Tag Archive: email

The E Files #3

Yes indeed, time for another round of facepalming fun. You know, I used to write and perform stand-up comedy. I couldn’t have written some of this stuff and have anyone buy it.


“We are interested in dinner at your restaurant one of the nights while we’re here. According to your website you’re not open on Sundays, Mondays or Tuesdays. Please put us on your waitlist for one of those three nights next week.”

“I’m not sure I understand what you’re asking. We’re only open Wednesday through Saturday, so we don’t have a waitlist for Sunday, Monday or Tuesday, as we’re closed.”

“Yes, we know, it said you weren’t open those nights on your website, but are you refusing to put us on your waitlist?”

“Umm… okay, you know what, I’d be happy to put you on the waitlist for one of those nights.”

“Just let us know which night to come.”

“Again, we’re closed those nights. I’m happy to put you on a waitlist, but we’re not going to be open.”


“Our niece and her husband ate with you last year and raved about the experience. We’d like to attend, but given what we think about their tastes, it remains to be seen whether we’ll enjoy anything you have to offer.”

Seriously, do I even want these people here? Is this just a generally grumpy or misanthropic person, or was that a sort of throwing down of the kitchen mitt in challenge? … We took a chance and accepted, they came, they enjoyed.

“We have no food allergies or dietary restrictions. My girlfriend isn’t overly fond of mussels, but it’s no big deal as long as they’re not a whole course.”

[We have a seafood sauce on a pasta that evening that includes calamari, shrimp, prawns, cockles, clams, and yes, mussels. She eats all of it but the three or four mussels, which she pushes to the side.]

“It would have been nice if you’d have bothered to read our email in the first place. We made it clear that my girlfriend is deathly allergic to mussels, and yet you served her a plate of them. You could have sent her to the hospital and should have offered an alternative.”

“My apologies for the misunderstanding, I was under the impression that she just didn’t like them very much and since they were just a small part of a mixed shellfish sauce, and you’d said it wasn’t a big deal, I didn’t think it would be a problem. She did eat the entire dish but the few mussels on the plate, no? This is why we ask about allergies, but not dislikes, as we couldn’t possibly plan menus that fit everyone’s preferences each evening.”

“What’s the difference? Allergy or dislike, we made it clear that she couldn’t eat them, no matter what.”

Umm, no you didn’t. These are the kind of people who cause problems for people who have actual allergies, when restaurant teams get tired of bowing to every whim of a customer. All it leads to is either restaurants that end up saying basically ‘no substitutions, no special requests’, something that’s becoming more and more common, or, and far more dangerous, chefs who simply decide to ignore requests that think are bogus.

This whole thing about people wanting to come when we’re not open mystifies me. Not that it happens that they want to come on a day or week when we’re not open, but the level of insistence on some people’s part (as above in the first email exchange). With a schedule where we’re not open all the time (what restaurant that isn’t something like a diner is?), and that it may not coincide with theirs, but…

“We’d like a reservation for two for tomorrow.”

“Unfortunately for your timing, as noted on our schedule, we’re on vacation this week and next. Perhaps some time in the future on another visit?”

“We probably won’t be back, we want to come tomorrow. Make it happen.”

“Sorry, but we’re away, I’d be happy to recommend some alternatives.”

“If you had a fucking clue about hospitality, you’d make this work instead of giving me shit. We’re not interested anymore.”

…didn’t bother to respond. I’m sure a nasty TripAdvisor or Yelp review is in the offing.

Have to give points for honesty to this one – a newspaper travel writer contacts me for an interview about Casa S…. this is a paraphrased and much shortened conversation:

“Let’s do the interview on Monday, around noon if that works.”

“Sure, that’s great.”

“And you’ll be preparing a five course meal for myself and two friends who I’ve invited to join me, free of course.”

“No. Sorry, first, we’re not open for lunch, and second, that’s not part of the deal for an interview. You can make a reservation for dinner one night when we’re open if you want to try our food and experience a dinner here.”

“Fine, for the following night. Again, free for all three of us.”

“No, sorry, first off we don’t offer free meals for reviews, and second, we certainly wouldn’t also offer them to friends you happen to invite. Don’t you have a budget from your newspaper to pay for meals?”

“Of course I do, and I’ll need a receipt for the full amount for three of us, but I’m keeping the money – if you want a review, you give me the meals for free.”

“Sorry, but we that’s not an option. Do you still want to do the interview? If not, I fully understand.”

“Yes, I’ll still come for the interview.

Didn’t show up, never responded to followup email.

Nothing like folk who are confident in their own worth!

“We’d like to reserve for two for Saturday evening. We’re both highly intelligent, perceptive, and witty people who will bring a level of conversation to the table that it’s unlikely your other guests are capable of. The format of your dinners, the whole concept, and the ambiance will be a quaint choice for us over the sorts of high-quality restaurants that we normally frequent. However, we do prefer that sort of food, so we’d like your permission to bring in food from a top restaurant for ourselves rather than pay you for your efforts. We’ll of course pay you a corkage charge for the wine we’ll bring and tip the waiter. We await your reply with much anticipation.”

“No, sorry, we don’t have spaces available for you.”

“Your website says you still have spaces available that night.”

“Yes, we do, I’ll leave it to your highly intelligent and perceptive abilities to re-read my first response.”

“The three of us are highly allergic to mayo and there can’t be any in any of our food.”

“Which part of the mayo is it that you’re allergic to, in case we have to avoid one of the ingredients – the egg yolk, the mustard, the lemon juice, or the oil?”

“We’re not allergic to any of those things, just to mayo. Why would you bring those things up?”

“Because that’s what mayo is made out of… other than salt and pepper, there’s nothing else in it.”

“No, mayo is something else than what you’re thinking of, maybe you don’t have a word for it in Spanish.”

“It’s not, and we do, but I’m guessing that one or more of you simply doesn’t like the texture of mayo and you’re not actually allergic to it?”

“Well yeah, it’s disgusting, but that’s like an allergy.”

No, no it’s not at all like an allergy…. “Okay, got it.”


The E Files #2

Time for another round of this month’s favorite emails.


This one seems innocuous at first….

I don’t eat seafood, can you make a substitution for me?

“Not a problem, there’s one seafood course, it’s a ceviche, I can do a vegetarian version for you, I’m doing that for another guest as well.”

Great! See you soon.

…at the dinner…

“How come you’re not serving me the same ceviche as everyone else?

“You said you didn’t eat seafood, we agreed on a vegetarian option.” (the ceviche is fish and shrimp)

I didn’t mean things like fish and shrimp, I meant seafood. Everyone knows what seafood is.

Everyone is studiously observing their plates, including her husband. I’m still wondering what seafood means to her. Luckily, an easy fix, just a new plate of, apparently, non-seafood fish and shrimp ceviche.


In the same vein, but sort of the reverse….

We eat everything, no allergies, no worries.

…at the dinner… thankfully off to the side before the dinner started…

The menu doesn’t look vegetarian. We’re vegetarians.

“It’s not vegetarian, I’m sorry, I didn’t know you were vegetarians, you told me you eat everything.”

Obviously we’re vegetarians, otherwise why would we have reserved at your table instead of a regular restaurant. We eat all kinds of vegetables.

“Umm, but we’re not a vegetarian restaurant, and we did post the menu in advance. But let me see what I can come up with in the kitchen.”

You advertise as a vegetarian restaurant, and you always were one. Isn’t that what puertas cerradas restaurants are all about?

“No, not really, and no, we’re not, and never have been. But give me a few minutes and I’ll put something together.”

…read the f*ing website people…


From someone who has referred numerous people to Casa S over the years…

“I just referred a couple of people I know from work to you and I understand they’ve already booked their spots. I just wanted to give you a heads up – they’re probably the two most boring human beings on the planet that I’ve ever had to sit with. Nice people, but add absolutely nothing to a social conversation.”

“Umm, you’re kidding me, right? They’re going to turn out to be the life of the dinner party…?”

“No really, they’re excruciating to be around, but they wanted something different to do, so I thought of you.”

“Did I do something to offend you?”

“No, why?”

…sigh… “I was just wondering why you’d send me people that you can’t stand to be around, to my home, for dinner?”

“Oh, but you just say hello to them and then you’ll hardly talk to them, you’ll be cooking, and they don’t speak Spanish, so it won’t bother Henry.”

“But what about the other guests at the table?”

“They won’t even notice that the other people are bored to tears, and they’ll have a good time, so it’ll be good for my business, since they’re clients.”

…there are no words…

[Followup: The people came, they were charming, great conversationalists, they had a great time, so did everyone else. And it turns out one of them has never even met the person who sent me the original email and had no idea who he was. Not that I told them what he said, of course.]


Group of 8 requesting a reservation for a private dinner. They’re students from an MBA exchange program, one of the most expensive ones in the U.S., and one which we’ve had numerous students attend from over the years while they’re here in town, so these aren’t kids with no money. All is well with the request, and response… then:

As you know, you have a very good reputation with students at XXXX, and I’m sure you’d like to keep it. We’re just students and your prices are very expensive for us, and I’m sure we could eat for less somewhere else. We could maintain that good reputation you have at our school in exchange for a 50% discount on the price.

“Thanks for your interest in joining us. We feel our price is fair, and reflects the quality of what we do, and past students from your program haven’t had any problem meeting it. We have a list of recommended restaurants on our website, I’m sure you can find somewhere else to dine for that evening, but at this point we’ll be cancelling your reservation.” [That’s the politest version of “Go fuck yourself” that I’m able to muster.]


The E Files #1

donotsendOh the vagaries of email, the trials and tribulations of dealing with folk in other parts of the world who just aren’t quite on the same page as we are. The names have been removed to protect the guilty. None of this is a complaint, it’s just… amusing. I’ve been sharing lots of these over time with a couple of friends online, and it’s been proposed that some of these are worthy of writing a book around. I’ll stick with blog posts. For the moment.


I can only eat things that are prepared in a home or restaurant kitchen. If it’s prepared in an industrial kitchen of any sort, I’m allergic to it – and I can tell.

Umm no, no you aren’t, and no you can’t. Seriously. You wouldn’t have a clue. “Not to worry, it’s all home cooking here.” (And, it actually is in terms of things like sauces, and condiments and such, but if you think I’m going to brine my own olives….)


I see that tonight’s dessert has lemon. I don’t eat any kind of fruit, don’t want to see it, don’t want to smell it, don’t want it near me. Change the dessert.

“No. I asked you a month ago about dietary restrictions, you said you had none, and honestly, I don’t cater to likes and dislikes, just allergies, especially at last minute. I can offer you a cheese plate if you like.”

You’re my fucking private chef for the evening, you’ll do as I say.

“No I’m not, and no I won’t. I’m sending you a refund, please don’t bother to show up, at this point I’d prefer not to have you in my home.” [She actually did show up, paid in cash at the door, and rather than making a scene, I let her stay. She turned out to be charming, a great conversationalist. She ate the lemon tart. She sent me a very nice thank you note. Also, what is it about fruit, she’s maybe the fourth or fifth person in the last month who’s told me they don’t eat any kind of fruit. Is there a new fad diet?]


We have to cancel for dinner. Return our deposit immediately.

“I’m sorry to hear you won’t be joining us, however, we were quite clear upfront, your deposit is non-refundable this close to the dinner.”

Yes, I understand that, but what does that have to do with you not giving me back my money?

As the meme goes, “Sometimes I use big words I don’t fully understand in order to sound more photosynthesis.”


I’ve been trying to reach you for some time to make a reservation. I’ve sent emails to various email addresses requesting one. I’m new to email and still figuring it out. Just today, I found what you list as your official email address for the restaurant, which was very difficult to find. So I’m following up here. I’d like to request a reservation for 4 people on _____. I do feel I have to say something about the other emails. I spent a lot of time sending them out to various addresses and I do think it’s a bit rude of you to not respond to any of them, even to tell me what your correct email address is. I hope we can proceed on better terms.

Ummm… “What addresses did you send to? This is our only one, though I do have personal email. However I’ve not gotten any emails from you. I’m sorry you found it hard to find our email address, it’s posted on our website in several places, but I’ll take a look and see if we can make it more obvious.”

[Responds with a list of four emails addresses, none of which have anything to do with me, or Casa SaltShaker.]

“I’m afraid none of those are ours, so we simply never received the emails. I’m sorry that none of the people at those addresses responded to you to tell you you had the wrong address.”

I don’t understand why YOU couldn’t have done that so that I wouldn’t have wasted my time.


Welcome to my life.