Slog Music

Music, Nightlife,
and Drinks

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Is It Okay to Bring a Big Gulp to a Fancy Restaurant?

Posted by on Tue, Apr 22, 2014 at 1:55 PM

Art of the Table chef Dustin Ronspies, not pouring Coke.
  • Eliza Truitt/The Stranger
  • Art of the Table chef Dustin Ronspies, not pouring Coke.

What if the fancy restaurant actually gives you directions to the 7-Eleven? But then the chef shames you on social media for it? That's the weird story over at Nosh Pit: A woman from Mercer Island and her family went to Wallingford's acclaimed farm-to-table restaurant Art of the Table. They'd been there before, and having tried the nonalcoholic drinks and not liked them, been allowed to bring Coke on a subsequent visit. This time, they forgot, and they asked a server, who gave them directions to the 7-Eleven. Then they went and got Cokes, came back, ate, and paid their $414 bill (with, kindly, extra for the tip because they don't drink).

That night, Art of the Table chef Dustin Ronspies posted to Facebook:

"While dining at AOTT is ask [sic] that you please refrain from bringing 48 oz Big Gulps to dinner. It just looks bad. #nogmo #nohfcs”

And, later:

“It also makes chefd really irritated.”

Ronspies later took the posts down and apologized; he explains that he was stressed and freaked out, and would've really preferred to pour Cokes for these people rather than have "these Big Gulps sitting around the place sweating and melting!"

This particular situation is obviously quite complicated, but for the sake of all future fancy-restaurant-goers (and chefs) everywhere, let's make the legally binding Slog poll nice and simple, shall we?


Comments (37) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
They should just charge a corkage fee.
Posted by dirge on April 22, 2014 at 2:04 PM · Report this
seatackled 2
$414 dinner bill. If she's not Mia Farrow with her 20 adoptees, fuck them all.
Posted by seatackled on April 22, 2014 at 2:06 PM · Report this
monkey 3
I'd be having a serious talk with the server who said this was okay.
Posted by monkey on April 22, 2014 at 2:06 PM · Report this
The problem might be that other diners would assume that the Big Gulps were some high-concept menu item and order them for themselves. But then again that would probably only happen in NYC.
Posted by Rhizome on April 22, 2014 at 2:12 PM · Report this
seandr 5
OMG. No Big Gulps. No Coke. No brown-bagging. And no calling ahead for permission.

If you are so fucking precious that you can't work with what's available at the restaurant, then stay the fuck home.

P.S. Take a large glass, fill it half with water, fill the other half with sugar, and presto, there's your goddamn Big Gulp. Don't forget your insulin shot!
Posted by seandr on April 22, 2014 at 2:18 PM · Report this
I think if you're paying $100 a person (I'm assuming her "family" is 4 people; I assume I'm in the right ballpark, anyhow), you should be committing to the dining experience on offer. You're not paying $100 a person for simple nutrition!

I can understand the notion of bringing your own beverage to the table. After all, I hear it's not uncommon at extremely fancy restaurants for the customers to bring a rare wine with them. I suppose the same could apply for Two-Buck-Chuck, or for Coca-Cola, or even for bottled water. Still, this family and the other customers are paying through the nose for a complete dining experience, one that could be impaired by garish Big Gulp containers melting in the sun. I assume that a restaurant running to $100 a person offers excellent service and could make accommodations - providing a carafe and glasses, for example, would have solved the problem nicely, and they could have charged for the use or just expected the inconvenience to be rewarded in the tip.
Posted by Warren Terra on April 22, 2014 at 2:28 PM · Report this
tabletop_joe 7
I like the idea of a place that has the gall to serve such expensive food dropping huge turds over crass beverages. I've always liked the Rodney Dangerfield approach to class anarchy.
Posted by tabletop_joe on April 22, 2014 at 2:28 PM · Report this
AirBuddy 8
That poor "chefd" ! Seriously, though, in the arts and high dining, don't bite the sweaty gouty hand that feeds. It's something that could easily be addressed if they came back (unlikely, now) rather than in an unprofessional social media rant.

Also, as an aside, fancy non-alcoholic drinks tend to be groooooooss concoctions of lavender and sage grass.
Posted by AirBuddy on April 22, 2014 at 2:35 PM · Report this
How hard is it to go through dinner without drinking a damn soda? And while the passive aggressive tweeting was not cool, he never mentioned any names. Get over yourselves already!
Posted by taco hut on April 22, 2014 at 2:40 PM · Report this
theophrastus 10
seems a bit arbitrary, focusing like that on a single item of [sniff]common culture. when will this question include the larger array of items to/not to take into a "fancy" restaurant? (including, but not exclusive to: corn dog, nail gun, toilet brush, Costco package of Little Debbie Cakes, gym bag with large water bottle (with some oddball spring wire thing in it ?!), large dish with a molded jello, piston (with rings) from a 1983 Camry, mental patient on refrigerator handtruck, monkey wrench, baguette with Frenchman attached, box of Kleenex™, jar o' pickles ... and so on)
Posted by theophrastus on April 22, 2014 at 2:45 PM · Report this
I once heard a definition of "etiquette" that stuck with me. It's behavior that makes the people around you comfortable. By bringing big gross outside food and drink to a fancy dinner they cheapen the experience for everyone around them. Which is too bad because at least some of those other diners don't get to go out for fancy meals too often and had to save up for that special night.
Posted by Patrick McGrath on April 22, 2014 at 2:46 PM · Report this
Don't most restaurants bar bringing in outside food or drink to their establishments? Seems like standard biz practices, and not just for fancy high end places. if you can't drink the sage and lavender concoction, how about try water.

OTOH, if the staff of AOTT had facilitated bringing in the offensive beverage (not once but twice), the problem is an internal training one, not with the customer, and it was pretty fucking inexcusable for the chef to throw a tantrum online. chefd looks like the bigger douche, by far.
Posted by genevieve on April 22, 2014 at 2:52 PM · Report this
I'm with @9 - who can't make it through a meal without a soda? So you don't like the nonalcoholic offerings, and you also can't drink water? Coffee? Tea?

Forget whether it's cool in a fine dining establishment (it's not), what does that say about you that you can't be without your sugar-water for one meal?
Posted by kalista on April 22, 2014 at 2:52 PM · Report this
Lemonade. Classic freshly squeezed lemonade. Or they could just serve Coke, you know, in those cute little 10oz glass bottles.
Posted by Westside forever on April 22, 2014 at 3:17 PM · Report this
Megan 15
Having worked in restaurants and retail, I think it's a great thing to see chefs, customer service reps, etc. rant about shitty customers on social media. The idea of the customer is always right is pernicious bullshit and just excuses certain people acting like complete assholes.

Don't want to hear a chef/server/cashier complain about your idiotic, unreasonable, or douchey behavior? Then don't act that way in the first place.

If you expect service-oriented employees to treat you courteously so you don't complain, then learn to treat them the same way. Or suck it up when you get mocked on Twitter for it :)
Posted by Megan on April 22, 2014 at 3:30 PM · Report this
Mattini 16
I'll never be able to afford to find out myself- do they not serve soda at restaurants like this?
Posted by Mattini on April 22, 2014 at 3:35 PM · Report this
Reverse Polarity 17
Customer bringing a coke, after trying other beverages, and after asking permission? Fine... as long as they pour it in a glass. Customer bringing a coke in a giant fucking Big Gulp tub = asshole.

Restaurant owner not wanting giant Big Gulp tubs on their fancy table? Totally understandable. Restaurant owner ranting about a customer online, after the customer was given permission to bring in said Coke = asshole.

The whole silly stupid affair could have been easily solved by an astute waiter in about 30 seconds. "May I pour that into a glass for you ma'am?"

You're welcome.
Posted by Reverse Polarity on April 22, 2014 at 3:40 PM · Report this
Urgutha Forka 18
Repeating from others... I really don't give a shit if some mouth-breather brings a big gulp into The Four Seasons.

But seriously? You can't have one fucking dinner without a soda?
Posted by Urgutha Forka on April 22, 2014 at 3:49 PM · Report this
@13 But water has a serious lack of flavor and sugar, I mean come on. I can't even taste water. Gross.
Posted by deign_to_say on April 22, 2014 at 3:50 PM · Report this
chaseacross 20
I want to meet the person who will drop half a rent check on organic, free range, non-GMO, ethically-produced food, but then washes it down with what in other countries would probably be considered a lethal dose of high fructose corn syrup. Truly, this woman is America.
Posted by chaseacross on April 22, 2014 at 4:03 PM · Report this
The soft drink containers would look bad in a fancy restaurant but hard alcohol will as surely prevent someone from tasting food. Would chefd make a fuss about it?
Posted by anon1256 on April 22, 2014 at 4:27 PM · Report this
Th customers aren't assholes. They explained why they bring their own stuff to drink; it's because the restaurant doesn't have anything they like.

They've done this before. The only real problem is NOT what they drank (Coke), but what they were drinking it FROM (Big Gulp cup).

Which means it isn't about the drink. It's about how it LOOKS.

And since the restaurant gave them the freaking directions, and since it hasn't had any problem with them drinking Coke in the past, and since those prices are fucking ridiculous anyway, fuck the restaurant.

Fuck the diners, for that matter, because who wants to pay more money for food than most people in the world make in an entire month?

They're all assholes.
Posted by BlueEyedBuddhist on April 22, 2014 at 4:32 PM · Report this
Serious front-of-house fail. True, the customer is often wrong wrong, but these customers did everything right: they asked and received permission to drink an outside beverage with their expensive meal. So why on earth is the chef shitting on them? Oh right, because he looked out on the floor and freaked out when he saw Big Gulp containers next to his plates of beautiful food. So where was the server to whisk the unsightly Big Gulps away and return with the contents in a more visually appealing container? Why didn't a floor staff person say, "Sorry Chef, let me put those sodas in a pitcher?" Someone messed up and it wasn't the customers.

For all the folks saying that the customer should have been able to get through a meal without soda: that's not the issue. I can get through a meal without champagne, but being able to drink my beverage of choice improves the overall experience for me, and if I'm spending big money on a blowout meal, shouldn't I be able to drink what I want? Any halfway decent restaurant will indulge off-menu preferences as long as they're within reason. It's part of providing great service. Shaming people for their taste in beverages is shitty no matter what the circumstances -- what's up, Judgy McJudgerson? -- but shaming people who are customers at your pricy restaurant is beyond the pale.
Posted by Kalakalot on April 22, 2014 at 5:05 PM · Report this
John Scott Tynes 24
A friend of mine is a teetotaler and loves Mountain Dew. He ate regularly at El Gaucho and would bring a bottle with him discreetly wrapped in a bag for the server to "uncork". After a couple visits, they just started stocking a few bottles of Mountain Dew for him and served it in a glass with ice, because that's how you handle good customers.
Posted by John Scott Tynes on April 22, 2014 at 5:18 PM · Report this
Surely there is an appropriate natural artisan soda pop they could serve in lieu of Coke? There are loads of lovely flavors that one can buy at many natural food stores? Also, if people want to bring in their own beverages, perhaps not via a Big Gulp cup. Bring in a unopened bottle or two and give it to the maitre d? And you can buy bottles of Coke at 7-11, so this was just tacky and crass.
Posted by peoplearetacky on April 22, 2014 at 5:29 PM · Report this
john t 26
Last Thanksgiving we had dinner at a friend's house — a nice proper Thanksgiving dinner, with all the traditional courses and wine and place settings and all that bourgeois finery — but one of the guests got up in the middle of the meal to retrieve her 20 oz. plastic bottle of Orange Crush from the refrigerator, and she then proceeded to drink it straight out of the bottle at the table. All of us who were there still talk about her faux pas. Don't do that.
Posted by john t on April 22, 2014 at 5:42 PM · Report this
Yeah, I'm for the individual freedom, with discretion.

I think the error here was in giving them directions to the 7-11. I understand that time and space can be obstacles, but someone should have simply said "Coke? Regular Coke? Sure, I'll get some, just a few minutes, no problem." and ran over to the 7-11 and bought a 2 liter bottle, put it in a pitcher, give them glasses with ice, and assume they'll compensate with the tip. Hell, I'd tip really well if someone did that for me.

The chef should look no farther than his staff if he wants someone to be irritated at. The staff also failed in that if someone walked in with the Big Gulp cup, they should immediately offer to pour them into something more suitable, and then do so.
Posted by rramstad on April 22, 2014 at 6:20 PM · Report this
Posted by Notgross on April 22, 2014 at 7:56 PM · Report this
You want them to drink water?

Like in the toilet?
Posted by waffle on April 22, 2014 at 8:03 PM · Report this
Most people in today's society can't seem to make it through anything without a puff or cocktail. Why such judgement toward people who prefer to eat a meal with a glass of coca-cola. You're all a bunch of snarky hypocrites.

Posted by ToEachTheirOwn on April 22, 2014 at 8:19 PM · Report this
raku 31
This place serves diseased animal livers and mammal corpses to rich sociopaths as if it were food. GM high fructose corn syrup is the height of class compared to this scum.
Posted by raku on April 22, 2014 at 8:26 PM · Report this
Lol.... yeah, the smug absolutely drips from the menu (which has fois gras, btw).... see, right at the bottom.
*eating raw or undercooked foods could make you sick. But so can eating over processed, preservative laden, GMO loaded, feed lot raised & caged foods…think about it
Posted by ChefJoe on April 23, 2014 at 1:54 AM · Report this
Uhg. I am gonna start a 4 michelin star restaurant that only serves drinks in big gulp cups. Who gives a shit. I think that the people getting angry from some person drinking out of a big gulp cup are people that I would hate. "I have worked too fuckin hard to ever see big gulp cups again." Get over it. Props on tipping proper.
Posted by timmymac81 on April 23, 2014 at 2:44 AM · Report this
So really it's the big gulp, not the non gmo high fructose corn syrup product that is the problem. Dress codes are the same old school bullshit that is going on here. "I really wanted the night that I proposed to my future wife to be special, then I saw this jagoff drinking soda out of a big gulp at a "fancy" restaurant and I knew it was not meant to be." Eat shit, if your so bothered by other peoples choices I feel sorry for you. If I proposed to my future wife at a "fancy" restaurant and some dude was sipping a 44oz big gulp, I would think it was amazing and hilarious. It would be something I would not soon forget and a story I would tell for a long time to come. If they were not being loud and obnoxious it's totally fine and most likely amazing.
Posted by timmymac81 on April 23, 2014 at 3:03 AM · Report this
Oh for fuck sakes, if someone spends 400 bucks in your restaurant (or really any money) and does something you don't like, do the right thing and tell them in person. I'm so tired of people passive aggressively bitching on the internet...Oh fuck irony.
Posted by j2patter on April 23, 2014 at 7:00 AM · Report this
Y.F. Redux 36
Tacky? Sure. But professional chefs who think they serve "Works Of Art" instead of just Food are kind of full of bullshit. A restaurant is a business. Some of the customers who patronize the restaurant do not drink alcohol. People who don't drink booze have money to spend too. Maybe they aught to consider serving something that does not contain booze.
Posted by Y.F. Redux on April 23, 2014 at 9:10 AM · Report this
@32 While the Fois Gras does fail on the feedlot raised and caged parts of that info line (and probably on the GMO laden also) it gets a pass grade due to lack of over-processing (if you even TRY to over-process liver it falls apart) and lack of preservatives. To look at the line you posted would require it to fail at ALL of those for it to be bad. Therefor the duck livers are good since they pass in at least 2 categories. You just have to look for the loopholes. It helps if you remember that using loopholes would allow chemical companies to note that plastic is mostly derived from an organic material. And before someone chimes in about it being mostly from crude oil, be aware that crude oil itself is organic by marketing standards as it comes from plants.

@31 Those livers are not diseased. Lots of words exist that would accurately label those livers but diseased isn't one of them. I would even agree with lots of those words, just don't use diseased. If you must use the term diseased in relation to fois gras, I would suggest using it to describe the mindset of the person who came up with the idea of over-feeding geese and ducks to give them those enlarged livers in the first place.
As for the mammal corpses, I don't think they serve those either. I am pretty sure they only serve PARTS of a mammal's corpse there. Last time I was at a place that served a whole corpse (and even then it was minus the innards) was at a hog roast. And while a lot of the people there would have likely fit the term sociopath, none fit the term rich sociopath.
Posted by Romial on April 23, 2014 at 1:03 PM · Report this

Add a comment


Want great deals and a chance to win tickets to the best shows in Seattle? Join The Stranger Presents email list!

All contents © Index Newspapers, LLC
1535 11th Ave (Third Floor), Seattle, WA 98122
Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Takedown Policy