The Latest Blow To Restaurants Is Also The Most Preventable

The latest COVID-related cost to restaurants is to combat "unruly customers."

A lot of curveballs have been thrown at the restaurant industry in the last two years. Food prices are surging, the labor shortage shows no signs of slowing, and the roller coaster of the pandemic affecting store closings and reopenings and reclosings and reopenings is giving us some serious whiplash. Now, CNBC reports on another unforeseen burden to restaurant owners across the country: a security detail.

For one executive who runs restaurants across the country, the cost of tending to "unruly guests" totaled $275,000. "We never spent a dollar on security in our restaurants prior to Covid," Cameron Mitchell, chief executive of Cameron Mitchell Restaurants, told CNBC, "and now we spend about three-quarters of $1 million a year on security to protect our managers and our staff."

What caused the need for security in restaurants?

Some people are, to put it simply, angry that they need to follow COVID protocols. According to Mitchell, the most unruly of the customers his staff encounters seem to be "fueled by rage in general," with tensions rising due to vaccine and mask mandates for in-person dining.


Mitchell also compared those customers to the smattering of people on airlines causing scenes, incidents that caused in-flight booze to be removed from many airlines. But this tactic isn't always an option for restaurants. While this is financially more possible for an airline, many restaurants with dwindling sales rely on the sale of cocktails, wine, and beer to increase revenue, so much so that hiring security may actually be worth it for the bottom line.

Don’t be a dick when dining out

I hope this doesn't apply to any of you, our dear Takeout readers, who understand that food service workers deserve our respect. But let this be a reminder: Do not start a fight in a restaurant. Do not threaten workers, do not have a bad day then take it out on someone making minimum wage just trying to survive in the middle of a pandemic like the rest of us. If you feel like going somewhere to make a scene, do it anywhere but a restaurant, please. (We hear good things about Rage Room experiences.)


Before heading out to eat, call ahead to check what the restaurant's COVID protocols are. If there are rules that you can't abide by, either because of personal or health reasons, choose another restaurant, or maybe just get delivery instead? Same goes for your finances—if you don't feel that you'll be able to tip your servers or bartenders 20% at the very least then maybe hold off on that big dinner out until you can. We're all just trying our best to get through this, and restaurant workers are catching a lot more heat along the way than the rest of us. They shouldn't require security just to keep themselves safe from us.