The owner of the restaurant denounces the fact that the staff are verbally attacked by customers


Sadly, it’s no secret that restaurant staff everywhere receive their fair share of verbal abuse from customers, but now a Markham restaurant owner is speaking out about how he has it enough.

The owner of Scenic Coffee, a brunch restaurant, wrote an open letter on Instagram over the weekend beginning “A little rant/story hour” addressing some concerns he’s been pondering since reopening after restrictions were lifted.

“My team and I faced so much verbal abuse, mean attitudes and criticism both in person and online,” Scenic owner Leo Wong wrote.

“Some of these words and interactions keep me up at night. I think people forget that behind every plate, every cup, every interaction, there are just people trying to make a living and they’re trying their best.”

He continued to say that it was heartbreaking for him to see his staff’s hard work go unappreciated as they fulfill his own personal dreams by showing up for work and enduring abuse every day.

“I opened Scenic in 2019 with less than $1,000 in my savings account. I had returned from Tokyo for the sole reason of opening my own venue,” the post read.

“When I opened Scenic, my number one goal was to pay my team a living wage, and that’s a goal I’m still pursuing three and a half years later.”

Wong tells blogTO that the problem of customer abuse of staff has definitely gotten worse since the lockdowns were lifted, with more incidents than they can actually remember.

“We had an incident in the past where a mum said she was discriminated against because she didn’t make a reservation, a one star review because we moved an umbrella, sexist/misogynistic behavior against our female staff,” Wong told blogTO.

He was inspired to make the post after receiving a particularly lengthy two-star review.

“The review was written with complete disdain, but also showed they had no knowledge of our food and weren’t interested in learning more about our concept,” Wong says.

Wong followed up with his staff about it and they remembered that the customer had been particularly rude, which made it clear to him that Scenic was not the problem (as it so often was).

“People who aren’t in the restaurant industry don’t realize that their interactions in the restaurant can cause stress to working people, and their online reviews can affect their livelihoods. With food inflation, staff shortages, rent in Toronto and the industry being broken as a whole…for small independent ma and pa stores, the profit margin is extremely slim,” says Wong.

“Trying to be an ethical business owner by paying my staff a living wage, sourcing from small local producers, working with other small local businesses is harder than ever, but it’s a struggle that your average restaurateur will never experience or care to contemplate.”


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