We received a tip late today with a link to this Craigslist ad, with the title, "Dear 3 black guys I served at Tonic East tonight (Midtown East)." It was written by a now-former waitress (and trained opera singer!) from Tonic East Sportsbar on Third Avenue, who claims three guys consumed $120 worth of beer and food and then stiffed her on the check. She was forced to pay for the customers, and ended up writing this angry screed about the experience. You can read her full, no holds barred account of the incident below:
Dear table of three black guys I served at Tonic East tonight,
I'm not sure you have any idea how long and hard you made me cry this evening, but I thought might like to know.
I hope you enjoyed watching the basketball game at my now-ex place of employment. I also hope you enjoyed the 120 dollars worth of beer and food you had--no worries! IT WAS ON ME!
Yes, that's right. I paid for you guys to eat and drink with money out of my own pocket. And then I tipped the bussers, bartenders, and food runners for the work they did to help me give you good service after that.
I realize I was slammed with an unreasonable amount of tables tonight. Believe me, I would much rather make way less money than have so many fucking tables that I almost lose my ridiculously over-educated mind and walk out and leave all my tabs open mid-game, something I have not ever been tempted to do since I started serving almost 13 years ago. I made mistakes at other tables, but I powered through and I left you wanting for absolutely nothing the entire night. Not even the cheese I sent the runners down 3 flights of stairs from the roof to get to add to your sliders.
You thanked me by walking out and not paying your 120 dollar tab as I did my absolute best to cash half a floor of people out at one time at the end of the game. The manager simply said, "they fucked you." He would not comp your meal, so I had to pay for it myself in order to cash out. Disgraceful. Inhumane.
I must also point out that there was a table of three other thuggish black men that ordered a bunch of food and complained about how it tasted to the same manager. They complained that our soda tasted funny. I ran to three separate soda fountains on different floors, pouring them sodas from each one to appease them. They still complained. For whatever reason, the manager had no problem comping THEM. They walked out and did not leave me a dime for the free food, ALL OF WHICH THEY ATE, or the service they received.
Not believing this same manager thought it was right to take 120 dollars from me after all this--me, who has walked away from 8 hour lunch shifts from their establishment with 20 dollars to show for it and never complained--I swallowed my pride, walked over to the computer and began to silently cry as I hit "pay check" on the screen and paid for your fugi apple salad, calamari, burgers, fries, spicy chicken wrap, bucket of corona, 2 guinnesses, and 5 other beers on top of that with money from my own pocket.
All just for you.
As the other girls I work with approached me one by one and asked if they could get my contact information before I walked out the door, I cried harder, surrounded with almost 2K of credit card slips and cash, completely blinded with mascara and tears, knowing that I had broken my back and busted my balls ALL NIGHT just to pay for YOUR fried shit and beer. I carefully made sure I was turning in everything I owed to the house so that the bar had all their *precious* money, took a little tip money for my time, and left the rest for my bussers and runners to divide amongst themselves since I was too hysterical to tip out properly at that point.
I walked out the door with the knowledge that it was the last time I'd ever set foot in that place. After all, you aren't the only assholes on earth, and if this is the kind of place where noone will go to bat for me if ghetto-ass douchebags like you show up, it's not a place I should be anyhow. No previous manager I have ever had would ever do that to me. Not even the ones who abused me in other ways.
I cried the entire walk to the N train. I cried harder as random men on the street relentlessly cat called me, still in my borderline slutty cocktail server attire, despite that fact that I was sobbing uncontrollably with mascara and snot running down my face. I cried the entire train ride home.
My only small comfort was a very nice and adorable guy named Kevin who spotted me on the subway and finally asked if he could please help me. He walked me to my door and tried to make stupid jokes and give me half of his subway sandwich. I am kicking myself for not being slightly more responsive, but I was in such dreadful condition, so unbelievably low, and so completely embarrassed at my overall state and black shit all over my face I could barely hold my head up and look at a soul. Ah well. I'm just chocking it up to the good lord sending me a guardian angel for a few minutes.
Anyways, I just thought you should know that the fun time you had tonight came at a pretty hefty price for someone else.
And a note to restaurant and bar managers everywhere--the more you threaten your staff and treat them like idiots, the more mistakes they will make. I had not put a single drink order in incorrectly all night until you started threatening me, telling me that I would pay for anyone who walked out whose drink orders you helped me with. The more you threatened me and treated me like I was stupid, the more mistakes I made. For every table you insisted was angry at me, they did not seem even 10 percent as angry as you when I spoke with them. I realized I was put into a state of panic by you for nothing.
It's all really too bad. I am the kind of person that if you just give me an inch and any help or understanding at all, I will give you a mile without question.
I will say that something positive has come out of this night, along with any other time I have been treated with blatant disrespect. It's the gift of compassion and patience. Tonight was just another reminder to me how important it is to treat everyone I encounter with all the kindness, compassion, and patience I can possibly muster. That is a great gift and something that I have tremendous gratitude for. Because you know what? There's an actual human being who has a spirit that can be broken inside of each and every one of us.
sad little blonde pixie server in short skirt and cowgirl boots
PS And don't worry too much about me. I am a very accomplished opera singer with several degrees and have performances coming up at Lincoln Center and throughout the metropolitan area that were not going to allow me to stay at this job anyhow, I just wasn't planning to go out quite like this. You all look at your little blonde server with the nice ass and assume she is there or in the weeds because she doesn't have much going on upstairs? Wrong.
PPS More good news-I now have a self imposed day off today! And Friday. And Saturday. I hope they have fun finding someone to cover for today's scheduled double.
We spoke to Peter, one of the managers at Tonic East, who gave us a slightly different account of the evenings events: he said that nobody walked out on their bill, but many of the waitresses customers did stiff her on tips. "There were quite a few issues in regards to the service," he told us. "She only started last week, very new, had resume with lots of experience, seemed very sweet and all the rest, unfortunately she wasn't up to the task...Customers were upset because they were waiting on drinks, receiving wrong orders. But everyone paid for their meals."
He said that there was no way he'd make her pay for a customer that walked out on the bill: "The furthest thing from it—it's against the law to do that. If a customer walked out on the check, then I'd be responsible for that check." He added that the waitress was very upset after the shift, and he was prepared to give her one more shot, "but then she didn't turn up for her shift today." We've contacted the original Craigslist poster for a response.
Update: Marcy Richardson is the waitress who penned the original complaint. She wrote back to us:
They did NOT pay their bill.
I PAID IT.
I walked out to him checking id's at the door after looking for him for almost an hour. I said, "what should I do about this tab? Am I supposed to take care of it? I can't cash out since it was not paid"
He said "I'm not paying for it. The stakes are too high."
So I walked over to the computer and I hit "pay tab" and I cashed them out myself.
Why would he not think I thought I was supposed to do that after he threatened me all night long that I would be "paying for it myself" if anyone walked out?
I would have made well over 200 dollars in tips last night after tip out had I not paid a 120 dollar tab with my own money from the tip out. Many of my tips were in cash. I was not stiffed on tips by a single table except the guys who's food he comped.
Peter had no idea how upset I was. He didn't even acknowledge me when I said goodbye when I walked out the door. I told the other servers if he expected me to pay my tab I would not be back.
I am a very good, experienced server. Feel free to contact [redacted], who managed for Riese Restaurants. Though he cannot speak for Tonic or my experience there, I worked under him at Hawaiian Tropic Zone and was one of the strongest servers on the staff during my time there and he can speak of my work ethic and abilities as a server. They were all very sad to see me leave when I left to work at Citi-Habitats for the next two years.
We'll contact Tonic again tomorrow for a response!