5.3 Critical Events to Inspire Discussion

Winifred Athembo; Nikhil Garg; Richa Kabaria; Sarah Kulewksa; Celine Wai Shan Li; Deirdre Maultsaid; Simrenprit Parmar; and Lesli Sangha

The situation

Roman’s Grill is suffering as a business. There are more restaurants in the neighbourhood now and fewer available parking spots, which families and seniors need. Even loyal customers do not come every weekend for brunch as restaurant goers are branching out to the many restaurant choices in the city.

Staff have inconsistent work schedules; they are sometimes sent home early because there are not enough customers. Some employees are students who work part time. Staff, particularly part-timers, are expected to fill in on all the jobs (serving, cooking, prepping, and even mixing cocktails, even though these part-time staff are paid less than kitchen assistants or bartenders). There are also some mature long-standing employees who behave in a condescending manner to the young part-timers because the long-standing employees are usually given the better shifts on evenings and weekends.

The event

It has been a busy Friday night at the restaurant and tensions are high. Some long-term employees on the shift stand around casually chatting. They say they are “on break”. They task Sonia, a part-timer, with more work such as topping up customers’ water and clearing tables in between her kitchen work preparing appetizers and desserts and time in the bar preparing drinks.

A customer has complained because their cider was warm and the dressing on their salad appeared to be frozen. The chef/manager, Maxwell, apologizes, and sorts out the customer’s needs. Then, Maxwell calls Sonia into the kitchen. He takes a bottle of salad dressing out of the fridge under the prep tables, kicks the fridge door shut and slams the bottle on the counter. He speaks to her in a loud, angry voice.

Dialogue between Maxwell, chef/manager, and Sonia, part-time employee

Maxwell: I’ve already told you so many [swear word] times to take the dressings out of the freezer at the beginning of your shift. This is so easy. I mean, it was still frozen. Look at this! It makes me look bad because it is my reputation on the line here every day and every night. Right? 

Sonia: I know. I mean, yes, chef. I’m sorry.

Maxwell: Well, I had to comp Table 6. What the [swear word] is going on with you?

Sonia: I’m sorry. I’m just so busy and stressed out with the kitchen and the floor.

Maxwell: It is so [swear word] easy to restock the bar at the beginning of your shift and do your kitchen prep.

Sonia: Okay, okay. I mean, yes, chef. But I also had to prep the veggies and the pies and set tables. I’m trying to do a good job, sir.

Maxwell: Should you even be working evenings? Maybe you should go work at [swear word] McDonalds.

Roman, the owner, walks into the kitchen. He happens to have dropped into the restaurant to talk to Maxwell. It is not clear to Sonia if Roman heard.

Maxwell (mutters to Sonia): Okay. Get your act together.

Sonia then hides in the washroom to cry and text her mother for support, though that break puts her behind on all her tasks and the other staff glare at her when she comes back to the kitchen.


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Cases on Social Issues: For Class Discussion - 2nd Edition Copyright © 2023 by Winifred Athembo; Nikhil Garg; Richa Kabaria; Sarah Kulewksa; Celine Wai Shan Li; Deirdre Maultsaid; Simrenprit Parmar; and Lesli Sangha is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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