Pass the roach

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This frequent restaurant patron never leaves a tip.
  • nonrev
  • This frequent restaurant patron never leaves a tip.


Let's face it, cockroaches are a part of restaurant life, particularly if the venue is in an old building or the restaurant owner isn't consistent in paying for regular extermination services. And some restaurant owners don't always make that a high priority (I've worked for several of them) until the Kansas City Health Department comes in and shuts them down for violating health codes.

A particularly severe cockroach infestation caused the Health Department to temporarily close down the Vietnamese restaurant, Sung Son, is Westport last Friday. If the story reported this morning by KSHB Channel 41 is accurate, the Health Department inspector found dead and live roaches in practically every nook and cranny: "...on an onion...in food bags...inside egg roll packages." Yeah, I know what you're thinking: A bug bomb the size of an atomic bomb might not be effective enough.

I worked in one popular midtown restaurant in the 1980s and '90s that was infested with such aggressive roaches that after every shift, I had to take off my waiter pants and shirt in the hall outside my apartment and shake them out so I wouldn't bring any bugs home with me. One night, in the very same restaurant, I was delivering two plates of hot food from the kitchen when I noticed a cockroach scuttling across the table. Amazingly, the customers didn't see the bug, so I was able to artfully set down the plates, squash the bug, snatch it up with one hand and remove two dirty appetizer plates with the other. I've never been that physically coordinated, before or after.

The general belief is that restaurants with a cockroach problem have dirty kitchens. I've found that generally to be the case. But there are exceptions to every rule.

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