Welcome back to Behind Closed Ovens, where we take a look at the best and strangest stories from inside the food industry. This week, we bring you customers so strange their servers had to wonder if it was some bizarre dream, including a man now known as Edward Squeegeehands. As always, these are real e-mails from real readers.
"I worked at an Italian restaurant in college that had a lot of weird customers, but there was one man that none of the servers could ever forget: "Au Jus Guy." We would see him open the door, come in, take a seat in the very front by the green trimmed windows. Everyone would whisper and moan, "UGH, not Au Jus Guy!!!" He would squint in the candlelight, searching the menu. But we knew he didn't need to look over that damn menu. He always ordered the same thing. Roast Beef sandwich with a side of jus.
Now, this man was a connoisseur of jus, if that was a thing — he was very particular. We would bring that dip to the table and rush away, to stare from behind the green half-wall of the bar just behind the front window tables. "HE'S DOING IT AGAIN!" He tipped up the ceramic pot of salty-brown liquid and drank it...before even taking a bite of the sandwich. He would then wait until the server came back to ask how he was doing and request a refill of the fatty meat juice. Two, three, four refills later, he might take a bite of the sandwich. Once, he got angry because the stuff wasn't warm enough — it had just come from a boiling pot. I brought it back after microwaving for a half minute — still too cold. You'd better believe I brought that puppy back and put it on high for five minutes. He sucked that jus down like it was nectar sent from the Gods.
As always, those who have weird food quirks and make you run all night long usually tip poorly. He definitely lived up to his stereotype. Sometimes I think he enjoyed over-hearing us call him "Au Jus Guy."
The kicker, one of the last nights I served at that restaurant he came in with a lady. Guess what she ordered?! I guess it is true, you can find anybody online."
"I work for a company that sells deep frozen vegetables. One day, a customer called, complaining about our Minestrone Soup. She said she ate it for dinner and she felt ill the whole night. Very upset, she wanted to sue our Company for selling "poison."
I asked if she added any extra ingredients to our Minestrone – like Parmesan, for example – but she replied: "No, I only used the whole package" – 1 kg (Editor's Note: I'm assuming this is a lot? I don't speak Metric) – "and cooked it, just adding water and salt." I asked if any other member of her family or anyone else at dinner felt sick like her; she replied: "No, I ate that Minestrone all alone."
This lady stoically ate a whole stockpot of soup — 2.5 liters of broth, 200 g of chick peas, 150 g of lentils, 150 g of borlotti beans, 500 g of other vegetables and wanted to sue us for having had bellyache and flatulence. When I suggested, "Portions of beans like that aren't recommended," she calmly replied: "I want to lose weight, and I heard about the Minestrone Soup diet…"
"I was eighteen or nineteen, working the graveyard shift at a Denny's. Weird shit happened constantly, but this was unique even for Denny's.
One evening, a strange man came in. He was dressed like...well, I can only describe it as looking like a Space Wizard. A hat, dozens of trinkets hanging from various pieces of clothing, glassy-eyed stare, etc. He also had a backpack with a small squeegee sticking out of it. As he approached the counter, I could tell something was up. Suddenly he struck a match and threw something at me. I immediately ducked under the counter, simultaneously realizing he had just thrown a smoke bomb.
He fled the building, and I immediately called the cops. Later, I was told that someone else had seen him trying to put lit firecrackers in people's gas tanks. This happened at around 8 PM — the beginning of my shift.
Space Wizard wasn't done, as it turned out. He came back into the restaurant a couple hours later and headed straight to the restroom, where he remained while I called the police and tried to get a male regular to enter the restroom and ask him to leave the premises.
The police arrived soon after. One entered the men's room while the other guarded the door. Immediately, the first officer exited the bathroom, laughing and saying, "I'm going to give him a minute." Eventually, they took him away and let me know that it had been explained to him that he wasn't allowed in the restaurant again.
Apparently, though, that message was a hard sell. Around midnight, I was doing coffee rounds, and I noticed one of the visible bushes against the window is sort of shaking and rustling. YOU HAVE GOT TO BE FUCKING KIDDING ME. I approached and realized this Moon Wizard was crouching in the bush, looking me square in the eye, and jerking off.
I call the cops AGAIN. They dispatched and surrounded the bush, retrieving the dude. I later found out that the cops that had been there earlier had peeked under the stall when they heard grunting, and had seen only a squeegee and a bottle of baby oil on the ground.
We've referred to him as "Edward Squeegeehands" ever since."
And now, a bonus story shared by Kinja user NerdyBirdy in the comments of last week's Behind Closed Ovens, which is so good I had to break my own rule about not using comment-shared stories.
Kinja user NerdyBirdy:
"In 1989, assassins attempted to kill Nicky Scarfo Jr., a member of the Lucchese crime family, while he was eating dinner at Dante & Luigi's in Philadelphia. It's an authentic Italian restaurant that has been around since 1900. There are still bullet holes in the walls, which was apparently a big draw for people.
So when my sister worked there a few years back, telling the story of how the bullet holes got there was part of the job. She gave her little spiel about the mobsters and the assassins, but couldn't finish because the customer literally started having a panic attack. He was terrified that he was basically sitting in a shooting gallery and that mobsters with tommy guns were going to come pouring out of the shadows to murder them all before their entrees arrived. He was ranting and raving about how they were all just fish in a barrel and it was only a matter of time before the shooting started.
The manager came out and tried to calm him down, apparently asked him if he really thought anyone had any reason to kill him. His response: "Well, you never know. I'm a very important person. I sell monogrammed coffee thermoses."
My sister comped him a free drink and called him a cab. Better safe than sorry."
Do you have a crazy restaurant story you'd like to see appear in Behind Closed Ovens? Please e-mail WilyUbertrout@gmail.com with "Behind Closed Ovens" in the subject line (or you can find me on Twitter @EyePatchGuy). Submissions are always welcome! Seriously, don't be shy, I can always use as many submissions as possible. In particular, if anyone has a good server's revenge story, I could really use a third.
Image via farbled/Shutterstock.