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'An epidemic of entitlement': GR restaurant closes after line of rude customers

Owner Steven Martinez said it was everything from rude language, little patience, destruction of property and even stolen mobile orders that led to the decision.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A Grand Rapids restaurant closed their doors in the middle of one of their busiest days, after the owner said they could no longer handle the way they were being treated by some of their customers. 

"It wasn't an easy decision, but I think it was the right decision," said Steven Martinez, the owner of Basalt

On Sunday, Basalt closed several hours before their normal closing time. Martinez said they love serving their customers, but for the first time ever, he felt he had no choice but to take a couple days off. 

"I thought it would be better for my staff to just close down," Martinez said. "Give them space to breathe, and give them a break from what was probably the worst day we've ever had."

Basalt is a modern, Tex-Mex, comfort food joint that sits along Wealthy Street in Eastown. They focus a lot on breakfast tacos and brunch, so naturally weekends can be very busy for them.

"We had a few interactions during our busy period that just made it impossible for us to operate and serve our guests the way they deserve to be served," he said. 

Martinez said it was everything from rude language, little patience, destruction of property and even stolen mobile orders that led to the decision he never thought he'd have to make.

"They were all things that I think individually we could have handled," he said, "but all those things together just became unmanageable and overwhelming."

Martinez said that they always welcome families and children into the restaurant, but on Sunday, several families were not keeping a close eye on their kids. Because of that, there were several messes and spills that were not reported to staff, and several of their plants were messed with. 

"Money is tight all day every day, especially as a small business owner in the restaurant industry, so any opportunity for me to have a sale really matters," he said. "So, I take it very seriously when I have to close early or be closed when we're expecting to be open."

"It just seems like an epidemic of entitlement happening," he added. 

Martinez says that he and his staff know the stresses the restaurant industry can bring, "but that doesn't mean we're not going to expect to be treated with care, and respect, and dignity too," he said. 

"We're not servants, and we're not robots."

Basalt closed for the remainder of Sunday and all day Monday. Martinez wants others to know it's okay to stand up for yourself and your staff.

"If they're not being taken care of, I'm going to do whatever I have to do to make sure that they're treated well, and that work is not a place that is dreadful for them," said Martinez. 

Martinez says since they made the announcement public, he's gotten a lot of messages of support, and messages from other local restaurants thanking him for speaking out because it's happened to them, too.

"There is power in solidarity, numbers, and in truth," said Martinez. "And like I said before, we're people and we deserve better than that."

"We're giving part of ourselves to take care of you, and what we want back is just some respect and dignity," he added. 

Basalt plans to reopen Tuesday for their normal hours starting at 7 a.m.


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