I greatly angered the Japanese manager...
June 22, 2011 11:48 AM   Subscribe

The waitress got 1 item wrong in my sushi take-out order. The manager came by and harshly yelled at the waitress in full view! How can I ensure the waitress is not punished for a very minor mistake?

The manager came by and corrected by order, added a free menu item -- but then proceeded to harshly yell at the waitress in full view of me and the rest of the diners. Totally uncalled for - and the waitress looked scared!

I told the manager "not to worry" about it, and gave a sympathetic look to the waitress. She looked at me and said very quietly that it was *I* that gave her the incorrect order. It's certainly possible that I did -- I can't remember for sure.

How can I ensure this waitress does not get blamed and punished, and also make it up to her in case it was me that made the mistake when ordering?

Fyi -- it's a neighborhood Japanese sushi place and both waitress & manager are Asian.
posted by Kruger5 to Food & Drink (21 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I've been in the same situation. FWIW, I told the manager off, made a pleasantly long scene, threw down my cash and walked out. Not sure if it was the right thing to do, but it felt good.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 11:50 AM on June 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

Perhaps write a note to the manager, saying you enjoyed your visit despite the error, that the waitress was a great waitress (even if she was only average), that you will gladly tell your friends about the place, and that you will visit again.

If you feel secure enough, admit that you were the one who made the error (even if you didn't). It won't cause you any harm and might keep or reverse anything done to the waitress.

just don't say: Please don't fire or dock the pay of the waitress.

For all you know she is the world's worse waitress and maybe the manager was looking for a reason to get rid of her.
posted by royalsong at 11:53 AM on June 22, 2011

The only thing that you can practically do is take responsibility for the mistake.

Is this a chain? You might want to write to Head Office or something about the manager's inappropriate behaviour. If it's a mom-and-pop style place, there's not much you can do. Shouting at the manager will likely only lead to him being defensive and taking it out on the staff when you aren't there (which is what bullies do).

As for making things better for her, offer her a new job. It sounds like the poor individual needs one.
posted by Solomon at 11:54 AM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Call the manager and let him know that one of the reasons you go to the place is the pleasant atmosphere and waitstaff, and his yelling created a very unpleasant and off-putting environment. Just tell him flat out that what he did was a turn-off.
posted by Ashley801 at 11:54 AM on June 22, 2011 [8 favorites]

Who did you complain to? If possible, complain first to the waitress, when and if this ever happens again.

But there's no way you're going to prevent him from doing what he's going to do. If his first move is to dress down his employee in front of the customer, then this isn't something that he's doing for the first time as bullying is probably his management "style".
posted by inturnaround at 11:55 AM on June 22, 2011

You're putting the manager in the position of having to apologize to the waitress for yelling at her; if he's half the asswipe he appears to be, this will just get him more pissed. He doesn't sound like someone who will admit he's "wrong", regardless of the situation. Give the waitress a good size tip and tell her you're sorry for "your" mistake, and let it go.
posted by BozoBurgerBonanza at 11:55 AM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

You received poor service. The mistake with the order is not part of this, however. Mistakes happen all the time in food service and management corrected the problem. That is good service. However, yelling at staff in front of their customers is awful, awful service.

If the manager cares so little for their customers that they will berate staff and take away from the pleasure of their customer's meal then there is nothing you can do for the waitress short of going back and giving her a $20 tip or a job.
posted by munchingzombie at 11:56 AM on June 22, 2011 [4 favorites]

If you complain to the manager about his behaviour he won't think, 'oh, I made a mistake, I had better treat my employees better in the future.' He'll think, 'the waitress fucked up, and the customer is on my ass?

This will make things even worse for yr server in the future -- the manager will take it as evidence that the waitress is an employee who will end up putting shit on him. Which is what all good employees (to a manager) don't do.

There isn't a solution to this problem, other than, as munchingzombie said, tip well and be very pleasant.
posted by gimpel at 12:03 PM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yes, except maybe the manager thinks that that behavior was good service.

I know plenty of “Oh my gawd, they should fire her! Get the manager” people. They would feel like the mistake had been rectified, the waitress had learned her lesson, and the manager was duly upset about the customer’s inconvenience. They would see anything less as just a slap on the wrist. So perhaps the manager was catering toward that kind of customer and felt that he was making a good show for you.

Not to excuse his behavior. Just another explanation for its cause.
posted by thebazilist at 12:07 PM on June 22, 2011

Yeah, the manager is a douchewad, and nothing you do will make him less of a horror to work for.

You can tip the waitress generously, though. But, be aware - in Asian cultures, tips are frequently pooled and split evenly among the wait staff. So, this place may work that way. And, with a manager like this, it would surprise me not at all if he skimmed off the top of the tips pool.
posted by Citrus at 12:11 PM on June 22, 2011

Put it on Yelp. I don't want to go to a restaurant with shouting - whether it's the restaurant's "schtick" or just fucked up management - and appreciate when reviewers mention this kind of behavior.

Plus, if the manager is not the owner, it'll get back to the owner eventually.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:21 PM on June 22, 2011 [10 favorites]

Something seems off. I think it's very weird that she quietly blamed you, afterward. I think it might be a set-up to cause you to leave a huge tip, as some have recommended. Perhaps they split it.

I think you should probably do nothing in response.
posted by fritley at 12:26 PM on June 22, 2011 [3 favorites]

Just forget about it, and never go back to the restaurant again.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:34 PM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

But, be aware - in Asian cultures, tips are frequently pooled and split evenly among the wait staff.

It was my impression that this was the case in many restaurants, Asian or otherwise.
posted by Gordafarin at 12:40 PM on June 22, 2011 [3 favorites]

Not sure there's much you can do. You might want to heed the previous advice of speaking with the manager (privately) about the incident, but definitely emphasize that's what you'd like to see - not how he should run his business.

That last point is especially important because this whole thing sounds like an exercise in saving face. He over-reacted because that's kinda what's expected in that situation and how superiors in traditionally Asian contexts deal with errors from their staff (no matter how big or small). Standing up and making a scene with this guy is absolutely the wrong thing to do in this particular situation.

More anecdata: I was once at an early seating for dim sum in a very popular Chinese restaurant in Chicago, and some young kid, maybe 12 or so (hello, child labor laws), dropped a giant bin of ceramic spoons. Western restaurant? No big deal, take a bow, deal with the situation. This place? Manager comes out and yells at the boy that he'll work the rest of his shift for free. In English. Then more yelling in Chinese. All face saving and purely for the benefit of the manager's standing among his customers.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 1:00 PM on June 22, 2011

Culture clash. To western eyes, he's being a jerk, but they both may feel you forced him to disturb the peace. And you're thinking, "huh?"

Guessing, but a lot of what you saw was a show to impress upon everyone how much the customer matters (and assure you that his duty is to you, not protecting his wait staff). Over the top, yeah. So... face-to-face (privately), thank the manager for his unexpected concern, humbly assure him that the mistake was probably yours, and you really look forward to your next visit. Get the waitress' name and request her next time. Privately slip her a hand-written card, apologizing for YOUR mistake. (Not sure a belated tip is called for, but give her a doozy next time.) Do NOT slam the manager to her or anyone else there.

I think you should do all that but... He won't change. She could (but probably won't) get fired anyway. Nothing you do will change any of that, and the situation was bound to happen with some order someone placed sometime. Might happen all the time.
posted by mumeishi at 1:15 PM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

In this case, I think what you should do is keep your mouth shut if there's a mistake in the sushi order if you ever go back there. (I would not go back there.) You know the manager is a screamer, and god knows you're not going to be able to make him a nicer person, and she has to pay for whatever mistakes are made by anybody. Either that or take her hint and say that YOU screwed up. Sounds like that possibly might have been more acceptable at that place of employment?
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:31 PM on June 22, 2011

If the manager did not correct the waitress, some of the customers may think that he's not concerned with the behavior of his staff.

Not saying that shouting at people is good, or that the manager was behaving appropriately. But I've seen customers say things like "Is she going to get away with that?" in Japan.

If it made you uncomfortable, I agree that you should post it on Yelp.

I'm Japanese, if it matters.
posted by xmts at 4:32 PM on June 22, 2011

I think they're all doing a little dance to save face. He's being the tough boss to look good in front of you, she's saving her pride by pointing out that you made the mistake. Who knows what they both really think? Maybe they re-enact this scene daily. If you're not Asian, I really doubt that you'll ever know what actually goes on. And if you're a big white guy, I think you might not try to save the sushi damsel in distress.
posted by Ideefixe at 4:38 PM on June 22, 2011

Nthing - very little short of spitting in my food that I hate worse than wait staff having "scenes" in a restaurant.

Unfortunately, there seem to be a number of psychos in food service.

I'd do nothing, and if anything similar happened in that restaurant again, I'd cross it off the list.
posted by randomkeystrike at 8:23 PM on June 22, 2011

Well... I'm not going back there again, for sure. Even though I love their Sushi. And I would let them know why.
posted by ovvl at 8:27 PM on June 22, 2011

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