Welcome back to our column, Restaurant Confessionals, where we talk to the unheard voices of the restaurant industry from both the front-of-house (FOH) and back-of-house (BOH) about what really goes on behind the scenes at your favorite establishments. This is their space to sound off on all of the crazy shit that goes down while you're busy stuffing your face. These interviews are completely anonymous to protect our sources. Oh, and don't forget to tip your waiter.
We've all done something horrifying in a restaurant, whether it's getting wasted on Midori cocktails (shudder) and barfing in the bathroom, or eating something that didn't—ahem—agree with one's body, resulting in brutal damage to said establishments toilet. Shit happens. But what you might not have realized is that every waitstaff has a peeping Tom who is there to witness your Solange-style video camera shame, down to the last fart. This unfortunate soul is almost always the office manager. While everyone is buzzing around upstairs, they're behind the scenes, making sure that the establishment runs smoothly by dealing with payroll, writing social media copy, planning events, and dealing with bitchy customers. We talked to a young woman who took that job position at a very well-known restaurant where she witnessed some therapy-inducing scenes from both the restaurant staff and customers on candid camera.
Female. 23. Former office manager at a popular comfort food restaurant in uptown NYC.
MUNCHIES: So what exactly does an office manager at a restaurant do? Office Manager: I did all of the bitch work. I updated the menus, the website, all the new hire paperwork, invoices… what else did I do? I did social media for events. I did a lot of random things. It was exciting, but hard and stressful also because I was really underpaid and it was a very stressful environment because of the egos.
Did you feel like people didn't respect you then? Oh no, they did, but it was like I was the underling to everybody. People who work in restaurants, they're really giving and really outgoing. They like hospitality for a reason.
Not everyone was so pleasant though? Oh yeah, any time there was a credit card issue. I had to call customers who were either charged wrong—and I would refund them appropriately—or respond to people who were wondering why there was a pending charge. (When you go to restaurants, your card gets swiped twice: once pre-tip, once post-tip. It'll show up as "pending" in your credit card bill, and a lot of people just don't know that. So they see two pending transactions and think we fucked up, so they would call and complain.) The worst was when I was threatened—it happened a few times [laughs]. Somebody was like, "I'm going to kill you. What the fuck is wrong with this?" Somebody else told me that they were going to sue me, and that it was a corporate card that we had mischarged. It wasn't a corporate card because I can tell if it's a debit or a credit card, and debit cards aren't corporate cards, but she was going to "sue my ass" and she has a good lawyer apparently [laughs]. People are crazy.
Wow. Was that the extent of your customer interactions? No, I would answer customer emails. Once a woman emailed me to complain about an incident and sent us a lawsuit in the mail months later. She came to the restaurant for her birthday party and showed up a little late and pretty drunk, but we set her up downstairs, no problem. We left a glass cake stand of cupcakes there for her. An hour or so later, she's caught walking upstairs with the cake stand under her coat. And then the cake stand breaks and falls on her foot and slices it open pretty badly—we had to call the paramedics. We thought it was fine, like, apologies, but you were trying to steal our cake stand. And then a few months later we get a lawsuit in the mail that she's suing our asses because our cake stand was faulty.
Oh my god. Was that resolved before you left? No, I have no idea what's going on with it. But it's funny because the letter that they gave had all these requirements like, "We would like to inspect the cake stand." Like, of course we threw away a broken cake stand like six months later. And they wanted video footage, but our cameras delete after about three weeks. And they paid in cash, so we didn't have a bill for them. There were no records of the incident besides the manager write-up report for the night.
Wow. Do you ever get bored and spy on people? Yeah, I saw a lot of cooks changing to get into their whites [laughs]. There was also this time when a cook went into the meat locker to get something. He found what he thought was jerk sauce on the floor, and the jerk sauce happened to be human feces. And then the manager was like, "How did this happen?!" On the video cameras, there's a drunk man walking down the hallway, unbuttoning his pants, passing random doors, and choosing the meat locker.
Jesus. I'm never eating jerk sauce again.