"Life and things are being made and exchanged. We are not good at understanding this mix, of responding to someone providing us with a life-making service that to them is profit-making with the generosity that is required—the generosity we would unquestionably provide at a friend’s home. In a restaurant, we are stranger masquerading as guest." I loved this (as much as one can 'love' a somewhat somber and poignant idea) Thank you for alerting me also to Be My Guest -- a new one to add to my reading list this year.

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This perfectly sums up everything that is wrong with this situation. So well said.

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The Dallas chef and bánh mì maker Reyna Duong has for years and especially during covid strictly enforced a "No Assholes" policy. (She even sells No Assholes shirts and stickers.) Her goal is to create a new model of hospitality, where she builds a self-selecting community for her business. A couple months ago I interviewed her for a story about it and asked her about "the customer is always right," and how kicking out assholes squares with the longtime expectations of the word "hospitality."

Here's some of what she said in reply, which is really useful from an owner POV and especially as she's a nonwhite person whose food has often been accused of being "overpriced":

“Since the beginning, we were very adamant about No Assholes. No one ever is surprised when I speak up, because it’s just who we are now, right? But do you really want to go to bed at night knowing that you have to deal with assholes? There is a very real fear of losing business when we can’t afford to lose even one customer. But at least within my circle of friends and the groups that I’ve mentored over the last several years, they’re seeing that it’s OK to speak up and speak out because you’re ultimately creating the community that you want to serve.”

"Before we talk about pricing, we have to talk about how service industry is mistreated. That customer is always right BS, that stems from white supremacy in my opinion to be honest. To keep the 1% at 1%, you know? With the customer is always right, that’s complete garbage. If we don’t change that mentality, that umbrella of mistreatment, that will trickle down to not paying. You rarely ever hear about anyone complain about a $100 steak when they go and have that. But if you put a $25 steak in front of them, they’re like, huh, is this even edible? But then if you give them a $10 bánh mì, oh gosh, I can get one for $2. F*** off if you tell me this isn’t about white supremacy."

See also her IG post here, "Our Dignity is Not on the Menu" (and follow her!): https://www.instagram.com/p/CMCoZBWnjvI/

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I've done my part by leaving the industry, 9 years ago when I had my son. I knew I could never balance the two. My husband left this past year after years of fourteen hour days. Fortunately, we can cook for ourselves. I can only hope that as the conditions as a guest deteriorate, people will pay more attention to the situation.

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