Restaurant manager, 22, hits out at customers who mocked his low pay after boss splashed out £1,000

A young restaurant manager has told how she broke down in tears after three hours of hell serving wealthy customers at the table who “disrespected” her because she was a low wage earner.

Lily O’Connor, 22, ended up in tears after being bullied by men from a top law firm.

One of the guests advised her to work seven nights out of seven if she wanted to earn a living.

Reception manager Lily, 22, was mocked and told to work every night to earn a living

O'Connor said employees at the swanky law firm

But Lily, who received the full £1,000 they spent after being abused, is the real winner

O’Connor said employees at the posh law firm were “trying to degrade her” for doing work she loves. But Lily, who received the full £1,000 they spent after being abused, is the real winner

Front office manager Lily said: ‘He used humiliating tactics, trying to degrade me for the job I love to do.

Lee Skeet’s Cardiff restaurant Cora: Customers are treated to a six-course menu which features plenty of seafood for £75pp

Located at 83 Pontcanna Street, on the first floor above Cafe Milkwood, Cora is Lee Skeet’s first restaurant.

It only serves twelve diners in its intimate dining room, offering a six-course tasting menu for £75pp or a lunch menu for £50pp.

The menu is heavily rooted in seafood, but also includes meats and wild game throughout the seasons.

“The aim is to create a relaxed and ambitious restaurant where you can taste the best quality products available in the capital, in a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere, all to a hip hop soundtrack,” reads the site. Restaurant website.

Located at 83 Pontcanna Street, on the first floor above Cafe Milkwood, Cora is Lee Skeet's first restaurant.  Pictured is one of his dishes

Located at 83 Pontcanna Street, on the first floor above Cafe Milkwood, Cora is Lee Skeet’s first restaurant. Pictured is one of his dishes

It only serves twelve diners in its intimate dining room, offering a six-course tasting menu for £75pp or a lunch menu for £50pp.  Pictured is another of Lee's dishes

It only serves twelve diners in its intimate dining room, offering a six-course tasting menu for £75pp or a lunch menu for £50pp. Pictured is another of Lee’s dishes

“He said, ‘How do you make a living?’ to that and ‘Why don’t you work seven nights a week?’

‘It was heartbreaking – I had put up with this demeaning attitude while serving them seven courses.

“I was even told to ‘stick my schnoz in there’ after they complained about one of the wines I served them on the seven-course tasting menu.”

Restaurant chef and patron Lee Skeet was furious when he discovered Lily had been ‘unwantedly touched and looked down upon’ at his Cora restaurant in Pontcanna, Cardiff.

He contacted the company that had made the booking and told them he would refund their £1,000 bill but deduct a £100 tip for Lily.

But the company did not respond and Lee, 25, has now given Lily the full amount to make up for her three hours of abuse.

Lee and Lily accuse only one of the six men at the table of picking on her because she was a hard-working young woman in a struggling industry.

Lily, who has five years’ experience in the hospitality industry, said: ‘We don’t want to name the individual, it’s not about naming and shaming anyone. But there is one point to make about hospitality workers and how they are treated.

“I hope I treated him professionally at the time, but by the end of the service, Lee could tell I was tired of being treated so badly.”

The six businessmen drank seven bottles of wine during the session and racked up a £1,000 bill, the biggest since the restaurant opened in January.

Lee, who has worked for celebrity chefs Gordon Ramsey, Marcus Wareing and Tom Aikens, has banned the company from returning to Cora, which is always full as it only has 12 covers.

A father-of-two, Lee said: ‘The reservation was made by a company secretary – it was a working dinner.

“The boss of the company was present, he was the leader but not the troublemaker. He was someone else at the table.

“It won’t happen again – people need to know that such behavior will not be tolerated in this restaurant.

“We have a tight-knit following and I want people to know that if anyone behaves like this, they’re not welcome here.”

Lee was busy in the kitchen at the time, but said he noticed a change in Lily’s demeanor while serving the table.

He said: ‘I could see she was a bit aggrieved and she told me they weren’t the nicest of people.

“It’s my responsibility to take care of her – it made me feel like a bad employer and a terrible father, having my own daughter.”

Lee described Lily as a “brilliant” house manager adding: “Before I had my own place, I worked in Michelin star restaurants.”

Owner Lee Skeet said Lily was

Owner Lee Skeet said Lily was ‘by far the best I’ve worked with’ and called out the horrific abuse

“She’s by far the best I’ve worked with – that’s why she was given this role.”

Lee was showered with praise on social media after tweeting that ‘we should start calling out the rich who think they can treat people like c**p’.

He established a new rule that staff must inform him of bad behavior while customers are still in the restaurant.

Lee said, “If it happens again, Lily can come straight to me and I’ll take care of it when it happens.”

The story went viral on social media earlier this week when Lee took to Twitter.

He wrote online: ‘Dear… First of all I wanted to thank you for choosing my restaurant for your meal tonight, and I understand that you had the biggest bill we have ever had on a table here.

“Unfortunately, throughout the evening, I have been informed that your group’s behavior was inappropriate towards Lily, who is running in front of the house.

“She told me that as a 22 year old girl she was looked down upon, disrespected and touched in unwanted ways by members of your group.

“I’ve spent the last hour having conversations with her that break my heart, make me feel like an *** employer and a terrible father, having my own daughter.

“I would thank you for never coming back to my restaurant.  Lily means a lot more to me than money,' he added in his first letter (above)

Lee's letter to the client

“I would thank you for never coming back to my restaurant. Lily means a lot more to me than money,’ he added in his first letter (above)

Speaking to his social media account (above), the chef said he reacted 'too quickly and emotionally last night' - and instead kept the money the 'inappropriate' diners had paid and had transferred it to his staff member.

Speaking to his social media account (above), the chef said he reacted ‘too quickly and emotionally last night’ – and instead kept the money the ‘inappropriate’ diners had paid and had transferred it to his staff member.

Boss Lee advised Lily that she should bring him over next time and that he

Boss Lee advised Lily that she should bring him over next time and that he would ‘deal with it then’

Lily (pictured in a social media post) said she was left in tears by the cruel treatment of diners

Lily (pictured in a social media post) said she was left in tears by the cruel treatment of diners

‘Please provide your bank details and I will refund your full £1000 bill less £100 which I think you should have given Lily – which I will pay her direct – as you left no tip .

“I would thank you for never coming back to my restaurant. Lily means a lot more to me than money. I also think you should value the people you surround yourself with.

Lee posted the note on Twitter alongside the caption, “I’m not hunting or researching likes.” I just think we should start calling out the rich who think they can treat people like c***s.

Following comments from his followers, who suggested Lily should receive the £1,000, Lee took to Twitter today to explain that he had transferred the money to a member of his staff.

Posting a screenshot of the transaction, he wrote: “On reflection, I overreacted too quickly and emotionally last night.” Sorry, I was a little angry and protective. I will not refund the customer’s money. I instead kept it and transferred it to Lily x’

About Vivian J. Smith

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