It looks like we’ve found 2022’s boss of the year. When the head chef of the restaurant Cora in Cardiff, Wales, discovered one of his employees had been mistreated by a group of rude and privileged diners, he acted quickly — and publicly.
Lee Skeet, who once worked for Gordon Ramsay, said front-of-house staffer Lily told him she had suffered a horrible experience serving a six-strong group of patrons. Although the diners had racked up the largest bill the establishment had ever seen — £1,000 or approximately $1,200 — Skeet would have none of it and reacted swiftly by offering the group a refund and warning never to return to his eatery.
He uploaded the ensuing email in a tweet on May 5, 2022, which read:
“Dear xxxxxxx, I wanted to firstly thank you for choosing my restaurant for your meal tonight, and I understand you had the biggest bill we’ve ever had on one table here. Unfortunately throughout the evening, I was made aware that your party’s behavior was inappropriate towards Lily, who runs front-of-house.”
He continued: “She has told me that as a 22-year-old-girl she was talked down to, disrespected, and touched unwantedly by members of your group.
“I have spent the last hour having conversations with her that break my heart, make me feel like a s**t employer, and a terrible dad, having my own daughter. Please provide your bank details and I will refund your entire bill of £1000 minus £100 that I believe you should have tipped lily, which I will pay directly to her, as you left no tip.
“I would thank you to never come back to my restaurant. Lily means a lot more to me than money. I also think you should assess the people you surround yourself with.”
Be sure to reach the end of this article to see the full video
The Twitterverse rallied around the chef, who wrote, “we should start calling out rich people who think they can treat people like crap.”
“Managers/Landlords (pub) like yourself are worth the weight in gold. Nothing means more, working food or bar service, than knowing you’re working for someone who has your back,” one tweet read.
“Well done, Lee. The people saying not to refund are missing the point: rich people like that think their ££ buys them the right to trample on others. Lee is saying no, some things are far more important than money and refusing to be bought,” another user commented.
However, a host of responses urged Skeet not to give the refund and direct the money somewhere more deserving.
Skeet told “Talk TV” host Trisha Goddard that “to have Lily, who I care about, (go through such an experience) on my watch, I was angry. I was just upset.” He also admitted he “reacted emotionally and said I’ll give their money back and I didn’t want them in the restaurant again, but then I calmed down a bit the next day and I gave that £1,000 to Lily instead.”
Meanwhile, a top law firm in Cardiff was under investigation over the incident after it surfaced that the nasty patrons were allegedly their senior lawyers.
As for Lily, Skeet had only praise for his treasured staff. He wrote in an Instagram post:
“This has all happened because of her class and integrity and I’m in awe of the young woman she is. Well done mate. You are literally an inspiration to so many people.”
Skeet continued in his post:
“It’s been hell for us both, but I couldn’t be more proud of how Lily has handled herself. She’s talked confidently and with class to countless journalists on TV and radio whilst not missing a minute of running the restaurant to the highest level. I’ve just hidden away and cooked.”
Meanwhile, Lily praised her boss in an interview with the BBC, where she said she was “proud” of him for “calling out rich people.” She said: “I have a lot of support. I’m lucky in the fact that my boss has backed me up,” before adding:
“I already respected him before but I respect him a lot more now that he’s not accepted that kind of behaviour that hospitality workers, speaking from experience, have always endured.
“It’s not acceptable and it’s about time that people like Lee have made a massive deal about it and not accepted it and not welcomed that behaviour again, stopping the chain of events.”
Lily had worked at the restaurant for six months when the incident happened and said it was a rare exception, as most people had been “so nice and warm.”
Skeet updated on Instagram: “After what happened other people have anonymously come forward from the company involved to tell their own stories of similar bad treatment, the director has stood down and the company is under an independent investigation.”
However, by July 2022, the restaurant owner spoke publicly about his disappointment with the investigation after neither he nor Lily was interviewed. Skeet told Wales Online:
“I think at the very least they should be making an apology. They should be firing the main person responsible. They should be publicly saying what they’ve done to make it right instead of hiding it and protecting this person.”
What a boss! What did you think of Lee Skeet’s actions? Have you ever had an employer that appreciated you this much? Let us know, and pass this on to all the good bosses you know.
Please scroll below for more stories