WA diners rile restaurateurs
“I drive a Mercedes, you know.”
That is the punchline to a true story about a woman who was outraged when told by a Perth restaurateur that she could not take her seafood leftovers home in a doggy bag for health and safety reasons.
The customer in question was at one of WA’s better-known restaurants.
Her car status had nothing to do with the issue at hand, but according to some of Perth’s leading restaurant owners, managers and head waiters, her imperious response was typical of the increasing problem of “nightmare” customers in WA restaurants.
But are we the worst restaurant customers in the country?
Are we, as some restaurateurs suggest, entitled, rude and demanding?
Yes. And no.
“If you’ve actually made it in life and you’ve got to the top, you’re probably really nice, ” the Brisbane Hotel’s operations manager Angela Paddon said. “It’s the try-hards, the entourages and the entry-level wealthy who can be a complete nightmare.”
Ms Paddon — who has served the great and the good at restaurants such as Otto’s in Sydney and has waited on everyone from Beyonce to John Laws and from rock stars to senior politicians — says WA customers can be difficult.
“They can be really hard work, especially if they don’t get out much and don’t go to restaurants often, ” she said.
Trustee restaurant owner Scott Taylor agrees and says those who arc up the most are those who don’t know how to behave because they’re intimidated by the restaurant experience or unsure of themselves.
“There’s a sense of entitlement here, too. The ‘don’t you know who I am’ syndrome, ” he said. “People either forget or just don’t know that waiters are their servers, not their servants.”
Lot 20 and Five Bar owner Andy McIntyre has experienced everything from customers carving “rude pictograms” into wooden table tops to diners dropping the F-bomb when abusing wait staff.
“You can see them a mile off, ” he said. “As soon as they walk in the door, you know who’s going to be the hell customer.
“Are our customers the worst in Australia? It’s a fairly new eating and drinking culture here and with all the exposure to food writers, bloggers, ratings sites and shows like MasterChef, peoples’ expectations can be very high.
“Trouble is, their expectations can be disconnected from reality — it’s just a lack of experience.”
Chrissy Plush, who runs front of house at one of WA’s top business haunts, Coco’s in South Perth, says handling unruly customers comes with the territory.
“Collectively, WA customers are badly behaved compared to, say, Sydney diners, ” she said.
“Some of them don’t know how to use their cutlery.
“I even had one guy ask if he could have his carpaccio (a thinly sliced raw beef dish) cooked well done and then got upset when we tried to explain the dish to him.”
Mr Taylor said badly behaved customers were rare.
“Yes, WA diners have a reputation, but the bad ones are the one per cent, ” he said.
“Ninety-nine per cent of those we see here are engaged, interested and well-mannered.
“That would be the same across the industry.”
© The West Australian
More Dining news: thewest.lifestyle/food/dining