Applebee’s fires waitress who outed stingy customer on Reddit

An Applebee’s waitress gets stiffed by a customer who’s a pastor, and who leaves a handwritten note, on the check, along with zero tip. It was a party of 20, so the tip of 18% was automatically included in the bill.

Another waitress, who thought the note was funny (and rude), snaps a photo of it and posts it to Reddit, a large online community.  And subsequently loses her job.  UPDATE: The Smoking Gun has spoken with the pastor.

Here’s what she posted:

Applebee's receipt god

The customer was an idiot not to leave a tip, and then to mention that he gives 10% to God.  She means ten percent of his annual salary, which is something Mormons, among others, do.  The restaurant bill, however, was not asking for 18% of the pastor’s annual salary.  It was asking for 18% of that meal.  Which is a lot less than 10% of her annual salary.  Unless the pastor plans to give her server a percentage of her entire annual salary, then her point about the percentage is moot.  Let me walk you through this.  The pastor gives God 10% of her annual salary.  Now let’s pretend that the pastor makes $50,000 a year.  The tip was $6.29.  $6.29 is 0.012% of the pastor’s annual salary, which is a lot less than the 10% she gives God.  So in addition to being stingy, the pastor is also an idiot.

According to the Consumerist, the waitress was fired by Applebee’s for posting online about the experience.

In all fairness to Applebee’s, I’m not sure how you let slide any server who posts a copy of a customer’s bill, that contains a personal note from the customer along with their name, on the Web.  The copy of the check above no longer contains the pastor’s name – the original did.

Now granted, the customer is an ass.  But still.  I worked as a waiter.  Hardest job of my life.  And lots of customers were idiots.  But I can’t imagine “outing” one of the idiots on the Web, by name, as tempting as that might be.

You are simply not permitted to talk back to the customers, unless they’re sexually harassing you or something of that caliber.  Short of that, if the customer needs a talking to, you get your boss.  And regardless, you most certainly don’t publish the customer’s name, along with his nasty note, on the Web, exposing him to public derision, which reflects poorly on Applebee’s itself – and that’s the problem here.

From any employer’s perspective, you can’t permit servers to take out personal vendettas against customers, regardless of how big a jerk the customer.  I’d be curious to hear from folks who think this behavoir was acceptable, and not a firing offense.

It’s not entirely clear how Applebee’s found out about this. It appears that the server posted only a portion of the bill, so it didn’t include Applebee’s name.  It did, however, include the full name of the pastor.  That was her mistake, I think.  The pastor found out, somehow (I suspect Reddits found him), and called Applebee’s, demanding she be fired.   Had the server not published the name of the pastor, it’s not clear how Applebee’s would have ever known – her initial post on Reddit does not indicate which restaurant chain this happened at.

In talking to Consumerist, here’s what the server had to say:

According to Chelsea, until the receipt story got out there, her time at Applebee’s had been without incident.

“I had been well-liked and respected,” she explains. “My sales were high, my managers had no problems with me, and I was even hoping to move up to management sometime this year.

“When I posted this, I didn’t represent Applebee’s in a bad light,” she continues. “In fact, I didn’t represent them at all. I did my best to protect the identity of all parties involved. I didn’t break any specific guidelines in the company handbook — I checked.

“But because this person got embarrassed that their selfishness was made public, Applebee’s has made it clear that they would rather lose a dedicated employee than lose an angry customer. That’s a policy I can’t understand.”

This server sounds out to lunch to me. Not posting the names of customers who tick you off to Reddit is “a policy I can’t understand.”  Well, I do.  The waitress wasn’t working alone, she wasn’t a freelancer. She was working for Applebee’s.  Whatever she does reflects on her boss, and her boss is ultimately responsible for her.  So when she posted the customer’s name online, she did it on behalf of Applebee’s.  And no employer can tolerate that.  It’s not her job, and it’s not her choice, to out rude customers to the world.  When she runs her own restaurant, more power to her.

So while I agree that the pastor is truly an idiot, and I agree that the check is funny as hell as something to post online, the server overstepped her bounds.  When you’re working for someone else, you don’t have the right to expose customers to public humiliation on behalf of your boss, even if the customers deserve it.  So while I’m sorry she got fired, I’m not sure Applebee’s had any choice.

What do you think?

CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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163 Responses to “Applebee’s fires waitress who outed stingy customer on Reddit”

  1. cutiewaiter says:

    She was in the right to do what she did because the customer did not give a work/professional related reason for not tipping, he/she gave a personal reason and as far as I’m concerned, deserved to be outed, and BTW, I am currently a waiter right now, and I’ll say it again, if anyone gets personal with me, it trumps any cordialness that I would show you.

  2. being real says:

    i would have clocked you bitch. so what your saying is that its alright for them to CHOOSE to act like that but she cant CHOOSE to act like that! hypocrite!

  3. mike31c says:

    Yeah, you are not giving ‘god’ 10 percent. You are giving a corporation under the false guise of a tax haven 10 percent.

  4. Tony says:

    This notion of customer privacy is a hoot. Who wants to bet me a crab feast that Applebee’s belongs to the ever-growing corporate cancer of selling personal customer information to info-brokers for profit: your name, time of purchase, restaurant number/location of purchase, items purchased, time spent at table, number of guests at table, and of course, amount of tip. After all, U.S and state laws are sparse to non-existent and those that are on the books languish in a non-enforcement reality. You deal with almost any large corporation operating in America and their right to sell your personal info trumps customer privacy and satisfaction.

    So let’s hear it for this preacher’s right to privacy. Don’t cheer too loud, the corporate privacy brokers have your number and their Stasi will relieve you of your comfortable warm bed in the middle of the cold night.

  5. Tony says:


    I confused. Did the waitress who served the stingy ministry get fired, or did the waitress who actually posted the receipt. Because if it’s the former, Applebee’s may face legal problems for unjust firing.

    On the whole question about the minister, I studied for the Southern Baptist ministry and I’m here to tell you. Almost all ministers or preachers–those who stand in a pulpit and preach–, actually rarely tithe. The first reason given being that Paul states Christians give to their membership church (when physically present), and since Protestant clergy and their family are to remain outside the church the minister serves, that church isn’t their membership church. And since they’re not physically at their membership church, they can’t tithe. Second, since preachers are underpaid (and almost all preachers claim to be acutely underpaid taking in account their education and time spent ministering), God accepts their service in lieu of money. An interesting argument considering the number of preachers I personally know who don’t take this into account for their church members.

    I know many preachers who’ve gone into their wallets to give, but usually this is emergency church repairs. This minister probably is different because she works in the real world, but I still wouldn’t give her a pass. One, the Christian Church, for the last forty years, pushes the concept of public shaming for sins. Her sins are pride and lack of Christian charity. Perhaps her bigger sin is not forgiving this mistake. Again, she holds the position of minister, preacher, teacher of the Gospel of Christ. God holds such privileged people to a higher standard of Christian witness. Every preacher who mentored bore this into me like a drill sergeant drills at Parris Island.

    Also, preachers are shameless when asking their congregations for a raise. Perhaps it doesn’t appear like this to the laity, but believe me, when dealing with the deacons, elders or whatever governing member body who stands between the preacher and the congregation, these ministers of God resemble more Donald Trump than Gandhi. Many Protestant preachers have cashed in on the big-money excuse, “If you don’t like the amount of money you make at work, you can ‘get’ a better job.” Again, the stained-glass walls of the Church rose-glasses these preachers’ view or reality. Again, if the laity knew how the tax laws allow ministers, particularly Protestant ministers, to write off some many expenses since they are independent contractors, shock would lead to anger. Many ministers, like many businesses, get money back that they never paid in.

    For these reasons, I can’t see being upset at a stingy, unforgiving Christian minister, whose profession at large–at least in America– believe in shaming sinners, especially children who should be punished with love and not derision.

    A note, my parents taught me if you couldn’t afford the five percent tip (this was the seventies, and I believe in at least a 20% tip for those who serve me food), then stay at home and eat a sandwich. Christians, and ministers in particular, shall do their very best every day to assure that those they interact with during a day doesn’t have to choose between hunger and shelter. Christ Himself said, “Feed the hungry in My Name.” Christian ministers should at least tip their servers what they claim they tithe to God. “For this you do to the least among you, you do to me.” Jesus Christ

  6. Daniel Bennett says:

    As you know, the wages of the servers are dismal. Although, posting personal information about a customer should be a punishable offense, perhaps not paying decent wages creates an environment that is not conducive to proper behavior. And the Applebee CEO apparently earns 100 times the amount that servers appear to get (see links below). I know a couple of servers at other restaurants that received no wages and only got to keep a portion of the tips which were divided with the busboys, etc.–yes, illegal, but probably more common than you might think. And until health care reform is finally in place next year, many restaurants do not give health care or sick days (yikes for hygiene).

    And into this environment of employees needing to hope that their clients will make up for the substandard wages (minimum wages for restaurant workers is much lower than most others). There may be no excuse for poor behavior by servers, but neither is for our acceptance of their condition.,17.htm's%20International%2C%20Inc.

  7. Kim Pearson says:

    I will never spend another dollar at Applebee’s again until she get her job back!

  8. colleen2 says:

    “I still am unclear as to how else a restaurant should handle waiters
    trying to publicly humiliate their customers, regardless of how rude”

    The restaurant can solve this problem by never placing an employee in a position where they are expected to work for free. That seems to me a very low bar.

  9. colleen2 says:

    Oh, please. This isn’t daily Kos. John occasionally indulges in adopting adversarial positions. He never requires kissing.

  10. bubba says:

    well lets speak to the someone a fair wadge to represent your business and teach them the right way to handle people reguardless of thier mood and you have your solution. do not cry and punish the wait staff for your cheap ass .who do your customers think they are. its applebees not the ritz i feel sorry for the people who have to get shit from customers then get stuck in there ass from the co. thats bullshit.if your a cheap ass stay out of the public.

  11. OtterQueen says:

    And – Holy crap! Just splitting the bill into so many checks is worth the 18% tip in itself.

  12. OtterQueen says:

    Thanks, I hadn’t seen that anywhere.

  13. karmanot says:

    “Christian mythology seems to cultivate anti-social characteristics: selfishness, arrogance, martyrdom, and stupidity.” The good news is that it ends in crucifixion.

  14. karmanot says:

    Ain’t that the truth! Good One.

  15. karmanot says:

    :-) xxxxoooo

  16. karmanot says:

    Tax free churches and flim flam profit centers. If she’s eating Dutch at Applebees it’s probably not working out that well.

  17. karmanot says:


  18. usagi says:

    According to the published account, it was a party of 20 who requested and received a split check. The receipt represents her portion of the split.

  19. OtterQueen says:

    How many people were in her party if the bill came to $34.93? The tip isn’t added in, it looks like they just suggest an 18% tip and calculate it for the patron.

  20. colleen2 says:

    No, we think your support of policies that guarantee waitstaff will work for less them minimum wage makes you a jerk. You certainly seem enthused about shaming the employees who object to such outrageous practices.

  21. colleen2 says:

    Of course the part that rankles is that this “low level employee” worked her ass off for less than minimum wage because of the crappy compensation policies of her employer. Some folks think that the employer (who makes out just fine exploiting other people’s labor by making that employee’s ability to pay her rest subject to the generosity of those fine customers you speak of) should compensate an employee in this situation.
    If someone managing a service industry business cannot manage to cook and serve food without exploiting their employees in this manner perhaps they should consider a business where they do the actual work.

  22. dkarma says:

    To quote Mr. Pink:
    “Show me a piece of paper that says they shouldn’t do that and I’ll sign it. Put it up for a vote and I’ll vote on it, but what I won’t do is play ball…”

  23. Jim says:

    It’s typical christian arrogance. Since the pastor feels superior because of her mythology, she felt it was outrageous that she should have to tip. Now, the pastor is playing the victim.

    Christian mythology seems to cultivate anti-social characteristics: selfishness, arrogance, martyrdom, and stupidity.

    I feel sorry for the waitress who got fired.

  24. Jimmy says:

    If someone working in a service industry can’t deal with the occasional a$$hole customer, then they don’t belong in that world. You deal with it and you move on. My experience with customers was mostly positive and the people like this pastor were the extreme not the norm.

  25. Jimmy says:

    Shaming? Really? You think that’s a good way to run a business? Oh, and doesn’t calling someone a jerk simply because they don’t share you opinion make you the jerk?

  26. samizdat says:

    Storefront churches are a dime-a-dozen in St. Louis. And the scourge of code enforcement, and neighborhood associations. Most of these flim-flammeries can’t afford the upkeep to their property, so they often look like crap.

  27. samizdat says:

    That’s because you’re a jerk. Ever heard of the concept of shaming?

  28. samizdat says:

    I’m surprised they asked.

  29. tsuki says:

    If you are stupidly proud enough to write a self-righteous message on the bill declaring that you consider the person serving you unworthy, then you should want the world to know.

    I do agree that Applebee’s was caught in the middle, but I am so sick of the Gawdly.

    The pastor should lose her position for invoking the name of God in such a blasphemous manner.

  30. Alioh says:

    Applebee’s wouldn’t know good food if it landed in their mouths, so I can’t boycott them as I never go there anyway. Long ago my sister worked as a server at a restaurant that attracted large groups of church goers on Sunday evenings. They left tracts instead of tips. Piously, tracts informed my sister that the best tip of all was accepting Jesus as her savior. An embarrassment to Christians everywhere. Jesus didn’t pay the rent, my sis did. By the way, how did the pastor and her large group of followers eat for only 35 bucks? Sounds like the large glass of water and several lemons and packets of sugar crowd.

  31. Kes says:

    Doctors and lawyers have duties of confidentiality because of statutes explicitly stating as such. Same things with pastors and codes of ethics specific to the church. There didn’t used to be a social expectation of confidentiality upon going to see the doctor; the fact that you seem to think there’s been one “for thousands of years” probably gives me a pretty good estimation of your age, to be quite frank.

    Conversely, there is no expectation of privacy when you eat at a restaurant. This isn’t a private club, it’s a place of public accommodation. The dining areas often have windows to the outside. The personal information you’re alleging should be kept secret (a receipt) is routinely left lying on a vacated table as part of the transaction, where anyone could pick it up.

    As for social expectations of privacy at a brothel…. No, I don’t agree that it’s been “established” that somebody working at a legal brothel has any obligation to remain confidential about the people coming in as clients, unless there are specific rules and/or policies in place about it and the person was informed about them and she is working there of her full and fair free will (and that doesn’t even get into the fact that most women working of their free will at brothels are not employees, but private contractors).
    Your examples are just all kinds of whack, and if anything, I think they serve to underscore that Applebees made the wrong decision here. There’s simply no expectation that a food service establishment will keep information about you private.

  32. mr_ed says:

    Her church, by definition, is probably tax-free. 10% given to it (and deducted from her income tax) has a bigger impact on the bottom line than what you put in, as it’s taxed and therefor a lower percentage then her contribution.

  33. Marie Ocramid says:

    I am glad that this “pastor” was exposed. And she should be embarrassed over her actions as there was no need to write a note like that on a bill. This waitress lost her job and i think it is a shame. Hopefully this “pastor” will lose some of her following and people who give money to her church.

  34. olandp says:

    Or if you have a “loyalty” card, all purchased are tracked to make offers that will induce to spend more.

  35. olandp says:

    …”with which to begin”… I think I’m in love. Grammar is such a turn on!

  36. lynchie says:

    Agreed but Wall Street and the banks cost middle income folks their homes and savings and in their case no one went to jail.

  37. MyrddinWilt says:

    Many of them are not rich any more.

  38. lynchie says:

    Yeah but his biggest mistake was stealing from the rich. If it was you and me he would still be free and extremely wealthy.

  39. lynchie says:

    It gives them some supposed power don’t you know. In this case no one is right.

  40. lynchie says:

    with caramel sauce and nuts

  41. If the “pastor” was not proud of his “godly” comment, then why should he care if it’s known to others, not just the poor server? She should certainly not have been fired.

  42. Ninong says:

    It was a party of six. The menu clearly states that an 18% gratuity will be added to parties of six or more. Sounds to me like this “Pastor” Alois Bell, who heads a 15-member congregation, is a cheapskate. That’s about it.
    Whoever heard of a church with only 15 members?

  43. hollywoodstein says:

    I know many restaurants who ask non tipping clientele not to return. A manager checks to make certain there wasn’t a service issue or it has to happen more than once to be sure it wasn’t simply an one time oversight, but ultimately these are not the kind of patrons one wants. The restaurant covers the tip. It is great for employee morale, and since wait staff bar hop with other wait staff stories get shared and such shops get a reputation for treating their staff well, and are able to recruit and retain the best staff.
    Having said that these same establishments would have fired the waitress no question. What happens at work stays at work. Guests should feel comfortable that their privacy will be preserved whether they get too tipsy and wear a lampshade or are out cheating on their spouse. Anything the waitress did in a public forum to potentially compromise the restaurant is a firing offense.
    Then too there’s street justice. Automatic gratuities are added for large parties not just for the extra hassle of coordinating a large group of humans, but because large parties are notoriously known for under tipping. Sadly, members of the clothe are known to skimp as well. This pastor went beyond even that with a ridiculous note. Waitress got even. Waitress got fired. Waitress got famous. She will have no problem finding a better home in an industry where one has to deal with unreasonable a**holes every day.
    As for Applebees, when I taught dispute resolution in the hospitality industry at business school, Applebees failures were well represented, in fact the whole class could be taught on what Applebees does wrong. They are a horrible company. Do not give them your money.

  44. hollywoodstein says:

    So if it were up to you would you not have broken the story of Romney’s off the record, surreptitiously recorded 47% comments due to his expectation of privacy?

  45. PeteWa says:

    lol – the idea that she uses that reasoning when she pays taxes cracked me up.

  46. She’s also a part-time pastor, for a part-time church. I suspect that she was feeling broke as well as entitled.

  47. Kurt Weldon says:

    I think if the pastor is willing to give god 10% for ABSOLUTELY NOTHING then he should be willing to tip a server a bajillion percent for actually providing genuine service…

  48. usagi says:

    False equivalency. If you leave a snarky note on a receipt, expect it to be shared. Nowadays, that may be across the world. Probably not, but that’s the world we’re living in.

    And before you absolve Applebee’s, have you confirmed that there actually is a company policy against doing this? In the absence of such a policy in their training manuals, the company is taking retributive action against a low-level employee for a corporate error (one that they should correct promptly).

  49. Naja pallida says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever been to a restaurant in the US that doesn’t have a policy of automatic gratuity on large parties, simply because of the added strain on the kitchen and wait staff of serving so many people all at the exact same time so the first two people aren’t finishing their meal as the last people are just getting served, etc… though, 18% does seem above the norm.

    Now if the service actually was bad, and they had an issue with paying such a gratuity, I’m sure this customer could have taken her bill to the manager of the restaurant and had an adult conversation about it. I’d be willing to bet that the manager would have done everything they could have to rectify the situation. But no, this Pastor wanted to try and make a point in an obnoxious way. I don’t defend the waitress, but when someone goes out of their way to personally slight you in a childish manner, it’s human nature to respond in kind. As for Applebees… I wouldn’t eat there before, certainly won’t start now.

  50. Jafafa Hots says:

    Waitstaff lives and dies by its TIPS. if a restaurant owner expects severs to put up with a lousy income in order to support their bosses business, then firing them is doing them a favor.

    The entire waitstaff of a typical restaurant could walk out en masse and land similar jobs within a day or two in most cities with a population above 5000.
    The one benefit of a commodity job is that there are plenty of them, you don’t have to take excessive crap from your employer – “Donny’s Steak Hut” is not likely to be demanding a precise and complete CV when hiring.

  51. labman57 says:

    No surprise. Applebee’s has repeatedly demonstrated that they neither respect nor value their non-salaried employees.

    Meanwhile, another sanctimonious Christian cowardly uses religion as a vehicle to validate intolerance … orhatred … or in this case, parsimony.

  52. Greener_is_better says:

    Bravo i love it you’re great

  53. I disagree. Management doesn’t *have to* fire her. I think they have to discipline her in one way or another (I’d go with a “stern talking to”), but firing her is a very short-sighted choice. They may be in the right, legally, and even from a customer service perspective, but firing the waitress was neither the wise nor the prudent choice. The customer is Not Always Right, although they are always the customer.

    As an example, imagine if you found a tempermental animal outside your back door. You recognize the animal from the neighborhood, and know that it will probably wander off if you leave it alone. You have every right to try to chase it away, but you know that if you do, that will probably be more trouble than just not using that door for a day or two. Wisdom say that you leave the beast alone for a while, and see if it will wander off on its own.

  54. alan says:

    Assholes deserve to be outed as assholes — in any situation. Fuck Applebees.

  55. And I will never go to a restaurant (or any business) that is fine with customers mistreating employees.

    Because I know from experience that any business that allows its employees to be mistreated – is almost certainly mistreating its customers in some way. Applebees informed all of us that it has no respect for its employees – and not for the first time – they won’t get my business ever again.

  56. So – essentially, you are saying that principle is irrelevant, ownership is what matters.

  57. Sweetie says:

    No… A whore can earn a living wage.

  58. you don’t keep good employees by allowing them to be treated badly either – and one bad employee can do more damage to your customer base in a single day than the word of mouth of one cheapskate in a year.

  59. Sweetie says:

    That woman doesn’t deserve anything but scorn for her behavior. Since when does someone deserve a free meal for being an asshole and also for cheating a server out of their money (including expected tips taxes)?

  60. Sweetie says:

    Except for those who have worked at Applebees and know from experience that if you stay there you deserve what you get. What a wretched workplace.

  61. Jim Olson says:

    Awful broad brush there, friends. I’m a pastor, and I remember what I used to make waiting tables. I *always* tip 20%. And you know what? Servers remember that, and you get good service the next time you go back.

  62. Joe Blocher says:

    “I’d be curious to hear from folks who think this behavoir was acceptable, and not a firing offense.”

    It depends on whether you’re willing to sacrifice all dignity for a couple bucks, and demand your employees do the same. Honestly, it sounds like you worked as a waiter for so long you developed Stockholm Syndrome.

  63. karmanot says:

    I did catch a bad case of insects once.

  64. karmanot says:

    Ain’t it the truth.

  65. karmanot says:

    I learned that on “Restaurant Impossible.”

  66. Naja pallida says:

    I can honestly say I’ve never been to a brothel, but I’m pretty sure you never have to change the sheets yourself. Not sure about the ones you go to. :)

  67. A reprimand might have been in order, but Applebee’s has to protect their employees. If they’re not willing to pay their servers a decent wage, they at least have an obligation to ensure they don’t get stiffed on tips by misguided jackasses such as the self-proclaimed “pastor” in question.

  68. billylost says:

    organized religion – typical behavior of a “pastor” – this fathead counsels and teaches other people? no wonder thoughtful people with a conscience are running away from religion as fast as they can. as for applebees, why not counsel the server or put her on probation? nothing to be done in a country where almost every employee is an employee at will and can be terminated for anything, anytime. And Barbara Bush is a tool.

  69. Yeah, I knew there was something wrong with the “I give God 10%,” but had to think about how to explain it for a moment… then eureka! Not to mention, does she use that excuse when she pays taxes? Assuming she pays 10%.

  70. Oh please. The trolls still try to claim I’m a secret anti-gay anti-progressive republican because I worked for one 20 years ago :) You’d be surprised on how quickly people online are willing to throw anyone overboard. It’s kind of sad really.

  71. karmanot says:

    And who everest kicketh the ass of an arrogant preacher, I say unto you is my dearest disciple. Fr. The Gospel of Michael:1-2.

  72. LOL is now :)

  73. benb says:

    Yeah, I understand why they had to let her go over this but there are only a few times in Life one get to do the Righteous Thing and embarrassing that cowardly, cheap, bastard of a pastor was one of them.

  74. Jimmy says:

    I spent many years working in the food service (too many years) both as a line person and a manager. While some will applaud how “stood up” to this stingy fool, I would have fired you. A restaurant lives and dies by its customers and you don’t keep customers by treating them this way, even when they deserve it.

  75. karmanot says:

    “A customer’s check, after all, is not a public document.” Unfortunately, that is no longer true.

  76. karmanot says:

    And changed the sheets.

  77. karmanot says:

    “there is an implicit expectation of confidentiality when you go to any business and buy something from them.” Not since Homeland Security, excepting gun shows of course.

  78. Beau Siegelaub says:

    Pastor Bell is acting like it’s some surprise that there’s a baseline tip on the bill for large tables… That’s pretty standard. Besides, if she had looked more closely at the menu, I’m sure she would have read that a tip is part of the meal for a large group. Sheeesh!

  79. karmanot says:

    It some circles that would be scandalous. On the other hand, someone who sets up a god shop in a converted Dairy Queen has no shame with which to begin.

  80. karmanot says:

    Oh, MyrddinWilt, you can be so clueless sometimes. Let’s don’t imagine that a hard working waitress is the equivalent of a whore

  81. karmanot says:

    Yep, agreed. That’s my story and I’m not sticking with it.

  82. karmanot says:

    Oh, absolutely. All hypothetical of course.

  83. karmanot says:

    Has silent scream

  84. karmanot says:

    That was just the pennies.

  85. 2patricius2 says:

    John, your comments about what the server did to expose the customer’s name and check to the press made sense to me. I thought the pastor’s note was outrageous, considering pastors usually get paid by the contributions church members give to the church (or as they say, to God). Servers don’t have tithes coming to them to pay their bills. But having worked for a number of companies and agencies and churches, I could never have imagined exposing to the public anyone who used my services, no matter how egregious their behavior to me was. (And some people did act egregiously.) If I had, I would have expected to be fired. A customer’s check, after all, is not a public document.

  86. karmanot says:

    I think it was snark John. Siding with evil? that’s funny. Anyone who even remotely knows you is not ever going there. Sure stirred up the S**t though!

  87. karmanot says:


  88. karmanot says:

    A converted Dairy Queen? Really? OMG,—so funnt. So that’s where the Ms Rev Bell gets her Nobless Oblige.

  89. karmanot says:

    It would make a great T-shirt!!

  90. karmanot says:

    The Reverend Bell. is Mr. god’s personal cheapskate.

  91. karmanot says:

    Yep, except Barbara Bush doesn’t have any character. However, she does, according to her, a have a beautiful mind.

  92. Kenevan McConnon says:

    Customers fairly or unfairly out and rate restaurants and staff all of the time on the web. Some customers are complete asses and shouldn’t even go out to eat. I think there should be a website dedicated to outing the asshole patron so wait staff know where to spend there time when the rush is on. The Pastor is an ass; glad the world knows it. What the saying “you reveal your character when no one is looking.” Well, everyone is looking know. In some instances, shame is a good thing.

  93. karmanot says:

    It’s a doozy.

  94. MyrddinWilt says:

    I think her attitude is actually quite common amongst people who consider themselves especially religious. Mitt Romney is an extreme example, he thinks that giving tens of millions to the Mormon church to build stuff with his name on it should excuse him from the taxes the rest of us pay. He does not see that charity is not a substitue for paying tax.

    I have dealt with quite a few men of the cloth and rabbis and other priests who were complete crooks. They think that giving to God excuses them from their responsibilities to other people. Bernie Madoff was outwardly observant while he was robbing everyone blind.

  95. Finn says:

    If you look at the publicly available address on Google Maps street view, her “church” is something like a converted Dairy Queen: 2600 N. Florissant St. Louis 63106

    And she tithes 10% of her income to her OWN church. This is why I don’t believe a word that comes out of religious people’s mouths, starting wit their ideology, and ending currently with the claim of a $6 cash tip at Applebees.

  96. MyrddinWilt says:

    I think that there is an implicit expectation of confidentiality when you go to any business and buy something from them. It is pretty clear that there is a duty of confidentiality if we go see a doctor or a priest or a lawyer. The professional duty is merely a codification of a social expectation that has existed for thousands of years.

    But against that we have to weigh the social value that comes from outing the Pastor. I think his behavior was rather poor. If you dine in a large group and it says there will be 18% added to the check then that is part of the contract that the Pastor was aware of when he went in. So you could make an argument over this specific case but it gets rather messy and there is a tendency to argue from the specifics of this particular case which makes for a bad reasoning.

    Rather than look at this particular instance then, lets examine the case where the hypocrisy of the pastor is pretty much at the most extreme end of the scale without actually harming someone or breaking laws or whatever. For a pastor, prostitution seems a fitting extreme example. Having established that there is a duty of confidentiality at both ends of the scale it seems pretty clear that Applebees made the right decision.

  97. Rob Farrell says:

    I don’t think the employee was trying to humiliate this specific person by name. I think they just thought the note was particularly interesting and ironic coming from a Christian, “tithing” pastor.

    Policy-Schmolicy. Let’s stay focused on this specific case. This was not just a customer that may not have tipped enough, as you suggest. This was a rude, mocking, self-righteous @sshole that left a note so outrageous that it begged to be shown to others, if only to spotlight the hypocrisy we see all too often. Visiting Applebee’s FB page and scanning through the tens of thousands of comments, I don’t see one person concerned with the company’s policy of preserving the privacy right’s of rude, self-righteous @ssholes. Not one. While I understand and agree with your point in a general sort of way, it does not hold up in this specific case.

  98. PeteWa says:

    I agree with you about off the record conversations, but that’s not what happened here. Pastor Bell left a note on the table, not in a private email. She did not have an aside with the server which was surreptitiously recorded, she left a snide message on a piece of paper on the table.

    The server could have picked it up, or the hostess, or the busboy (ugh, remember busboy?) or even another member of the waitstaff – the expectation of privacy here is rather low (or should be), and the only reason the ‘Pastor’ is upset is because it makes her look cheap and mean spirited – in my life I’ve only ever not tipped twice, and had those times been publicized I wouldn’t have had an issue with it as I was making a statement about how much the service sucked. If it had come to my attention I would have been happy to explain exactly why the server was not tipped in those very rare instances.

    BTW – I loved how you broke it down to the 0.012% in the post.

  99. Severin says:

    If the waitress was wrong in posting then do you also condemn the person who posted the recording of an Alabama coach voicing his dislike of “queers”? I bet you like the one but would have a hard time explaining why the act of posting either is so different.

    In todays world, if you do something you should not be surprised if the world is told about it. I hope your first response is not to find fault with the messenger.

  100. GoBlue says:

    Dr. Phil says that all the time: don’t irk the people who can take your food some place where you can’t see it.

  101. That’s my take. I feel for her, but don’t see another choice for the company.

  102. And thus the reason I thought this would be interesting to debate and think through :)

  103. Daniel, you seem kind of irate in comment after comment. I didn’t fire the woman. I attempted to bring up an interesting topic for us to debate. All I ask is that people join me in discussing these topics civilly, regardless of whether they agree or disagree with the post or other commenters.

  104. Gotta agree with skippy on that one. Not a wise thing to tamper with food.

  105. Please stop it. I wrote this post to elicit a serious, intelligent, mature adult conversation about this topic, even if, and perhaps explicitly because, I didn’t agree with the majority sentiment. I know it was pretty much a given that a few people would refuse to be civil and would instead resort to personal attacks, but I still expect better of you, and all of us. So please stop it. We’re having to have a debate as adults.

    And it matters if she’s a low-level employee or a member of the board, in terms of whether she has the authority to make this kind of decision on behalf of the country.

  106. Oh it’s obviously blowing up for Applebee’s, that was a given. I still am unclear as to how else a restaurant should handle waiters trying to publicly humiliate their customers, regardless of how rude. I think it’s a very dangerous policy to turn the other cheek about, if you run a restaurant. I’d never go to a restaurant that’s fine with publicly humiliating you if they felt your tip wasn’t enough.

  107. Yeah, but I don’t reveal off the record conversations, for example. Because there’s an expectation of privacy. I think you have the same expectation when going to a restaurant, that the restaurant isn’t going to publish your name on one of the most-visited sites on the Internet. I don’t know how you run a restaurant and accept something like this, because I’d never go there if I knew they were cool with outing how much customers tip to the public at large.

    And ot’s one thing for a reporter to find the story and publish it, it’s another for Applebee’s, or their agent, to facilitate. The expectation of privacy is with Applebee’s in this case, not me reporting the story. If you talk to me privately and I publish it to embarrass you, then we’re closer to the Applebee’s situation.

  108. So you’d be fine with me posting regular updates on how much you tip, with your name attached. Okay. Send em in :) There’s a difference in siding with evil and recognizing that even sometimes a bad company is right in a dispute. It’s what separates us from the lower political animals, our ability to be honest when assessing a situation, even if we don’t like the outcome :)

  109. Diana says:

    I disagree with this. As long as no personally identifiable financial information was leaked, a “note” like this is no different than if I had shared a letter someone wrote to me. Perhaps it’s a reprimandable offense, but definitely not something I’d fire someone for. Even under legal terms, unless someone can prove that this horrible excuse for a Pastor has somehow lost income, revenue or had their identity stolen, there is no liability. And no, reputation doesn’t count because unless it is libel (that is, un-true), there also is no liability.

  110. Exactly where I stand.

  111. Kes says:

    So, your comment is on the inherently exploitative nature of brothels, which are fundamentally premised on the idea that the prostituted woman works purely to serve the entitlement of the (male) client, and that her own desires/drives/consent/well-being don’t play a role, which is why brothel policy would clearly demand a “worker” complaining be fired? … Okay, but I don’t really see what that has to do with being a server at a restaurant like Applebees. Or are you saying that labor exploitation by paying tip wages is similar to sexual exploitation? Sorry, but your comment makes no sense.

  112. SkippyFlipjack says:

    So you’re saying the employee wronged the pastor by outing her as having eaten at Applebee’s?

  113. PeteWa says:

    uh, yeah, and Bell, the “Pastor” tithes to her own church, the one that she runs.
    personally, I put a hell of a lot more back into my business than just 10% over the years, and that’s what her “church” is, a small business.

  114. nicho says:

    And Applebee’s is a low-end joint. One step above McDonald’s. You have to scarf down a lot of crap to hit $34 bucks there.

  115. SkippyFlipjack says:

    That bar trick is assault.

  116. nicho says:

    You didn’t offend me. I find you quite humorous.

  117. SkippyFlipjack says:

    She probably should have redacted the pastor’s name. What gets me though is the pastor’s quotes to the press about having embarrassed her parish — yet she tried to get the servers involved fired. Way to take responsibility for your own embarrassing actions.

  118. colleen2 says:

    Well done!

  119. Management has to fire her. As you say, “no employer can tolerate that.” That is the right ‘management’ decision to make. That doesn’t make it right, though. I pity management for being put in that position, and I pity the waitress for losing her job, though I have a feeling she is going to come out fine. I don’t pity the pastor though. It is her mistake that started this chain of events.

  120. Blogvader says:

    Is anyone really surprised that the god who had a bitch fit and drowned the entire world is perfectly cool with theft of labor?

  121. You are the owner of a blog; you are not, however, the owner of a restaurant. I get what you’re saying, as I still work in the food service industry; however, as this blog, which I very much appreciate, makes it common practice to investigate and expose the poor behavior of others, that you draw the line at exposing people who leave messages like this seems considerably hypocritical.

  122. Maemeg says:

    Wow, that pastor is one good Christian. First she stiffs a sever, then gets another fired. W.W.J.D.?
    Applebee’s sucks and now created some bad publicity for itself. May the fired server find work in a finer establishment, and shame on John for siding with evil ( Applebee’s ).

  123. quark says:

    And for that the mandatory tip should have been even more!

  124. daniel spencer says:

    Sorry if I offended you for not kissing John’s ass on this one.

  125. quark says:

    They got 20 separate checks, but the policy for a p[arty of 20 still applied.

  126. karmanot says:

    There’s an old bar trick to deal with gross customers: a few drops of antihistamine in that drink and it’s toilet time and homeward bound. Just say’un, some justice is stealth.

  127. Rob Farrell says:

    And added “Pastor” to make sure everyone knew they were a good Christian servant of God.

  128. Fallacy says:

    Ok did anybody else miss something here, or is it just me? The top of this article says it was a party of 20, but the check is for $34 bucks? What’d they get? A few packs of ketchup? You might could get everybody a glass of tea for that price, but that’s about it. As for firing the waitress, yeah that is crap. She didn’t post Applebee’s name on the web, but even if she did, who cares. You can barely fart now days without somebody YouTube-ing it. The pastor got called out as a cheap a**, was embarrassed & therefore retaliated. But on the other hand, “the customer is always right” still flows free in most businesses, even if it shouldn’t. I don’t blame Applebee’s, but I don’t agree with them either. I’ll just sit back and see if they can dig themselves out of the sh**-hole they’ve fell in. =)

  129. TheOriginalLiz says:

    That pastor is a perfect example of why I’m “good without god”. If that’s an example of the christianity she preaches, she doesn’t know sh*t about the teachings of Jesus.

  130. karmanot says:

    Once one experiences Applebee’s revenge you never go back.

  131. Rob Farrell says:

    I am sure that is exactly the thinking of the manager at Applebee’s who made this decision. You are both entitled to that thinking. Let’s see how that works out for Applebee’s business…

    BTW: “very low-level employee”? Oh my…

  132. karmanot says:

    “she can kiss her career advancement at Applebee’s goodbye” Sometimes karma is a good thing.

  133. karmanot says:

    I know, John has a lawyer’s mind. This is one of the Solomon decisions where justice is on the side of the waitress, but employment laws are on the side of her boss and that asshole minister. Next time she can pee in his soup and keep quite about it.

  134. usagi says:

    Taking the facts that are known at face value, you’re wrong, John.

    Firing one long-term employee who hasn’t technically violated your policies to retain a high maintenance customer (who BTW DID violate your corporate policy that a tip is automatically added to the check for parties of X or more) who will now escalate the bad behavior because you’ve reinforced it whilst and at the same time alienating an entire class of potential customers not only from the individual store but the entire chain is a bad decision on every level.

    If it’s not prohibited by the employee handbook, and I’m believing her statement that it isn’t, she should not be fired. She should be disciplined, and she can kiss her career advancement at Applebee’s goodbye, but flat and outright firing was an awful choice both by the manager and the chain. If it’s not in the handbook, then the handbook needs to be updated. Want to bet that there’s not ANY sort of guidance on social media in it at all? (which is Applebee’s own damn fault for not keeping up with the times)

    If the manager couldn’t come up with some way to discipline the employee, and the chain couldn’t predict the sort of blowback this was bound to generate (and is going to continue to generate as all of the details continue to come out), they’re idiots and deserve all the bad press they’re getting.

  135. Rob Farrell says:

    From a purely business standpoint, Applebee’s screwed up badly. This already had a life on the Internet. Rather than appreciate that and act carefully, some Einstein manager at Applebee’s decided to make an example of their staff. This will be discussed in business classes for decades on how not to handle a situation in the Internet Age. It does not matter if Applebee’s has a privacy policy or that the employee should not have posted the snide remark on the receipt. What matters if that NO ONE likes a cheap, self-righteous @sshole. [PERIOD] All other ethics, policies and considerations pale next to this rule. Applebee’s appears to take the side of the @asshole over their hard working staff. FAIL. Their name and business is tarnished by this.

  136. nicho says:

    Even if the rude commenter signed their name on their rude comment? Not really.

  137. nicho says:

    Maybe you can lend him some, as you seem to be oozing humility. Not

  138. nicho says:

    I agree. If she didn’t want to leave a tip, fine. She’s just an asshole. But to write a snarky note and sign her name — she asked for it.

  139. nicho says:

    Maybe the “pastor” should get a real job. She is a kept woman, living off the donations of other people — some of them poor people. Maybe she should try spending nine hours a day on her feet, carrying trays of food for less than minimum wage.

    BTW — Barbara Bush refuses to tip wait staff also, which tells you a lot about her character.

  140. Night Rider says:

    I think that when the ‘pastor’ identified herself as such, and gave that as a reason for not tipping, at that point she was fair game. She seemed to think that being a ‘pastor’ made her special. Also, since Applebee’s was never identified in the original post, I think their reasoning is bs. I’ll bet they know wish they had just kept quiet and let it go. As for the ‘pastor’ I’m glad she was identified. Just too bad that we can’t tag the assholes of the world with a big scarlet A.

  141. daniel spencer says:

    She made a mistake. She thought the name was illegible. Give her a break for christ sake. I bet if you had a little humility you’d be perfect too.

  142. daniel spencer says:

    How kind of you to classify her as a “very low level employee”. You say it hasn’t happened to you, but if you treat your employees the way you talk about this waitress, it will happen. By the way, wooly bully for you mr. effing applebees. The more I read your response the more I am disliking your attitude.

  143. The Smoking Gun interviews the pastor, who is a woman (I’ve updated the gender reference in the story).

  144. daniel spencer says:

    Having owned a restaurant and if this situation came up, I think I would have tried to have a discussion with the customer. (they know who she is as she called and demanded the waitress be fired). If the preacher was decent about the situation, give them a fee meal. I would have a discussion with the waitress, but I sure wouldn’t have fired her for this. Waiting tables is one of the hardest jobs out there for the amount they get paid.

  145. Naja pallida says:

    I don’t know, but I just hope he washed his hands afterwards. :)

  146. Oh I know folks are on her side. And I was a waiter, I know how badly they’re paid. I just don’t think it’s her call to publish the name of a stingy customer on the Internet. It’s her boss’s call, not hers.

  147. A brothel? Where did you come up with that one? LOL

  148. I wouldn’t have fired you either. Now, had you written them up on Reddit and named them…. ;-) And good job, by the way – that was brilliant :)

  149. Steve Peters says:

    screw applebees never ever eat there again.

  150. She explained that they also wanted separate checks, all 20 of them :)

  151. Jafafa Hots says:

    Servers are often not paid even minimum wage, because expected tips are counted against them.
    But even if the server IS paid minimum wage, they have to pay income taxes on EXPECTED tips.
    Not tips received, because that’s impossible to track and police – they have to pay a rate based on expected tips.

    So when you don’t tip a server, you not only are not putting money in their pocket, you literally are taking money OUT of their pocket – because they have to pay income taxes on INCOME THEY NEVER RECEIVED.

    Incidentally, Applebees contacted me last year and wanted to use my photographs for murals to decorate some NY locations. For free. They wanted to use my photos for free – they were trolling flickr for anyone excited enough for the “honor” of Applebees using their photos.

    They had just had a record quarter, I told them they could afford to be DECENT and PAY a photographer for photos. When a profitable huge corporation is looking to screw working photographers out of a few hundred bucks by trolling around for freebies, THAT is pathetic.

  152. Right, and I own the blog. I am Applebee’s. Applebee’s didn’t approve of this. A very low-level employee did. If I had an intern that started outing the real identity of rude commenters, and posting them on Reddit, without my permission, Id be ticked. Only I get to choose if that’s going to happen (and it hasn’t).

  153. No offense, John, but you run a blog in which you “out” people’s stinginess and horrid behavior on a weekly, if not daily, basis, and you want to split hairs about whether or not it’s appropriate to “out” a Pastor whose group of twenty (had they thought to do so) could dine out and hand in a tax exempt slip, and then not pay the automatic gratuity? Really.

    If daylight is the best way to identify and rectify behavior in this society, I see no reason why naming people who reward good service with a shitty or no tip is where you draw the line.

  154. ghales says:

    How does a table of 20 people have a $34 tab

  155. BeccaM says:

    Complaining about a stingy customer, not unreasonable. Publishing someone’s name? I can see why she was fired.

    I’ve also worked as a waitress, long ago, and had my share of…well, shall we say ‘problem customers.’ And yes, the worst were the ones who’d show up in a huge herd, demand we find a way to seat them all together, despite the fact the restaurant really wasn’t set up for it, and then complain when not all the food and drinks arrived at exactly the same time — most often because it’d be one overworked waitress assigned to just them.

    And invariably with these big groups, there’d be a tiny tip, begrudingly given, often consisting of large amounts of people’s pocket change.

    Don’t get me wrong: I’d WANT to let everybody know when some jackass claimed his tithe was the same as a tip — and then use that as an excuse to leave nothing. But I wouldn’t do it. I’ve worked for enough companies to know the policy is always “the customer is always right.” And when there’s some problem, you don’t take matters into your own hands — you go to your manager. One manager I had was a decent guy and after a memorable incident involving a family of 12, including small children, with a huge mess to clean up afterwards and a paltry $2 tip on a very large meal bill, he comped a full meal for me, plus let me go an hour early with pay. He also promised to have a chat with this particular family if they showed up again — because apparently other diners had also complained about them.

    Now if that particular Applebee’s manager wanted to out the rude customer… well, that’d be another matter. And her or his decision to make.

  156. olandp says:

    Have you ever been to an Applebee’s? What this waitress did could not reflect any more badly than actually going to Applebee’s expecting a good meal. I also recall that after an Applebee’s commercial ran during one of the “gay” shows, perhaps Queer Eye, and the corporation apologized to their customers. will certainly never eat at one again.

  157. Rosalee Adams says:

    Years ago when I was waiting on tables a couple finished dinner and began to leave (payment was cashier as you leave)
    He left a nice tip on the table. As he walked out, on his way to pay, she looked right at me and picked it

    and put it in her bag. She took all but one dollar of it

    After she left, I picked up the $1 and walked to the cashier desk and said to her within easy earshot of her husband/boy friend, “Excuse me, but you left this behind. I figure as long as you picked up all the rest, you might as well have this too”

    Her husband/bf was visibly shocked

    I just smiled at him and left
    I felt if they fire me so what? At least he knows what she is like.
    I was not fired.

  158. Kes says:

    Why shouldn’t servers be allowed to talk publicly about customers like this? Does Applebees have a specific policy about not discussing/revealing who you served in the restaurant? If not, then this firing was out of line, IMO. Personally, I think Applebee’s should just ban this jackass from their restaurants, and now other servers know not to bother being nice to him if he shows up in their establishments. Tips are an essential part of a server’s paycheck, and if the service she gave was fine then this wasn’t just being “stingy” it was being outright cruel.

  159. MyrddinWilt says:

    Let us imagine that Applebees was a legal brothel and the pastor a customer who refused to pay a tip after receiving full service. I think it is pretty clear that the brothel would have to fire the girl in that case.

    So while I sympathize with the waitress in this situation, the restaurant had little real choice in the matter.

    But thinking through a little further, it seems to me that the pastor has also behaved badly in this situation and deserves to be fired as well. Which means that we have a restaurant in need of a new wait-staff and a church needing a new pastor. So the whole situation would be cleaned up quite neatly if they simply swapped jobs.

    That would be the correct outcome applying biblical principles at any rate (Spurious II v23:3).

  160. karmanot says:

    “exposing him to public derision, which reflects poorly on Applebee’s itself – and that’s the problem here.” No problem here! Go waitress!

  161. Mark says:

    I understand why she posted it, and find it hard to blame her for having done so. But at the same time, you can’t blame Applebee’s for firing her. Unless she’s a fool, she knew that she was putting her job on the line by posting it. Maybe sometimes that’s worth it.

  162. pappyvet says:

    Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not
    charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
    first corinthians 13:1

    “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a
    stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
    “He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the
    least of these, you did not do for me.’ Matthew 25:44,45

    Matthew 10:42
    And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”

  163. You should visited Applebees website and see the twitter comments. Everyone is on the side of the waitress including me. Waiters get paid hardly anything for all the work that they do.

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