Steve Newick, owner of Newick’s Lobster House, fed up with the mistreatment his servers were suffering at the hands of some clients, decided to defend his employees. He has gone viral because of his actions.
The restaurant has been serving seafood on Dover Point since 1948. According to Steve, since the pandemic began, some customers have been aggressive because of several policies, including mask mandates, party limits, seafood prices spikes and wait times.
He was even called a fascist for complying with COVID-19 regulations during the pandemic. He stated that he’s heard it all, but that the latest incidents were the last straw.
He said: “I’ve had servers in tears. I’m not talking about someone that’s upset because we messed up the order, because that’s perfectly legitimate. I’m talking about the jerk that decided to throw a scallop at someone, because he thought it was too small. That’s the type of stuff we face. If we mess up an order, we can fix it and we’ll do everything we can to make you happy. But if you’re screaming at us, if you’re throwing food at my servers, what do you want us to do?”
He added that while he has thick skin, his employees deserve better. At the dine-in podium, Steve posted a sign reading: “If you’re going to complain, talk to Steve, and then you can leave.”
“Please do not mistreat or yell at our crew. They have worked very hard so that Newick’s is still here to serve you. We are short staffed and things sometimes get backed up and even make the occasional mistake. If you do run into an issue please bring it to our attention like a calm adult,” the sign continued. “If however you feel the need to yell and rant and rave like a spoiled child please ask for me, Steve Newick. I will listen politely. Then I will not so politely ask you to leave and never come back. It may not be the best thing for business but we have taken too much abuse over the last year and a half and I will not subject our crew members to more.”
He stated that 95% of their customers are understanding and kind, but that the problems from the “small vocal minority” is nothing but childish.
“The restaurant industry is taking it particularly hard because the whole industry is on its knees right now. We’ve been beaten up by the pandemic, so a lot of places can’t afford to say ‘Hey, don’t come back.’ They’re taking abuse that they shouldn’t take, that they might not normally take, because they have to. And that’s a horrible thing that people are doing by taking advantage of that,” Steve stated.
He maintained that it was not the behavior or name calling that was bothering him, but the “bullying nature.”
He recalled an incident that occurred before he put up the sign. There was a customer was yelling and swearing at a server, but when he went to address the problem, the man backed down.
However, once Steve left the room, the man promptly continued abusing the server.
“Don’t pick on someone that can’t fight back. This server is not the person in charge, they can’t fight back against you. As soon as someone who could was present, he changed his tune entirely and was back at it as soon as I left. And that really bothered me, it’s just the bullying nature of it. That’s why I said to ask for me, because you can try to beat on me, and that’s fine, because I can ask you to leave,” he stated.
Steve revealed that he had to ask unruly customers to leave the restaurant on the day the sign went up.
“I just don’t understand why some people feel so entitled that they can just get aggressive. It’s easy on a keyboard to write something nasty and it’s no big deal because there’s no repercussions,” he said. “That changes when someone’s saying ‘No, you’re being an (expletive),’ which I have had to say to people. This is the worst year anybody’s seen as far as how guests are behaving. It’s a problem across the industry and the industry really can’t speak out about it right now, because everyone’s so desperate as it is.”
Steve’s sign was posted on social media and quickly garnered positive comments, with the majority of people commending him for sticking up for his employees. However, some have slammed the sign as being too harsh.
Steve stated: “We have a loyal following and long-established position, so we can speak out and say ‘Hey this is a problem and it needs to change.’ The attention is still strange to me. You know, I’m not asking for accolades, we just want a fair shake.”
He explained that he had staffing problems earlier in the year, but he appreciated the longtime employees who have “gone above and beyond” to keep the business running through the busiest season of the year.
“We owe a lot to our employees, and letting people beat on them isn’t a good way to pay them back for their hard work and dedication,” he said. “They’ve shown up to do their job and deserve respect.”
He said that he never expected his sign to go viral, but he hopes that his actions will help bring the issue to light and prompt people to rethink being unkind to servers.