Tourists with bad behavior push a restaurant in Charlevoix to close early

CHARLEVOIX, MI — What should have been a blockbuster weekend for local bar and restaurant workers ended in tears as impatient tourists pushed a Charlevoix restaurant to the brink.

Larah Moore, general manager of East Park Tavern on Bridge Street, made the decision on Saturday night to close the kitchen an hour early to spare her staff after “taking a beating all week”.

“It’s hard to watch your friends crumble around you,” she said. “Someone has to step in and take care of them. And that’s my job as a manager.

This weekend, the city wrapped up its annual Charlevoix Venetian Festival. An estimated 100,000 people pass through the city during the eight-day celebration.

Understaffed restaurants have begun to buckle under the tsunami of “fudgies,” what locals affectionately refer to as tourists. The online conversation between local business owners turned to rude and impatient guests.

A Facebook post by Moore describing “arrogant individuals” and “arrogant morons” took off with more than 2,600 shares in a single day.

East Park Tavern, a neighborhood haunt across from a popular fireworks viewing spot, operated with a small staff. Five employees managed three floors, Moore said. To handle the festival crowd, she brought in two guest bartenders for the upper bar, but the restaurant was still flooded.

Customers facing long wait times grew impatient and began to sit at dirty tables, move furniture closer together, and become hostile. Moore said she had to physically escort a couple. Both men had been asked to leave the bar on several occasions after slapping their hands on the bar and shouting their drink orders at it.

After a waiter was brought to tears by rude customers, Moore and his staff decided to call him and closed the kitchen early. At the hostess stand, she hung a sign that read, “Due to mistreatment of our servers, our kitchen is closed.”

Unfriendly customers were an alarming trend in the wake of the COVID-19 shutdown, but the service industry is tired of making excuses for misbehaving adults, Moore said.

“It’s only getting worse,” she said. “[People said]: ‘It’s COVID. People have forgotten how to act in public,” but I don’t think that’s it. It’s just that Charlevoix law is getting a bit out of control.

Moore connects an impatient clientele with its shrinking workforce. His current team is made up of recruited friends. In the long term, she worries that fewer young people are choosing bars and restaurants as their first job or career path.

“I think maybe my kids don’t know what a sit-down restaurant is, honestly, the way this trend is going,” she said. “Nobody wants to be a waiter. No one wants to be scolded all day, every day for maybe a tip.

In the end, Moore said what was supposed to be a lucrative week was not tipping generously. The servers didn’t even hit their usual 20% benchmark.

His Facebook post received a mix of criticism as it was shared with both local neighborhood groups and industry insider groups. Moore admits the sign may have been dramatic, but she was looking to make a statement.

“I think people should feel responsible for their own actions,” she said. “You caused it. You shouldn’t know? How can you correct your actions if you are not aware that it is a problem? »

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