Waiters Eating in Front of You with Food from Another Restaurant???

Employees Eating In Front of Customers. Photo courtesy of Ben Earwicker. Above Promotions Company. Tampa, FL 2013
Employees Eating In Front of Customers. Photo courtesy of Ben Earwicker. Above Promotions Company. Tampa, FL 2013

A couple of weekends ago some friends and I gathered at a local South Tampa bar and restaurant for a day party following the monthly meeting for the Tampa Bay Association of Black Journalists. While we enjoyed the music and even one of the hosts of the event, the trip turned into well, this blog.

We arrived a few minutes early to the event and we were beyond ready for lunch. The wait staff was still scrambling to prepare for the crowd. As it reached official event hours we noticed the staff was still preparing for the event in front of the few customers (us). A few staff members sat at the bar (not standing behind it) and sliced lemons and limes. Delays happen right? Understandable. You want to rest your feet a little longer? Go for it! However, what happened after the manager took our meal and drink orders, I was personally shocked by as a business owner and marketing professional.

Apparently we were not the only hungry people there.  Within minutes of our order being taken a couple of bags from Chipotle appear. Initially we all thought “maybe they buy their salsa, guacamole or chips from there since it is down the street and closer to the bar than a grocery or discount store.” Not the case at all. The manager and other waiters began to stand and sit at the bar and eat Chipotle while preparing items for the day. You can imagine our faces and the conversation we began to have watching this all unfold. Is it not after opening time? Are we not sitting here?

There was no food critic among the staff that day, but what they failed to realize is you never know who your customers are in your establishment. I wonder now if they would have done the same if they knew there was an editor from one paper, reporter from another, online blogger, tv producer from Lakeland and myself (blogger of justice- well not really justice) sitting within 10 feet of all of this. It was obvious this was not the first time it occurred. We even witnessed a brief argument over one of their lunch orders that was not taken properly.

Now some could argue classism or even go the opposite way and discuss hygiene and proper etiquette. Neither of those are what I want to focus on today. What about smart business? What about not marketing another restaurant in yours that serves similar food? As hungry as we were that day, the Chipotle looked even better than normal. Thoughts of walking down there ourselves crossed my mind. However, subliminally they caused the table to wonder if the food they would serve to us would be good. Words like “Who has eaten here before” and other comments arose.

Many of you understand the price of advertising. You understand how much it costs to convert a potential lead to a sale. You know what happens when a bad review or experience is created and then shared publicly. But apparently, this group of people didn’t or they just didn’t think any damage could be done with the group there that day.

Well here are a few tips for employers of any type of business:

  • Employees should have designated areas to eat their meals and bring in other foods.
  • Eating and drinking in front of customers should be prohibited.
  • Encourage your staff to plan ahead for their shift by eating beforehand and/or planning on eating during breaks off-site.
  • Share with your employees the value of advertising and how their actions can directly and negatively affect their salaries due to public complaints.
  • You never know who is in your midst. Run the business at top levels at all times for all customers.

I imagine now that if Jon Taffer, Bar Rescue star and expert, were to have been there, he would want to let the manager on-duty know where the bar was failing.

What do you think?

Is it a big deal to eat another restaurant’s food in front of customers?

Leave your comments below. They may be featured in a future blog.


Above Promotions is a full service publicity, marketing and promotions company, founded with the purpose to serve an array of clients that are looking to expand their presence in the marketplace. From a local to international market, Above Promotions Company can provide the exposure that goes above your expectations. Visit http://www.abovepromotions.com today.


Ebony T. Grimsley is the Creative Director and Owner of Above Promotions Company. She is also the recent author of “Because You’re Small: Effective Marketing Strategies for Immediate Implementation.” To find out more information on the book, please visit http://www.abovepromotions.com or purchase online at Amazon, Booktango and other online bookstores.


2 thoughts on “Waiters Eating in Front of You with Food from Another Restaurant???

  1. Ebony, I think it is the epitome of rudeness and a true sign something is wrong if employees have other restaurant’s offerings..but it does bear asking the question why?
    Is the restaurant offering any kind of discount to the employee? Is the restaurant offering a meal program that is reasonable for shifts? the one thing I see constantly in our own area is the lack of accommodation to employees that basically work for tips.
    If, in fact, the employee is offered up a great plan to get a meal and drink per shift or at least a good discount then I think it’s rude to bring in other fare but I have to tell you, I side with the worker most times as I see this area is filled with underpaid and under appreciated staff many times….thus the turn over.
    I guess it just depends.
    Brenda Ellison

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