French cafe offers discounts to polite customers

A cafe on the French Riviera has gained international notoriety after reminding customers to mind their manners.

What started as a local joke generated an internet buzz this week after a diner tweeted the sign outside the Petite Syrah in Nice on the Côte d’Azur.

In an attempt to turn the tables on customers who complain that serving staff are rude, the manager warned he would hit impolite customers where it hurts, in the pocket.

A sign outside the establishment warns:

“Un café – €7

Un café s’il vous plaît – €4.25

Bonjour, un café, s’il vous plaît – €1.40.”

The appeal for some old-fashioned savoir-vivre clearly touched a nerve around the world. Within hours, the story went viral on Twitter.

Former centre-right government minister Christine Boutin, responded, also by Twitter, that it was an excellent idea, and the story in the local Nice-Matin newspaper received tens of thousands of “likes”.

Manager Fabrice Pepino told the paper he had even had television cameras turn up to film the sign.

“We live in a strange old world. For three years we have put all our passion into what we do, which is trying to offer quality food, and good wines … and it’s this that creates the buzz. A few words on a blackboard,” he said.

He added: “It wasn’t even an original idea. I saw it on the internet and liked it … but I was planning to rub it out.”

Pepino said he had not yet had to enforce the politeness policy, and admitted the sign was more of a gentle reminder than a serious threat.

“It started as a joke because at lunchtime people would come in very stressed and were sometimes rude to us when they ordered a coffee,” Pepino told the English language website the Local.

“It’s our way of saying: ‘Keep calm and carry on.'”

He added: “Most of my customers are regulars and they just see the funny side and exaggerate their politeness.

“But people are more relaxed now, and they’re smiling more. That’s the most important thing.” – By Kim Willsher © Guardian News and Media 2013

Image –  @tokai06 via Twitter