They’re hacked off.
Big Apple restaurateurs are sick of entitled social media influencers and their lemming-like followers wreaking havoc on fragile bottom lines with ridiculous off-menu requests. Some cheered last week when an Atlanta-area Waffle House fought back against the phenomenon where users compete to create the most outrageous off-menu items imaginable.
“I can’t go out of my way to do any crazy requests, especially when it doesn’t even make sense. This is not in our DNA,” Carnegie Diner owner Stathis Antonakopoulos complained to The Post.
“Nobody will eat 10 pancakes and 10 pieces of fried chicken one on top of the other.”
Antonakopoulos has seen customers at the W. 57th St. favorite try to boss their way into Moscow Mule milkshake mash-ups and elaborate lobster entrees in an effort to create content. Earlier this year, one influencer demanded a 5 lb. burger — things apparently got ugly when the request was declined.
“[They] threatened to give us a bad review, that we were not accommodating customers,” the harried restaurateur said. “They didn’t want to take no for an answer.”
The unwelcome demands come on the heels of a customization craze sweeping the fast food industry, with nationwide chains struggling to strike a balance between the free publicity a viral post can bring and the actual labor and costs involved in fulfilling the often-absurd requests.
Workers at Chipotle, for example, have rebelled on more than one occasion, most recently after a Philly cheesesteak quesadilla hack overwhelmed locations across the country before the chain capitulated and put it on the menu.
Starbucks, a popular target for clout-chasing content creators, caved in 2017 and added a popular “secret item,” the Pink Drink — an Acai Refresher with coconut milk and various berry substitutions — to its everyday menu. And it doesn’t help, restaurants say, when a popular brand like Chick-fil-A encourages diners to do their worst, as they did last summer, publishing a menu of approved hacks.
It’s getting to a point where everyday customers, let alone TikTok viewers, are starting to think that restaurant menus at non-national outlets are a mere suggestion, Zazzy’s Pizza owner Richie Romero laments.
He blames the TikTok mentality for the ridiculous asks he gets at his high-end Manhattan slice franchise.
“People think that we’re a variety store and come in with no situational awareness,” Romero told The Post. “They’ll ask for Jamaican beef patties like you would get at a dollar slice shop, ask for full-on Italian entrees, and worst of all, ask for a Hawaiian pizza with pineapple on it — which we would never do.”
Not everyone in NYC looks down on custom ordering, however.
Brooklyn deli owner Rahim Mohamed has achieved a measure of social media fame catering to the craziest customization requests imaginable — from gummy worms in a bacon egg and cheese, to a sushi roll-filled chicken cutlet hero — at Red Hook Food Corp.
“At least 90% of my business comes from TikTok now,” Mohamed told The Post. “The difference has been incredible since we started doing the custom orders back in 2019. Now people will come to visit us from all over the world like London, Spain, Australia and the Middle East, because they saw us on TikTok.”
I have been writing professionally for over 20 years and have a deep understanding of the psychological and emotional elements that affect people. I’m an experienced ghostwriter and editor, as well as an award-winning author of five novels.