Strange But True Tales From The Restaurant Vault

Food columnist Bob Leo shares some amusing anecdotes from the world of restaurant management.

They say that truth is stranger than fiction. Whoever they are couldn't be more right.

A few nights ago some of my restaurant buddies threw a card game. Now these guys are all restaurant rats and between the six of us, we've amassed close to 150 years in the business. At one point or another most of us have worked with each other here or there. We seldom get together but when we do the stories flow faster than the beer.

This one's a classic. My friend Smiley manages a busy seafood and roast beef restaurant on Rt. 1 in Saugus.  A few weeks ago a very attractive young woman came in and ordered a crab salad roll with fries and a large roast beef, plain with no bun. That's exactly what she got.

As she was sitting at her table eating her seafood she would periodically throw a slice of rare beef into a large shopping bag on the seat across from her. Now, you should know Smiley was appropriately nicknamed because of his gregarious nature and his ability to smile in the face of the most demonstrative customer. Both necessary attributes in our profession.

Well Smiley, assuming the woman had a lap dog ala Paris Hilton, approached the woman and asked if her dog assisted her with a handicap or was some type of guide dog. If not it would have to wait in the car. The woman insisted she had no dog.

"Then you wouldn't mind if I look in your bag," my friend asked.

"Be my guest," she replied.

Smiley crossed the table and peered down. At that moment, "Dino" decided to rear its ugly head and hiss, revealing it's forked tongue and blood dripping fangs. Well, Smiley wasn't smiling anymore nor was he standing. Dino was an Argentinean tegu. An exotic reptile that eats meat, fruit and vegetation but fortunately not Smileys.

Smiley did not know this and in his haste to escape wiped out taking a couple of patrons with him.

 This not only brought a roar of laughter but enough tales to fill a book much less this column, but I suppose I have space for one more.

A while back my good friend Andy was running a place down on Route 38 in Reading when a patron walked in, sat at the bar and placed a pet tote on the bar. He ordered a beer and explained to the bartender that his cat was hurt and he was taking him to the vet.

The bartender informed Andy there was a pet cat in a crate sitting on the crowded bar. Andy explained to the gentleman (and I use the term loosely) that the cat couldn't stay.

The man insisted the cat stay and proceeded to open the door to the crate. He reached in and instead of removing a pet cat, he pulled out a hand gun.

"The cat's not leaving and neither am I," the man insisted.

"No problem," said Andy. “In fact, have another on me and get the cat whatever he's drinking too."

He then slid into the office and called the cops who proceeded to arrest the guy.

 So the next time you have a problem in a restaurant and ask to see a manager, take a deep breath and remember the mashed potatoes you got instead of fries is a easy fix for most of us.


Steve McMahan January 29, 2012 at 04:56 AM
A place on Route 38 in Reading? Let me find my map.....


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