Off The Menu

The Most Utterly Bonkers Restaurant Stories Ever

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Jason Hoffman/Thrillist

Welcome back to Off the Menu, where we bring you the best and strangest food stories from my email inbox. This week, we bring you more utterly insane stories from restaurants that are wacky as all hell. As always, these are real emails from real readers, though names have been changed.

Caucasian bread

“One morning I stopped at a Subway on my way to work to grab a sandwich for lunch. It was about 10am and no one was in the store, but an older white man walked in soon after me. I ordered my bread and cheese and meat and the Subway worker handed the sandwich to the next guy to put on my other ingredients.

“The first worker turns back to the old white man and asks him what kind of bread he wanted.

“Customer: ‘Caucasian.’

“Subway Worker: ‘What?’

“Customer: ‘Caucasian! I want Caucasian bread. I don't do any of that other stuff.’" -- Myjah Vargas

The most committed pizza fanatic ever

“I was working phones/register one night, around 9:00pm when this guy calls in wanting to get a delivery. This was in a small town, so we closed up on the early side (around 10:00pm on weekends), and had just reached the point in the night where we stopped taking deliveries. I explained this to the guy and he started to become your typical rude customer. No big deal, these guys are a dime a dozen in the restaurant business. Also, I was 18 and probably stoned at the time, so I couldn't be bothered to get riled up about it.

“Our delivery driver that night was also one of the managers, and she told me that she'd be okay taking out one more order. When I start to gather the guy’s information, however, I saw that he lived way outside our delivery zone, way out in the rural area beyond city limits. I had to explain to this guy the new reason why we couldn't deliver for him, and he started to get pissy all over again, even accusing us of dicking him around. He tried to get us to meet him at a spot at the edge of city limits with no address, which was a HUGE no-no, so again I had to explain to him that he was out of luck. The guy got super frustrated at this point and was cussing up a storm, telling me we were being totally ridiculous. After much crying, he was finally convinced to come pick up the pizza himself, but not without letting me know one more time how stupid he thought it was.

“So like I said, this was at 9:00, and I told the guy it would be ready in 10-15 minutes. Cut to an hour later at 10:00, and nobody had shown up to claim the pizza. The store couldn't be closed until the registers had been counted out, and the registers couldn't be counted until the last order was dealt with. We could have just cancelled the guy's order and left, but that always left open the painfully awkward possibility of him showing up right after, while we were still there. So we did all the other closing tasks: mopping, cleaning the oven, putting things away, etc., and were just waiting for this guy to show up. Finally, it was about 10:20 and I was begging our manager to cut the cord on this jerk. He had been rude and he was holding me up now from whatever super important stuff 18 year old me had to do (such as getting high again).

“Suddenly, off in the distance through the glass door, I see this shape passing under the streetlights on the horizon. Slowly making its way in our direction was what I can only describe as a shadowy hunchback of Notre Dame struggling to master a bicycle for the first time. Finally the mysterious figure got to our door and we let him inside. It was Super Rude Delivery Dude, DRENCHED in buckets of sweat and clearly very intoxicated. He apparently had ridden into town 10 miles on a bicycle that HAD ONLY ONE PEDAL (a very hilly 10 miles I might add).

“He paid for his pizza without saying much and proceeded to lopsidedly ride off into the night. Ten miles back home in total darkness on a bike with one pedal with his large pizza balanced across the handlebars. I never flipped so fast from hating a customer to feeling sorry for him. Also, there's no way he made it far enough away to be out of earshot by the time my four co-workers and I started busting up laughing.” -- Matt Keaton

off the menu
Jason Hoffman/Thrillist

Cruise ship chaos

“A friend of mine worked on a ‘Spirit Of’ cruise ship. Basically, you pay to go on a ship, watch people dance and sing old timey standards for a few hours while dining at a buffet. Your typical customer is a wizened senior who has socks older than you.

“It was my friend's maiden voyage as an entertainer. A few songs in, she was a little nervous after getting only polite applause, but then realized that everyone was busy eating. A few whiles later, the finale was done, everyone was thanked, and the stage emptied. It was then that a fellow performer pulled her aside.

“‘You have to see this,’ she said.

“My friend then saw all these Tupperware containers appear out of nowhere. The audience had brought them to the show. There was then a mad dash to the buffet table as everyone stuffed whatever they could into their receptacles. Customers were shoving and grabbing ladles and spatulas out of other people's hands. There were spouses back at the tables yelling ‘There's nobody at the shrimp!’ and ‘Don't forget the pot roast!’

“After the ship docked, my friend was at the exit, thanking everyone and saying goodbye as they left. She saw one very old man in light gray pants walk out. The front of his pants were dark and shiny. She thought he had wet his pants… then she saw the lobster tails sticking out from over his belt. He couldn't fit them in his bag and had stuffed them into his trousers. He smiled sheepishly and left.

“She said that pretty much every cruise was like that.” -- Natalie Baker

Spooning Jesus

“I worked in a popular/trendy restaurant/lounge in Downtown Vancouver with a huge patio that drew in a lot of tourists. We had about 20 signature cocktails (that were all awful), but one in particular that we were known for was called the "Spooning Jesus.”

I tried to play it off as, "Oh no... well... I mean, it's kind of like a hug! Like you just hugged Jesus... !"

“Cue the Sunny day and it's that mid-afternoon lull between lunch and dinner when it's super mellow, but this group of three comes in for some beverages. They are American with that long drawl I can only assume is Southern (I'm Canadian, I have no idea what accent is what in the States). [Editor’s Note: Given everything else that happens in this story, I’m assuming this is correct.] The dad asks for a Budweiser without looking at the menu -- and is shocked when I tell him we don't have that and offer to help him choose something light from the ‘confusing’ craft beers. The son, who looks to be in his mid-20s, is open to all this and super stoked to try some new beers, and starts convincing his mother to try a cocktail. She looks at our religious-themed cocktail list and is appalled, but I knew this was coming. ‘Heart of Lilith’ is apparently something to do with the devil -- I dunno, real ‘trendy’ stuff here. But finally she cools down and gets into the spirit of trying new things and says, ‘Well why not! I'll have one of them Spooning Jesus cocktails! After all, I love Jesus!’ I'm all, awesome! This lady is alright!

“I bring them their drinks, they're fine, and I go check up on them soon after to see if they'd like another round. I find the lady crying over her drink while the son and father are kind of half-embarrassed/half-laughing at her expense. Of course, I ask if everything is alright. The son tells me he just explained to her what ‘spooning’ meant. She looks at me through the tears and says ‘I just blasphemed Jesus!’

“I tried to play it off as, ‘Oh no... well... I mean, it's kind of like a hug! Like you just hugged Jesus... !’ This did not help.

“I had to leave quickly to not start laughing right then and there.” -- Amy Hatton

He challenges you to MORTAL KOMBAT!

“The best part of my job as a Subway sandwich artist was this guy who called the store EVERY SINGLE NIGHT for at least the two years I worked there and screamed into the phone, ‘I CHALLENGE YOU TO MORTAL KOMBAT!’

“Seriously. It was every single night. Didn't matter who was working, so I know it wasn't one of my friends messing with me. And there was no set time -- there would just be a random call at some point during the evening where someone was getting challenged to mortal kombat. How awesome is that?

“You'd think it would be annoying, and some of my other coworkers thought it was. But I admired his perseverance. He did this every night for years. That's a lot of effort for something incredibly ridiculous. Hell, for all I know, he's still doing it 20 years later. In fact, I kind of hope he is.

“If you're reading this, Crazy Mortal Kombat Guy aka Shang Tsung aka That Asshole Again, shine on, you crazy diamond.” -- Dan Sanders

Sounds like presidential behavior to me

“About a decade ago, I was a bartender at a very upscale restaurant in Hollywood. One fine day, a middle-aged, slightly rotund gentleman in a suit and tie walked in and ordered a sauvignon blanc. I poured his wine and took his credit card.

“The credit card was, of course, declined. He offered me another card, also declined, a debit card, also declined, and then a business card informing me that he was a ‘Candidate for President of the United States of America.’

“‘That's great," I told him, ‘but do you have $14?’

“That's fine,” the man said, “cops love me, I'm a candidate for president!”

“It was around this time that I noticed he was not just a tad disheveled, but was actually in what my mother would describe as ‘a state.’ His tie was loose around his neck, his collar sweaty, and his white, button up shirt had what I assume were barbecue sauce and mustard stains on it.

“‘I'm going to have to go to the ATM,’ he told me. He then gave me his credit cards and ID to hold and stumbled out of the bar.

“About 15 minutes later, he returned, sans sports coat. ‘I'd like a sauvignon blanc,’ he told me.

“‘I'd like $14 for the first one you drank.’

“‘Right, right. It's, uh, it's in my jacket.’

“‘I'm going to call the cops.’ Even though this was a bluff on my part, my manager overheard me and took it upon himself to call the cops anyway. I had a pretty rad manager.

“‘That's fine,’ the man said, ‘cops love me, I'm a candidate for president! I have a business card... ’ He started fishing around in his pants pockets for another card, but in doing so also discovered a large wad of cash.

“As he paid me, the police arrived to escort him out of the bar. They told him they were going to take him to a parade and he willingly got in the back of the squad car.” -- Josh Harrelson

Quite honestly one of the best stories I’ve ever received

“My family (parents, maternal grandparents, aunt, aunt's then-boyfriend) and I are on vacation in Maui. I am an adorably chubby three-year-old with a really loud belly laugh I employ every few minutes because, I don't know, everything is just fucking hilarious to a three-year-old. Also, I think I insisted upon only eating Gerber's sweet potato baby food goop at this point, and despite still being in diapers, I was smart enough to have conversations and shit. I just didn't wanna grow up, and I didn't give a crap about how I acted in public as long as it didn't piss my parents off to the point they'd take me home. I think I may have flashed half the restaurant because fuck you, I'm a fat three-year-old covered in non-Newtonian fluid sweet potato.

“ANYWAY. My grandparents are hard-nosed heavy drinkers from Jersey City. My grandma in particular is... well, you'll see.

“So, we go out to dinner. (I insist on this, because I liked covering myself in sweet potato in public and then groping myself as I played with my fat rolls or something. It's performance art, you judgmental little shits.) We go to a standard touristy bar/grill, with standard bar/grill rock music playing in the background, and I frankly forget what everyone else eats. I ate my goddamn sweet potato slime and I LIKED IT THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

“My grandparents drink a lot, and no one tries to stop them because they usually respond to that by just doubling their next drink order.

“They. Are. SMASHED. Not aggressive-angry-drunk, but stupid-weird-giddy-Jersey City-old-people drunk. My grandma is... er... dancing? Along to each song, but that's normal for a lot of drunk people. We eat, the food is fine, service is good, yadda yadda. And then Peeves the fucking Poltergeist possesses my grandma or something. What happens?

“Billy Joel's ‘Movin' Out’ comes on.

“Grandma determinedly sways back and forth, not at all in time with the song, but something has changed in her. Fat baby me is giggling because hey, my grandma is sooooo drunk lol where are my sweet potatoes lemme touch my baby dick for no reason. According to every retelling of the story, my mom and my aunt's Drunk Grandma Spidey Sense has been activated, because grandma drank like this even while raising them. (Ah, the '80s. Such a wholesome time.) When DGSS goes off, Grandma is about to do something inexplicably crazy, even for a drunk person.

“'He works at Mr. Cacciatore's down on Sullivan St'

"'Across from the medical center'

"'Yeah, and he's tradin' in his Chevy for a'

“‘CAD-UH-LACK-ACK-ACK-ACK-ACK—’

“The chorus ends, Billy Joel no longer cares about the Cadillac. Grandma does, though.

“‘—ACK-ACK-ACK-ACK-ACK-ACK-ACK-ACK-ACK-ACK-ACK—’

“My mom's shooting daggers across the table at her mother because of the singing. Both her and my aunt are frantically shout-whispering ‘Mom! Mom!’ at her in an attempt to snap the beast out of its trance. Eventually, it works.

“Fat baby me is sad that grandma stopped singing. ‘Again, grandma, again! Again again again!’

“‘CA-DI-LACK-ACK-YACK-YACK-AH-AH-AGH --’ (coughs, slurps her drink)

“The entire restaurant is staring at us. My grandma has been quite loud. The waitstaff is crowded by the host stand in stunned silence.

“‘Mom! Stop it!’

“‘Again, Grandma, again!’ I was an evil baby. Still am.

“The next round of the chorus comes on, this time you can never argue with a crazy mi-mi-mi-mi-mind.

“Grandma: ‘YACK-YACK-YACK-YACK-YACK --’

“Entire restaurant: (agape, pointing and whispering)

“Waitstaff: (prob wondering if someone will tip more because of this)

“Me: (fat giggling baby covered in sweet potatoes)

“Grandpa: ‘SHUT UP, MAYH!’ (my best approximation of his JC-accented version of her name)

“Grandma: ‘SHUT UP, JAWGE, YACK YACK YACK YACK YACK --’

“Family: (so ashamed)

“We left soon after. My parents tipped well.” -- Ken Garretson

In addition to collecting the usual restaurant, home-cooking, and any other food-adjacent stories, we're looking for stories of college assholes from dining hall workers. If you have anything you’d like to see appear in Off the Menu, please emailWilyUbertrout@gmail.com with "Off the Menu" in the subject line, or tweet at @EyePatchGuy.

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C.A. Pinkham is a guy who makes inappropriate jokes about Toblerones on the internet. Follow him on Twitter: @EyePatchGuy.