Tears shouldn’t be on the menu at Apt Cape Cod.
Restaurant owners have closed for breakfast and posted signs on their main street entrance gate in Brewster and on their Facebook page to bring the news home. Instead, they treated their employees to a “day of friendliness” after “an astronomical daily influx” of abusive customer behavior.
Perhaps it was the woman who said, “I hope you get hit by a car” because she showed up at the farm-to-table restaurant and expected to be served after it closed; or the person who threatened legal action because a table was not available; or the man who screamed so loudly and used such evil language that he was eventually told to leave.
The owners of the restaurant – Brandi Felt Castellano and Regina Castellano – had had enough.
Part of the problem is that Apt, like many other restaurants, is short of staff because young people from Europe are not coming to work in the Cape this summer due to the pandemic, said Regina Castellano. That sometimes means longer waiting times to sit down or serve meals at the small restaurant known for its eclectic menu, she said.
“But I love my staff” of 24 who are between 14 and 60 years old, said Felt Castellano. “We decided to show them we care because it’s getting worse and worse – people are not just rude, they are offensive. Nobody should put up with that. “
So they gave the guests some time off last week.
Since then, they have removed the sign on their gate and replaced it with a sign that read, “If you can’t be kind, you can’t eat!” Your Facebook post has since gone viral.
Castellano said she received more than 200 emails and instant messages from people across the country early Wednesday afternoon, with only one outlier so far: a person named “Jason” who wrote, “They should close forever. Sounds like you are not suitable for the service industry. What a joke.”
But the locals don’t see it that way. They stopped by with bouquets of flowers and donations – money Castellano sent instead to the Family Table Collaborative, a South Yarmouth nonprofit that feeds the hungry.
While Castellano was sitting at a table in the outside area of the restaurant, “We Gotta Get Out of This Place” by The Animals was playing in the background, a cyclist she knew drove by and shouted: “Congratulations!”
“The friendliness is great,” said Nancy Sheridan, 64, of Brewster, who eats three to four times a week at Apt Cape Cod. “The food is fantastic. And these are our friends and neighbors. “
Bob Luz, president and CEO of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association, said he considers abusive behavior by Apt employees to be the exception, not the rule.
“By and large, most of our guests know that there are significant challenges such as staff shortages and react sensibly,” said Luz. “Every now and then you have a guest who is frustrated, just like before the pandemic.”
But Apt’s customers were very protective of the staff.
“As locals, we’re not okay with people who come to the Cape and abuse the staff,” said Sherrill Crowell, 66, of Brewster.
“Be nice,” she grinned and said to a reporter, “otherwise we’ll chase you.”