Working in hospitality can be a real drag. If it’s not the long hours, it’s the rude and demanding customers who tend to forget you’re a human being as well. Being pushed to your limit is a daily occurrence, especially when you’re criticized unfairly. However, sometimes enough is enough, and the customer is rightfully proved that they’re not always right.
A (way too) demanding client
One person who knows all too well about the demands of a rude customer is a woman called Onequa, a self-taught food guru from Norfolk, Virginia.
She has owned and operated her very own catering business for some time now, and although she has certainly met her fair share of bad-mannered customers, no one has yet matched up to the person she was about to receive a message from…
Getting a message
Her day was starting as it usually would, but she soon received a message on her Instagram account from a customer inquiring about an event she wanted to hire a caterer for. At first, Onequa thought it was just the case of another day, another dollar, but she would soon find out it wasn’t going to turn out that way.
The woman explained how she was helping plan the wedding of her godmother, and she wanted to send a message to ask about potentially booking her in for the day.
She had a variety of different specifications she wanted – including a range of specific meals and dishes to be served. Firstly, she wanted a breakfast or brunch station, which would serve all kinds of omelets and breakfast dishes, including bacon, sausages, and other fancy meats and shellfish like crab and shrimp.
We know what you’re thinking… what a lavish breakfast! But nonetheless, nothing was off-limits for Onequa’s catering skills. It wouldn’t be a problem.
Pushing the boat out
Not only did her godmother want breakfast food catered for, but she also requested a chicken wing station – with “every flavor you could possibly think of.” On top of this, she wanted to serve some more traditional dishes too – like macaroni cheese, stuffed salmon, and a shrimp pasta.
The customer quite clearly wanted to push the boat out, as not only did she want a variety of deluxe dishes, but she wanted them to feed over 200 guests. That’s a lot of time and effort!
However, what kind of luxurious meal is complete without dessert? To end the list of requirements, her godmother also wanted something sweet to treat her guests to. Specifically, she wanted 200 fresh fruit cupcakes – one of Onequa’s signature bakes that she advertises on her Instagram.
Although this may seem like a lot to ask, Onequa was prepared to take the challenge on. It would be a tough few days in the kitchen, but no obstacle was too high for her to jump over.
However, there was one question that Onequa had to ask. When did the customer need this for? What was the date of her wedding? Well, it turns out that the big day was just two months away.
Although that may seem like enough time to prepare everything, Onequa was a very busy woman, and she had a whole host of other events around the same time too. She usually asked for it to be booked in advance of at least six months, but just this time, Onequa gave it the go-ahead.
So with the specifications and the date confirmed, next came the price. This was the moment that Onequa realized she wasn’t dealing with a very understandable person. In fact, she was darn right rude.
After calculating the costings, Onequa messaged the woman and explained how it would cost $28 per person, which would come to a total of $5,000. Anyone who knows anything about mass catering knows that $5,000 for all of her demands was a pretty good deal indeed.
Keeping her cool
However, the customer was somehow less than impressed by her pricing. She simply replied, “$5,000?”. Any sort of bartering for a price is always an awkward moment for both sides, but there was no backing down for Onequa.
She knew in her heart that $5,000 for that much food was a pretty reasonable price, whether the customer knew that or not. She felt a little rumbled by the customer’s response, but nevertheless, she knew she had to remain professional.
Worth the money
She replied, “Yeah, I’m having to purchase all the food and make it, correct?” It wasn’t just about how long it would take to make all of the dishes, it was also down to the fancy ingredients that were involved.
Shellfish is certainly no cheap ingredient, but yet the customer required there to be enough to feed over 200 people. That is an expensive menu indeed! At first, Onequa wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt, but then she started to feel more and more frustrated…
Making a dig
The next message she received tipped Onequa over the edge, and rightfully so. She replied saying, “Yes lol, but why is it that much? You’re an Instagram caterer you don’t have your own restaurant or anything.” After reading that message, Onequa finally had enough. How dare she make such a rude dig like that?
All because she didn’t agree with a reasonable price. Her comment was completely and utterly unnecessary, especially because she didn’t have a problem with messaging an “Instagram caterer” in the first place…
Biting her tongue
We can only imagine how angry Onequa must have felt at the time, but it would only have made the situation worse if she had bitten back. She would have absolutely loved to write something nasty back, but she had to keep professional. She wouldn’t have gained anything if she did.
So, while remaining poised and calm, Onequa replied back to her asking, “What has that got to do with me having to buy all of the ingredients you requested?”
Criticizing her business
Onequa had a valid point – the customer clearly didn’t understand that the food and ingredients she ordered were expensive – she certainly wasn’t going to find a lower price anywhere else. However, the customer wasn’t getting it.
She replied saying, “You need to find cheaper suppliers then, every good caterer does.” This customer just doesn’t know when to stop, do they? One dig after another, but Onequa still managed to keep her cool.
Enough is enough
The customer then continued speaking on behalf of her godmother, explaining that she had a maximum price she would go to. She said, “$2,100 is lowest she’ll go. Take it or leave it (they’re the exact words she said)”.
Onequa was utterly blown away – how could someone have the audacity to not only criticise her business, but also attempt to scam her out of money? If she did take $2,100 as the final price, she’d end up not making any money, or perhaps even making a loss.
Sending a reply
There were no ifs or buts. Onequa simply could not cater to her wedding for that price. She felt personally insulted that she’d even try and barter at that price. She worked out that $2,100 would cost her just $10.50 per person, which is an incredibly low price for mass catering, especially when the food she’s wanting is pretty fancy.
She no longer wanted to carry on the conversation, so enough was enough, it was time for her final reply.
Taking it online
Boy was it a good reply! Onequa text back saying, “Tell luv I’m all good. Enjoy.” and with that, she dropped the mic and walked away. Why would she even want to work with such a rude and disrespectful customer?
Surely both the messenger and her godmother understand that if you’re going to play with fire, you’re going to get burned. No one will want to cater for you if you don’t respect them and their business – no matter how much you’re willing to pay.
Even if the customer had come back and offered her twice the amount, there was no way that Onequa was going to shake her hand and do business with her now. It was too late. The line had been crossed. Now it was time to move on to bigger and better things.
However, Onequa wanted to have one last say, so she decided to screenshot the messages on Twitter for the rest of the world to see. She needed her followers to see how incredibly unpleasant and impolite others can be.
As soon as she posted the conversation online, hundreds of responses came flooding in, rushing to Onequa’s defense. They simply could not believe that someone else could be so rude and insensitive to other people’s feelings – especially when she was willing to provide an excellent service for them.
She was also applauded for how well she handled the situation – she remained calm and composed, whereas other people may have been pushed over the edge far quicker.
It was also pointed out that Onequa’s deal was incredibly fair. If $5,000 was unreasonable in the first place, then the customer’s response may have been understandable – but $5,000 for what she was asking for was actually a great deal.
No other catering business would offer a cheaper price than that, especially with the high-quality standard that Onequa always works to. In the long run, the customer missed out. Her loss.
A lot of the responses she got were also reassuring her that they would happily pay the price she offered. This made Onequa feel more at ease – she was relatively new to the business, so she began to worry that her prices were way too high.
But of course, Onequa had nothing to worry about. Some Twitter users even joked about what the customer deserved to get at her bartered price of $2,100. One wrote, “For $10 per person you’ll get 5 thawed shrimps and a Walmart discounted cupcake.”
You have every right to want your big day to be perfect, but that in no way means you can try and scam people out of their money – especially when you have high demands.
Weddings cost a lot of money, so caterers do try and give you the best offer they can to make it a fair price, but on the other hand, there’s only so low they can go without it being a detriment to their profits and the success of their business.
The responses Onequa got back on her social media were overwhelmingly positive. Mostly all of them were supporting her, saying that she had every right to price her service at that cost, especially seeing as the food she serves looks unbelievably delicious.
If you check out her Instagram, you’ll understand why – you can tell she puts her heart and soul into making sure all of her food is to a high standard.
Onwards and upwards
Onequa was overcome with positive emotion, and she felt reassured that she did the right thing by turning the offer down. Before posting the whole ordeal on Twitter, Onequa had just 339 followers, but with her story going viral, she’s now managed to conjure up over 40,000 followers.
This is only going to do wonders for her business, so it’s certainly onwards and upwards! Onequa’s life has taken a fantastic turn for the better, and she has one rude customer to thank for it!
Finding her groove
In another of her social media posts, Onequa decided to share her story of how her catering business first came about. Anyone who has started their own business will know that it’s never easy to get going, but Onequa had the drive and the passion to make it happen.
She graduated from her high school in 2014, and at that time, she was entirely unsure as to what she wanted to do next. All she knew was that she loved cooking, and more importantly, she was good at it…
Making it happen
However, of course, bills need to be paid, so she worked in a variety of different low-paid part-time jobs to keep afloat. During these years, Onequa felt depressed, and some days she didn’t even want to get out of bed in the morning.
She had no idea where she wanted her life to go or what to do next – the only thing she enjoyed doing was cooking in the kitchen. Then one day, she had a light bulb moment. “Why don’t I become a caterer?” she thought to herself.
Starting a business
It makes perfect sense to turn one of your passions into a business. What better way to earn a living than to make money doing something you love? So that’s exactly what she did. She started by cooking for the events and parties held by her friends and family.
This was a great way to start, as the pressure wasn’t too much. She was also able to post pictures of her food online to promote her services more and more.
Asking for advice
Amazingly enough, Onequa only started her official Instagram profile just a few months before the whole ordeal with the rude customer, so you could say that she was an amateur in the catering business.
Nevertheless, she had successfully catered for several weddings and parties at this point, and ultimately, her delicious-tasting food speaks for itself. She’s undoubtedly a driven and talented young caterer, and these are the two main components for success, right?
At the time at which the woman messaged her, Onequa was reasonably inexperienced, especially when it came to the financial side of things, so it turns out that she had actually way under-priced the order for the rude customer – despite them trying to get a lower price!
She asked a friend who knew more about the correct pricings for mass catering, and they told her that $5,000 was an incredibly cheap deal for what she had asked for.
So there you have it, it turns out that Onequa was wrong to price her service at $5,000 – but it wasn’t too expensive like the customer thought it was, it was actually way too cheap! This made Onequa feel better about herself – at least she now knew that it wasn’t wrong to demand a higher price.
After revealing this to her followers, she received a lot more support too – all reassuring her that she’s going in the right direction. “Keep it up!” they told her.
One user messaged her saying, “Morning Onequa, I’ve read your story and I want to tell you how you’ve inspired me. I need to step my game up. Keep striving for the stars above sweetie.”
So not only has she received messages from people supporting her business, but she’s also had people telling her how much of an inspiration she is. Surely that’s got to be a fantastic way to spur her on – great things can come out of hard work!
She received a host of other messages too. One user said, “You’re doing amazing! Keep up the good work. Know your worth, and don’t let anyone make you feel less.” Another message said, “Your food looks wonderful. You’re absolutely smashing it.”
One other simply wrote, “Get it queen.” One user even said they are waiting for her cookbook to come out, and by the looks of things, Onequa could certainly head in that direction.
The comments didn’t stop there. She received another message from a person explaining how much they have always respected her. They wrote, “I have always admired how professional you are”.
They then continued by complimenting her food, even joking about how they want to lick their screen whenever a picture of her food pops up. The message ended with “Don’t let the rude and ignorant people keep you from pursuing your dreams. Keep winning!”
So how has Onequa’s dream become a reality? What’s the sole reason she’s become so successful? Well, we think it’s her drive and passion that has got her to where she is today. Onequa once posted, “I think I’m so sensitive to the feedback I get on my work because it’s all I have”.
So if you have the determination and ambition, then you’re at least halfway there. Then it takes a lot of diligence to get it going in full momentum. We can all achieve anything we want if we put our minds to it.
Since the whole ordeal she had with the demanding customer, Onequa has, of course, gone on to even bigger and better things than before. In fact, by the looks of things, her business is absolutely booming. Perhaps the biggest change is that she’s now trying out YouTube too.
Her first video was uploaded in July, and it featured Onequa giving a tutorial on how to whip up her famous ‘Shrimps and Grits’ recipe. Check it out, and you’ll see how video hosting comes just as natural to her as cooking does.
Her delicious recipes are now not just part of the menu she offers for her catering business, but they are also in full-demand by those who want to know how to make them! She’s seemingly transforming from being an event caterer to a creative chef right before our very eyes.
In early November 2019, Onequa gave another exciting update – she’s planning on releasing her own cookbook! This opportunity is all because so many people have trust in her recipes – everyone wants to know how to cook like Onequa.
There’s no doubt her recipes look mouth-wateringly delicious, especially those which are comfort food at its best. We’re talking melting cheese, soft warm breads, and juicy, tender cuts of meat. However, Onequa knows how to cook healthy alternatives, too. On another recent social media post of hers, she uploaded a photo of what she called ‘the best burger she’s ever had’.
It was actually a 100% vegan burger sourced from plant-based proteins. This shows just how versatile she is as a chef, being able to provide meals for all types of customers!
A full plate
Other recent photos found on her social media include big plate meals she’s cooked for Thanksgiving. In one of the photos, we can see a plate loaded with her famous ‘messy mac’, sweet yams, fried battered fish, and green beans.
Likewise, another plate includes a crab-stuffed fillet of salmon, wild rice, sauteed asparagus, and a homemade creamy lemon butter sauce. All of Onequa’s recipes can be found online, and hopefully one day soon in a published book too.
Her social media is, of course, also loaded with photos of her signature cupcakes as well. With their beautifully decorated cream toppings, they’re perfect for any special occasion you have coming up. Onequa’s social media page is named ‘Highly Flavored’, and by the looks of the plates she uploads daily, there’s no doubt that Onequa is greatly talented.
Especially when she puts on her apron and fires up the cooker. It seems the kitchen is where she belongs, so who knows what we may see of her in the future?
The cookbook is here!
Fast forward to December 2019, and on Christmas Eve Onequa announced her first cookbook was finally out! Titled Highly Flavored – Recipes That Cater To Every Lifestyle, it is obvious Onequa has put her entire soul into this project.
Stating tears were rolling down her face as she was announcing it, she also admitted to being exhausted – and happy to finally be done. Writing a book is a lot of hard work and Onequa had managed to do it despite being busy with her catering business and YouTue channel.
Over 100 recipes
In the digital cookbook, Onequa has carefully selected and perfected over 100 of her mouthwatering recipes, and she promises all the delicious looking pictures her fans and followers have ever seen on her Instagram are in there. So for everyone who has ever wanted to try Onequa’s cooking for themsleves, this is your chance!
Onequa finished her post by thanking everyone for their continuous support, wishing her followers happy holidays – and adding she would start working on volume 2 asap.
People quickly responded, thrilled for their queen to have her triumphant cooking career continuing to reach new heights. Who would have thought this is where she is today, just one and a half years after a rude customer wanted to pay her peanuts for all her hard work?
Many of her followers have already bought the book, and are eager to learn all of her secret tips, tricks and ingredient combinations first hand. With his type of response, the second volume is sure to be greatly anticipated too.
Since her story about the rude customer went viral, Onequa has also been interviewed and participated in other YouTube channels. She was interviewed on channel Tidewater Waves, and shared how difficult her life had been prior to her sudden success. Onequa worked hard for a long time before the cheap potential customer helped her go viral.
The only people who truly believed in her cooking abilities were her close friends, and it wasn’t easy turning her passion for cooking into a livelihood.
Not always easy
Onequa graduated high school in 2014, and in the interview she shared feeling very lost afterwards. Most of her friends went to college, but Onequa tried that route and quickly realized it wasn’t for her. She needed to do some real soul searching about what she wanted to do with her life, and how she could make a living.
Her older sister, who herself had worked a little in catering, was the one who eventually inspired Onequa to take the plunge and become a cook and caterer.