Dining

Open House

10 horror stories from the front-of-house staff who lived them
Craziest Restaurant Horror Stories
Photos: Tasting Table

Anyone who's ever worked front-of-house in a restaurant has seen their fair share of outlandish customer behavior—no matter the establishment. Whether it's a steakhouse or hole-in-the-wall, when it comes to dining out, nothing is off-limits.

From bringing mistresses into restaurants to stealing anything that's not nailed down, these are the curveballs the men and women who work tirelessly to make sure your steak frites are as you like them have to dodge on a regular basis. So, please, next time you feel like being a jerk to your server or hostess, remember that these are the antics (and people) they have to deal with on the regular.

RELATED   Asking for a Friend: Is It Rude to Take a Baby to a Nice Restaurant? »

A Current Affair

"I used to see guys come in with their girlfriends/mistresses one night, and then come in with their wives, literally, just a few days later. I never saw anyone get caught (or at least there was never a huge blowout in the restaurant), but I would seat them at the same table and say something like, 'Have you dined with us before? You look very familiar.'" —Anonymous, waitress, steakhouse in Boston, MA

Strength in Numbers

"It was a Saturday night, and our wait was about two and a half hours long. This is pretty typical, but it was cold outside and people were hangry for their ramen. The waiting guests (who were strangers) formed a union of sorts and demanded they all be sat. My manager had to get involved, and we eventually sat all of them—together. They’re probably best friends by now." —Rene, hostess, buzzy hot spot on NYC's Lower East Side

Sh*t Hits the Fan

"An elderly man came into dine with a party of four, beautifully dressed. We were busy—a packed house—and all of a sudden, I look up and the man looks like he's about to fall over, because he is trying to pick something up off the floor. I run over and realize it's a lump of sh*t, and there's another coming out of his pant leg. His wife tells me that he's 'trying to pick up food that fell on the floor!' I ran back to the host stand to grab towels to clean it up, and now I've got sh*t in one hand and am welcoming customers as they walk in the door. After the guy came back from the bathroom, he sits back down at the table for another hour and a half. This man is now sitting through dinner. We're laughing at this point but totally didn't know what to do."
—Anonymous, maître d', sophisticated French restaurant on NYC's Upper East Side

Cashing In

"I was often offered money to get people 'better tables,' and sometimes I would take it if the customer put it in my hand discreetly and walked away. But once a guy tried to pay me $100 to get him in on a Saturday night, and I had to turn him down, because he said it right in front of my manager. It broke my heart." —Anonymous, waitress, steakhouse in Boston, MA

Power Lunch

"Oftentimes, we have a gentleman that will come in at 11:15 a.m. and put away three shots of whiskey before walking right out en route to an 11:30 a.m. business meeting. Liquid courage!" —Anonymous, maître d', trendy restaurant on NYC's Upper East Side

Gotham's Finest

"It was Halloween, and some guy came into the restaurant in a Batman costume. The first thing he says to me is, 'I’m not trying to impress you or anything, but I’m Batman.' Yeah, dude, no." —Rene, hostess, buzzy hot spot on NYC's Lower East Side

The Starving Artist

"We had this regular who was really nice but used to bring me his artwork. He once brought me an abstract painting of Spider-Man, which was a little weird, but I hung it in my apartment. I can't remember if the man was an artist himself, but the painting was pretty good. Just a nice rich man looking to hand out gifts, I guess." —Anonymous, waitress, steakhouse in Boston, MA

Thievery Corporation

"Normally, my job consists of standing at the door, waving hi and bye, but one evening, a middle-aged woman dining alone tried to smuggle out our spoon, bowl and water glass as she left. I tried to take them from her, and she tried to bargain with me (which didn't work). I guess she just really liked our dining ware." —Rene, hostess, buzzy hot spot on NYC's Lower East Side

Star Power

"The craziest celebrity sighting we had was when Henry Kissinger came into the restaurant, and everyone wanted to take a picture with him. Even millennials wanted their picture with him. I didn't even think they would know who he was. But he was so proud and did not hesitate for a second. He was such a gentleman." —Anonymous, maître d', sophisticated French restaurant on NYC's Upper East Side

Lying Shame

"I usually had wait lists of over 50+ names, and sometimes people would sneak a look at my iPad to try and read the name that was next to be called. There was one couple who tried to tell me their name was 'Fred,' the next name on the list, and after I sat them, the real guy came to me and was like, 'Hey, I’m Fred. Who’s that guy?' It was awkward, to say the least. —Rene, hostess, buzzy hot spot on NYC's Lower East Side

Around the Web

Get the Tasting Table newsletter for adventurous eaters everywhere