The Italian restaurant where we were told to ‘shut up’ after querying the bill

When it comes to food, often tensions can run high. It can be a stressful experience whether you’re the one cooking it or if you’re waiting for it – especially if it isn’t going to plan.

Our colleagues at Leeds Live had a particularly tense experience when they ordered a takeaway pizza from an Italian restaurant at Thorpe Park in Leeds.

The experience at Franco’s wasn’t quite what they expected, with the pizza taking twice as long to prepare than staff originally advised and with no urgency in offering to make up for the delay.

To top it off the owner told them to “shut up” when they queried the bill, leading the paper to dish out a rather disappointing one star review, the Manchester Evening News reports.

To discover how the simple act of ordering a pizza went wrong for Samuel Port, read on:

I rang up the restaurant on a Thursday night, made my order and was told it would take 30 minutes.

This was great as I was planning to see a film at the nearby cinema, so picking up a pizza and having it to eat just beforehand felt convenient. The conversation over the phone was very relaxed and easy going.

Then around 35 minutes later, I arrived at the venue and it was busy with waiters darting across the venue. It seemed like there was a hurried atmosphere and it was difficult to flag anyone down.

I finally managed to speak to a member of staff who told me my order would take further 10 or 15 minutes, which was going to make me massively late.

I considered just leaving it but readers have expressed online in the past when we’ve reviewed a place poorly that we should give the takeaway or restaurant a chance to resolve the situation more amicably.

I also thought it would be a good litmus test to see how they responded to a complaint and what sort of resolution they would offer.

So I asked the manager, who seemed like a nice guy, politely if they could make it up to me in some way.

He asked “like what?” Since the price for a takeaway is already 10 per cent off the menu prices – I suggested 20 per cent.

I expected him to come back and say they can’t do that but we can make it up in some other way.

Like even just a can of Coke to sit down with while I waited.

He went off to ask the owner Franco and came back to me with a point-blank refusal to make any sort of allowance for making me about 20 minutes late. There was also no offer of an apology from Franco at this point.

When we came to settle the bill, the prices didn’t quite match up with what I had calculated prior to my visit. With the fact the order was running so late, I wasn’t happy with paying more, out of principle.

The waiter seemed confused and annoyed by what I was saying, I even took out my phone calculator to show him how I’d worked out my price.

He came back once again and the order had now climbed almost £4 over the price I had been expecting.

I wasn’t happy after I’d been waiting for my food for so long and the unpleasant atmosphere I’d had to endure up to this point.

The waiter brought the manager Franco over.

“No freebies!” he said, presumably still under the impression I was asking for a discount.

I attempted to tell him that I wasn’t asking for a discount, just that I was being overcharged.

“Shut up for a minute!” he shouted at me, visibly annoyed.

Franco then demanded a menu from his staff and then announced the prices had been changed that morning.

The menu in the restaurant was indeed higher than the one provided online. Franco said to “just give him the price he wants,” flinging the menu back down on the counter.

The manager came over again, and as I said before, he seemed like a nice guy and charged me £2 less than what I was supposed to have paid.

I am not the type of person who will tolerate rudeness and if someone is rude, I will address it.

So I calmly told Franco that he’d provided the worst customer service I’d ever experienced, which was true.

He sort of half-apologised about it – but not really.

He said something along the lines of “I am known for my rage.

“There’s a sign up on the wall which says ‘Franco throws out!’.” – attempting to chuckle it off (I can’t confirm if such a sign does actually exist).

He explained that it had been a busy night and how they shouldn’t have even taken my order in the first place. At that point, it had taken about 50 minutes from when I made my order over the phone.

We were then waiting around for another five or 10 minutes, I can’t quite remember, and Franco came back and shouted over at his staff “Where’s this guy’s food?!”

“It’s there,” someone shouted back, pointing over at the boxes on the counter beside us. A member of staff had left my order there without even telling me.

The pizza in all honesty was average, a bit sloppy, but perhaps all the pandemonium had caused the chefs to rush the order and under cook it.

I have no quarrel with the chefs, there was a lot of meat on my pizza, beautifully named the Gargantua. Plus my dinner guest was pleased with their Funghi pizza. The portion of fries was quite large – but they are £3.74.

The food was perfectly fine but I’ve had far better pizzas from other Leeds Italian restaurants, Pizza Fella and Rudy’s to name a few. I regret ever ordering a takeaway from Franco’s.

I later spoke to Franco’s son, who goes by Franco Junior, over the phone. He gave me clarity on why events transpired as they did, emphasising the busy night they were experiencing, the “honest” human factors at play and his father’s unwavering passion for his restaurant.

The 33-year-old who grew up in the Street Lane area, Roundhay, when Franco ran the Flying Pizza spoke with his fondness of his father’s long history in the restaurant industry and “passion” – which he says results in an explosive service at times. He added that I received the “authentic Franco’s experience”.

Franco Jnr said: “If he wants to throw you out, you’d be on the list of famous people he’s thrown out in his time. He’s 80 years old, he’s been doing this a long time, ever since he opened the Flying Pizza.

“I’m sure if you ever came in the restaurant to eat and saw him in action on a busy Saturday night or Friday night or a Thursday night, he screams and shouts all night long at either us or customers or anybody. He cares about what he does, his staff, his customers and the food that comes out.”

Gargantua – £14.35 (full restaurant price £15.95)

Funghi – £10.49 (full restaurant price £11.65)

Fries – £3.74 (full restaurant price £4.15)

Total: £28.58 with discounted payment of £26