Monday, April 15, 2024

SELLERS: Woke America’s Next ‘New Normal’ Is 3-Hour Restaurant Waits

'I ain't saying you treated me unkind; you could have done better, but I don't mind. You just kind of wasted my precious time, but don't think twice, it's all right...' —Bob Dylan

(Ben Sellers, Headline USA) Although it may have come at a considerable cost, I have fairly well insulated myself since the pandemic from the toxicity that is the woke world. 

It became clear during COVID that there were two parallel Americas that co-existed, and I was neither willing nor welcome to participate in the one that prescribed certain authoritarian mandates while eroding the usual customs and expectations in other areas that had long helped America to thrive.

One of those bygone tenets of the old capitalist system, which is certainly up for debate but perhaps best seen as a guiding principle more than anything: “The customer is always right.”

You can argue that there are individual cases when the customer is wrong, but when your entire mindset is that your customers are privileged and beholden to you as an establishment—or that, as an employee, you are entitled to compensation above and beyond your contracted wages—then a brutal awakening is sure to follow.

Such appears to be the case at ‘Cille and ‘Scoe, a restaurant in Greensboro, N.C., that I had the misfortune of visiting for Sunday brunch over the weekend.

Normally, the red flags—telegraphing their values (and work ethic) through subtle and not-so-subtle cues, such as a drag queen brunch and gender-neutral multi-person restrooms— would have kept me clear away from such a place.

The negative reviews warning of slow service and rude staff, of course, should have been another dead giveaway.

But those tend to get buried by the algorithms under generic posts offering warm platitudes and glowing praise for the restaurant, which touts itself proudly as a “black-owned business” (note: see epilogue for more on this).

It’s worth mentioning that the manager we ultimately dealt with was a young white woman with excessive facial piercings, who seemed severely out of depth in terms of her professional skills.

Credit goes to the restaurant’s marketing department, because its website and social- media presence do paint a much more appealing picture of its fare and overall ambiance than that which we encountered.

The restaurant, which opened in 2022, got early buzz when its chef made an appearance on the Food Network’s Chopped after its Instagram account caught the network’s eye.

As it happened, a close family member of mine with stage-four cancer was visiting Greensboro for the weekend—a last hurrah before undergoing an intensive chemotherapy treatment—and the restaurant had caught his eye as well.

Also in our party of six was his 7-year-old niece, who had compiled a long list of special things to do with him on that Sunday afternoon before he left early the next morning.

However, the wait staff, kitchen staff and management at ‘Cille and ‘Scoe had other plans in mind for how we were to spend the large part of our Sunday: sitting at a cramped table on metal, backless stools for nearly three hours as we awaited what should have been a relatively simple food order.

In fairness to the restaurant, they had posted on their door that they were short-staffed and asked patrons to be patient, and when we came in for our 1:30 p.m. reservation, they were indeed busy.

It’s hard to say, though, whether the bustle was due to the restaurant’s popularity or its lack of efficiency. Having had ample opportunity to observe, I saw few (if any) new customers enter the restaurant after we were seated.

Our waitress, a pleasant enough young woman who shared a name with a 1990s rapper, quickly seated us and took drink and appetizer orders, and all was well, leaving us to suspect little of what was in store.

Thereafter, she proceeded to disappear and remained largely inattentive except to make periodic excuses for the delays. It was another 10-15 minutes before she returned with some coffees and, with some prompting, took our food orders so that the kitchen could get started while we noshed on our appetizer and enjoyed mimosa flights—or so we thought.

Some time later, she returned again, explaining that they were out of the wine normally used for mimosas and that we would have to buy the entire bottle if we wanted the two mimosa flights. The upcharge was only slightly more, and it meant more champagne, so we weren’t terribly distraught, but already we’d been waiting nearly 45 minutes and had yet even to see our cocktails.

We enjoyed our cocktails, eager finally to have begun the culinary process, but it would be another half hour before the appetizer came—a $26 “biscuit board” for the entire table that consisted of a single cut-up biscuit with several different jams, gravies and a smattering of protein. It was not what we had expected from the description, and hardly worth the wait.

The waitress had explained to us that the reason for the delay was that the kitchen had run out of biscuits and needed to make a fresh batch. Where the rest of them went, who knows?

Still, it would be at least another half hour before our food arrived. As we waited into our second hour at the cramped table, playing Wordle to pass the time, our waitress finally confessed that there had been a large party in the back room that had come in right before us, and so this was not simply the normal short-staffing delay.

Sensing our growing irritation, the aforementioned manager also came over and repeated the same thing, but offered no sort of make-good as one might expect, nor any particular apology. She more appeared to be complaining to us about the situation, blaming us for the fact that she was having to do her job.

At this point, the restaurant was largely deserted and past its posted closing time.

Once the food arrived, the waitress was remarkably quick to bring the check, which suited us just fine, but there was one more nasty surprise in store: an automatic 20% gratuity added in, with no attention called to it anywhere.

When I confronted the waitress and the manager about it, they explained that if we were to cut back on the tip it would be punishing the waitress, and not the kitchen staff who were responsible for the delays. I indicated that we were dissatisfied with both.

The manager claimed that it was posted on their menu that they added in an automatic gratuity for parties of 6 or more, although we did not see it anywhere on there.

At any rate, that particular battle wasn’t worth fighting over.

Nonetheless, in the Marxist cultural rot that is the “woke mind virus,” there comes a time when we must somehow stand our ground, or else learn to accept three-hour restaurant waits as the new normal.

At no point did anyone—the waitress, the manager or, later, the owners—seem to acknowledge that such a wait was simply unacceptable under any circumstances, and entirely avoidable if their kitchen were better managed.

At the very least, a three-hour wait could have been an enjoyable experience in a more comfortable setting, if properly attended to and duly compensated for the time stolen from us—rather than expected to pay the waitress extra for it.

Instead, we, as a society, will continue to labor under the delusion that ‘Cille and ‘Scoe—and many others like them—are thriving and successful enterprises. Every so often, a complaint will break through their constructed facade, and eventually their own poor business practices will run them aground.

Then, they will declare themselves to have been the victims of systemic racism and institutional oppression all along. But the fact is that ‘Cille and ‘Scoe, by fostering an all-too-familiar sense of self-entitlement and hubris, is laying the foundation of its own failure, as is woke America at large.

Victory is inevitable, but at what cost to our precious time?

Epilogue: There are those on both the Right and Left who would love nothing more than to inject the canard of race into this discussion and make it about that, so as to overlook the real issue that underpins it.

It’s true that ‘Cille and ‘Scoe brought race into the narrative by incorporating it into their marketing. Does being a “black-owned business” apply only if the restaurant is well managed and serves its customers in a prompt and respectful fashion? Or does the experience I recounted impartially above also come with that package?

Either way, it is not my intention to impugn the black community at large. Had this been a black-owned restaurant telegraphing its values with a Trump flag outside, I absolutely would have gone in knowing to expect some of the best service, hospitality and Southern cooking imaginable.

The issues of poor work ethic and poor management have nothing to do with melanin levels, and everything to do with the cultivated sense of entitlement and lack of accountability that transcend racial barriers. Let’s not give these professional-grade victims any more ammo for their perpetual pity party.

I published this review on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, about a restaurant just blocks from the famed Woolworth’s lunch counter where people like Clarence Henderson (who spoke at the 2020 RNC convention) fought to advance black civil rights by insisting they be served during segregation.

Although the seating in ‘Cille and ‘Scoe was probably less comfortable than the lunch counter, this is not about race. It’s about a toxic mindset that has infected every walk of life in this country, and ESPECIALLY the ‘elite’ ruling class.

Ben Sellers is the editor of Headline USA. Follow him at twitter.com/realbensellers.

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