San Francisco Restaurant Gives No Fucks About Being Gluten-Free

Illustration for article titled San Francisco Restaurant Gives No Fucks About Being Gluten-Free

It had to happen sooner or later: someone has finally stood up and very publicly said "no, fuck YOU" to the anti-MSG, all-organic-all-the-time, do-you-have-gluten-free-everything crowd.


The above sign was posted for a day outside of San Francisco restaurant SO after the final straw in a presumably long line of shitty customers. Though the incident happened last week, a news report focused on an interview with owner James Chu aired on Sunday, and I have to say, from the interview, Chu's kind of a badass.

Chu said that he had finally had it up to here when a customer told him "the rule is, if we don't like it, we don't have to pay for it," and this is actually where we post a disclaimer, because "if we don't like it, we don't have to pay for it" isn't as cut-and-dried as it may seem. This is something we've argued about a lot on this website, actually, but I stand by my belief that if you order something, take a bite, don't like it, and don't eat any more of it, you don't owe the restaurant money for it (particularly if you replace it with something else). I've never worked somewhere that wouldn't take uneaten food off a check (this is where the whole idea of "dead food" that's up for grabs comes from), and to me the idea that if you ordered it, you HAVE to pay for it regardless of whether it was crap rings of some pro-business, anti-consumer bullshit.*

On the other hand, if you "don't like it" and you then proceed to eat all of it? Yes you goddamn well do have to pay for it. So I guess whether I'm on Chu's side for that particular facet of the story depends on whether the customer actually ate more than a bite of the food.

I'm definitely on Chu's side for everything else that happened, though — the customer apparently stormed out while swearing at him, and obviously, that shit's not OK. Finally, Chu just said "fuck it guys, we're done for the day," and closed down, posting the above sign in SO's window.

The funniest part of the interview itself comes at the end, when the reporter asks Chu whether he plans to change the menu at all going forward. Chu shakes his head and then issues this mic drop:

"Perhaps maybe organic MSG."

It's important to note, because you just KNOW some people will immediately go there, that in no way is this directed at people with Celiac Disease. Chu and his staff just got really, really tired of being asked the same goddamned questions about locally-sourced gluten-free artisanal bullshit by pretentious hipster douchebags and did what I promise you every single restaurant employee in the Western hemisphere has wanted to do at some point during their career. Ultimately, the takeaway is this: no one is forcing you to eat at a restaurant if their product standards (MSG, non-organic, non-gluten-free, etc.) aren't to your liking, and — assuming the restaurant is open about their standards (yes) and there are plenty of options available that would be more to your tastes (in San Francisco? Hell yes) — you don't have a right to demand that of them. Some places aren't for you, so don't eat there.


Man, restaurants in the San Francisco-area are killing it lately with regard to standing up to shitty customers. Next time I'm in Northern California,** I've got two restaurants I need to hit up.

* I truly could not give a fuck about the argument that "it cost the restaurant money to make that dish!" as if consumers should feel gratitude for being served something that sucks just because it costs the restaurant money if they refuse to pay for (and eat) it. Stop making this argument.


** You can't make me call it "NorCal," because that's fucking stupid.



Miss Christine "Business 101" can go fuck herself. That guy is not a "customer"; if he ate a meal, then refused to pay he's a moocher who has figured out a way to feel self-righteous about it.

People KNOW BEFORE YOU GO: unless it's a Chinese restaurant that advertises no MSG and gluten free, your ass will be crawling with gluten and there's no getting around it. I have that "Chinese restaurant syndrome" and I just don't eat at a place unless it has the appropriate signage. I don't go into a restaurant and demand that they cater a specific menu for me.

The only thing redeeming about the self-proclaimed "picky eaters" in that video is that impossibly adorable child the guy is holding, who I will coo over until I imagine what a monstrously entitled adult s/he will become.

I was just reading a column on how to introduce new foods to your picky child. She was making a lot of assertions about how children physiologically can't deal with strong flavors. Any Kitchenette readers grow up in cultures where cuisine lends itself to strong flavors? At what age did you start eating highly spiced foods?

Obviously I have a lot of feels about this. Absent other evidence, I am sad that I can't eat at Mr. Chu's House of Culinary Badassery.