A few months ago I made a wrong turn in the tunnel of Madison Square Garden during a Knicks game and overheard one of the coaches yelling at his basketball team. The players had been making terrible mistakes, not living up to their responsibilities; basically screwing up. When I heard this taking place, even though I realized that it was occurring within the confines of their private workplace, I was mortified. I stuck my head around the corner of their locker room and yelled at the coach, told him to stop yelling at those damn players, as it was ruining my evening. He told me to get lost, and shortly thereafter I was escorted to 34st Street.
Sound ridiculous? Yet this is exactly what Times reporter Ron Lieber, someone who supposedly "is not naive about restaurants" did at Mark Forgione's restaurant. He broke the cardinal rule of any workplace: he walked directly INTO THE RESTAURANT'S KITCHEN to harass Forgione because the chef’s yelling was “interfering with his ambiance” (not because he was sticking up for anyone - he couldn't care less). None of Forgione's employees could believe that a customer was actually doing something so invasive, so clearly idiotic. While yelling at employees is not something most people would care to experience or listen to, it happens: it's part of certain jobs whether we’re comfortable with it or not, and most of those jobs, unlike restaurant or sporting jobs, are for the most part not open to the public eye's scrutiny.
Most people who are familiar with and can reason clearly about this situation believe that, while Mr. Forgione's alleged yelling was his right as an employer (yet was not the best way to handle a mistake-prone employee - fire him for crying out loud!), Mr. Lieber's actions are far worse and should not be tolerated by his employer, a publication such as the New York Times that wields great editorial power over the heads of restaurant owners and chefs in Manhattan. The fact that the incident has brought great publicity to the Times means Lieber will not even have his wrist slapped.
While there certainly are enough chefs in the restaurant industry who would profit from a few anger management classes, it would seem that Mr. Lieber would surely benefit from a large dose of common sense, not to mention a general resistance to act on the whims of his own elevated self-worth. These opportunities for improvement are apparent from his writing, as well as from his recent actions. If you're not sure who the jerk is in the story, this is what Lieber wrote:
"I imagine his manhood suffered enough that he had no choice but to kick us all out, lest he lose face. Perhaps a woman should have gone to talk with him instead, one on one."
Sounds to me like a sexist arrogant twit, and I'm pretty sure he won't be getting very good service in any other restaurants in New York - unless he, apologizes, which is unlikely for this type.