A Massachusetts restaurant is garnering national attention after closing for a "day of kindness" following an increase in "unacceptable" behavior from customers.
Brandi Felt Castellano and her spouse, Regina Felt Castellano, the owners of Apt Cape Cod, a local establishment in Brewster, Massachusetts, wrote on Facebook July 8 that they would be closed for breakfast that day and wouldn't open until 5:00 p.m., when they began serving dinner.
The decision was made after last Thursday, "when a man berated one of the restaurant’s young employees for telling him that they could not take his breakfast takeout order because the restaurant had not opened yet," reported The New York Times.
"As many of our guests and patrons treat us with kindness and understanding, there have been an astronomical influx daily of those that do not, swearing at us, threatening to sue, arguing and yelling at my staff, making team members cry," wrote the owners on Facebook. "This is an unacceptable way to treat any human."
The Castellanos wrote they had decided to "take the day" and give restaurant employees "time (to) deep clean the restaurant, train, and treat my staff to a day of kindness."
"Please remember that many of my staff are young, this is their first job, or summer job to help pay for college," the owners continued. "We have had to make adjustments due to the increase in business volume, size of kitchen, product availably and staffing availability, we are not trying to ruin anyone's vacation or day off."
They told TODAY Food they chose to close because they wanted to value "employees over money" and hoped to "spread a message of kindness and change the culture that restaurant workers should just have to take abuse because of the job they chose."
Restaurant workers around the country have reported an increase in negative customer behavior since coronavirus restrictions began to lift nationwide. Some of those confrontations have started over menu alterations or shortages of certain food items or beverages. In other cases, tempers have boiled over following a long wait due to the lack of staff.
"We've all seen these viral videos of servers being assaulted or yelled at by customers who are upset about masks or how long they had to wait for their table," said Darren Cardosa, a long-time server who runs a blog called "The Bitchy Waiter" where he posts about the reality of restaurant life, earlier this month. "There is this sense in the whole country right now that there's a lot of anger and frustration, and it seems like a lot of customers feel like it's OK to take that out on their server."
Apt Cape Cod's post about giving workers the day off to recover from negative interactions with customers quickly went viral, garnering hundreds of comments and shares. Fans of the establishment filled the comments section with well-wishes and offers to donate money to the staff.
On July 14, the owners posted that they "love the idea" of donations and wanted to continue to pay it forward.
"We would be honored if you bought lunch for anyone who deals with the public, your favorite restaurant, store, doctor, vet or pharmacy," they wrote on Facebook. "If you (feel) the need to donate money, please visit our family non-profit, Family Table Collaborative … which provides food to families with food insecurities."