Okay, so another person came up with the name, “Rude-nella”, describing Lunella’s restaurant in Little Italy, but the name is so appropriate when talking about the place, I just had to use it!
We had been walking all day, from the Statue of Liberty to the financial district, over to Ground Zero, Chinatown and finally making our way to Little Italy. From the outside, Lunella’s looks inviting, but beware, the warm hospitality stops there! Right at the doorstep!
There were six of us, Rose, Holly, Katarina, Joey, Patrick and myself. We were lead to a large table in the back room. When I told the waiter that Patrick and I would be paying a separate check before we started to order, he was not very happy!
Waiter: “Well, how are you planning on paying?” he stood there tapping his notepad with his hand.
Me: “With a credit card.”
Waiter: “You have to spend at least $30 to be able to use a credit card.”
Patrick: “That’s not true. If I want to spend $1, I can use a credit card. That’s the law.”
At this point, the waiter backed off.
Waiter: “I don’t know about any laws, but that’s what my boss tells me and I just follow what my boss says.”
Patrick: “Well, we plan on spending at least $30, so you don’t have to worry.”
Waiter: “I’m just repeating the restaurant’s policy. Take it up with the owner.” he said, walking away.
During dinner a table of eight near us had a slight accident when a young woman spilled a glass of wine on the table. She quickly used her cloth napkin to soak up as much as possible. The waiter came by….
Young woman: “Can I have another napkin to clean up the wine, please?”
Waiter: “Use the one you have!” he said, in an angry tone, waving one arm in the air. Everyone looked at him like he had gone mad! “I’m kidding, I’m kidding.” he said, trying to backtrack because he knew he had gone too far, but I noticed he didn’t bring her another napkin.
Katarina and I ordered Fettuccine Alfredo, Patrick had Maniccoti, Holly had Cheese Ravioli, Rose and Joey had the Linguine ai Frutti di Mare and Rose had an appetizer of Stuffed Mushrooms. The food was good, but nothing exceptional. The portions were smaller than what you would normally get at an Italian restaurant. Think of a child’s menu and you’re closer to what they actually serve, although the prices are definitely not children menu prices!
Patrick and I had a bottle of wine, while the others all preferred non-alcoholic beverages. Dinner went without a hitch, as the two waiters working the room kept an iron fist over the patrons. A large picture of Padre Pio hanging in the room watched over everyone as I quickly realized with the kind of wait staff we were dealing with, we definitely needed the prayers of Padre Pio!
When we asked for the bill; our waiter brought our checks and left. Rose paid in cash and left a 15% tip. Patrick gave the waiter a credit card. When the waiter returned, he asked Rose if she needed change.
Rose: “No, that’s fine.”
A few minutes later, the waiter returned and threw the money down on the table. No one understood why.
Rose: “What was that?!”
Me: “Didn’t you tell him that was his tip?”
Rose: “Yeah, I told him.”
The waiter returned like a raging bull and brought a menu with him.
Waiter: “Do you see here on the menu, when there’s a table of six, there’s automatically an 18% gratuity.”
Waiter: “You’re suppose to leave me 18%!” he said, pointing his finger at the menu.
Me: “It says when there is a tab of six people or more; they are four and we are two.” I said, still not quite sure why he was so angry.
By this time, Patrick was getting ready to leave his usual 20% tip, but the waiter wasn’t through. He came back with the owner, screaming about his tip.
Owner: “Where are you people from?” the owner asked in a tone of voice saying that maybe us country bumpkins didn’t know we were suppose to leave a tip at all!
Rose: “Tell her you’re from Paris.” Rose said in Spanish.
Me: “We’re from Paris, France.”
Owner: “Well, maybe you don’t know that you need to leave a tip.”
Me: “Look, he’s owned a four-star French restaurant for over 25 years….”I said, pointing to Patrick.
Patrick: “I’ve been in the restaurant business for over 30 years, I always leave a 20% tip.” Patrick said, getting caught up in the fracas.
Owner: “You need to leave a tip of…..”
Me: (To Patrick) “You know what! Don’t leave a tip! Don’t leave a penny!” I said to Patrick, who still had the pen in the air, ready to leave a tip. (To Rose) “Take your tip and put it in your pocket.” Rose was one step ahead of me and was already putting her dollars back into her purse.
Owner: “You don’t leave a tip and something bad is going to happen to you when you leave. What goes around, comes around.” she said, pointing a finger at me.
Me: “Exactly!” I said to her. “What goes around, comes around. He was so rude, now he doesn’t get a tip! He doesn’t deserve one red cent and that’s exactly what he’s going to get! Nothing! Nil! Nada! You need to fire your waiters and get new staff!”
We got up to leave as the other patrons knew better not to look over at us or else they would be reprimanded by the staff. It was exactly like an Oliver Twist mealtime at the orphanage!
The owner walked away as we put on our coats and started heading to the front room. The waiter was there pacing anxiously wanting to know how much he got.
Waiter: “So, how much did they leave me?” he asked the owner.
Owner: “Get out of here!” she said pushing him away. “Get back to work and leave me alone!”
Waiter: “How much?” he insisted, as only a member of the family would talk to a boss. “How much did they leave?”
Owner: “You want to know how much they left you!” she screamed at him as the patrons in the front room all stared. “They left you nothing! Zero! Niente!” she said, parroting my tone of voice and what I had said earlier.
We left the restaurant laughing! It was like being in some bad movie skit! I went to see what people were saying about this restaurant on the internet and apparently it happens all the time! Over and over people have left comments about how horrible the waiters are, how they insist upon getting at least 18% or more in tips, how people have been refused service if they don’t spend enough money, and how small the portions are that you leave the restaurant still hungry.
Maya Muses: We were no different. We were still hungry, so our tip money paid for our desserts at another restaurant! The cakes and pastries never tasted so good!