The owners of a Cape Cod restaurant were so fed up with the ‘astronomical influx’ rude, nasty customers that they closed down for nearly a full day to treat their employees to a ‘day of kindness.’
Brandi and Regina Felt Castellano, the co-owners of Apt Cape Cod in Brewster, Massachusetts, said that lately, too many patrons have exhibited ‘unacceptable’ behavior in their restaurant, yelling at employees and even making some staff members cry.
So on July 8, they made a surprise announcement: The restaurant would be closed until 5pm to give their employees time off from dealing with customers.
Closed: Brandi and Regina Felt Castellano, the co-owners of Apt Cape Cod in Brewster, Massachusetts, shut down their restaurant for most of the day last week
Bad behavior: They said that their staff has been fielding too much ‘abuse’ from rude customers, who yell, berate them, and have even made them cry
Brandi, 39, told the New York Times that customers had been especially kind earlier on in the pandemic, but the mood has shifted since Massachusetts allowed restaurants to open at full capacity on May 29.
Apt Cape Cod, like other restaurants, is short on staff and supplies, meaning longer wait times and unavailable menu items.
An increasing number of diners seem to have little patience, and lash out at their young waitstaff.
‘It’s like abuse,’ she said. ‘It’s things that people are saying that wouldn’t be allowed to be on TV because they would be bleeped. People are always rude to restaurant workers, but this far exceeds anything I’ve seen in my 20 years.
‘Many of us didn’t survive the pandemic,’ she added. ‘For people to be this aggressive towards the ones that have is disheartening.’
In one case, a group threatened to sue when they didn’t get what they wanted. In another, a customer wished bodily injury on an employee.
Regroup: They devoted the day to cleaning, training, and ‘kindness’ instead
Horrifying: One customer told a worker, ‘I hope you get hit by a car when you leave work today’
‘Patrons have crossed the line from being just like rude or upset to verbally abusive,’ Brandi told WHDH. ‘They told one of our workers that “I hope you get hit by a car when you leave work today.”
‘It just makes them not [want] to come to work, the young ones crying or going home and crying,’ she added.
Then, last week, a man yelled at a staff member who wouldn’t take his order before the restaurant hadn’t even opened yet.
That’s when Brandi and Regina made up their minds to close up for the morning.
‘Closed for breakfast,’ a sign hung outside the restaurant read.
They posted on Facebook too, detailing the reason for their decision and their plans for the day.
‘As many of our guests and patrons treat us with kindness and understanding, there have been an astronomical influx daily of those that do not, swearing at us, threatening to sue, arguing and yelling at my staff, making team members cry,’ Brandi wrote.
‘Please remember that many of my staff are young, this is their first job, or summer job to help pay for college,’ Brandi wrote on Facebook
Sweet! Brandi said loyal customers have shown support offline, with one dropping off a gift card for ice cream for the employees to make use of
‘This is an unacceptable way to treat any human. So Chef Regina and I have decided to take the day and give the staff time [to] deep clean the restaurant, train, and treat my staff to a day of kindness. We will be open again for breakfast tomorrow.
‘Please remember that many of my staff are young, this is their first job, or summer job to help pay for college. We have had to make adjustments due to the increase in business volume, size of kitchen, product availability and staffing availability, we are not trying to ruin anyone’s vacation or day off,’ she concluded.
The post has earned hundreds of comments, with many expressing regret for Apt Cape Cod’s employees.
‘Shame on those customers. Thank you for taking care of your staff. Can’t wait to come by and be nice at breakfast,’ wrote one.
‘Such a shame so many in our country have been emboldened to behave so poorly. You are wonderful to give your staff a break. Virtual hugs,’ wrote another.
‘These are people who are showing up every day for work and they are human beings and that’s what everyone needs just to be nice to everybody, everywhere,’ Brandi said
‘I am so sorry you and your staff have had to deal with such disgusting entitled behavior. Thank you for giving your staff a day to regroup,’ wrote a third.
Brandi said loyal customers have shown support offline, too, with one dropping off a gift card for ice cream for the employees to make use of. A nearby parasail and Jet Ski shop also offered to give the employees a day of fun.
However, Apt Cape Cod isn’t alone: Brandi said they had heard from restaurants in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Las Vegas with similar stores.
‘Like all over the country [people] are like, “It’s happening to us too,”‘ she said.
‘These are people who are showing up every day for work and they are human beings and that’s what everyone needs just to be nice to everybody, everywhere,’ she added.
Cape Cod restaurant owners close for a ‘day of kindness’ in response to ongoing verbal abuse