There has been a lot of heated discussion this week after a former waitress at Tonic East wrote a controversial Craigslist account of her last day at work at the Manhattan bar. Marcy Richardson claimed that three guys consumed $120 worth of beer and food on Tuesday, and stiffed her on the check; she said she was subsequently forced to pay for the customers, while getting berated by management. A manager at Tonic refuted her story, and we were stuck in a he said/she said purgatory. We've received several emails from former and current waitresses, Tonic East regulars, and even Professors of Hospitality Management on the incident, and we thought we'd share a few of them:
Chelsea E. came down on Richardson's side; she told us she worked at Tonic East for only two weeks (about as long as Richardson worked there), and it was a miserable experience:
My father is a chef, so I have been working in restaurants since I was 12 years old. When I first moved at the city, this was one of the first jobs I was able to get. I literally walked out after two weeks because I just couldn't handle it. THE WORST JOB I EVER HAD! Management was a bunch of greedy pigs. My first night a customer pulled my top down and they didn't do anything. Not to mention I barely made any money. Shifts would last forever, and it was just sketchy as fuck.
On the other hand, Victoria Irizarry told us she is a regular at Tonic, in addition to being a waitress herself, and vigorously defends them:
In response to this article I am a loyal patron to Tonic East and have never heard of such a thing as waitresses paying for walked out bills. I'm a waitress for 3 years and from my experience its always been a policy to receive a method of payment at the beginning of the bill! This action is from an inexperience waitress that hasn't been in the business for a long time. The staff at tonic is friendly and experienced! It sucks that one person can start such controversy...
Lastly, Prof. Vivienne Wildes of Penn State University, who works in the School of Hospitality Management, wrote to give some advice to Tonic management, and recommended they apply the "DUH Theory of Management: Development, Understanding, Humor", which is based on her published research:
Tonic needs to ask: How Much is it Worth?
A healthy work environment would mean servers know management has their back. In this case, Walk-outs are the cost of doing business. The default is simple: Three times $120 = $360. Documentation of servers with continuous "walk-outs” pose a problem (say, after 3 times) and constitute reason to part ways. Write it into the job description, which I can assume Tonic doesn't have.
Hello! Cost of doing business vs. angry, disgruntled, Craig’s List-inspired-employee-happy-to-bring-you-down.
FYI: Antagonistic atmospheres - particularly in organizations, such as a restaurants, that count service as a core value -- undermine the whole idea of Taking-Care. Research shows that treating employees as Internal Guests helps sustain External Guests satisfaction.