I have been in food professionally for 17 years and writing for this paper for 14 of them all things food through the lens of hospitality, the business of food and how to respectfully demand exceptional customer service. I am very proud to offer this perspective here for you and with my friends and family.

I recently had my commitment to demand customer service tested at a Saturday afternoon cooking class friends and I took to celebrate another friend’s birthday. From first arrival to the PN Wood Fired Pizza (2 W. 28th St.) for Italia Like Locals, run by Dan Hutchins and Andrea Belfiore, I knew it would not end well.

What resulted from my initial polite email, and the same from three of the five friends in attendance, to recount the owners’ errors and ask for a refund, was a form response that was an insult to in injury. As they did not see the errors of their ways, I decided to have a teachable moment and print my reply to that email here for all to see how NOT to treat paying customers.

Dan and Andrea,

Unacceptable. Your inexperience in event planning is blatantly obvious. This form response you sent to me, Jason and Jamie proves your shortsightedness, your lack of hospitality and your plain arrogance and ignorance.

How dare you try to take me to task on when I show up to an event I paid $100 IN ADVANCE. I was 15 minutes late for the class part for, what you call, a “Boozy Pizza/Pasta Making Brunch” that had barely begun and more than half of the guests were not engaged. I could show up an hour late and there STILL should be a space for me to get what I PAID FOR and what was promised.

You are missing the issue Dan so let me break it down and clarify it for you:

YOU DON’T falsely advertise your event—it was not a $100 experience nor was there a 25-person maximum. That was, at the most, a $40/pp event with a couple of drinks, slices of pizza and a small plate of ravioli.

YOU DON’T take money from people and fail to provide service.

YOU DON’T overbook your event to the detriment of paid guests, 25 turn 45 turn 60 guests?! That is blatant and unequivocal greed.

YOU DON’T include kids in a “boozy brunch” for adults (I am sure the City of New York would like to know about that.)

YOU DON’T disrespect the person who got you $500, Jamie, by not providing a space for her and her friends to celebrate her birthday and make sure they are taken care of.

YOU DON’T treat your customers like they do not matter and shoo them away when they ask you a question like you did to me twice.

YOU DON’T admonish (it means scold) your customers for being late EVER but especially when your event is poorly run.

YOU DON’T offer dissatisfied customers of your event a discount on a future event when YOU KNOW they are not coming back for more of the same.

YOU DON’T get to revise history by saying we would’ve had a different experience had we spent just $20 more for your “Private Class.” Andrea, you suggested Jamie invite her friends to take this class instead of taking her out to dinner for her birthday. You should have offered a private class instead at the same price. This is called FALSE ADVERTISING. Shame on you.

YOU DON’T seem to follow up with your promise to send the recipes either.

And YOU DON’T cut and paste the same email to people who have written you individually, that is unless there are too many disappointed customers to write to each person. Your lack of integrity is evident.

Lastly, we all get one shot at making a first impression and often times we do not know to whom we are making that impression, who they know and how that impression will effect future opportunities for us. Your event was my first impression of you, which you know was not good, and you have squandered your second with this out of touch reply.

Be clear, I WILL be requesting my $100 back on Venmo. I suggest you do the right thing and return money to the three of the five of Jamie’s friends (me, Jason and Krista) who expressed their dissatisfaction. At less than 7 percent of your gross profits, it seems like an inexpensive way to make amends to Jamie for putting a damper on her birthday.

Andrea, che ti serva da ammonimento. Non è così che fai affari a New York. (Andrea, let this serve as a warning. This is not how business is done in New York.)


Their response was a $10 refund. No, I am not the one and you should not be either. Politely demand exceptional customer service. That is all.

Happy eating and thanks for reading!

Kysha Harris is a food writer and editor, culinary producer, consultant and owner of SCHOP!, a personalized food service in NYC for over 15 years. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram, @SCHOPgirl, on Facebook, /SCHOPnyc, and her blog, www.talkingSCHOP.wordpress.com. Questions? Comments? Requests? Feedback? Invitations! Email AmNewsFOOD at AmNewsFOOD@SCHOPnyc.com. Follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @NYAmNewsFOOD and tag us with #SoAmNewsFOOD with your food finds!