Who Should Pay If A Bird Poops In Your Food?

This isn’t the most seasonally appropriate question to ask, at least here in the Northeastern U.S. And in the Northern Hemisphere. Perhaps it’s important (yet disgusting) enough that we can argue about it until springtime.

Simply put: if a bird relieves itself in your food while you’re dining outside, should the restaurant comp your meal?

Here’s reader Jupiterdog’s original query on the subject.

So, when eating at an outdoor cafe, who is responsible for the cost of a new entree if a bird poops on your meal?

I know there is a legal concept called “assumption of the risk,” but who, legally, is assuming the risk that a meal will be spoiled by bird crap? The restaurant, who knows there is a chance a customer’s meal will be spoiled by bird droppings, or the customer, who also knows the risks? The restaurant is more capable of mitigating the risk with fake owls or strategically placed umbrellas, but the customer can also mitigate the risk by dining indoors, or elsewhere altogether.

Consumerists?

Comments

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  1. pop top says:

    I think it would be awesome of the restaurant to comp your meal or provide you a new meal and only charge you for one, but you did choose to sit outside so the blame is on you.

    • bluline says:

      Agree. The restaurant would build tremendous good will by replacing the meal, but they are under no obligation to do so.

      • Yacko says:

        If it on the premises of the restaurant, outdoors or not, I expect them to make good.

        • pop top says:

          So if anything happens to you on a restaurant’s premises, they are responsible for it 100%?

        • menty666 says:

          If i were inside the restaurant, I’d expect it to be pest free, weather that be swallows or roaches. If they’re going to set up an outdoor serving area (that’s like a patio, not take your sandwich and sit on the bench outside) then they’re taking that as an extension of their serving floor and have a responsibility to provide a similarly pest free environment.

        • maruawe says:

          Why do they have to make good for your choice. It is not the fault of the restaurant.

          • little stripes says:

            And the restaurant made the choice to allow outside dining, where birds exists. It was the restaurants initial choice to allow outside dining. It is their responsibility.

      • Jawaka says:

        Its not good will if the customer expects it.

    • jsl4980 says:

      If the restaurant wants to stay in business they need to make sure birds aren’t pooing in the food. If eating at that restaurant presents that much of a risk then smart customers will shop elsewhere. It’s in the restaurants best interest to keep customers happy and coming back, and to keep birds away.

      • pop top says:

        But accidents may still happen, and the restaurant can’t control nature.

        • FyreGoddess says:

          They can put up an awning.

        • ovalseven says:

          Sure, but how often does it happen? I’d comp an occasional meal rather than lose customers.

          • extrudedcow says:

            Not very often, in the case of my family’s place. ~35 outdoor seats that are filled every sunny day during the summer, all underneath a tree, and we usually only comp a few meals over the course of the summer. Typically we just replace the food. We try to avoid simply making things free, as it encourages scammers.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        But that’s the nature of eating outdoors. Unless you’re outdoors and in an enclosed space, like a sunroom, where there is an expectation that wildlife is kept out, you’re going to encounter wildlife. One time, we were having lunch indoors and the restaurant opened the doors to the terrace. A few birds came in and started flying around. If a bird had pooped in my food, then I would have expected the restaurant to comp the meal or replace it, because there’s a reasonable expectation that birds are not supposed to be inside the restaurant.

      • duffman13 says:

        If you go to an airfield, especially a military one, they have people with loud noisemakers, sirens, and firearms to shoo birds away from the field and prevent birdstrikes.

        Are you advocating for this sort of function at restaurants with outdoor seating?

        It just might work

        /snark

    • JennQPublic says:

      They may not have a legal obligation, but to not offer a replacement on the house would be incredibly poor customer service. And next to the food, service is the most important part of a dining experience, so neglecting to provide the best possible service is akin to restaurant suicide.

      They are not obligated to replace it, but I am not obligated to ever eat there again, nor am I obligated to give them good word-of-mouth. If they didn’t replace it, I would tell my friends about my experience, and there’s a good chance none of us would choose to eat somewhere that showed so little regard for their customers.

    • Jerem43 says:

      The problem here is the wording of the question. In industry terms, comping a meal is giving it to you for free. The proper question is should the restaurant give you a replacement for the meal for free?

      As a restaurant manager (Burger King), I would gladly replace the meal for free.

  2. Rebecca K-S says:

    It’s not that the restaurant has a real serious obligation to replace the food. I just believe it would be an extremely poor business choice to do anything else.

    I’ll just get this out of the way: shit happens.

  3. fruvous says:

    I think the bird should pay for the meal.

  4. The Porkchop Express says:

    I had to say eat the bird. I can’t help it, like a toon can’t not pull a rope that says do not pull or not finish “shave and a haircut, two bits”

    But really I think most place would help you out one way or another if a bird craps in your food while you are at one of the tables/seats provided by the establishment. If you’re at a food cart and you go sit on a public bench, it is your problem

  5. Thyme for an edit button says:

    The law would depend on the state. I doubt there has been much litigation on this issue, however.

  6. consumeristjohnny says:

    Sue the bird. otherwise it is the same as if it rained outside and got your hair wet, or if a gust of wind blew your food away. It is the customers responsibility.

  7. Costner says:

    Should the restaurant pay? Sure – but only because it is in the best interests of customer service and because their costs of providing a new meal are obviously less than losing the business of an upset customer (or other customers who witness the event).

    Is the restaurant obligated to do so? No, but a business who shuns their customers most likely won’t be around for long. A business owner or manager would be a fool to deny the customer a replacement meal.

  8. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    If roof debris, say dust or something, fell on your dinner indoors, the restaurant would replace the meal. If part of the decor fell on your meal, they would replace it.

    Birds are part of the decor in this case.

    • The Porkchop Express says:

      not really the same thing at all from a liability/legal stand point. You go into an establishment diner/strip club/morgue and reasonably expect that the ceiling won’t fall on you or that the moose head on the wall is attached properly. You go outside…anything can (and probably will) happen. A business can not control what happens outside as far as nature is concerned.

      • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

        Actually, they can: think of the difference between outside dining among statues and birdhouses vs. tables with umbrellas and a bird-proof canopy. But if we make the (big) assumption that there were no circumstances within the restaurant’s control that would encourage or discourage birds from hanging around, then I agree it’s more an act of nature beyond the restaurant’s control.

        • The Porkchop Express says:

          You can only birdproof so much in some areas. Umbrellas are a good idea and would work most of the time, but sometimes the patrons can close or move the umbrellas. As far as putting some netting, fake snakes, fake owls, or what ever to keep birds away, what about birds flying way overhead?

          I don’t know that there is a way for any outside dining area (without an actual roof and screening around it, but is that really outside) can be even 90% bird free.

      • Greg Ohio says:

        “diner/strip club/morgue”

        Writing your own version of “The Hangover?”

      • jeadly says:

        Anything can happen when two people share a cell, cuz.

  9. rpm773 says:

    Simple solution: Everyone who dines outside puts a dollar into the pot. When a a bird shits on some unlucky person or his food, he gets all the money in the pot. Repeat.

    If the person wants, he/she can use the money to buy another meal. Or go to a strip club.

    • PSUSkier says:

      Sir, I like the way you think.

    • Cicadymn says:

      That’s actually pretty funny. With the number of people eating at a place, and the rarity of birds shitting in your soup, something like that could end up being worth a lot. Maybe make it a dollar per table surcharge. Tell every table the story.

      It would likely get so large that it would encourage people to come and eat there, just for a chance that a bird might shit in their food, and they win the bird shit jackpot.

      It’s like the lottery, but even if you lose, you still get a nice meal.

    • BrightShopperGettingBrighter says:

      I love this idea… marketing genuis.

  10. Dallas_shopper says:

    If I choose to dine outdoors where birdies live, I assume the risk of a bird pooping in my food. It’s never happened before, but there’s a first time for everything I guess.

  11. FilthyHarry says:

    I’m not sure, I can see both sides but I voted the restaurant should pay because generally in any conflict between individuals and companies, I side with the individual.

  12. SabrToothSqrl says:

    It would be nice if the restaurant provided another meal, or a discounted replacement, but they should not be obligated to.

    • dangermike says:

      That was my initial reaction, as well, but then as I thought about it, if it was while eating at tables provided by the restaurant, there should probably be some protection from pests as part of general sanitary practice. Birds can be much harder to control than ground-faring pests but generally, a proper shading structure could go a long a way to prevent the situation, and the price of replacement food is small compared to the loyalty that could rise from good customer service (which is to say, even if it’s not necessary academically, by any practical measure, it is good business)

  13. shepd says:

    Yes, it is the restaurant’s responsibility to provide an environment conducive to health and safety. If outdoor dining is provided by the restaurant, a roof/umbrella should be used.

    Of course, if you buy take out, then it’s your own problem. :)

  14. DJ Charlie says:

    Interesting question. Personally, I think it should come down to whether or not the restaurant owns the place you were sitting when the incident occurred.

    Example:

    Sitting on the restaurant’s patio, and a bird craps in your food: Restaurant is responsible.
    Sitting on the public sidewalk on a bench or at a cafe table (supplied by the restaurant): You’re responsible.

    Myself, I’m not a fan of eating outside at any time.

    • RandomHookup says:

      Not sure I see the difference between the restaurant’s patio and a table provided by the restaurant on the sidewalk. Both are the restaurant’s serving area. What’s your rationale on how they are different?

      • DJ Charlie says:

        The sidewalk is usually not an actual part of the restaurant’s property. Equate that with buying a hot dog from a food truck. Are they responsible if you walk 2 blocks down from where they parked, and then a bird ruins your food?

        • RandomHookup says:

          True, but the table is… They provide it and they (probably) provide service to it. The restaurant may actually own that property anyway, but have the obligation to provide a public easement (which is then partially suspended when the city gives the restaurant the right to put out tables).

          • pecan 3.14159265 says:

            Yeah, and the restaurant owns the tables and chairs you’re using and provides service to that area. It’s an extension of the restaurant itself. Most restaurants lease the space they use, anyway, so it means that wherever the restaurant services, that’s an extension of the main restaurant space.

        • ajaxd says:

          It may depend on the locale but where I live sidewalk is part of property of the building next to it. It’s just a way of the city to make home and business owners responsible for sidewalk maintenance.

    • Don't Bother says:

      I would add, if you’re eating food from a vendor and sitting on a bench, you just have to get another hotdog.

    • consumeristjohnny says:

      So should a car wash have to pay for a new car wash if a bird poops on your car after you already had your car washed? How about if it rains right after you get your car washed. Are they responsible for your decision to wash your car while it might rain?

      • George4478 says:

        My local car wash offers a 96-hour guarantee and will redo the exterior wash (no re-vacuuming the carpets, etc) if rain/bird poop/etc happens.

  15. zigziggityzoo says:

    If it’s a restaurant where the waiter serves you food at the table, even when dining outside, I think it falls more on the restaurant’s shoulders to fend off wildlife, or face the consequences.

    If it’s a cafe and you order at a counter, and take your food to a table of your own choosing, then the responsibility falls on you.

  16. chizu says:

    Fake owls? Those things don’t work. Birds will learn very quickly that they are fake — what you want is real falcons, that would get rid of rodents and small birds. Unfortunately, someone will complain about how their chihuahua is mistaken as a rat by the falcon eventually. (See Bryant Park.)

    When you are outside, you run into the risk of having birds poop on you no matter where you are at. If the birds are constantly congregating around where food is — it’s because they learned that they can get food from patrons. Blame your fellow diners for feeding these birds human food.

  17. Dr. Ned - This underwear is Sofa King Comfortable! says:

    Whenever I eat outside I mount a tripod with a small flak cannon. This takes care of any birds, bugs or other people spoiling my meal as I become one with the fresh air. The blood takes a while to clean up, but at least I don’t require ketchup (catsup)?

    Who can help me with my ketchup/catsup problem?

    • raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

      Either spelling is considered fine by most Americans, though in my experience, I see “ketchup” more often. It’s most probably a regional thing, like “soda” vs “cola.”

      • Don't Bother says:

        Don’t forget us Midwesterners will cut a man for usin’ anythin’ but “pop” when referrin’ to that confectionary-type drink.

        • maubs says:

          That would be Soda in Illinois. You must be from Wisconsin.

        • Greg Ohio says:

          Not all the Midwest. I hail from Cleveland. I went to school in Philly, where it’s “soda.” I was driving home for Thanksgiving during my first semester, and stopped at a fast food joint near State College. Knowing that they call it “pop” in Pittsburgh, I try to order one there. They look at me like I’m speaking Urdu.

          • Don't Bother says:

            True, true.

            I also forgot to mention that we in my neck of the woods also will refer to anything as “coke.”

        • cash_da_pibble says:

          They also call it Pop in Washington State.
          At least, eastern Washington. I have noted they do many MidWestern things on that side of the Cascades.

        • cash_da_pibble says:

          They also call it Pop in Washington State.
          At least, eastern Washington. I have noted they do many MidWestern things on that side of the Cascades.

    • McRib wants to know if you've been saved by the Holy Clown says:

      I prefer to bring my own trained falcon. My falcon keep the birds away, and any bird foolish enough to come near is caught by my falcon.

      I then send the newly procured fowl back to the kitchen and have them prepare the avian to my specifications.

      The only issue is when my falcon craps in someone else’s meal. If they complain however, I just sic the falcon on their face.

  18. AustinTXProgrammer says:

    I chose the eat the bird option because the poll was too binary. The restaurant should absolutely replace the dish, but comp? No. The restaurant is in a better position to mitigate the risks, and replacing the dish doesn’t cost as much as the retail price.

  19. ElleAnn says:

    It’s obviously good customer service for the restaurant to replace the meal, but it usually wouldn’t be an obligation of the business. I can think of circumstances in which is would be an obligation. Let’s say that a cafe which sells popcorn and then looks the other way when customers feed it to the birds every day… In that case the cafe would be responsible for creating a situation where there are a lot more birds around to poop in people’s food and they should comp the customer every time.

  20. LadyTL says:

    I would say that in the case of food picked up at a counter to go, it is your own risk. If it is delivered by a waiter, the restaurant is free not to replace the food and you are free to not pay for a meal you couldn’t eat. It is better though for the restaurant to replace the food so they can then be paid for the meal.

  21. Power Imbalance says:

    Just eat around it…

  22. dolemite says:

    I say the diner. You dine outdoors: your food might get blown off the table, it might rain on you, a bug might fly into your drink, a bird might poop in your food. You knew the risks.

  23. The_IT_Crone says:

    The way I see it: if the food has made it to you intact, you are responsible or it from there on. However it would be NICE if the place replaced their meal, but I would not expect it.

  24. Jacquilynne says:

    I think the restaurant should replace the food, but not comp the meal.

  25. Dallas_shopper says:

    Another question about who pays when stuff goes wrong at a restaurant.

    I once ate on the patio at a TGI Friday’s…this was about 3-4 years ago…and they didn’t tell me that they cleaned their patio furniture with bleach. I found that out the hard way when I got up from my table after the meal and found that my new khakis were ruined from the bleach the employees used to clean the furniture.

    I griped to the manager about my clothing being ruined, he didn’t care, and I didn’t really press the issue because I wasn’t in the mood to make a scene. But I was pissed. And I haven’t eaten at a TGI Friday’s since because of it.

    Personally, I think the restaurant should have reimbursed me the cost of my clothes. Honestly, who cleans patio furniture with bleach then seats people out there while the bleach is still wet? I feel it’s 100% the restaurant’s fault.

    • Corinthos says:

      Pretty sure if you took that to small claims you would have won. I’m too lazy to go through that process and probably would have just never returned to a tgifridays also. I Might have went up the chain to a district manager or contacted corporate about it at least once.

      • Dallas_shopper says:

        The cost of the pants was less than the filing fee for small claims, but I should have pressed the issue at the time. I didn’t. But if it ever happens again anywhere, I’ll definitely kick up a fuss.

    • The Porkchop Express says:

      They should have paid for your clothes, that is clearly not something you do prior to seating people in the chairs.

      You bleach those bastards at night, rinse them well, and let them dry out until you oepn the next day.

      That is something that nobody but the TGIFridays had control over. They couild have picked a better time, they could have closed off that table, they could have warned you, they…you know the list goes on and on.

  26. RandomHookup says:

    Is this a law school examination question? I would love to hear some of the legal discussion on this issue. I would assume there are few direct laws that cover the situation, so it would mostly be an extrapolation of current legal liabilities and civil remedies.

    Me? IANAL, but I would assume that any restaurant that seats you outside (voluntarily or not) and serves you, would be assuming the liability of food damaged by wildlife or the elements. They are providing food for a fee and there is an obligation that such food be edible and safe. Much as a restaurant might be liable for the actions of other patrons who damage your meal, the restaurant would be responsible if your table were blown over by a big wind.

    Ultimately, as the consumer, you can elect to not pay for your meal if it is rendered inedible or you can dispute a charge on your credit card if forced to pay. If I ran the place, I don’t think I’d want to face the wrath of customers if I told someone they were SOL because of pigeon poop. Yelp can wield a heavy hand if you piss someone off.

    • consumeristjohnny says:

      The restaurant would not be responsible of another patron did something to your food. That patron would be.The legal question would be legal control over the situation. Would a REASONABLE person electing to sit outside know there is a risk of a bird pooping on their food? It is cut and dry that you have assumed a level of risk when eating outside. Make the situation a little less offensive. A fly lands in your food at an outdoor cafe. Should the restaurant replace your meal? If you are too stupid to know that flies live outside and may poop on your food, you might need to have hour care.

      • RandomHookup says:

        I’m being serious here…are you coming at this from a legal perspective or just based on your experience/perceptions? There’s nothing wrong with that, but I am truly interested in what the legal theories in play here are. It’s like “lost”, “mislaid” and “abandoned” property — not always exactly what people assume they are.

  27. Jedana says:

    As a former restaurant manager, I would definitely comp their food, or replace it at no charge.

    Now, if you are feeding the birds, and it happens again, I might just shrug my shoulders and tell you to not feed the birds next time…

  28. CompyPaq says:

    I work in food service. If a customer drops their food, we replace it. More so if the circumstances in which the customer loses their food are beyond their control.

  29. Corinthos says:

    Depends if its a dining area with a waiter or just a fast food type place where I get my stuff at the counter. If I get my own food and then choose to sit in their dining area then I would probably just take my loses. Now if I have a waiter and the bird shit in my food I would expect the waiter to take care of it and to replace it. If they didn’t it wouldn’t be any place I would return to and it would affect the tip.
    I wouldn’t want the my meal comped though unless I didn’t have time to wait on a new meal to be prepared.

  30. SaltWater says:

    It would depend on the type of eatery.
    If it’s a full service restaurant then it would be reasonable to ask them to replace, not refund your plate should some mishap occur.
    If it’s a to-go type of self service restaurant once you have bought the food you assume the risk should you drop it some other type of accident take place.
    That’s my take.

  31. Akuma Matata says:

    Is the restaurant owner obligated to pay? Absent any laws, I’d say no. Should the restaurant owner pay? It would certainly be a nice gesture.

  32. RandomHookup says:

    I think “comp your meal” is a misleading point. Better would be “replace any spoiled food”.

    I believe the restaurant has that obligation, but no requirement to comp all your meal (and I think that leads to disagreements that aren’t really there).

  33. outsmartbullet says:

    Unquestionably, the restaurant should pay. This is because you are paying for the meal experience, not the food itself. The meal experience was soiled. It’s up to them to make you whole and repair the situation.

    If the power went out, would they ask you to pay your bill before you left? Of course not.

    • dolemite says:

      That’s indoors. If you decide to eat outdoors on a cloudy day, and it downpours on you, they should comp you?

    • consumeristjohnny says:

      Your experience is not the restaurants responsibility. They provide the meal. Based on your logic if your partner dumps you during your meal, you should not have to pay since you were paying for a good experience not getting dumped. How about if the person you are dining with sneezes. Should the restaurant be responsible? OR, you eat outside on a hot day and your ice cream is not as firm as you want it. Unless the restaurant has control of the birds (caged them in), it is in no way their legal liability.

  34. Nobody can say "Teehee" with a straight face says:

    If there are no umbrellas, then the restaurant should give a new entree. If there are umbrellas, then I feel they did what was necessary to try to prevent the occurrence, and they have no obligation (But they still should if they want people to come there to eat outside).

  35. SpiffWilkie says:

    Eat most of the food, then pull out your trained pooping bird and have it drop one on your plate. Get more food.

  36. SporadicBlah says:

    I didn’t get a refund on my concert ticket when a bird pooped in Cindi Laupers mouth while she was singing.

  37. AldisCabango says:

    There was a time that there problem was so bad on the Riverwalk here in san antonio that a local restaraunt gave hats with targets. Depending where the poop hit the target you got a free meal or a discount.

  38. balthisar says:

    No, your meal shouldn’t be comped; it should be replaced. Why no poll option for the most obvious solution?

  39. SporadicBlah says:

    I used to frequent an outdoor only Chick-fil-a. One evening I found a deep fried moth in my waffle fries. Science tells me it would be perfectly harmless. My stomach told me otherwise. I politely returned the food to the counter, got free replacement and coupons for the next visit. Kindness gets you everywhere.

  40. maruawe says:

    1 the choice to eat outside is the decision of the diner.
    2 the restaurant gives you a choice.
    3 the restaurant should not have to pay for your bad choice.
    4 take responsibility for your own actions

    • ovalseven says:

      3. If you let your customers know that eating there was a bad choice, don’t expect them to ever return. Also expect that they will tell their friends, maybe even on Facebook.

      Is that worth the cost of a menu item?

  41. milk says:

    It doesn’t even require sitting outside. Once I was eating at tables inside a Whole Foods where birds like to make their home. Thankfully it didn’t land on my food, but it did land square on my hand. I’ve been in a number of stores (Whole Foods, other grocery stores, Wal Mart, Home Depot) with extremely high ceilings where a few birds are always present. Should it be the store’s responsibility at that point, if the animals are inside the building?

  42. BeerFox says:

    Should the restaurant be obligated to pay? No. It’s their choice.
    Should the restaurant pay? Absolutely; the same as if another patron accidentally knocked your food off the table in passing. Not the restaurant’s fault, but the goodwill-vs-potential-bad should more than offset the cost of re-doing the meal.

    Not just the customer impacted, either. What would you think as a customer if you were eating one table over from someone who just had their food crapped on, followed by the waiter going, “Your bill, sir; no extra charge for the bird doot.”

    • RandomHookup says:

      Sorta like the restaurant manager who came up to me at lunch and said “I understand there was a hair in your food…” Me: “Ummmm, no.” Awkward…

  43. Cat says:

    Similar situation:

    A lakeside restaurant, with limited indoor seating. Family ordered food and went outside to eat on the deck. The seagulls – aggressive little flying rats that they are – attacked the kids food, took it all, leaving hungry, terrified kids. Manager replaced their food, no questions.

    If the restaurant provides the outdoor seating, yes, they should comp the meal.

  44. Keirmeister says:

    Is this really a question? If I were a restaurant owner, I would simply replace the meal. It doesn’t cost me much, and the goodwill means a returning customer (versus the alternative – an angry customer and bad publicity). Considering the risk of it happening in the first place is small, I don’t understand why there is any controversy here.

  45. TheCorporateGeek Says Common Sense Is The Key says:

    Shouldn’t eat outside in an area where birds gather..

  46. Guppy06 says:

    Replace “bird” with “rat” and the answer is blindingly obvious. The restaurant failed at pest control.

  47. kittiefuk says:

    The restaurant should remake your food for you, but you should not get the meal free.

  48. simonvii says:

    It seems like the restaurants’ responsibility to protect their diners from this eventuality. If a bird pooped in my food inside the restaurant they’d have to pay for it, so they should outside as well. As long as it’s on their property.

  49. psommers29 says:

    “Act of God”

  50. toodarnloud says:

    This reminds me of a joke my mom tells…
    Do you know what the white stuff in bird poop is?

  51. MrMagoo is usually sarcastic says:

    It happens rarely enough that the restaurant might as well pay, just to leave the customer with a favorable impression of the place.

    If it doesn’t happen rarely, then the restaurant needs to get rid of the birds or get a patio cover.

  52. watchwhathappens says:

    It would be pretty poor business practice for the restaurant not to replace the meal. If they offer tables outdoors, those tables are under their restaurant’s auspices. And can you imagine a scenario where a server comes to the table and someone says, “hey a bird pooped in my food” and the server responds, “oh that’s too bad. let me take that plate” and leaves it at that? and leaves the person to sit there while his/her companions continue eating? they’re certainly going to lose customers for life, so only a bad businessperson would choose that option rather than replacing the meal.

  53. RayanneGraff says:

    If the restaurant provides outdoor dining areas, they should probably replace the meal if birds crap in it.

  54. emax4 says:

    When you eat outside, you take that risk of any natural occurrences happening, one of which is a bird pooping in your meal. You don’t want to take that chance? Then eat inside! Problem solved.

    • RandomHookup says:

      How about:

      If you offer outside dining service, you have to accept that occasionally meals will be ruined by acts of nature that you have no control offer. If you don’t want that to happen, don’t offer outdoor dining.

  55. Total Casual says:

    Can restaurants get bird-pooping-in-food insurance? Then the restaurant can pay for the occasional bird-pooping. That seems like the best solution to me!

  56. MerlynNY says:

    While I don’t think the establishment is responsible if a bird “drops the kids off at the pool” in your meal, I think it would be in their best interests to do so if they like return customers.

  57. Scuba Steve says:

    Here’s the deal. The restaurant did in no way cause your meal to be defiled. It was a wild animal. It is the same situation if some stranger came up and spit in it.

    I say that not to side with the restaurant, but to explain that they are under no serious legal or moral obligation to replace your food. Which makes this next part all the more important.

    It would be very nice of them to replace an item that has been “fowled” in such a way, as a commitment to providing quality service. I would not tip someone who did not at least offer to do such a thing. In fact, I would mention the price of a second helping and state “boy, that would have been a nice tip, too bad” In fact, If the employee didn’t have the ability to comp such a thing, I’d ask for a manager. Someone who has more invested in your dining experience than the person who obviously absolved himself/herself of responsibiility.

    So in conclusion, the restaurant doesn’t owe you food, but they are expected to provide you with a satisfactory dining experience. So like a refund without a reciept, ask, but certainly don’t be a dick about it.

    • RandomHookup says:

      Are you sure there aren’t legal requirements? I try not to make pronouncements about absolutes if I don’t know. If I’m eating at an outdoor restaurant with table service and my food becomes inedible because of an act of nature or an act of another diner, I would expect my food to be replaced or to be made whole in some other way. I don’t know the specific legal theories in play here, but my contract for an edible meal may not be fulfilled.

      Ethical? Seems to be to be a big ethical obligation for the restaurant to make good. I would feel pretty bad if my diner had his meal ruined because of an outside force, especially if I had a way to fix the problem. It would seem unethical to just let the diner suffer.

  58. little stripes says:

    Doesn’t Disney land replace churros and whatnot that are stolen from birds, because it happens so foten?

    Honestly, the restaurant should just give them a new meal. Should they be required to? Maybe not, but it is in their best interest. If I went to a restaurant and a bird pooped in my food, but they didn’t replace the food, I wouldn’t be back, because it shows that they don’t care about keeping customers. So why should I go back?

  59. Beefsteak says:

    There is usually a 50% mark-up on meals anyway. So the restaurant doesn’t make any money on the meal. But you keep the customer happy, and likely to come back if it is handled the proper way. Most restaurants I have worked for would see no problem with taking the shitty meal off the receipt. Just tip like it was there people.

  60. Dave B. says:

    Unless the bird is under the employ of said restaurant, I don’t believe it’s their problem.

  61. duncanblackthorne says:

    They should replace your food for free. The cleanliness of the restaurant isn’t the diner’s responsibility, and if the restaurant can’t provide a bird-free environment, then perhaps they shouldn’t have outdoor dining at all.

  62. balderdashed says:

    It might be nice for the restaurant to comp your meal, but no way is it the restaurant’s responsibility. A bird pooping on your salad, a fly landing on your hamburger, a strong wind knocking over your glass of wine, noxious gas fumes from passing cars, or a stray dog performing the biological activity of its choice are all risks an individual chooses to take when he or she dines outside. As one might guess, I’m no fan of outdoor dining, or even of restaurants that leave their doors and/or windows open for the sake of “fresh” air. I was eating in such a place in SanFrancisco last week, and a bird flew right in the front door and begin tiptoeing on various tabletops — I didn’t hang around long enough to see if the bird would relieve itself. If it happens indoors, I’d say the restaurant could be to blame: one might have an expectation that a restaurant would take reasonable steps to provide an environment free from the irritants I’ve mentioned. But outside, you take your chances.

  63. snarkysniff says:

    I live in California there are MANY businesses here with outdoor patios. Actually there are some that have an extremely small indoor seating area but make the outdoor seating area just as nice. I usually prefer to eat outdoors but strangely enough Ive never seen a bird problem at any of these places.

    I would say if they provide service to you outdoors then yes they should replace your food if it gets poo’d on.

  64. framitz says:

    Restaurant isn’t at fault or liable, but should compensate for the loss for good customer relations.

    Like when I was a kid and my ice cream cone was dropped upon purchase, it was replaced for free and I am loyal to that store to this day.

  65. GarretN says:

    I think it would be a nice gesture for the restaurant to replace the food. Unless an employee held the bird over your food or something of that nature, learn some humility. In this situation, one could ask, but not expect, it be replaced. Definitely not comped.

  66. Cyfun says:

    Does the restaurant want you to eat food with bird shit in it? If they did, then that would warranty a call to the local health inspector.

    If something happens to your food through no fault of your own while eating on restaurant property at a restaurant table, they’re rather responsible for the food and the atmosphere. Perhaps not legally, but they do have a reasonable obligation if they want to keep their customers happy.

    I ate at a grill a few summers ago, had to sit outside cause they were full inside. Noticed a few yellowjackets flying around, mentioned to the waitress that they should put out some of those wasp catchers. She brought our drinks, and a damn yellowjacket promptly landed in my beer. She just laughed, and said that she’d bring me another one in a soda cup with a lid. Suffice to say, she got a 25% tip.

  67. AngryK9 says:

    As far as I am concerned, the restaurant did not choose to sit outside. Seriously, its your risk. Don’t want a bird crapping in your food? Don’t sit outside.

  68. iconicflux says:

    This is really a health and safety matter. The restaurant should have had taken steps to prevent the birds from leaving their droppings. Since they obviously didn’t, they should pay for it.

  69. xalndrms says:

    I had another diner spit in my food as she was walking out of the restaurant. One of the workers there saw and immediately came over, took everything away, cleaned my table and brought me the same meal. I don’t think they had to, but it was nice.

  70. ARVash says:

    I don’t think it’s the resturants obligation, but if I were a resturant owner I would replace their food, and maybe hint that they might want to sit inside this time.

  71. Razor512 says:

    Did the restaurant place tables and chairs outside for people to eat?

    Then they are responsible for the bird poop.

  72. Lefty McRighty says:

    There’s so much gray area here… if you got through most of the meal, it shouldn’t be comped. If it just arrived and you only had two bites, it’d be nice if it were comped but shouldn’t be required. The decision should be up to the manager on duty and how nice they feel like being to a particular customer.

    My local bar used to give you another beer if a bird pooped in your first one. They’re since changed their policy, but they also cut down all the tree brances hanging over the patio.

  73. PupJet says:

    Why should the restaurant be forced to comp your meal? You OPT’D to eat outside and knew the risks associated with such.

    If you think that your meal should be comped because of a bird, then eat indoors.

  74. Drep says:

    When we opened up our small cafe we had to file for a seperate permit to have outdoor seating. Part of the requirements of the permit is that the establishment must keep the outdoor dining area clean and sanitary at ‘all’ times.

    To me clean and sanitary at ‘all’ times means the establishment is responsible for a bird pooping in your dinner. If a bird lands anywhere on your outdoor dining area property (table, plate, cup, seat) it is no longer sanitary. If a health inspector was sitting on the patio eating and a bird lands on his plate and poops, you better believe that the restaurant is going to lose points. Could be different in other states. I’m in GA

  75. Professor59 says:

    Obviously, if you walk awat from a hot dog stand and get bombed, it’s your responsibility. If you’re at an outdoor section of a restaurant, I can’t imagine they would be LEGALLY responsible, but I agree that it should be the correct business choice to replace your food.

    A comped meal isn’t very helpful if you still have bird poop in your plate. I would hope that most people just want the food. I think we’re asking the wrong question here.

  76. soj4life says:

    When you eat in a less controlled environment, you eat at your own risk. Businesses can minimize the risk with awnings or umbrellas, but you did decide to eat outside for the ambiance.