Professional, unbiased reviews of all kosher restaurants located in the State of Maryland and the District of Columbia.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Umami Bistro is not family friendly

The following letter was sent to the restaurant and to the Star-K who declined to take action since this was not a "kashrut violation."

Dear Star-K,

Last week, my wife and I, along with my 1.5 year old toddler and my mother-in-law, ate at Umami Bistro. We entered the restaurant at approximately 6:30 p.m. We were told to sit in a booth near the back of the restaurant, and then were switched to a small table near the front by the owner’s wife. My daughter was seated in a high-chair at the table. At that time, the restaurant was relatively busy. The service was poor (we had to repeatedly ask various people for utensils, napkins, water, etc.), but we enjoyed our meal without complaints.

Throughout the meal, we fed my daughter bits and pieces of food, some of which inevitably fell on the restaurant floor. Although we initially tried picking up some of the food, we decided to wait until after the meal to clean up the mess. Several times, the owner's wife walked by and cleaned up the food particles herself. One time she walked over and rudely (and loudly) yelled at my wife: “what are you doing? People will see that! Why don’t you clean up after her!” After cleaning up the food, she stalked away. I called the owner's wife over and asked her to treat my wife with respect and courtesy. She yelled something unintelligible at me in a foreign language and walked away again.

I was personally shocked and disgusted by the conduct of the owner’s wife in public. What right does she have to chide us when she placed us in a high traffic/high visibility area? I was also outraged by the allegation that we were at fault for the situation. Bistro is billed as a family restaurant and all are permitted entrance, including toddlers. Toddlers make messes; that is their nature. Finally, I was extremely embarrassed and humiliated by her actions in front of my relatives, who are not observant. As a result of this incident, they likely will have a overall negative view of Jewish restaurants in Baltimore. This situation was a major chillul hashem.

Umami Bistro’s conduct was unacceptable. Umami Bistro is certified by the Star-K, and therefore represents the Star-K to Jews and the general public alike. A restaurant should never mistreat its customers, and a kosher restaurant even more so has that obligation.

How do you plan to handle this situation? Please advise.

Thanks for your attention to this matter.