'Excessive abuse': Cafe staff in tears after vicious abuse from customer

Nadine Carroll
·2-min read

A Melbourne cafe has been forced to shut its doors after receiving abuse from a customer that left a staff member and the owner in tears.

Bob’s Your Uncle Cafe in Doncaster East have only just recently reopened after the easing of lockdown measures in Melbourne but the cafe closed its doors early on Thursday to protect the mental health of staff.

“Dear customers, Due to excessive abuse from a customer today we have made the decision to CLOSE to support the mental health of our team and owner. Sorry for the inconvenience this may cause you, Regards, Lisa,” a note blue tacked to the front door read.

Owner Lisa Bilston followed up on social media explaining in depth that staff had been on the receiving end of abuse from customers regularly since reopening and enforcing Covid safe measures.

Bob's Your Uncle Cafe informed customers they had to close for the day after receiving customer abuse.
Bob’s Your Uncle Cafe in Melbourne only recently reopened after the easing of lockdown measures in Victoria but the cafe closed its doors early on Thursday to protect the mental health of staff. Source: Bob's Your Uncle Cafe

“We have encountered this type of abuse every day since reopening over minor things like our rice being white and not butterfly pea colour due to us not being able to get the ingredient and other examples like abuse with regards to our policy’s in place to protect you and our team through this pandemic,” the post on Facebook read.

“Today’s situation broke us and we are needing today to reflect and rebuild.”

Speaking to 3AW Ms Bilston said the customer in question had become “aggressive” when he was informed a dish was unavailable due to Covid-19 shortages.

“We thought he was actually going to hit us,” she told 3AW.

With 39 years of experience in the hospitality industry Ms Bilston said abuse from customers happens more often and is becoming “much worse”.

“It will happen again,” she said.

Bob’s Your Uncle Cafe was flooded with support from regulars and new customers on social media, and in response the cafe uploaded a message of gratitude on their webpage.

“Thank you for the love, support and compassion we have received.

“We are open for business and here to support you with great food and amazing coffee.”

Feeling worried or struggling to cope during the Coronavirus pandemic? Visit coronavirus.beyondblue.org.au or speak with trained counsellors on 1800 512 348.

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