French Café Fines Rude Customers

January 14, 2014

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. amusing /əˈmyuzɪŋ/ (adj.) – able to make somebody smile or laugh
Example: The entertaining servers in the restaurant are amusing to the customers.

2. barista /bəˈrɪstə -ˈristə/ (n.) – a person whose job is to prepare coffee
Example: The barista at my favorite café makes the world’s best tasting coffee.

3. big deal /bɪg dil/ (n.) – a great and very important matter
Example: The cleanliness of a restaurant is a big deal to me.

4. pleasantry /ˈplɛzəntri/ (n.) – a remark that shows good manners and politeness
Example: Politeness can be shown by saying simple pleasantries like good day, thank you, and please.  

5. manifest /ˈmænəˌfɛst/ (adj.) – visible or noticeable
Example: The customers have manifest preference for restaurants.


Read the text below.
Petite Syrah, a café [ka-FEY, kuh-] in Nice, French Riviera, has found an amusing way of encouraging people to be more polite.

The café is now fining rude customers by serving more expensive coffee. Ordinarily, a cup of coffee costs seven Euros. But if a customer says “please,” the coffee will be more affordable at 4.25 Euros. The best of all is if a customer says, “good day, coffee please,” the coffee will be as cheap as 1.40 Euros.

Fabrice Pepino, manager of the café, said this policy started out only as a joke. The management has observed that customers at lunchtime can be discourteous [dis-KUR-tee-uh s] to the barista because of stress from work. Pepino said that although French service is known to be rude, customers can also be disrespectful because of stress and busyness.

But because of this fining policy, which is posted on a board behind the counter, the behavior of the customers towards the servers has improved. Pepino added that the café’s regular customers are having fun with the fining policy, shown by their exaggerated politeness.

Politeness is a big deal among the French people. They are well-known for their love for pleasantries. For example, the French have two terms for the word “you,” depending on how polite the speaker intends to be.

Good manners are even more manifest in the countryside. In the country, French people can greet even a total stranger “good afternoon.” Hence, being less well-mannered may come as a disappointment to the French.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you like the fining policy of the café? Why or why not?
·         Do you imagine cafés in your country having the same rule for politeness? Why or why not?

Discussion B

·         How is politeness expressed in your country? Please explain.
·         What do you think are the advantages of being polite? Please explain.


January 14, 2014