The thing about social media is that news spreads like wildfire. If you call someone out and it goes viral, then soon half the world will know about it.
The flip side is that it also works in reverse. If you do something unacceptable, such as publicly shaming someone who didn’t really do anything wrong, then the effort backfires. Not a good idea if one is in the service industry.
Unfortunately, Virginia restaurant Beer 88, located in Lynchburg, found that out the hard way after netizens came down hard on the restaurant for publicly shaming Cohen Naulty, 17, after he decided to pay his bill with a lot of quarters.
He had just treated his friends to lunch and was facing a $35 bill. Since Naulty also worked as a server in another restaurant, what he mostly had was coins. So he paid with a $20 bill and the rest of it in quarters while leaving a very generous $10 tip.
However, he didn’t expect to get publicly shamed by Beer 88 on its Facebook page. The restaurant even had the caption: “How NOT to pay at a restaurant,” called it ridiculous and even hashtagged their post with #nohometraining.
The move backfired because not only was Naulty flabbergasted, other people online were, as well. The restaurant, in turn, got so much flak from netizens that they had to take down their Facebook page.
User Katie Wilson posted, “Beer 88 should not be posting anything having to do with customers paying. Money is money. He left a larger tip than most. No need to post this sort of backdrop slam at the customer.”
Someone named Joshua Spencer agreed, “Not only did they pay, they left a 30% tip. The kid is a server at another restaurant. He paid with his tip money. It spends just like anything else. Their ‘apology’ was almost as asinine as their original post. Even if it was a joke, you don’t mock a customer in order to do so. Ignorance.”
And Naulty rightly pointed out that the coins were US currency so he was perfectly within his rights to use them.
One of Naulty’s friends was hurt by the #nohometraining hashtag. He said it was a dirty move.
Before the restaurant took down their Facebook page, they posted a lame apology and even tried to pass it off as a joke.
The apology read: “In response to our earlier post, it was posted as a joke, intended as a joke and should be taken as a joke.”
“It was posted as a light-hearted way of saying that something like this can be annoying to people that work in the restaurant/retail industry. In no way did we publicly shame ANYONE for paying OR tipping. We try to keep our page funny and relatable. And had no idea that this would be offensive to anyone.”
Naulty’s mother, Kim, also defended her son and said, “If anybody met Cohen, they know it couldn’t be farthest thing from the truth. And, you know, he’s a good kid.”
Restaurant owner Yao Liu also apologized and claims that she wasn’t the one handling the restaurant’s social media presence so she didn’t even know that the offensive post had been published.
In the meantime, Naulty, who has since earned the nickname The Quarter Boy also wrote on Facebook that he really enjoys paying for people’s meals and making them a little happier through it. To that end, he started a fundraiser to help pay for other people’s meals.
News about what happened to Naulty, and how he responded, didn’t go unnoticed.
Another Virginia restaurant, Bräuburgers, over in Forest, announced that they will hold a special night where they will give discounts to customers who pay in change. They will then donate 20 percent of that evening’s sales to charity.
Their Facebook post read: “In light of an incident that went national at another local ‘burger restaurant’, we have decided to host an event this Thursday night that we are calling BURGERS FOR CHANGE.
“Customers who pay in change will be given a 15% discount on all food items and we will donate 20% of gross sales that evening to charity.”