Complaint Desk

Go Away, Restaurant Musician

Dear Tableside Restaurant Serenade Man,

We all have to make a living, I know, but your present vocation is having significantly negative impact on my dining experience. I came out to share a quiet meal with a friend and all I can hear if your incessant thrumming.

I can't recall a single meal that was enhanced by your pitchy crooning, in fact, not to mention your lack of respect for my personal space. I'd like to think I might be able to convince my date to come home with me eventually, but you're standing so close that your crotch is directly in her face, subjugating my masculinity. You look at her with eyes that suggest you might be available, should things not work out with me, and then you use the same raised eyebrows in my direction to say, "Hey buddy, how 'bout a tip?"

Yes, you, guitar dude lighting up the patio at Pera Wine and Tapas. My dinner cost enough before you ruined it. Chipotle charges nearly two dollars for a spoonful of guacamole these days, coffee prices are soaring and now you're hitting me up for a five spot because you hobbled your way through an instrumental version of "Hotel California"?

What happened to your music career? There's no way you stepped out into the world, a brand new instrument from Guitar Center slung over your shoulder and saw this in your future. Most of us give up when things don't work out, yet you trudge on playing songs from your tattered cheat book filled with material from decades we'd all rather forget. Your D-string is a little flat, by the way, and any hopes that your services would be found the least bit romantic were dashed when you started "Dust in the Wind" and jacked up the finger picking.

I get it, Violin Guy blowing up Baboush with accompanying laser light show. Tableside performances carry a definitive allure in Spain and Italy and other European countries where romance is the prevalent language, but like the bread service we tried to borrow from France, and tapas, which Americans have messed up more than I'm willing to admit in this story, your tableside serenades just don't translate perfectly. I'd sing along with a violinist if I were beside a piazza on some quiet Roman street. Maybe even in stateside Mexican restaurants, which perhaps because of their size and volume are able to unite the entire dining room with their performances.

But the rest of you? I just want to kick over your amplifier before I steal the two quarters floating at the bottom of your tip jar and walk out of the place.

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Scott Reitz
Contact: Scott Reitz