"Hangry" is REAL

photo credit: Peter Oumanski

photo credit: Peter Oumanski

So before I start this diary entry I want to place a disclaimer in front. If you choose to continue to read this post there will be profanity, shit talking, ranting, putting people on “Front Street”, N’Gina-isms and sarcastic humor. If you do not like any of the previous topics or writing styles, please stop reading, close this window and open a new tab onto a more delicate webpage for your reading sensibilities like “Goop” or “Life with Cats”. I thank you for reading this first paragraph, now for the rest of the class we are moving on…

Hangry (han-gree) adj.  - An amalgam of hungry and angry invented to describe the state one enters when you are so hungry that your lack of food causes you to become angry, frustrated or both. Why the definition? I’ll get back to that in a minute…

This post has been a long time coming. It has been over a year since “Food Fight” and believe me it is still an issue today with certain guests cutting the line and taking tables; having utter disregard for our house policy and systems, having complete lack of mindfulness to other guests that have patiently waited in line before them and deservingly should receive the next table. 

The past 18 months have been a whirlwind and a blessing. Our restaurant has been getting amazing attention; we are steadily busier month after month.  We have had the typical ups and downs of a quick growing business, but I think we have done a good job with being open and vulnerable to change and shifting quickly to our guest’s needs and requests.  I want everyone to know that all that we do in this restaurant is for the benefit of you, the guest. We have no other agenda. So it is extremely hurtful when people approach us in a manner that suggests that we are operating otherwise.

I started this post off with the definition of the word hangry. Let me tell you why. Lately, it has been the number one excuse that we receive from patrons at South as to why they have exhibited poor behavior towards our staff, my husband and myself. 

Three weeks ago a family of four came into the restaurant. They had dined with us before, semi-regulars, but the wife cut the line and grabbed a table before ordering. I politely informed her of our seating policy and that she would need to order first before taking a table, y’all know the rigmarole. She stood up angrily and joined her husband back in line. As I walked back by her she whispered to me, “Fucking bitch!” WOW! REALLY?!

Now the business woman, mother and wife in me knew the real reason for her shitty comment; she was frustrated because her children who were acting like stone cold assholes, the paleness of her complexion meant that she was blood sugar was low, and her husband went rogue and was openly ignoring her and their children like all that fuckery was someone else’s problem. I’d be pissed too. I wanted to kick her out, but I didn’t. Instead I put myself in her shoes, I killed her with kindness for the rest of their meal and accommodated all their requests at the table. After their meal, I asked her why she would say something like she did earlier. She apologized to me and replied that “she had been hangry” and “not to take it personal”. 

This happens on a minimum of four times a night on the weekends and twice during the weekdays. I have to say that I’m super over it! I’m over people coming into our restaurant and getting mad and shaming us because we are extremely busy. I’m over guests getting pissed because they walked in with a party of 10 people on a Saturday night at 7pm and when we tell them it will most likely be a 40 minute wait for a table, they lose their shit and openly yell at every staff member they can get their hands on. I’m over the rudeness of you not agreeing to the simple policies that we have adopted at our restaurant for the greater good. Cake cutting fee, corkage, first come first serve! This is not new shit. I swear, when I tell you that there is a cake cutting fee for bringing your own dessert into a restaurant that has house-made desserts, that ain’t new.  I can name twenty more restaurants that have the same fee. It’s an industry standard.

Time and time again we deal with the lack of mindfulness and compassion for the servers in this industry. When we as ownership confront people for this behavior I hear the dreaded, “I was hangry”. People we have to start treating each other better. Your bad day cannot become my nightmare.  The lack of having an outlet to process your frustrations, that most of the time have absolutely nothing to do with my staff, is not an excuse to abuse the relationship between a person offering a service and yourself. It is abusive to take advantage of the fact that you can curse or verbally attack a service staff member, knowing they can’t and won’t curse back because they won’t risk losing their job.

Most do not know how many times a day my staff is confronted with people that behave in such a poor way. They don’t understand that when you see us not smiling or fake smiling that we have endured yet another person who has verbally tore us apart because they felt it was their right to do so. That constant beratement is mentally taxing and it becomes a physical heaviness after time.

The other night we had a couple that waited in line behind guests that behaved in a less than stellar manner. When the two women got to the counter, after witnessing the entire interaction, they sincerely apologized for the fact that our server had to take such abuse from a guest over something as simple as waiting for a table. To our regulars and guests that SEE what we do, understand that we are a small mom and pop business, and get that we are human and make mistakes, THANK YOU!

You are what keeps us motivated during a shift. Please know that we feed off of your energy like psychic vampires. We need you. Even if you came in and didn’t buy a damn thang, we still would need you. I can’t count the times that I have walked out into the parking lot, my chest tight, skin burning with anger, my eyes are flooding with tears and I’m doing everything I can do to keep from crying; everything that I can do to keep it together. When I return there is Fielding Graves with a smile, Karen Miyao or Bonnie Bussard with a hug, Joan and David Johnson with a story or someone new that tells me about how they had a small business and they know how hard it is and to “keep your head up” or “I don’t know you, but we are proud of you.”

That overwhelmingly positive energy helps us be better. It’s what heals us from these negative attacks. That want to see us succeed, makes us strive to be better for you. You have been invested in us and we want nothing more than to return the favor tenfold. You are our community, my neighbors and my extended family. Simply put, we love you.  Thank you for showing up every week, thank you for waiting in the line, thank you for not shaming us about our policies or how busy it is, thank you for calling us over to the table and asking us to “sit down for a minute” so that you can give us face to face feedback when you don’t like something. Those actions are so powerful!

When we meet new guests our agenda is that we are going to build a new relationship with you too. That within weeks we will know you by name, your favorite dish, how your kids are doing, but some people don’t give us that chance and maybe they don’t want it. Maybe that’s the mistake I’m making is that some guests don’t want that connection. What they want is tear us down or have power over someone else because they don’t have power in other aspects of their life. I get that people that are hurting hurt others because no normal healthy person would wittingly go around destroying other people. I don't know...      

We live in a new social order where people do not connect on a level like they used to. When I grew up the human connection and interaction was so important to our sense of feeling like we belonged within our community. We wanted everyone to do better, we gave them honest feedback, we supported them, and we respected others. The entitlement and “you are a servant” mentality has become so pervasive in our culture now. It’s ok to rip apart people that you don’t even know through a cartoon avatar or secret screen name for “likes” and “followers”.

I got a small amount of grief over the last blog post regarding our seating policy. What most people didn’t know was that I wrote the post after a guest verbally attacked five other guests in the restaurant. Two of the guests left immediately after the incident, one crying. When I wrote “Food Fight” it was out of frustration of how we can treat people that we don’t know in such a way over something as arbitrary as a table. People slammed me on Yelp and on the blog for being unprofessional, stating that calling out customer behavior is inappropriate. In my opinion, what is inappropriate are guests harassing other guests, staff and management. Standing up for people being bullied is not.

So that’s it, it will probably be another year before I write another post. (Laughing while typing) Again thank you Sacramento, Davis, Dixon, Stockton, Roseville, El Dorado Hills, San Francisco and San Diego…yes we have sent chicken to San Diego. Your support of our South family has been overwhelmingly astounding. We will continue be better for you.

Now I know some people ignored the disclaimer at the beginning of this article and read this anyway. I’m sure I will be receiving some nasty emails and comments from readers that feel I’m immature, unprofessional, inappropriate, blah blah, blah.

Well I am.

If you feel the need to verbally discipline me with your oral cobbing board, go ahead. I’m into that shit, its 2016 man! I’ll be waiting on my faux polar bear skin rug from IKEA with a glass of white wine with two ice cubes in it, some lite candles and a little Alexander O’Neal ft.  Cherrelle on my record player for those emails. Did you get the visual? Yeaaah I betcha did. Peace and Love

 

FOOD FIGHT

Hold your butts people this one is going to be a rant…

Dear Guests of South,

The fighting over tables shit has got to stop. Y’all are working my last damn nerves with this Degrassi Junior High fighting and fussin’ over A TABLE!!! This is SOUTH not Le Cirque. We sell fried chicken not sweet breads sous vided in the nectar of a Hawaiian Koki’o flower. There is no exclusivity about what we do! No three month wait list. From now on, here is a list of scenarios that, I swear to sweet baby Jesus in heaven, I’m gonna kick ya out if I catch you doing it:

#1: Yelling across the restaurant at guests that you feel did you dirty because they took the table you wanted, even though these cats had already ordered their food and are sipping their drinks and you're still in line and  haven’t even looked at the menu…ridiculous.

#2: Telling people to get up and move because you had dibs on said table…are you for fucking real!? Are you four years old, do you lick the last Dorito in the bag so that now one else can have it?

#3: Getting nasty with staff because you think by calling us names and standing an inch in front of my face that I’m going to be like, “Alright go ahead and cut the line and grab a table.” I’M FROM NEW ORLEANS!!! Like Redd Foxx said in “Harlem Nights” you do not want to be messing around with no Creole girl! I’ll put a rook on you and call it a night!

Listen I’m going to tell everyone a little secret…yes we do put crack in the fried chicken to make you crave it like Tyrone Biggums. That being said, it is not an excuse for inappropriate behavior and bad manners when dining out. You need to monitor your addiction to this chicken better!!! If you know that by Saturday night you’re gonna be acting like a damn fool because you haven’t had a re-up since Tuesday, then you need to plan out your week.

Dine-in on Tuesday, order two orders to-go on Thursday, have left overs Friday morning with the coffee and then you should be able to coast through the weekend. Problem solved. See, simple solutions, and then I don’t have to go to Botanica Cubayende over on Franklin Blvd. and get herbs and candles cause you pissed me off and now I’m making voodoo dolls. I don’t want to be that person, and you don’t want me to stick a pin in your voodoo doll’s back.

So know that we have established a healthy set of rules regarding ordering, let’s move forward together in a positive direction. You’ll order your food FIRST and THEN grab a table. I know that we’ve been quite busy lately; it can get frustrating when you’re hangry (hungry + angry), but we will get you a table.  We are going to cut the grams that we’ve been adding to fried chicken flour mix and maybe some of you will get less hyphy when you come in.