Customers are reportedly having tantrums over wearing masks

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News

After the first weekend Metro Detroit bars and restaurants were able to reopen and welcome back customers, some in the industry are reporting less-than-polite behavior among customers. 

Most stem from refusals to wear masks. 

A sign outside Cafe Muse in Royal Oak reminds guests that masks are required except when seated.

As restaurants are limiting capacity, stretched thin with fewer staff members and more cleaning protocols, some customers are becoming argumentative over being asked to wear a simple face covering while in the building. 

Danny's Irish Pub bartender Brook Windorf was faced with profanity and more this weekend when customers got huffy about wearing a mask, which is required inside the Ferndale pub.

At most places in downtown Ferndale, including Danny's, customers don't have to wear a mask when seated, but they are required when entering or walking around. 

Windorf said over the weekend she turned away pub crawlers and large groups who would have tilted the 50% capacity rule at Danny's, which is allowing 30 people. 

One customer was being goofy around the plastic shield that is set up at the bar's ordering station, sticking his head around it while not wearing his mask. A pair of customers responded with profanity toward Windorf when asked to put on a mask or buy one from the bar for a couple of dollars. 

"I just stared at them and said, 'You're not hurting my feelings by leaving, so just leave, I guess,'" she said.

She called Ferndale police on a late-night customer without a mask just before last call. No charges were filed, but things escalated after a tense night. She had had enough and wanted the police to tell the man not to return. 

"I asked him would you just please put your mask on and he said 'why are you being such a b---- about it,'" she said, adding that she gave him his order and cashed him out "wanting to be done with it." He asked for more drinks, but she had closed his bill for the night. That's when he threw drinks at her. 

"After having words with several people through the night, it was the final straw and I was super angry," she said. "I was like, get the hell out of here. 

"I need to stop taking it so personally. I'm not the only one with a story to tell," she said, adding that she's heard similar tales from others in the service industry. 

Doug's Delight ice cream stand in Hazel Park is also home to Matt & Mo's Italian Beef. The Chicago-style sandwich sellers took to social media Sunday night to remind customers that their policy is "no mask, no service." 

The business requires customers to wear a mask only when placing their order or picking up their order from the walk-up window at the John R stand, which has no indoor seating. Co-owner Mo Marzullo said the post stemmed from argumentative customers over the weekend. 

"We have had arguments with people in person and online," she said. 

In Royal Oak over the weekend, Café Muse owner David Smith felt he needed to stick close to the host stand so he could remind customers himself that masks are required so his employee didn't have to act as an enforcer. He said he called the police when one customer made threats over the phone. 

He points to inconsistency among rules at bars and restaurants as a reason that customers may feel they don't need to wear a face covering. 

"Maybe it's because they're frustrated, like we are, that we have to keep reminding people to wear masks, but I believe that there are still restaurants out there that are not compliant," he said. "So we get customers that come in and say I was just at so-and-so and I didn't have to, why do I have to here?"

"Because we're 100% compliant here," said Smith. At Café Muse customers are required to wear a mask when entering the building, but can remove them once seated at a table. 

He recalled two occasions over the weekend when things escalated after customers were asked to wear a mask in order to enter the business and obtain a carryout order. One regular was asked not to return if he wouldn't wear a mask inside.

"Having to turn people away for not wanting to be compliant is frustrating," said Smith.

More:Masked servers, Plexiglas and patios: The new dine-in experience 

Another patron "lost it" when asked to wear a mask while waiting a few minutes for his carryout. 

"He was yelling and screaming inside the dining room ... he just wouldn't let up. Finally (chef) Greg (Reyner) came out of the kitchen and said you need to just go outside if you're not going to wear a mask and he just refused. Finally he left and he called back and threatened us so we ended up having to call the police."

Smith says it's stressful trying to keep every customer they can, yet at the same time working with a smaller staff, staying safe and also seating fewer tables because of social distancing. 

He says many customers want to sit outside, but there are only a few tables available. He's hoping Royal Oak passes an ordinance to allow their outdoor dining area to expand into the parking spaces on Washington. 

"That will give us at least twice if not three times seating out there, which will be so much better for the customers," he said. "Really, everybody wants to sit outside and we had to make it first-come, first-serve."

Smith says patrons need to remember this isn't the same experience they had in February. 

"I think people think right now that everything is back to the way it was, we're not there yet," he said. "We have only 50% of our seating, we're having difficulties having staffing ... so we're working on these skeleton crews trying to give everybody a good experience but things are taking just a little longer. Everybody needs to understand it's clearly not what it was before yet. We're trying to give them that experience but things are taking a little longer."

More:Restaurants buoyed by support from customers during shutdown

Twitter: @melodybaetens