The shipping specialist's Singapore office went for a celebratory meal at Open Farm Community, a Singapore restaurant, but police were called after an argument over the bill escalated.
The firm told RollOnFriday that it "pointed out a number of additional charges" it believed had been incorrectly invoiced, and suggested the police be called.
After officers spoke to both parties, the manager "finally agreed to accept the reduced amount, so we happily paid the bill and left", said HFW. "Suffice to say, we'll be choosing a different location for our Christmas party next year."
Except it transpired that the restaurant did not agree with that account. At all. When Open Farm Community's Head Chef, Oliver Jutras, read the story, he emailed RollOnFriday to explain that while OFC wouldn't usually discuss its clientele with the media, "In this instance, we feel that since the firm is trying to take control of the narrative, it’s only fair you hear our side of the story".
The 65-strong HFW party "took to the IPA with fervour", said Jutras, and "continued partying and enjoying karaoke" until around 10:30pm.
All's well that ends well.
As the chef was driving home, the front-of-house manager phoned him to say that he had been subjected to "vulgarities and aggressive behaviour" and had "retreated to the office in order to avoid any more unpleasant altercations".
When Jutras arrived at the restaurant, the person who initially attempted to engage him "was not in a state for discussion as she was intoxicated, and her peers kept calling her back to sit down".
The firm, led by Singapore Managing Partner Mert Hifzi, challenged OFC to remove the service charge or ring the police, he recalled. The restaurant took up the offer to call the cops. "I am of the opinion they were quite surprised and upset when we informed them we had in fact done that", said Jutras.
After a prolonged discussion with officers, OFC agreed to waive the service charge and follow it up later, he said.
The HFW staffer who organised the event "nearly cried when I refused to shake her hand at the end of the evening", said the chef. "It was a new low in customer behaviour for us, and one we won’t soon forget."
"I don’t believe the whole firm should be wrapped up in the actions of one or two people", he said. "For the most part, they were lovely people having a good time".
All seemed lost. But lo, when RollOnFriday made HFW aware that the restaurant had provided its side of the story, a Yuletide miracle was visited upon us.
In a joint statement, Open Farm Community and HFW said they "would like to confirm that this matter has been resolved amicably. Both parties bear no ill will towards each other and look forward to seeing each other again in the future. HFW and Open Farm Community would like to wish RollOnFriday and its readers a very Merry Christmas and a happy new year."
At least they'll have lots to talk about at next year's party. Truly, there is peace on earth this Christmas time.