As long-term patrons of Hibachi Japanese Steak House of Jenkintown, PA, my family and I have relished numerous fine meals dating back to the grand opening of the facility several years ago. Our favorite delicacy has always been the various sushi selections, which in our opinion are among the most savory in the city. We also enjoy the casual ambiance considering my line of work often requires that I dress casually and therefore, I do not feel misplaced visiting Hibachi with my family after a day at work.
It is not uncommon for us to visit the restaurant weekly and on occasions we have easily spent nearly $200.00 and offered gratitude for services at 20 percent during each visit. In fact, our frequent visits to the sushi bar have enabled us to form associative bonds with much of the staff and management. With an unofficial count of more than 50 visits to Hibachi with family and friends and with purchases totaling more than $1000.00 spent over the years, patrons such as my family are bound to make some connections with staff members.
However, on September 30, 2006 the decorum changed for my family and me when suddenly we are asked to present identification after a meal. Some of you may be wondering, ?What is the big deal??
For us, part of the issue is grounded in principle. First, we were regulars at Hibachi for years and never had a problem with credit card payments in the past. We were far from first-time, unknown patrons to the Hibachi staff and management. Second, my line of work requires a sharp sense of instinct and the ability to ask detailed questions---which I did ask of management after my families? new experience. Replies from staff and management were frolicky in nature, scattered and grounded in falsified facts.
For example, when management was asked when ID requirements commenced, I was told the restaurant began seeking identification from all patrons making any purchase two months prior to my families? September 30, 2006 visit. The manager?s statement is fictitious. We have receipts with purchases from Hibachi under a month in duration and we were not required to present identification. Furthermore, several groups of our friends who live in the surrounding suburbs and Chestnut Hill vicinity were never asked to present identification after recent purchases.
Certainly, we understand the significance of requiring identification in situations where the probability of making fraudulent charges are high or where identification checks might deter unlawful spending relative to individuals suspected of such behaviors. However, a restaurant consisting of a low to moderately priced menu, casual dress code, kid-friendly environment and located in a strip mall is not the place where the likelihood of fraudulent purchases occur. Perhaps the Hibachi management spends too much time devising pseudo-investigative techniques from televised detective shows.
Without going into further detail, the context of the identification request from my family was unwarranted. There was no preclusive visible warning(s) statement that the restaurant has an identification rule for all patrons after each purchase, which may be legally required, if the restaurant is acting as the deliberative counsel and requesting identification. Patrons have the right to decide whether or not they want to be subjected to the implicit undertones of ID request requirements. Without pre-warning, Hibachi is infringing upon the use of discriminatory tactics possibly with specific groups considering that Hibachi offers no universally official, regulated record/model of identification requirements until AFTER one has completed a purchase.
Also, we must not forget that America is still considered to be a democratic society regardless of its changing political climate. There are still rules and laws and Hibachi staff cannot devise its own without warning or official regulation.
Freedom of choice is an inalienable right and many law-abiding Americans, for whatever reasons may choose not to always carry identification. It is their right. Does this mean that such individuals are not welcomed at Hibachi? Is Hibachi indirectly and inadvertently implementing discriminatory tactics reminiscent of Crow? I cannot say for sure, but for some people Hibachi?s ? screened-new-identification-practices? without forewarning puts the restaurant on shaky ground.
PROS: Sushi Variety
CONS: Questionable identification practices