Igor Bukharov: apartheid in the restaurant sector is not possible
The other day, there was information on newspaper pages and on the Internet that one of, let’s say, cultural figures, being in a Japanese restaurant in Moscow, demanded that the waiter with slanted eyes be replaced by a person of Slavic appearance. Apparently, he had no other complaints.
This incident became an occasion for a conversation with the famous restaurateur, head of the department of management in the hotel and restaurant business of Synergy University Igor Bukharov.
Igor Olegovich, have you been in the restaurant business for a long time, for what reasons can a visitor refuse the services of a waiter serving him?
There can be many reasons: the waiter is slow, does not pay attention to the guest, or is he simply untidy and causes some kind of internal rejection in the person. But the whole question is how you say this. You can just go to the head waiter and ask you to replace the waiter, or you can make a scandal.
In general, restaurateurs often face the manifestation of the so-called “consumer terrorism.” It is clear that any restaurant cares about its reputation, and any manager in the hall is responsible to the restaurant owner for a normal atmosphere. At the same time, there are some people who use this state of affairs and begin to escalate the situation. Believe me, this is not a problem today. There were similar cases in the Soviet period, when visitors specifically found fault with the waiters and provoked them in order to get some kind of preference.
But what can you say about the case that hit the pages of the media? It is unlikely that during the Soviet era it was possible to change the waiter due to an eye cut?
Yes, I believe that this is indeed a manifestation of racism and racial segregation. And the guest was wrong when asked to be served by a person of a different nationality. In general, it seems to many people that if the institution is open to all, then you can behave there as you like. But it is clear that the restaurant business belongs to the service sector, and in market conditions, every restaurateur will fight for his client.
Maybe this is another alarming signal, showing that Muscovites are becoming more and more tired of migrants?
Probably, to a certain extent, this is so. Of course, the residents of the capital are tired of guest workers, but they do not want to ask themselves the question why this happens. Rather, they do not want to answer it.
The feeling of fatigue, in my opinion, is explained not so much by racial prejudices, but by some kind of internal displeasure. Muscovites are used to living in a certain environment and have never before seen such a large number of people of a different appearance around them. I do not think that we have hatred for Tajiks or Uzbeks, as such. Say, a Muscovite, arriving in Tashkent, a priori understands that there will be mainly Uzbeks around him and takes this calmly.
But the fact that he sees Uzbeks around him in Moscow, although he does not frighten, he is very internally surprised. But I repeat once again, for the most part, Muscovites do not want to ask themselves why this happened, they don’t see the economics of the process, but only its result. By the way, our colleagues in the United States also complain that mainly Spaniards work in restaurants.
What do you think, can a waiter with whom he acted so tactlessly sue a restaurant client, because surely there were witnesses to this incident?
Theoretically, of course, it can. But I think that such precedents should not be expected today. In general, it seems to me that the whole story is somewhat hyped by the media. I understand that journalism is the same business, and the publisher’s task is to make his newspaper commercially successful. And he will do everything for this, sometimes inflating an elephant from a fly. By the way, negative and yellowness sometimes overwhelm, and I even caught myself thinking that I didn’t have enough simple news, for example, about the sowing progress.
Now we turn to the more general questions that relate to the restaurant business. The metropolitan department of trade and services has developed amendments to the decree on the placement of seasonal cafes. According to these changes, summer cafes can be opened on the roofs, porches, terraces and balconies, which are located in non-residential buildings.
The Federation of Restaurateurs and Hoteliers always welcomes steps aimed at lowering administrative barriers so that entrepreneurs can safely develop their business. As for the roofs of houses, the final decision, as far as I know, has not yet been made. It is clear that no one will do this on the roofs of apartment buildings. In many cases, cafes were opened even without the permission of the city hall. Now the Moscow government has simply assumed the function of regulating this process.
But for us, decisions that liberalize the procedure for opening summer cafes with stationary ones are more significant. What are the 1,500 summer cafes that opened last season? There are so many of them in the Berlin area alone. Muscovites also want to relax in the summer in the air, and not in stuffy rooms.