An Olympia waiter claims he lost his job after he told Washington Governor Christine Gregoire they didn’t have “Crab Louie” on the menu.
Derrick, who did not want to use his last name, was fired from Anthony’s Hearthfire Grill this week because he did not provide the governor a high “level of service,” he said in an email to The Dori Monson Show.
While both the governor’s office and the restaurant confirm the incident, there are different explanations of what exactly occurred.
Derrick said the governor came into the restaurant over the weekend with her husband, Mike, and asked to order “Crab Louie,” a salad that features fresh crab topped with hard boiled eggs, tomatoes, cucumbers, asparagus and other vegetables.
He told the governor the dish was not on the menu.
Typically, the kitchen would prepare the dish anyway. However, Derrick said previous customers have requested a “Crab Louie” and the kitchen told him to turn them away.
“They have told me that we don’t have all the ingredients for the dish,” he said. “So I told her that we didn’t have all the ingredients for this dish, but that our other restaurant would have it.”
Derrick sent them to Anthony’s Homeport, which is under the same ownership and less than one mile from Hearthfire. He said the governor and her husband were very cordial, and did not at all seem bothered by having to go elsewhere.
“When they left they said goodbye to me and the troopers said goodbye, too,” said Derrick, referring to the governor’s security detail. “There was no animosity whatsoever when she left the restaurant.”
But less than an hour later, Derrick said he was approached by a manager who was upset that the governor had been turned away over a “Crab Louie.” The manager allegedly told Derrick that the governor complained about his service when she arrived at the other restaurant.
Derrick said his managers met with him and said he could harm the reputation of Anthony’s by treating the governor poorly.
He was subsequently fired.
Angry, Derrick and his mother called the governor’s office. He spoke with a member of her staff, who then asked the governor and her security detail about the incident.
“She was perfectly happy with the server’s service and actually recalled the conversation as being a pretty decent conversation,” said Cory Curtis, a spokesperson for the governor’s office who had been briefed on the situation.
“The governor did not complain and, in fact, was very shocked that all this happened,” he said.
Curtis said their office took the matter very seriously, and called the restaurant’s manager to see what happened.
“The way it was portrayed to me by the manager was the employee didn’t follow their customer service protocol in this instance, which is when a customer asks for something that isn’t on the menu you get a floor manager involved, which he didn’t do,” he said.
Curtis said he was also told that the restaurant already had complaints about Derrick’s performance.
While a spokesperson for Anthony’s confirmed that Derrick had indeed been let go, they would not speak about specific personnel issues. They did confirm, however, that they received a call from the governor’s office about Derrick’s termination.
“What I can tell you is that we are a family-owned company with a 40-year history in the Northwest,” said Lane Hoss, Anthony’s vice president of marketing. “We value our employees and we go out of our way to take care of guests. We go out of our way to make sure that if even something we have is not available specifically on the menu, that we would try to provide that for them.”
While Derrick isn’t sure who to blame, he does not believe he would have been fired over the incident had the customer not been the governor.