The coronavirus pandemic has brought about new norms for many in the service industry like mandated masks, outdoor and distanced seating. But there are some things that haven’t changed, or as some put it, have actually gotten worse.
Employees at one Ocean Beach restaurant say that ever since they opened back up for dining, they’ve experienced increased disrespect and mistreatment from customers.
Brynna Barbour was working on Monday afternoon when a man and a woman attacked her over health regulations.
“I normally ask if they would like a drink first,” Barbour said. “I do explain the guidelines now that they will have to order food eventually.”
Barbour says they put in an alcoholic drink order to start. When she returned for their dinner order, the customers didn't want to comply with the initial rules she explained. She says all they wanted for dinner was a piece of cornbread.
“I went in to talk to my general manager about the issue and at that point, we decided we would just comp their drinks because it had become a larger issue and I would take their drinks and let them go on with their day," Barbour said.
Caught on surveillance video you are able to see Barbour return to the diner's table and try to take away their beverages, but they don't allow it.
“That’s when in the video you can see her slap my hand away,” said Barbour.
You then see the man sitting on the left side of the table stand up and get confrontational with Barbour.
“The things he was saying to me were pretty scary,” Barbour said.
In the video, Barbour is seen going back inside the restaurant. She comes back out with her general manager and a second employee to escort the patrons out. As they walk out you see one of them toss her drink on Barbour's face.
“We’ve all dealt with that as servers, people being rude and yelling at us, but that was definitely the worst situation I’ve ever been in," Barbour said.
While rude customers are common in the service industry, Rocky Brown, general manager of BBQ House, says he feels like COVID-19 has added a new nightmarish dimension to an already stressful occupation.
“I was at home yesterday, it was my day off and I got a phone call that another incident happened within minutes of opening," Brown said.
In addition to disregard for health rules, Brown adds his employees have also seen a decline in tips.
“We’re not just serving you, we’re serving hundreds of people every day,” said Brown. “We’re putting our lives at risk, so you can come to have a good time. "
“I just don’t want any of that to happen to anyone else and I know that it is,” Barbour said. “I know that I’m not the only one. I was just lucky to catch it on film.”
A police report was filed with the San Diego Police Department about the incident.
A GoFundMe page was started for the waitress involved on behalf of some of the customers who witnessed the attack.