and quite frankly will probably dine less at Michael a s a result.

    • Steve, I will say that I respect your opinion as well as your choice to dine less at my restaurant because of it. My question is this, how does my use of profanity on a blog that people must willingly sign up to read influence the choice for one to dine in a restaurant that delivers a lovely meal with great consistency? It puzzles me how these two are related. That being said, there are two ways to publish a blog in my opinion. Filtered and unfiltered. If given the choice, I choose unfiltered and I always will as this is a direct reflection of my personality. May I ask, if someone came to your home and spit on your back would you invite them to sit down and dine?


  10. I love it. Maybe Steve has never had an chance to work in the hospitality business and maybe he should try. I worked as a manager for a couple of years and have come across even worse people. I like the “unfiltered” blog! Keep it coming!

  11. Unbelievable! What a story. I think, though, that Dan was way too accommodating. When she said, on the phone, “I’ll come whenever the fuck I want,” Dan should have said he would send a check for the $30 she spent on the coupon, and she wasn’t welcome at Michael’s anymore.

  12. Yikes, is all I have to say. I am confounded and rendered wistful by this tale, as I fear that civility is becoming a thing of the past and this has nothing to do with cussing. It’s a tired old plaint, but our society’s basic mores are crumbling. They said it when the Age of Aquarius was to have ushered in harmony and understanding. But now there seems to be a sense of idiosyncratic, self-granted entitlement that’s perhaps borne out of scant or shallow life experience, no historical frame of reference, impatience, small wireless devices and complete self-absorption. These people are incapable of savoring a moment – in all sensory ways. Sadly, when the care and copious attention you pay to creating a dining experience is rattled by such intrusive buffoonery, the scenario transforms into theater of the absurd, in which you can say/do anything you damn well please, as you are totally driven by the impulsive, creative right brain… That is, unless your left brain manages to get a hold of the situ. But I digress. Wish I could have been there – it’s hard to deal with knuckleheads. Breathe. We’ll be back again soon.

  13. We had another outstanding meal for our “big” anniversary last Friday. We dined with friends and you regaled us with this story. Our mouths fell open….and sadly, dinner was finished so we couldn’t comfort ourselves with your cooking (flat and uncomplicated? Hhhmmmm, I think not). Since we celebrate all auspicious occasions, as well as Tuesdays, with your delightful, delicious, decadent dining….may I suggest you just let the horse-shit slide on by….it’s not worth raising your blood pressure, I need you up and running and in that kitchen, damnit! PS…who knew you were so hilarious? Most people are gracious and appreciative of your skills (we are, we are…)…to those who aren’t, their loss…don’t let it be your aggravation, so not worth it!

  14. Michael wrote: “My question is this, how does my use of profanity on a blog that people must willingly sign up to read influence the choice for one to dine in a restaurant that delivers a lovely meal with great consistency?” Excellent logic. I could not agree more. Now here is a logical argument for you. This so called coupon company that you speak of, the one that rhymes with the very word itself; they posted another Gro..I mean coupon to your place. This very evening actually. You’ll never guess whatelse either. The knuckleheads made the same mistake yet again. The mistake being that they did not mention that you do not allow coupons during the hours of 6-8pm on Friday and Saturday. The most tragic thing about all of this is that the company making the repeated mistake is also the one that is raping you for what I assume to be nearly 60% of the coupons value that people pay for through their site. Again, this is mearly an assumption based off of conversations I’ve had with other restaurant owners who went the coupon route with the intentions of drawing business to their establishments. It seems only fair that the coupon company that makes so much money off of the labors of others would also be the same company that would compensate you for misprinting the terms and conditions. I guess they did not receive the memo about how you were spat on your back because two savages were outraged about not being able to use their coupon during a certain frame of time on the weekend, a certain frame that should have been listed on the coupon in the first place had they not fluffed things up. NOW back to the moral of the story. It seems logical that this company would do something to offset their error. However, if I was a gambling man, I would imagine that this is not the case and nor will it be the case this second time around. GeeWhiz. What’s a man to do given such a dilemma? Oh Oh…pick me…pick me. Here’s a logical idea, wow about saying to hell with the coupon company. Just a thought 😉 Ill be seeing you over the weekend hopefully. Thanks for the entertainment after a long day at work (as a server I might add.) It was nice to hear you give them your two cents. Needless to say, it was very invigorating. Wish I would have been there to see it. I would have bought you a bottle of your own champagne and said to hell with your $25 gift certificate 😉

  15. I love you. I was a cook in various hash houses through High School and College. I would have worked for you for free (compared to the pennies I was paid). My sister was a waitress for 25+ years. Though there was always a low level war between the kitchen and serving staff, I came to realize I had the better end. You are a hero to all restaurant employee’s everywhere. BTW, I am an engineer who works in construction now. I swear like a sailor. Not that I’m proud of it but it is a necessary part of communicating in my world.

  16. We tip 20% most of the time. If the service was exceptional, then we tip more and tell the manager how impressed we were. I hope we are doing the right thing!
    Kathy who LOVES your frisee salad!!!!

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