On Mother's Day, a fight broke out at a York, PA Red Lobster over long waits for food due to staff shortages. The confrontation was caught on camera and posted to Twitter, where it proceeded to go totally viral.
The footage shows a clearly upset woman, dubbed "Karen" by the internet of course, being forced out of the restaurant by several Red Lobster staff members. They wear masks; she doesn't. Reports say the woman was upset that she had to wait three hours for her food.
The York Daily Record reports that the restaurant was working with limited staff, which resulted in longer wait times for orders. In response, the woman, who eventually yells her first and last name in the video to an employee helping with a refund, to force her way into the restaurant, assault, and yell at restaurant employees.
Then, a fight breaks out between her and one of the employees. The video begins as the woman is being forcibly pushed out of the restaurant while she repeatedly yells about a refund. Not what you want to see happen on Mother's Day during a global pandemic.
“She was upset because her food wasn’t ready,” Lt. Tony Beam of the Springettsbury Township Police Department told the newspaper. “She wanted her money refunded.”
A spokesperson for the restaurant blamed staffing levels and operational changes for "long wait times."
The internet went wild with reactions to this video. Times are tense, and you would think patrons of businesses that are still working very hard to remain open would be a little understanding that things are tough. The restaurant was working with reduced staff and probably didn't anticipate the influx of Mother's Day orders.
I'm sure they were doing the best they could to get everything out. As one Twitter user pointed out, some people don't seem to understand that "the people making and serving our food are in fact people and not automatons built for your convenience, and they're working during a pandemic probably against their will because they'll lose their income if they don't."
According to Penn Live, restaurants in Pennsylvania have been ordered to operate only for take-out or delivery and customers, as well as employees, are required to wear masks to enter. The woman complaining in the video was not wearing a mask. It was clear she had no regard for the health of the restaurant employees.
Red Lobster issued a statement to address the fact that orders at several restaurants were late and crowds of customers were gathered for hours waiting for their food: "During these unprecedented times, we are grateful for our guests who continue to want to celebrate with Red Lobster.
"It’s always our goal to provide our guests with a great seafood experience, while also maintaining high standards for health and safety, including social distancing. We apologize that some of our guests experienced longer than anticipated wait times and crowds today and in some cases may have chosen not to wait for their orders."
After the video went viral, they made another statement: "We do not tolerate violence for any reason in our restaurants. We expect our team members treat our guests with respect, and we expect our guests to treat our team members with respect in return. We are grateful our Manager and the guest involved were not seriously injured in the incident on Sunday."
Obviously, Red Lobster has had some issues handling the volume of orders they're getting. I'm sure that's frustrating for customers on an individual level. But we're living in unprecedented times and people are trying to figure this out as they go along. A little compassion here would go a long way.
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