Hey everybody! I hope you also had an eventful summer vacation. Yeah, I know it’s November. But I live in Georgia and summer ended only two days ago. My son turned two. I found out that I’m actually a pretty decent carver of pumpkins and carrots. I married another couple. My restaurant won several awards. These are all great stories but they’re going to have to wait.
Once again America’s second favorite place to grab a drunk-to-hungover breakfast at five in the morning after the clubs have closed down for the night has drawn the ire of the JerBear. To be fair it’s really just a franchise owner of 40 Denny’s restaurants who is spewing the ridiculous bullshit in question, but still.
And he’s not alone.
Anyone who knows me knows how into politics I am: I’m not. At all. As in I have always been a life long, card-carrying member of the hippy party. I don’t think I’ve ever even so much as voted for American Idol, much less American President, but some people seemed to think the fate of the free world depended on this last election. Hell it might have for all I know. I can’t change the fate of the world. We here at You Just Got Sat are happy if we can just change anybody’s mind about treating restaurant workers with a modicum of dignity or respect and not like disposable human units. It seems to me that most of the dining public gets this but the real holdouts are restaurant owners. Namely crappy restaurant owners named John, apparently. Specifically John Metz, Denny’s franchisee, and John Schnatter of Papa John’s fame.
In case you don’t read the news ( and you can certainly be forgiven for not wanting to these days), Mr. Metz went on record as saying that “Because of Obamacare” he was going to charge a five percent surcharge at all of his locations.
Okay. No big deal at this point. This is still America and business owners have the right to charge whatever they think they can get out of their customers. I get that. But what set off my bullshit detector was when he said that if customers didn’t like it then they could just take it out of the tip, since those servers would be the ones benefitting from having healthcare. He also said he would be cutting hours effective immediately.
The first thought that the rational mind should have is ‘Gee what a douchebag.’ The second thought should be ‘And not a very smart one either.’ Then: ‘Why is he cutting hours now to prepare for something that isn’t supposed to happen until 2014?’
I may be missing something here. I haven’t been in a Denny’s in a while. Maybe they’ve done some remodeling, maybe they’ve revamped their menu a bit. I don’t know. It’s been years since I’ve been that drunk. But as I understand it Denny’s is what happens when Waffle House and IHOP make a baby. I seriously doubt that their servers are rolling around in so much tip money that they don’t mind their boss telling the public to tip them less, especially after having their hours cut.
John Metz– what the fudge were you thinking when you held this press conference? What was supposed to be the outcome? Did you think you would grow your business by telling the public to put less money in the hands of your employees? I imagine that as the owner of more than forty restaurants, you are a fairly wealthy individual with a large number of employees. Wouldn’t it make more sense to look after the interests of those employees as you would hope they would look after the interests of your business?
Also: five percent? When Papa John Schnatter invented the Scumbag John Schnatter meme, his accountants told him that when universal healthcare went into effect it would add 11 to 14 cents per pizza. I may not be great at math but I’m pretty sure that’s less than five percent. And yeah it’s kinda douche-like for a super rich one percenter who lives in a castle and is giving away two million pizzas to whine about 14 cents, but at least he didn’t say you should stiff the delivery driver.
Then there’ s Applebee’s and Darden and Jimmy John’s (and probably a dozen more restaurant companies before I can finish this post) announcing a hiring freeze and cutting of hours. Again: in protest of a law that’s not supposed to go into effect for two more years.
Come on, American restaurant owners and managers! Get your shit together! You are making the rest of the country look like a bunch of assholes. While I would never dare to expect you to do right by your employees, the optimist in me feels like it’s okay to hope that some day your first knee jerk reaction to legislation that will eventually result in a healthier work force wouldn’t be to throw them under the bus.
Now maybe I’m just spoiled. No, strike that. I AM spoiled. My restaurant owner is one of the good ones. He has told me on many occasions his philosophy on how to treat employees, which can be summed up by as If you make it your business to take care of your people then your people will make it THEIR business to take care of YOUR business. Those are my words and not necessarily his but he has said pretty much that on many occasions and every interaction I’ve had with the man indicates that he means them. I don’t know for sure how he will deal with the upcoming changes in the healthcare system, but I would bet my last dollar he won’t just immediately throw us all under the bus. And I’ll stand by that. Eddie you really are my hero, man.
Restaurant owners and managers, I challenge you to take the high road. I challenge you to do the right thing for your employees, to respond to these changes with a mind towards long term prosperity and not focus on short term costs. I challenge you to be better than these other fools who are making headlines. Embrace the future instead of fighting the past and you will see your business flourish while those businesses that are taking out their political frustrations on their employees will watch as their sales and their bedrock employees walk out the door.
We Americans don’t always vote at the poles, but we do vote with our feet. As more businesses come out as being anti-gay or anti-employee rights, the dining public will make their choices, and yes sometimes those choices will be influenced by how big of dick you are to your employees. Sure, Wal-Mart can get away with union busting and intimidating employees and encouraging them to get on welfare . . . because they’re Wal-Mart. All of their competitors were driven out of business. It’s the only choice sometimes for a lot of people.
But Denny’s? Applebee’s? Papa John’s? Darden concepts?
People have other options. It might be a good idea to at least try to act like you care about your employees. Do it for the PR if nothing else. Maybe in the future restaurants will use treating their employees well as a selling point. Is that such a crazy idea? Until then if you do choose Denny’s or Applebee’s or Papa John’s, please treat their employees (even if they don’t), with . . .
Dignity and Respect
Me, The JerBear