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NYC: Prime Grill Fires Waiter Who Overcharged Chasidic Couple

pggA rogue waiter at The Prime Grill who added a mandatory 20 percent tip to the bill of a Chasidic couple was fired less than 24 hours later after the incident occurred.

“We won’t tolerate this kind of behavior,” said Joey Allaham, owner of The Prime Grill. “We found out about this incident one day after it happened and as soon as it was brought to our attention we researched the incident. Having determined what happened, we called in the waiter, who had only been with us for two months, and fired him right away.”

The incident took place on Sunday night when a Chasidic couple who dined at The Prime Grill noted that their check included a 20 percent gratuity. Questioning the waiter about the amount, they were informed that it was a standard tip that was automatically added for all Chasidic diners. While the couple paid their bill without incident, news of the mandatory surcharge began circulating immediately throughout the Jewish community.

Once informed of the waiter’s actions, management at The Prime Grill took immediate action, and in addition to terminating the waiter, the charge for the couple’s meal, which was paid by credit card, was immediately reversed. Allaham also plans to donate the amount of couple’s check to their favorite charity as a way of apologizing for the mishap, but so far, has been unable to contact the pair, who came to the restaurant without a reservation.

According to Steven Traube, director of operations at The Prime Grill, the waiter admitted that he added the extra charge out of concern that the couple might not leave behind a gratuity.

“He added in the tip by using a button on the register that automatically adds in a 20 percent tip for parties of six or more people,” explained Traube. “We have changed the system so that automatic tips can only be added by a manager.”

Traube stressed that, other than for large parties, The Prime Grill has never had a policy of adding in automatic gratuities for diners of any sort. Traube also noted that there are several managers on the floor at all times in order to provide customers with assistance, should it be required, and expressed his opinion that had a manager been asked about the bogus charge at the time, he would have intervened immediately.

“Customer service has always been and will always be our highest priority,” emphasized Allaham. “We always take responsibility for anything that takes place in our restaurant on the spot and if anyone ever has any questions we urge them to contact one of our managers immediately.”

“We enjoy being a restaurant that is enjoyed by many members of all the Jewish communities and hope to do so in the future,” added Ines Kincaid, general manager at The Prime Grill. “On behalf of The Prime Grill, we deeply apologize for this incident and we will work harder in oversight of our staff to make sure it never occurs again.”

(YWN Desk – NYC)

10 Responses

  1. Why is this non-event made into some kind of balagan? Everything isn’t such a big deal.

    Extra, Extra; In other news, a man was pick-pocketed on the subway.

  2. We were just there as a family (party of 10)

    During the meal, a waiter accidentally spilled some food onto a new coat. He was clearly mortified. His manager was there in an INSTANT, grabbed the coat and disappeared, saying he “would take care of it, not to worry”.

    A short while later he returned with the coat nicely folded in a hospitality bag and very generously offered FULL reimbursement for the cleaning costs or replacement if if couldn’t be cleaned.

    They couldn’t stop apologizing for the mishap (it really wasn’t carelessness but a true accident).

    I sincerely question if other dining establishments would have done the same.

    My highest respect for PG, they’re outstanding across the board.

  3. This is not a non-event. This is an issue that affects many people. If it was done against an African American you would understand. HYPOCRITE

  4. What is a chasidishe couple doing in a manhattan restaurant? I couldn’t find on the prime grill’s website which hashgacha it has, but I found elsewhere that it’s OU. I doubt that the restaurant is using chasidishe shechitah.

  5. @#2
     “I sincerely question if other dining establishments would have done the same.”
    My wife was in Sunflower Cafe and the waiter spilled a chocolate milk shake in her white skirt. Not only was dessert free for her and her company, they paid for the cleaning and the recleaning.

  6. kudos to the restaurant for their excellent handling of the affair.
    If I were a New Yorker I would definitely go to that restaurant as hakors hatov.

  7. We strive daily on ways to make our Jewish customers proud. Especially when they bring in non-Jewish friends and show them what kosher is. To us, all customers are treated equally. We have great management team that has forged close friendships with many of our clients.

    It was never the policy of the restaurant. The prime grill has built its business on being a welcoming glatt kosher restaurant to all customers both Jewish and non-Jewish.

    It was a single waiter (as of now we have 2 receipts one of which he logged on using a different waiters card) that perpetrated this greedy action. He has been working here for a few months and as soon as we were made aware of what this waiter was doing we fired him. It is an unacceptable practice which we won’t allow in any of our restaurants.

    If you ever have any requests or issues please don’t hesitate to contact us.

    Steven Traube

  8. I thought that legally you could add only 15% automatically for parties of 6 or more people. Why would there ever be a button for 20%?

  9. @primegrill Steven: kudos to you for catching and acting correctly. as for making us proud when we bring in non Jewish work related people I must say that in that manner you excel. We dont “entertain” often but when we do its by you and we have had not Jewish suppliers leave the restaurant amazed that kosher can be done in the high standards that you do. Both in taste and service.
    keep it up.
    Jonathan Fischer
    Tuesday’s Child.

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