Importantly, I did not blame the bathroom attendants for this: Balthazar’s bathroom attendants in particular did their jobs well.
Instead, I blamed the “idiot bosses” at restaurants like Balthazar who were apparently hallucinating that their clients enjoyed this service.
Well, over the weekend, Foster Kamer of First We Feast emailed the head of Balthazar, Keith McNally, to get his reaction to my feelings about the bathroom service. Surprisingly, Mr. McNally said he wholeheartedly agreed with me. And he used his response to Mr. Kamer to announce that Balthazar would no longer have bathroom attendants going forward.
The wording of Mr. McNally’s response does not make clear whether he is going to reassign the folks who worked as bathroom attendants at Balthazar — or fire them.
We have reached out to Balthazar for clarification.
But in case there’s any question… Balthazar should absolutely not fire its bathroom attendants. It’s not their fault that Mr. McNally made them stand in the bathroom all day. And Balthazar’s decision to discontinue this service is his, not theirs. Also, importantly, as Mr. McNally says, these folks appear to be excellent people and loyal and talented employees:
“Unfortunately, I completely agree with [the point about the bathroom service] and will, in the next few weeks, relieve the restaurant’s bathroom attendants of their duties. They’re extremely loyal employees who, perhaps surprisingly, love their jobs…”
As the proprietor of a thriving business, Mr. McNally will presumably be the first to agree that “extremely loyal employees who… love their jobs” are a major asset to an organisation.
And given that standing in a bathroom all day and trying to be gracious, polite, and helpful in that environment is arguably a much more challenging job than, say, being a waiter or bus-person, it would seem that the Balthazar bathroom attendants would be ideally suited to be worked into the rotation in Balthazar’s dining room.
Yes, it’s possible that Balthazar is not right this minute looking for more waiters or bus-people, but, if not, they will be soon. If Mr. McNally wants to show his gratitude to these employees, therefore — and accept responsibility for his own decision to make them stand in bathrooms and provide services Balthazar diners didn’t want — he will immediately hire and train them as dining-room staff.
So we await clarification from Balthazar about the fate of the good people Balthazar employs as bathroom attendants. Here’s hoping Mr. McNally and Balthazar do the right thing.
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