Autism, dining out and a side of kindness
April 1st, 2013
03:00 PM ET
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Editor's note: April 2, 2014 is World Autism Awareness Day, and we're sharing this story to continue the conversation about autism in public spaces.

Things are not always as they appear to be. Our recent story "The waitress, the autistic girl and the broken hamburger" shared the experiences of Anna Kaye MacLean, a young woman who was deeply touched by the kindness of a Chili's server to her seven-year-old sister Arianna, who has autism.

While many people interpret Arianna's behavior - sometimes involving violent tantrums and grunting - as uncontrolled brattiness, her older sister will take the time to explain the condition if asked. Occasionally, fellow restaurant patrons will ask to be moved to other tables, give dirty looks, or criticize MacLean's handling of the situation. While the family has never been asked to leave a restaurant, they're keenly aware of other patrons' comfort and will leave of their own accord.

Scenes like this play out in public every day, as evidenced by the over 650 comments that poured in when we posted the story. In observance of National Autism Awareness Month and April 2, World Autism Awareness Day, we're sharing insight from some of our commenters who have experience weathering the minefield that is a restaurant meal.
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The waitress, the autistic girl and the broken hamburger
March 26th, 2013
08:00 PM ET
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Last Sunday was just an average morning for Anna Kaye MacLean. Her sister, 7-year-old Arianna, had slept over at her house the night before and seemed to have woken up in a good mood - which is not always a given for a child with autism.

After determining that Arianna’s mood was stable enough for a day of fun activities outside the home, MacLean and her husband decided to take Arianna out to lunch, with a bonus visit to the Easter Bunny afterward. They decided to eat lunch at the Chili’s Bar and Grill in Midvale, Utah, where a beautiful thing happened - and went viral.
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Filed under: Favorites • Kids in Restaurants • News • Restaurants • Service


Nutella-gate! Columbia students swipe pounds of popular spread from cafeteria
March 7th, 2013
02:00 PM ET
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When students trade their high school diplomas for college dorm rooms, friends and family wish them luck and tell them to enjoy their new-found freedom by “going nuts.” But while most students blow off steam by partying until the wee hours of the morning, some students at Columbia University seem to have taken the “go nuts” advice a little too literally.

According to the Columbia Spectator,the Ivy League institution introduced Nutella to its campus dining halls last month, hoping to give its students a taste of luxury living (because living on the Upper West Side of New York City is clearly "roughing it").

To the administration’s surprise, students’ demand for Nutella quickly exploded to the tune of 100 pounds consumed per day. But consuming the “breakfast food” in the dining room wasn’t enough for some of the sticky-fingered undergrads, who ultimately decided to abscond with the buttery, chocolaty, hazelnut spread by the jar.
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Filed under: News • Obsessions


Give a snarky quip (and no tip) and thy receipt shall end up on the internet
January 31st, 2013
10:00 PM ET
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Before making the career jump to journalism, I worked in the service industry for several years as a server - or waitress, depending on what generation you’re from. While I loved my job most of the time (great guests and cheap food whenever I wanted it), I quickly realized that some people didn’t quite understand the difference between server and servant.

Like every server, I had my fair share of horror stories: a 25-cent tip on a $19 bill, men who felt it was socially appropriate to pinch me as I walked past and, of course, the customer who was never wrong (even if they sent their steak back more than twice). So while I adhered to the idea that the customer was always right, that didn’t give the customer free rein to act like a jerk.

It appears that not everyone shares my opinion, though. After dining at an Applebee’s in St. Louis, Missouri, one customer not only left no tip, but also wrote a snarky comment on her bill.

Chelsea Welch, another server in the restaurant, snapped a picture of the receipt and posted it to the social media-sharing website Reddit. The Consumerist later picked up the story, if only for Welch’s equally snarky picture title, “My mistake sir, I’m sure Jesus will pay for my rent and groceries.”
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Filed under: Applebee's • Chain • News • Restaurant News • Restaurants • Service • Tipping


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