Chain restaurant adventures

My darling girlfriend and I had a very unsuccessful evening Monday trying to drop in for the last hockey game of the season. I figured with the Caps being lame ducks it would be easy to grab some cheap seats, have an overpriced beer and watch the last live hockey I’d get till fall. Not to be – for some reason the crowds were out in force, the cheapest spot left in the upper bowl was $50 and the scalpers – not that I would ever use their illicit services – wouldn’t budge on their insanely high prices even at the end of the first period. Ah well, we made do with a few drinks at Clyde’s and watched the second period on the tv.

With the game heading into basketball-level scores at the end of the second we figured we’d go hit the salad bar across the street at TGI Fridays. While looking over the menu waiting for our server I commented that of the six chicken dishes on the menu, five were covered in cheese. The sixth is deep fried. “I should comment on this hostile attack on DC arteries,” I joked. DG commented that (a) TGI Fridays being heart-hostile is hardly news and (2) not at all DC related.

[correction: checked the receipt, it was actually Ruby Tuesdays. Thanks rich! All those places look alike to me…]

Apparently the universe concurred and decided to give me something worth writing about.

The staff at Friday’s may mean well, but they are woefully inadequate at dealing with one of the dangers of being in the city – street people. Or perhaps they’re just used to someone coming in looking to beg a buck, rather than the more vociferous variety they – and we – got that evening. I don’t know which voice in her head told her to walk in and sit down at an unused table, but it wasn’t a happy one. When her constant muttering about “killing everyone, dead to the floor” caught my attention and I looked away from the tv, she caught my eye and pointed at me from her six feet away and said “I’m going to kill you dead.”

Really, what do you say to that? So I went back to my food and the game.

Unfortunately some of the clowns at the bar aren’t content to get management to deal with this, as I intend to do when one of them next comes by, and start to antagonize this poor disturbed woman. Who gets up, stalks back and forth, and gets into a belligerent conversation with one of them. Here’s where the staff gets it wrong.

They do pretty much nothing.

Or at least the bartender does, who continues to observe this from his place behind the bar. Our waitress comes by, going the wrong way, and jokes “sorry, guess anything goes at TGI Friday’s” with a wink and a nod. After another few minutes of the moron vs. nutball debate somebody in a tie – apparently the sign of rank – comes out and faces down our not-very-threatening killer. Another minute or so past that and she’s out, though the jeering clowns at the bar don’t accelerate this process.

If any of the lackluster staff from the Verizon center Friday’s are reading, here’s Don’s 60 second former bartender briefing on walk-in crazies. Don’t fuck around looking for some manager to pawn this off onto while your customers are being harassed, don’t get into a discussion with them. Look them in the eye and order them to leave, immediately. When multiple people are involved in a loud disturbance because you had your thumb up your ass too long, you tell them all to go. Nobody’s asking you to star in Roadhouse, just to tell people to hit the bricks.

Lastly, don’t make a little joke with me about your failures. If I wanted to eat in the company of kooks I’d have stayed home for dinner.

3 Comments so far

  1. Tom Bridge (unregistered) on April 19th, 2006 @ 9:03 am

    That’s one thing I’ve wondered lately: does a TGIF bartender have any magic powers, or do they have to defer to managerial control to even ask someone to leave?


  2. richwise (unregistered) on April 19th, 2006 @ 1:54 pm

    Where is TGI Fridays? Don’t you mean Ruby Tuesday’s?


  3. Susan (unregistered) on April 19th, 2006 @ 4:39 pm

    I think Tom might be right. When I worked in food service as a teenager, only a manager could refund money or ask anyone to leave (even when they were yelling racial insults to the fry cooks). I’m sure it’s to cover their butts in any potential lawsuits that might arise.



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