Karen is the female archetype that represents some of the most entitled people on the earth. They are as foolish as they are irritating, and are famed for their public tantrums and constant requests to meet with the manager. And the restaurant owner has firsthand knowledge of this. This restaurant owner described his meeting with a bunch of entitled women who gave him the worst attitude in the world. Read the story to know how he tackled the situation.
In the 1970s, my grandparents emigrated to Canada from Italy and started a restaurant. When they died, the restaurant passed to my parents, who grew and enlarged it through the years. I’ve been working at the restaurant since I was 15 years old. My parents grew older and finally retired, becoming snowbirds (go to Florida for the winters). They sold the restaurant to me a few years ago, but they still hold a tiny percentage of it as a supplementary money stream in addition to their savings and annuities.
I quickly updated the old place after gaining ownership. Remodeled the restaurant, altered the logo, contacted local and national newspapers to place advertising, invited culinary critics, bloggers, vloggers, and so on. It was slow at first, and I worried that the loan I took out to do all of this would be the biggest mistake I’d ever made, destroying three generations of my family’s business, but it ultimately started to work, and a local semi-famous YouTube featured us in one of his videos, which prompted more people to come and review us, and finally we were seeing 5x-10x the business we generally get even on a Monday.
We became a popular venue for important events, and celebrities frequently visited. On some occasions, I even invited high-profile chefs to come and prepare for our guests. (expensive) As a result, we were overly crammed throughout the holidays. It got to the point that individuals had to make reservations in July to obtain a table in December. (It took years to get to where we are now.) When things become hectic, I don’t simply sit in the back office; I’m on the floor doing whatever has to be done. Even if it means greeting customers, busing tables, or washing the floors. On evenings when we have high-profile guests or events, I’m in a blazer and am acting in charge tho.
A group of six women walked in one night. Five of them appear to be in their early twenties, with the leader appearing to be in her mid twenties. Her best guess was that she was one of the other four ladies’ elder sisters, or even an older sorority sister to incoming college students.
As they walked up Queen B, I was greeting them at the door. Karen was telling the infant Karen’s how fantastic this location is, how delicious the food is, and how there could even be celebrities here. When she approached me, she stated that she needed a table for six people. “Of course, please put my name on the reservation,” I said. “Oh, I didn’t make one, but it’s okay, the owner is a personal friend of mine, he said he always has one or two tables that he leaves available for special visitors and said we may have one of them tonight,” she added.
Well, in general, this is true of many high-profile restaurants, and I have been doing it recently as well, but I had no idea who this woman was, and she never talked to me about any of this. I got the impression she was attempting to get in without a reservation, but she simply chose the worst person she could possibly talk to and attempted it. “I’ll have one of those tonight.”
“I’m sorry, but we can’t seat someone without a reservation, as you can see we don’t have any seats available,” I informed her. I didn’t want to go full out and say I’m the owner and we’ve never spoken, so I never guaranteed you anything because I didn’t want to disgrace her in front of the other females she was with. (FOR THE FIRST TIME!!)
She then told one of the other girls to take a picture of me because she was going to speak to the owner and make sure I was either cleaning the toilet or fired by the end of the week. The other girls who followed her lead said, “Yeah, kiss your minimum pay job goodbye.” (I’m not sure if they were conspiring with her or genuinely believed she knew the owner.)
Queen B’s Karen said, “Look, you can simply give us a table or I can make your life extremely unpleasant, this is not worth losing your job.” Constantly pointing and saying things like, obviously you aren’t anybody here because if you were, you would know who I am and never answer anything other than yes or of course. Constantly attempting to denigrate me in order to obtain that table.
It had been a hard day for me and the way I viewed it at this point. I had three choices. 1) Tell her I’m the owner and call her out on everything. 2) Just give her the table and leave it at that. 3) Teach Karen, Queen B’s tiny minions, a lesson.
I choose option three for a variety of reasons. Including certain personality defects I am aware of, I like to think it was at least 50% genuine desire to give her a lesson. I smiled at her, saying, “Of course, ma’am, follow me,” and handed her one of the three tables we leave free in case a celebrity arrives (happens from time to time). I apologized for everything, and she is correct. It would be easier to simply hand her the table. I also informed her that the first three rounds of drinks would be in the house.
I seated them down and served them myself. As they sat down, I informed them that we would require one of their credit cards and IDs to keep on file, and that we would return it to them before they left. Queen Karen handed me her cards and informed the baby Karen minions that tonight was hers. I took their orders, brought them their complimentary beverages, and informed them that the meal could be delayed due to how busy we are tonight. All of the females were thinking about and caring about where the free rounds were.
They ordered three rounds and still had no food; they ultimately contacted me and requested me to check on it the entire time, giving me the world’s worst attitude from before they even ordered. I assured them I’d look into it, but I also asked if they wanted any more drinks. By the time the appetizers came, they had ordered two more rounds. They are all inebriated at this point. Having done nothing but drink on an empty stomach for the majority of the night and only having salads for dinner.
More cocktails are ordered when the meal comes. What these girls didn’t realize was that they were sitting at our VIP table, which alone costs a few thousand dollars to sit in (but I didn’t charge them for that). What I did charge them for was all of the super expensive cocktails they had throughout the night (except for the first three rounds). In addition, because the table they were sitting in was VIP, the menus were a little different because one they didn’t say prices on them (trade secret) and it had certain higher end items.
At one point during the night, I honestly questioned what I was doing and worried that I was going too far with these poor girls who didn’t know any better, but several things comforted me throughout the night. One of the baby karens asked whether I felt like my life was meaningless because all I ever became was a waiter, and one of my other workers told me how they were discussing how to “f#$% with me” to the point where they can simply do this whenever they want and I would always know to give them a table. I also overheard someone remark, “he’s cute, but I’d never date a waiter like him, he’s such a pushover,” and there were several other comments like that during the night. So I continued with their life lesson.
By the end of the night, each girl had built up a tab in the $500-600 area. When I handed Queen Karen the bill for $4,232.23, tax and tip included. I’ve never seen somebody go sober that soon. She went from joking and laughing with her buddies to nearly crying. She immediately summoned me over and asked whether this was a joke. I took the bill, examined it, and replied, “Oh, sure, I apologize; I’ll bring you the proper bill in a moment.” She was completely relieved believing she had received someone else’s bill, called me an idiot, and went on to chat to her friends.
To be honest, I made a mistake. I did fail to count her eighth order of a dozen oysters, which costs roughly $120. So I went back and happily added it to the order.
She flipped out again when I returned to give her the right bill. Going insane. I just inquired if there was anything on this bill that she did not order. In disbelief, she and the girls go through every single word of the bill, even the initial few lines that display their original three rounds and state “complementary.” They then got out their phones and went over everything line by line for the hundredth time, totalling everything up. Queen B Karen, who was quite agitated, just stated, “I need to use the restroom right now.” Part of me assumed she’d do a dine and dash and leave the baby karens with the bill, but I did sorta subtly remind her we had her ID and CC without making it apparent I thought she’d run out on the tab.
10 minutes later, she returns with new makeup (clearly from weeping) and fabricates a tale about how the meal was terrible, the drinks were nasty, and so on. insisting that I cut the cost in half as a bare minimum, with the understanding that the baby karens will pitch in, despite the fact that she first informed them the night would be on her. Then, as if a light bulb went out in her brain, she highlighted her relationship with the owner again, as if to give me even more reason to lower the cost in half.
I told her no while suppressing a grin. I just cannot modify the bill. She pulls out her phone and shows me a series of texts with someone named “(my restaurant’s name owner),” which I figured was what she was doing in the restroom. Start this fresh script by changing one of the other Karen minions’ contact names and deleting old texts.
I read them, then clicked on contact information and informed her that the owner’s mobile phone number was incorrect. “He has many phones for work and everything, of course you don’t know all his numbers,” she said. I recall thinking, “Wow, this chick thought of everything except the fact that I’m the true owner.” I told her how I felt about it. If we contact him and he says it’s fine to remove 50% off the cost, I’ll do it. Her response was ranting and screaming until the point that the few remaining customers all started staring, and I decided it was time to call it quits. In a less conciliatory tone, I told her, “cut the crap little kid, you don’t know the owner, you’ve never been here before, and if you keep shouting, I’ll call the cops.”
Her tone shifted, and she attempted to defend herself as best she could. “My grandfather created this restaurant, and my family has been operating it for centuries,” I said in response to her feeble retort. I’ve been working here for virtually my whole life. I am the only owner of this restaurant, and I have never seen you, heard of you, or made any commitments to a someone I don’t know and have never seen before today.
The little karens just froze and didn’t know what to do. Queen B’s Karen was overcome with emotion. “Now I got you the table you wanted, one of your specially designated tables for high-end clientele that I didn’t charge you for, and I gave you three rounds of free drinks; if you don’t pay your bill, I’ll call the authorities and provide them your ID,” I added. Queen Karen signed the bill in tears, and the little Karens got out their bags to give her whatever cash they had, which was probably a couple of hundred dollars, with the promise to pay her back more.
Two days later, a man walked into my restaurant furious and requested one of my bartenders to talk to me; I had been working in the back office for a while, so he had to wait for me for about a half hour. He was the father of Queen B Karen. She was also with him, her head down. I brought them both to my office and showed him highlights from the security cameras, which had very strong audio quality because they were in the VIP area, and which we had to keep careful records of because we had previously had unrelated issues.
So I showed him the majority of everything, their remarks, orders, and everything. After all was said and done, he stormed out with her, shouting at her the entire time they were walking away. I haven’t seen or heard from any of them since, but the original bill I handed them (without the $120 oysters) remains mounted on my desk.