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A Food Service Onslaught

, , , , , | Right | May 12, 2021

I’m working at a Korean-style cafe. We have a pretty big dining room with about 25% taken up by studying students when, around 9:30 pm, a group of about eight comes in wearing matching shirts sporting the logo of a well-known religious organization.

Group #1: “All of us will be on one tab. There are actually about twenty-five people in our group; we’re just waiting on the rest.”

We like to have people call ahead for groups bigger than ten so that we can prepare and make tables big enough to fit them. Twenty-five is a lot of people, but it’s doable, so my coworker starts taking their orders and I start making drinks. About halfway through the first eight orders, more people wearing matching shirts with the same logo but a different color come in. We figure it’s the rest of the group. 

Group #2: “We’re all going to be on one tab. There’re about twenty in our group.”

Me: “Oh, the rest of your group already told us! You don’t have to explain.”

I gesture to the first group.

Group #2: “Oh, we aren’t part of that group.”

Now we are expecting about forty-five people to be in the store, which is way more than average, and that’s usually after people order in scattered order and sit for a few hours, not all at once about an hour and half before close. We would usually start closing things down around now, anyway, because the owners like to make sure we aren’t staying too late after we close to clean.

We know s*** is getting real; it’s the biggest rush I’ve ever been in. But it gets bigger.

We end up with another three groups of people in the same shirts, each group a different color, ranging from ten to twenty-five people in each group. We have at the very least seventy-five people come in and order drinks and some desserts within a thirty-minute period.

I stop to talk to one of the customers.

Me: “What’s going on? You’re all in matching shirts.”

Customer: “We’re having a district meeting for the staff of [Organization]. It’s just a coincidence that we all showed up at the same cafe!”

I got all the drinks done thirty minutes before we closed, and for the first and only time in my time here, I had to make a last call for drinks because we would have been there all night otherwise. We made over $250 in thirty minutes. Many of our regulars left because there wasn’t any walking room. My coworker had to go outside and come back in another entrance just to serve people their drinks because they were blocking all walkways in the store.

When they were leaving, two of the group leaders came up to my coworker and me — both of us sweating, panting, and looking all kinds of tired — and handed us a business card for their organization and said we should join them sometime. None of the groups or individual people tipped at all.

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