A waitress who was fired after being left to serve 70 diners with Christmas meals alone has been left “overwhelmed” with messages of support and job offers.
Zoe Curry was left in tears last week after managers fired her for “loss of earnings” after a hectic Saturday evening shift.
The 21-year-old said she was expected to look after around 70 customers on her own as a fellow waiter left her alone upstairs at the Wildwood restaurant at Newmarket, Cambs.
Some irate diners walked out without paying in protest at the long waits for their food although some later posted messages of support for the lone waitress.
Zoe’s mum who worked with her has quit in protest the waitress’s boyfriend Robbie Gove, 21, posted on Facebook encouraging people to boycott the restaurant.
The response was outstanding as hundreds of people flooded in with job offers and advice to help the young woman out.
Zoe said: “I’ve had so many people message me saying they had gone through similar things and telling me I’m going to find a new job.
“It has completely restored my faith in humanity, I can’t thank everyone enough.
“I’m an emotional mess at the moment.
“I’m kind of relieved I’ve given up hospitality but I feel really stressed because we have bills that need to be paid.”
The former waitress arrived at 5pm for the dinner service and was sent upstairs with another member of staff to look after several work Christmas party meals.
However, Zoe claims as the evening went on the other member of staff left her by herself to serve 70 customers.
She explained: “It was hectic, everyone came at the same time and the person who was supposed to be upstairs with me started coming upstairs to help and then slowly through the night just stopped and from there it deteriorated.
“The kitchen didn’t have the capacity for it all. They weren’t getting the food out in time, people were wanting their food and their drinks and asking for this and that.
“Everyone wanted something and it was only me there.
“One table walked out which personally I would never do but I can understand because they were waiting for ages for their food.”
Zoe’s mum, who also worked at the restaurant, saw Zoe upset and rushed to help her.
She continued: “My mum works there as well and I started crying because there was too much work for one person. I went downstairs and she saw me and said: ‘I’m coming upstairs’ even though she had her own section downstairs.
“It sounds ridiculous but someone asked me for ketchup and I realised there was no ketchup upstairs. I couldn’t find any anywhere and I broke down.”
Zoe, who had worked at the restaurant since August, evenually left work at 10.30pm- even though she was due to finish at 9pm.
At half midnight however, Zoe received a text from work telling her not to come to her Sunday shift the next day and that they “didn’t want a repeat of today”
She was also told to come in for a meeting with the assistant manager on Monday at 2pm.
Zoe said: “I actually took all the blame at first, I was blaming myself. I had to get a taxi to my parent’s house because I couldn’t stop crying.
“I was crying thinking: ‘What have I done?’ I was still upset on Sunday but when I woke up on Monday morning I thought I actually did my best and that’s all I can do.
“I took the hit when everyone in the restaurant was to blame. It shouldn’t have been just me the manager and the other waiter should have helped.
“At the meeting, the assistant manager avoided eye contact with me at first and then slid the letter across the table. He couldn’t even say at first that I was fired.
“I read it and said: ‘Sorry what, I’m actually fired?’
“I don’t think I’ve ever felt as angry as that in my life. I felt really let down, I thought we were all a family in there.
“I pulled him up on some of the stuff he hadn’t done that shift but he just avoided it and turned the blame back on me.
“I told my mum before the meeting that I had a feeling I was going to be fired and my mum said: ‘If you go, I go, it’s as simple as that.’
“I walked down the stairs after meeting and I was quite annoyed, quite insulted, quite angry and I saw my mum and I said: ‘Mum we’re going’.
“The funny thing is when my mum left she was on her break eating so when we were leaving she went out the back and got a takeaway box! She said: ‘Well we’re both unemployed now so and we’ve got to get food!’
“My boyfriend said I couldn’t be fired over something like this, but he apologised afterwards!”
Zoe was told she was fired due to loss of earnings and after looking into legal action she said she was told you only have a unfair dismissal case unless you’ve worked there for two years.
She added: “I was shocked. So if you’ve worked there one year and sic months you can’t be unfair;y dismissed because you haven’t worked there two years?”
Wildwood then got in touch with Zoe on December 11 and Zoe wrote a letter highlighting her concerns to head office.
Now looking ahead, Zoe said the amount of support she has had from the public has been amazing- even though she is now worrying about money.
Zoe continued: “Bills need to be paid and I don’t know how we’re going to pay them. I think we can just about afford our rent but I don’t know how I’m going to pay for my car.
“I can’t even ask my mum for help because she doesn’t have a job now.
“I felt completely overwhelmed by all the comments- in a good way. I had so many job offers- a lot of them hospitality which I politely declined.”
Customers at the restaurant rushed to Zoe’s defence on TripAdvisor, explaining their shock at the fact that Zoe had been left to manage the large number of tables.
One reviewer said: “The poor waitress was left upstairs on her own to look after 70 people, there was loads of staff downstairs that wouldn’t help her.”
They went on to say: “Our waitress was in tears as she was so stressed, all the other customers were awful to her, management didn’t seem to give a damn.
A spokesman for Wildwood told a local paper: “We take all matters such as these very seriously and it is always our top priority to ensure our teams remain stable and happy in their work and are supported in their duties.
“We are currently investigating this matter and will shortly be reaching out to the employee involved.”