Caught on video: Customer, owner face off in Calif. restaurant fracas over late order

Published: Dec. 1, 2020 at 10:43 AM CST
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SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) - The pandemic has made it tough for many restaurants, but the human element is often what’s most unpredictable.

Surveillance video shows what happened when an angry customer became violent over a late order.

“At that moment, I just had to do what I had to do because my daughter and my grandson were in the middle of the drama!” said owner Doris Campos.

That drama was caught on surveillance video from Panchita’s Pupuseria the day after Thanksgiving.

A customer walked in and, after learning her order would take a little longer than expected, lost her temper.

“We told her 15 minutes, and it took about 20 minutes,” manager Doris Vargas said. “She grabbed a jug of 5-pound hand sanitizer and launched it at me while I was holding my son.”

That’s when owner and nearly 60-year-old grandma Campos grabbed whatever she can, including a table, to defend her family and her more than 30-year-old business.

The woman eventually left the restaurant and, thankfully, no one was hurt. Police said the investigation is ongoing.

Campos is speaking out in hopes of identifying the woman and holding her accountable.

“Bad behavior is one of the things we don’t forecast for,” she said.

She has this message for the community that has been so good to her family for so many years: “Be considerate of the employees, considerate of the business, and just have some empathy for the industry itself. We are trying to stay afloat for the community and for ourselves.”

Operating a small business is challenging enough as it is with the changing restrictions. Some small eateries are forced to make concessions, all to keep customers happy.

“For example, if someone wants to order a bottle of wine to go, we’re offering a 20% discount,” said Laurie Thomas of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association.

Not all restaurants, though, can afford to make these concessions.

“Really, just ask everyone to please be understanding,” Thomas said. “We’re not doing this for fun. Most people are trying to pay the bills and pay their employees and pay the health insurance and pay the taxes without much financial relief.”

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