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VOL. 37 | NO. 20 | Friday, May 17, 2013

Rules of the house: Customer not always right

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ATLANTA, GA. – On a weekend trip to this, the city where we honeymooned four decades ago, Susan and I find ourselves in a place touting the “best burgers in Atlanta.”

On the Vortex Bar & Grill its menu is the “Fat Elvis,” a half-pound of meat “slathered with a King-sized helpin’ of smooth peanut butter, bacon and fried bananas.” Neither of us opts in for this.

This burger joint has “House Rules.” An entire menu page is captioned “Stuff You Really Need to Know,” and includes such statements as “[T]he customer is not always right. We maintain the right to refuse service to any person that, in our sole opinion, is a great big jerk. … [I]f you start acting like an idiot, we will not hesitate to toss your damned fool ass out the door.” All right, then.

And “[W]e are proud to accommodate smokers and non-smokers alike, and we will continue to do so as long as this choice is not taken away from small business owners by evil fascists.

“Don’t give anyone a hard time when they ask to see your ID. Sideshow geeks get paid to guess your age. We, on the other hand, are required by law to verify it. So if you didn’t bring your ID with you, and you are refused a drink, it’s your own damned fault for being a dumb-ass!” No one asked for my ID.

I didn’t go to get an entire column from this menu, but the burger is pretty good, and the fries are great! So, “We are sorry if you are offended by the foul-mouthed strippers sitting at the table next to you, or if you think that the bar area is too smoky, or the music is too loud. But the simple fact is, if you need to have total control over your environment, then you really need to stay home, because nobody likes a whiner.

“Everything you need to know about our food and drink selection is printed somewhere within our menus. Please read them thoroughly. If you ask us stupid questions, we will be forced to mock you mercilessly.”

When someone at our table asked, “What’s medium rare mean?” I cringed, wanting to say, “It’s on page two, dummy!” But, surprisingly, the waitress was quite nice about this.

“You are free to be as rude to your friends as you’d like, but if you expect our staff to serve you, then get off your damn cell phone!” Under the heading “Return Policy,” the following is advised:

“We know mistakes can happen, and we are always happy to correct any errors made by our kitchen, but we are not in the business of providing free samples. Food that is prepared correctly may NOT be returned because you ‘just don’t like it.’”

In conclusion, there’s “Help us maintain a quality staff. Always tip your server appropriately. Tipping is how our bartenders and servers make their living. If you think that tipping is a scam, then buy yourself a TV dinner, stay home, and watch wrestling.”

To read the entire menu, and more, go to thevortexbarandgrill.com.

Vic Fleming is a district court judge in Little Rock, Ark., where he also teaches at the William H. Bowen School of Law. Contact him at vicfleming@att.net.