Restaurant manager ‘degraded by group of arrogant diners’ says they tried to humiliate her over her salary

A restaurant manager who was left in tears by a group of “arrogant” diners who treated her ‘like c***’ has spoken out about the “humiliating” incident.

Lily O’Connor, 22, was allegedly told by the party of wealthy customers – who did not leave a tip – that she should work seven nights a week if she wanted to make a “living” salary. And over the course of three hours she said the group tried to degrade her for doing the job.

Describing one diner’s behaviour, front of house manager Lily told MailOnline : “He used humiliating tactics, trying to degrade me for the job I love doing.

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“He was saying: ‘How do you make a living?’ at this and ‘Why don’t you work seven nights a week?’ It was upsetting – I had put up with that demeaning attitude while I served them seven courses.”

Lee Skeet, who trained under Gordon Ramsay and runs Cora in Pontcanna, Cardiff, called the party out on social media and accused them of “inappropriate behaviour.” He even offered to repay their £1,000 bill back to them minus the £100 tip he said should have been left for his employee.

Lee and Lily say just one of the six men at the table is to blame for picking on her because she was a young woman. Lily, who worked in the hospitality industry for five years, said she doesn’t want to ‘name and shame’ anyone but that there ‘is a point to be made about hospitality workers and the way they are treated’.

Chef Lee Skeet owns restaurant Cora in Cardiff

Taking to Twitter, Mr Skeet shared screenshots of the email he had sent to the head of the party, branding the diners “rich people who think they treat people like c***”. He ordered them to “never come back to my restaurant” after saying they had mistreated the staff member.

The top chef wrote: “I wanted to firstly thank you for choosing my restaurant for your meal tonight and I understand you had the biggest bill we’ve ever had on one table here. Unfortunately, throughout the evening I was made aware that your party’s behaviour was inappropriate towards Lily, who runs front of house.

“She has told me that, as a 22-year-old girl, she was talked down to, disrespected and touched unwantedly by members of your group. I have spent the last hour having conversations with her that break my heart, make me feel like a s*** employer and a terrible dad having my own daughter.

“Please provide your bank details and I will refund your entire bill of £1,000, minus £100 that I believe you should have tipped Lily, which I will pay directly to her as you left no tip. I would thank you to never come back to my restaurant. Lily means a lot more to me than money. I also think you should assess the people you surround yourself with.”

But he later said he changed his mind and was giving the entire £1,000 bill to his staff member. “I don’t really want that money. [My waitress] probably deserves it for putting up with them,” he said, and added that he had not had a response from the diner.

Followers of the chef flocked to support his decision and condemn the behaviour. Mr Skeet trained under Marcus Wareing and Gordon Ramsay and previously headed up the kitchen at a Michelin-starred Hedone in London before his cooking career came to a halt for four years when he was the victim of a hit and run accident.

He opened his first permanent restaurant, Cora, in Cardiff in January following a sell-out run of pop-ups and supper clubs at his flat in Cardiff Bay. Located above Pontcanna’s Cafe Milkwood, it comprises just 12 seats and Mr Skeet hopes it will eventually secure Cardiff’s first Michelin star.

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