UnderCover Waitress: Vegetarians Bring Lawsuit Against Restaurant

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Vegetarians Bring Lawsuit Against Restaurant

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Appelate judges in New Jersey have ruled that a group of vegetarians may sue a restaurant for serving them meat.

From the reporting in the Gothamist, it does not sound like a simple error. The group of sixteen Hindus ordered vegetarian samosas. Samosas are Indian morsels often served as appetizers; they may be filled with vegetables or meat combinations, folded into triangles, fried and served hot.

While eating the samosas, the group became concerned and asked a second time if their food was vegetarian. The group remained concerned and checked with the restaurant staff at least four times before they were told the truth: their vegetarian samosas had been accidentally switched with meat samosas intended for a different party.

According to the Gothamist, the menu only listed vegetarian samosas, which seems odd. Maybe the other group made a special request for meat samosas?

To complicate matters, the practicing Hindus have been spiritually injured. In order to heal, they must travel to India and cleanse themselves in the Ganges River. They are suing the restaurant for the costs associated with making the trip. Remember, the restaurant seems to have lied to their customers. At best, they were careless and not attentive enough to do a good job; the restaurant is at fault.

The allegations against the restaurant include:
  • negligence
  • negligent infliction of emotional distress
  • consumer fraud
  • products liability, and 
  • breach of express warranty. 
Let this being a warning to restaurant workers: respect a person's dietary needs and preferences. You cannot simply lie to people about what you are feeding them.

I have had plenty of people come in and communicate their dietary needs, just like the sixteen Hindus. I have been tipped handsomely by people who were appreciative of my care and service. (One table with one vegan diner tipped me more than 100% of their bill, I kid you not.)

Other people choose to keep allergies and preferences a secret. To this day, I cannot fathom how my knowing that somebody has a raspberry allergy is a violation of their privacy, but then I never underestimate the stupidity of restaurant patrons. (Oops, did I just say that?)

When people keep secrets from the waitress and assume that a menu that states "it is impossible to list every ingredient. Please inform your server of any food allergies" actually lists every ingredient, their dietary needs are their problem and not my responsibility. Tell me you are a vegan? Then it is my job make sure your food is vegan. Lie to me about being a vegan? F*** you.

All that being said, I remember a couple of young ladies who ordered sweetbreads for an appetizer to share before their meal. Sweetbreads, remember, are the thymus glands of young cows or sheep. They are considered a delicacy.

I served the dish and came back a moment later to see how they were enjoying them. They thought the sweetbreads tasted good, but were confused by the texture. It soon came out they were vegetarians and had never heard of sweetbreads. While they had not told me they were vegetarian, I still jumped out of my skin. I offered to remove the dish right away and not charge them. They were actually very nice to me about it, and I apologized to be nice (remember, they didn't tell me = not my fault.) They hadn't asked me for an explanation of what the sweetbreads were, but they were excited to try new things, which is a good thing...

It ended well.

Later, however, one of the cooks asked me what I did with the sweetbreads from that table. I told him the truth: I threw them away. (The ladies had eaten off of the plate.) The cook said he would have finished them. Okay, that's just gross.

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