I have decided in recent years that there is no food place that has something so invaluable that I will go there regardless how they treat me. Though I appreciate being recognized, and have a few places where the proprietor asks if I want the usual, my main concern is common courtesy.
I have a car, and I live in a part of the world where there is good food aplenty. So, if I’m not treated with a normal amount of dignity, I no longer frequent a place. I’m like that with all services now, including plumbers, electricians, mechanics, etc. Life is too short to be emotionally shortchanged.
I don’t understand the arrogance in some places. They make money despite themselves, while there are some restaurateurs trying so hard to please people, keep a clean house, serve good food, and can’t make a go of it. I guess life just isn’t fair.
There are even some restaurateurs I’ve encountered who have this wild rationalization thing going on. The customer is the enemy. He doesn’t deserve any better. I sometimes wonder if they believe their own mendacity, or if they go home and laugh with their wife or husband about their utter disdain for the customer. "Ha, he complained the hot dog was lying on the griddle too long. I told him that’s how they always look. Who does he think he is? Like he deserves a fresh hot dog? He should…"
The place is dirty, the bathroom is "broken," even though code stipulates they must have a bathroom for customers. The griddle looks like it hasn’t been cleaned in years. Old boxes litter the pathways. Only a few light bulbs, usually grease stained, barely light the pitiful place. And yet the place makes money.
More often than not, said place is in a marginal neighborhood, where the folks don’t have too many options. The owner figures he’s taking a certain safety risk, and that his "patrons" deserve no better.
I am amazed when I see the Sanitation Certificate in such places. Certainly, dispensations of some sort are made. The old guy might talk a good game, how he’s been there for 40 years, and how this somehow gives him the right to get away with numerous infractions.
Ultimately, such places are the culinary microcosm of man’s inhumanity to man. And it is terribly sad. We Roadfooders know the glory of great food places, both inexpensive and dear, and how such places make a celebration not only of food, but of the sublime relationship that can exist between the diner and the restaurateur.
When we love something, we don’t like to see it demeaned or trampled. We thrill in seeing something done well, something that ennobles man instead of making a mockery of him.
Vote with your feet and your wheels. Celebrate the good and caring people in the food business. There are many of them as these threads verily point out. Eat only where the food is good, the premises clean and the service meets with your approval.