The four diners, three dressed in plaid, publicly complained on Monday that their check included two insulting comments at the bottom: "im a plad a------" and "i have a small penis." The diners apparently had some awkward, if not tense, moments with their server when one of the customers insisted that rice is served in individual bowls in China, not in the family-style bowl that Peter Chang uses for guests of three or more.
The manager on duty, Qian Cheng, told The Washington Post that he was debating whether to fire the two servers involved, but in the meantime, he had cut back their hours to non-weekend work. Predictably, the incident cranked up the Internet buzzsaw. Readers quickly picked sides: Many sang the praises of the servers for not kowtowing to the know-it-all diner. Others insisted that the servers should have been fired on the spot. Some saw both sides of the argument.
Chang and Lee clearly laid the blame on their staff, firing everyone involved in the "plad-gate" incident, including the chef's daughter. "Business is business," Lee responded via email when asked if Chang had really planned to fire his own daughter.
Over the phone, Lee said the Arlington restaurant was the only one that he didn't personally manage. He will now. The next general manager in Arlington will report to Lee. Chang's longtime business partner said he tried to warn the chef that hiring inexperienced managers would lead to trouble.
"He realizes it now," Lee says. "Unfortunately it's too late — but I hope not too late."
Peter Chang’s StatementI sincerely apologize to the guests who were offended on 05/07/2016 when they dined at my Arlington restaurant. I am deeply disturbed by the incident. I am sorry, my respected guests. I also apologize to all my friends who have had trust in Peter Chang. We made a mistake and let you down.We made a mistake and we must correct it. The following is what we are doing to correct and improve:Dear guests and friends, I found dignity in being a chef due to your support and encouragement. I need more of your help in supervising my employees, so my restaurants will be nicer places for you to enjoy fine food in the future, and I will have a stage to continue to present my culinary skills.Peter Chang