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Take out, eat in ... your employer's dining room

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Photo illustration by Bill Dowd

An interesting scene ripe for comment: I dropped in at P.F. Chang's at the Colonie Center mall in suburban Colonie for an early dinner and saw an employee making himself comfy in a corner booth where he was obliviously scarfing down a takeout meal -- from Moe's Southwestern Grill further up Wolf Road. The Moe's logos and takeout packages were in plain sight.

The manager on duty obviously was OK with that, even though in my view it was insulting to Chang's and off-putting to some patrons. He even chatted with the employee and sampled his Moe's takeout.

This is the sort of thing you see on "Mystery Diners." (By the way, the general manager was on vacation. While the cat's away ... )

I checked with some other local restaurateurs to get their take on the situation. It didn't vary much from place to place.

For example, Dominick Purnomo, partner/manager of the two Albany restaurants Yono's and dp: An American Brasserie, said, "It's all in the culture of the business. It starts at the top and should permeate every manager and line level employee. Sad, really."

Shaw H. Rabadi, chef/caterer and former proprietor of the BFS Café in Guilderland, was clipped and to the point with his comments: "Poor taste. Disrespect to customers. No culture of discipline. I have zero tolerance for this crap." And Jim Mendrysa, who operates Talk of the Town catering in East Greenbush, says, "No respect for the employer or the public. This employee should be fired as he/she has an employee manual which states as to where and at what time the employee meal is to be served. All employee meals are to be served in a designated area at a designated time, and definitely should be out of the public eye."

Two others had their own ideas for avoiding such a problem. Ray Wall, owner of Jose Malone's tequilaria in Troy, says, "Our policy at my place is that you just have to re-plate it. No logos from other places." And Kim Klopstock, chef/owner of both the Fifty South Restaurant & Bar and Lily and the Rose catering in Ballston Spa, pointed out the requirement for "a private place for employees to eat whatever they so choose, which, by the way is required by the labor board -- a half-hour uninterrupted meal."