A trainee reporter has locked horns with a supermarket giant after falling foul of a staff mix-up in a Somerset cafe.
In an article entitled “My Waitrose Greek style salad scandal and why I was thrown out of the store café”, community news reporter Mario Laghos told readers of the Wellington Weekly News about his run-in at the town’s Waitrose after he went to eat a salad bought in-store.
Having initially been told by an employee he could consume a salad from the supermarket shelves in the café after the eatery ran low on supplies, Mario found himself reprimanded by another member of staff.
He wrote: “I had no appetite for a prolonged exchange, only to make clear I was not, as seemed to be implied, trespassing into the café to scoff Greek style salads.
“Unfortunately, the member of staff who had served me had left as it was time for me to plead my case.
“As the café patrons watched on at my reprimand, I could not help but feel embarrassed. I left the store, bereft to know that the conditions to which I had become accustomed, would be no more.”
A number of national journalists honed in on the story including Lucy Tobin of the Sunday Times who Tweeted “local journalism of the day”
Weekly News editor Ed Oldfield posted on Twitter: “Oh dear @waitrose you messed with the wrong person’s lunch hour in Wellington, Somerset. Hilarious piece here from my @wellingtonweek colleague Mario Laghos.”
In a statement a spokesperson for Waitrose Wellington said: “Our Café area is for customers purchasing food there, rather than in our store.
“However, managers can use their discretion – for example if a customer has dietary requirements that can’t be met by our menu. We’re really sorry for any confusion and have spoken to our team to make sure we’re taking a consistent approach in future.”
According to Mario’s article: “In the event they extended the apologies of senior staff and offered me a £10 gift voucher by way of recompense. This would of course buy me three entire Greek style salads. But where exactly I could eat them remains unclear.”
As well as generating interest from pundits on social media, Mario says the story has been a talking point locally.
He explained: “I attended farm for a story and even the people there were familiar with the Waitrose story and remarked about it.
“It was written tongue in cheek but I have been impressed by the impact it has made, which shows the reach and value placed on our local community news.”
Mario recently joined our company as part of the Community News Project (CNP), the journalism recruitment scheme funded by tech giant Meta in conjunction with the National Council for the Training of Journalists to create new community reporter roles.
The CNP was launched in 2019 for Meta (formerly Facebook) to work with UK regional news publishers to support quality local journalism and improve the diversity of newsrooms. Mario is mixing studying for NCTJ qualifications in journalism with work-based experience as one of four CNP Tindle reporters to join the company.