Thursday, December 3, 2009

To Tip or Not To Tip

Restaurant Tip Slip
Racist Rage?

The above image comes from the website Post Secret. Well, if you want to get technical, it comes from Google's image index. Semantics...

I've actually heard this discussed quite a bit while waiting tables. While it's never been my personal experience with the restaurant industry, I have many co-workers who have said this is the case. Do you guys feel that certain races, sexes, age groups, etc... are better tippers than others?

While I may say things like "white trash" or "old people," the more I think about it... it is case specific. I have had very old people tip me well, or even go out of their way to get me a tip that they forgot to leave on a previous visit (The coolest Old Man Ever!). I have also had people that look like they just crawled out of dumpster, leave me a very generous tip too.

The restaurant is a crazy place where it is easy to get frustrated. A place where residual rage from a bad day can fester for weeks after. For me, at times... it's even had me lose faith in the human race. So, I can see where it would be easy to make a snap judgment on a bad day. However, I guess for some... it is fact (or so they think).

Monday, November 9, 2009

Policing my friends at the restaurant

Dining out etiquette

Restaurant etiquetteThis is another item that has been on my mind to blog about. It's a topic I wish I could teach a class on. It's restaurant etiquette. What I am getting at, is now, when I am out with my friends and/or family... I kind of police the table.

My friends and family aren't animals, nor are they tourist morons. It's really nothing like that... they are actually in the rare upper 3% of polite restaurant diners. They say please and thank you, they don't snap their fingers to get the servers attention, they aren't those people who ask the host if they can change seats, they don't stagger their drink orders and run the waiter, etc.

I do, however, look for things that would bother me if I were their waiter. If I feel like they are going to ask a stupid question or zone out while the server is talking, I jump in. I find myself watching who ordered what, so when the server or food runner comes out with the food, I can help direct if people can't remember what they ordered. Why is it... by the way, people can remember what they ordered when the food comes out?

Rereading what I have just wrote, I realize it looks like I have control issues. I really don't... I just feel like it's my duty to help the waiter avoid any unnecessary headaches. For example, we were the big top just recently, and made sure all the extra drinks were accounted for (by the people who ordered them) when the waiter was asked to split the check. Yes, I said big top, I said split the check. I feel guilty.

Do you all do the same thing? When you are the customer, do you just relax and get waited on? Or are the 2nd waiter at the table like I am?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Waiting Nightmare/ Sever Dreams

Restaurant Nightmares & Dreams

Table Waiting Nightmare

I've now been in the restaurant business long enough to know that most servers get "the dream/ nightmare." Many coworkers have recounted their stressful slumber's night terrors to me. What is "the dream" you ask?

The dream usually starts off with you (the server), working a normal shift. Things either begin relatively smoothly or slightly hectic, and eventually snowball into a deep, dark hole of unmanageable waiting hell. Tables you can't get to, late food, angry customers, long drink times, crying babies, the host double, triple, quadruple seating. Basically, everything that can go wrong, that would stress a server out, does. That type of thing.

I recently had one of the hosts tell me that they had the dream... which kind of shocked me. It has been my experience that only new and veteran servers have this dream. I guess this is not the case.

Before posting this, simply out of curiosity, I looked up this phenom and found that there is a lot about it. One man's site (Joseph Campbell of Scholars and Rogues), noted that he had not waited tables for about 20 years, yet he still had these dreams. While reading his, I realized that he had had multiple instances where he had these dreams, over long periods of time. This fact is a little surprising to me, as mine stopped shortly after my training.

Do you all get these dreams?

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween Everyone!


Halloween Waiting

Hey everyone... I know, it's been a while. Here we are... another holiday is upon us. Guess who gets work again? On a holiday? That's right! I am the perpetual bitch of the establishment.

The restaurant wants us to dress up... of course. I don't think I am going to. I will have to hear about it... sure. None the less, I'm not really in the mood. This is one of those lesser of two evil situations. Decisions, decisions.

Then again, the tables might be more apt to tip better if their server is all in spirit and having fun with the holiday. What is your restaurant's policy? Do you want dress up?

Well, I had a lot more that I wanted to get out in this post... but it is now after 2:00am. I'm going to bed. Talk to you all soon.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Here They Come... Labor Day 2009

Restaurant Rage

This post is in no way meant to insult cows. They are a beautiful and majestic creature. The bovine was used as a descriptive device, used to establish an imagery.

Labor Day 2009 is upon us. I can hear them coming now like a stampede of cattle. The loud clanks and hollow dongs of an army of cowbells. A large clumsy group, just wandering toward the restaurant. If I could buy every proverbial cattle guard in the world with my hard earned tips... I WOULD.

All truth be told, I should getting me rest right now at 12:43 AM. Tomorrow (Yeah, yeah, today if you want to be technical) is going to most likely be a very long and annoying day. Hungry, impatient, and unreasonable groups slumber as I write this. Their stomachs growing more and more empty with every passing moment. There is only but one cure for what ails them, with I as the would be doctor who must deliver the medicine.

Regretfully, I have chosen one of the only professions in America that does not recognize holidays. So, while all my friends and family are off on long weekends (weekends? what are those?), some camping and enjoying the great outdoors; I will be waiting on tables of tourists. Let's all anticipate together what is in store for the 2009 Labor Day:

  • I am almost positive that some group of 15 or so will roll in. Ask the host for a table and be utterly shocked that they will have to wait a half an hour on a holiday for a big top. The leader will look around the busy restaurant, but still not get it, then look back at the host and ask with a bewildered look on his face "30 minutes? Are you serious?"
  • I am going to get some table with like three or four, 14 year old males, who all wait until I am in the weeds to order their Pepsi's. Guaranteed they have them all slurped down and wanting refills before I leave the table.
  • The whole kitchen will be hungover and on pins & needles due to the crowds. I will have to hear about every modified order and mess up.
  • I will have some "Safe Sally" (person who doesn't stray away from their regular menu item), ask about something they have never had. I will explain it to them. They will hesitate. Their significant other will tell them to order their "usual," they won't... they chance it on the new item. I will bring it out, one bite will be taken... and they won't like it.
  • I will witness a bigger baby stroller than I ever imagined possible... they will want to leave their kid in it, the host will seat them at a table where the stroller ends up right in the walkway.
  • Some jackass will decide he is going to stand right by the brass bar at the end of the bar, where we pick up our drink order. We will ask him over 42 times to move, when he finally does, it will be 3 inches.

The Earth beneath my feet is a rumbling. I can see a giant dust cloud on the horizon. A distance "moo" just sounded. I better head to bed.


Sunday, August 30, 2009

Co-woker Restaurant Rage

Can you cover my shift?
Restaurant CoworkerThis is absolutely one of the most Rage provoking things on my list of piss-me-offs. Co-workers last minute shift covering pleads. It happens all the time in the restaurant business, and it becomes annoying after the second time it happens to you.

Ok, let's get one thing straight first of all. If the schedule for the week goes up, and you ask me to cover (or trade, or whatever the hell it is that you need) Friday's shift, but you ask me on Monday... this is totally acceptable. But this is never the way it happens is it?

Sure enough, it'll be Thursday at 3:00 pm and a server will have a 4:00pm shift that day, and make the call. What in the hell, on God's green earth, makes you think I want to forfeit my day off to cover your shift in 60 minutes? (Did you notice how I used God and Hell in one sentence? That's some biblical talent right there!) Seriously, that short of notice.

I work with this one guy in particular. He always starts wheeling and dealing shifts as soon as the new schedule is posted, and good for him! More power to him. Here's what always ends up happening though. He'll work it so he has four days off, but in order to do this, he has to work like four or five double shifts throughout the week. Then when we get to those days he's on his double, he starts asking if he can be the first off when we phase. "Yeah, it's like my third double in a row... I'm just really tired."

Even worse?! Usually it's some last minute bullshit trip they want to take with a buddy, or some no-name concert they forgot to request time off for. The reason that pisses me off the most though? The HANGOVER! Look, I get it. I'm in an industry of drug abusers and alcoholics... I am. And they're not the evil type of people that are portrayed in film. They are lovable, they are fun, and they are your friends. I'm telling you though, if you drink that 7th cocktail at 2:15am, knowing you have morning shift tomorrow... I am the wrong guy to be calling you degenerate bastard!

What do you guys think? I know you've been there. Share some stories!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Red Lobster Blog

The Red Lobster Blog

Red Lobster Ok, so I stumbled across this great blog recently. It's called the Red Lobster blog. The author, much like myself blogs about all toils of the restaurant industry and stupid customer encounters as well.

I like the style of this author and will read the blog on a regular basis. Posts range from bathroom stall sex, to homeless people, to dumb customer encounters, and many more fun little restaurant moments. Make sure to check it out for yourself (click the title link)! Shout out to the Red Lobster Blog.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Restaurant Sidework

Ahhhh, Side work

Good old side work, you've got to love it. If you don't work in the restaurant business, then you might find yourself unfamiliar with the term side work. Side work is simply a series of restocking, cleaning, preparing, straightening, and related tasks to having the restaurant ready for the next rush.

Side work often consists of wiping down condiments, and refilling them (or Marrying them). Restocking plates, silverware, napkins, to go boxes, condiments, and the like. Maybe it's making a new batch of coffee or brewing some ice tea for the next round. Side work is also a lot of cleaning. When you work with food and liquids, there is often a lot to clean up after. Side work is a necessity at the beginning of a shift, before the shift change, and when closing down the restaurant.

For servers, bartenders, and kitchen staff a like, side work is often all that stands between them and punching the clock. It is one of those little things that is often annoying, but needed. Ah side work... you've got to love it!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Outta Time

Summer Restaurant Rage!

I guess summer time is upon us. It is just the nature of the beast to be busy during this time of year. Tourists roll in and by the droves! Our average wait time goes up and it's not uncommon to have to be put on the waiting list.

Last night the restaurant was packed, extremely packed. The hosts had already delt with a bunch of grief from grumpy jerks, to one man actually cursing a host out. Everyone was on pins and needles for some reason, from the customers to the kitchen staff.

Well, tonight we had this gem come in who is apparently more important than everyone else in the restaurant... and was unhappy by the time the hosts got him sat at a table in my section. I went over to their table, and greeted them warmly. I was unaware there was any problem at first. They were a little stand off-ish as I went over their choices for the menu.

Now, this guy is one of the restaurant regulars. He's kind of uppity, and soft spoken. His closely cropped salt and pepper hair rests over a pair of dark bushy eyebrows. He has stylish "old man" glasses, and black leather wrist watch to accessorize his look.

He asked me how one of our specials was, I had no clue how it was because I don't eat our daily specials. There are like five to six each day, and the change. I did tell him that I served a few and was given excellent feedback on them. He finally ordered, with an appetizer, and I was off.

I was servicing the rest of my of my tables and checking the kitchen window regularly for any of my section's food. On one of my laps through the floor, I saw him sitting on the edge of his seat, eyes locked on me. Oh God, I thought to myself. I walk over and ask if anything is wrong.

Here starts his temper tantrum. "Where is our appetizer? We ordered X-minutes ago!" I apologize and try to explain that our kitchen has 40 tickets they are trying to cook through at the moment, and that I'd have his food out as soon as it was ready. He remained unappeased.

By my next trip out, he gave me a first to add to my list. He was sitting there wrist raised, staring at his watch over his glasses that teetered at the edge of his nose. "Where is our food?!" I was done trying to please him, "It is almost done, I am sorry. As soon as the kitchen has ready, I will have it right to you."

I couldn't believe the nerve of this guy. He is right, his food did take a long time. It doesn't give a person a reason to be an ass. He is extremely lucky that I have to remain nice at all times. I would have given this guy an earful. Needless to say, I sent the manager out, his tab was taken care of, and he was given a gift card for next time. He also surprised me by handing a few bucks, which was nice... it still didn't make up for his behavior, but I appreciated it none-the-less. I guess sometimes a baby just cries until you pick it up and burp it.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Friday, June 12, 2009

Coolest Old Man EVER!

My Favorite Old Timer!

Alright, I figured this guy deserved his own post... today was a very shitty day at the restaurant and I don't want to ruin this old man's post by mixing it with the bad stuff. So I will single him out, in a good way.

It must three weeks or so at this point since I waited on this old man at the restaurant. Apparently he is the father of one of the regulars that come in from time to time. The old man starts off by telling me about a copper cleaning product called "Bar Keeper's Friend." (I'm polishing as he walks in). I think 'ok, this is random,' but smile and keep about my busy work.

The host seats the family in my section. The family is that usual grandparents, mom and dad, and little kids big top. "Make sure I get bill at the end," he says. I think 'oh great, grandpa's paying... hello 10% or less.

I approach and he is making small talk to me right off the bat. He kids around and for some reason (conversation topic related), he starts singing me Dean Martin. He also tells me how they enjoy dining out. I laugh and kid around with him. I start to like him already. I think to myself, that at least the table will be fun to wait on.

The meal goes off without a hitch. I thank them at the end and drop the check. If my memory serves me correctly, their whole tab was like $66.00 or so. Not too expensive for a six top. I run his credit card, drop the check, and thank them again. They leave, I continue with my other tables, the host buses their table, and I return to the server station to retrieve the credit slip.

I open the book and there is no credit slip. I question the hosts as to who bused the table, and then asked the appropriate person if they had seen the credit slip in the book or on the table when they had cleared it off. They give me no, and shrug. I chalk it up to a lost cause.

Later that week one of my co-workers comes up to me and says (something along the lines of): "Hey, some old man called and said he took his credit slip home with him the other day. He forgot to tip you and will be sending someone down with your tip." I knew immediately who it was, and thought that it was shocking someone would even call back for something like this. I have to admit that I didn't expect to see the cash, but thought it was really amazing that he called anyway to apologize. Well, today, his son (the regular) comes up to me and hands me crisp $10. My faith in the human race is restored for while longer!

Thank you sir, wherever you are.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Any more trivia sir?

Restaurant Rage!

Ok, summer is here. School is out. The mystic flood gates that have held back tourists and idiots for the last couple of wintry months have burst. Thus spewing forth an unseen, and unmatched idiot storm of the season.

We phase at the most inopportune time. To me, it seems as if this particular manager waits until I either: A.) Get double, triple, or quadruple sat, B.) Get a big top, C.) The kitchen has put me in a world of miss cooked food and misfire mistakes that seems as if I (and they) will never recover from... or D.) ANY COMBINATION OF THE ABOVE!

Now, bless her heart, I know she would never do this on purpose. It is just a shitty coincidence that happens often when we are on a shift together. In her defense, she also is very good about helping servers recover from the weeds.

Anyway, it's not her that this post is about. It's about a tool bag so great that Billy Mays, standing in craftsman aisle at Sears, with a full camera crew, couldn't even endorse. Seriously, it's as if a Snap-On truck hit a bump as they passed by my restaurant, and this guy came bouncing through the door. (Insert the sound of clanging wrench here.)

Now, I don't remember our exact exchange, due to the fact that I was busier than two jack rabbits in the spring. I do remember him asking me: "Hey, so what is so special about this burger?" I then went on to explain that our burgers are better than those of large chains, because we buy from local ranchers and that the beef is better because the farmers care for their stock (basically, it's not some giant corporate slaughter house of beef that pumps its cattle full of garbage to get more poundage out of the stock). His eyes widen, and a grin parts his cheeks, lips, and gravity from each other. "Oh, well isn't that fancy?" He looks around his table... they are about as impressed with him as I am.

"Well, how about the chicken?" I answer (now growing impatient and completely out of time)"Yes, it is also from a ranch very close to the area. It's not from this city, but from a farm on the outskirts of another about half an hour away from here." Again, the bogus act of acting impressed comes from his seat.

"Everything from around here is just so fresh, now isn't it?" He looks around at his party again for some kind of confirmation. Again, apologetic gazes radiate to me, from the group. One member even suggests he orders a chip and dip appetizer from our menu to shut him up. He is deterred by this attempt.

He gets a big smile across his lips. Reaches over, and picks up an ice water that I had previously dropped off. I look back at my section, making a mental note of my tables, and prioritizing what my next actions will be as soon as my would-be Alex Trebek quits playing 20 questions with me. He continues: "I'll bet this water is from that river over there isn't it?" He points.

I answer a very dry "No." At this point, I apologize to his group, and explain that I must go "drop some hot food off at my other tables." Explaining that I will be right back and that I was sorry for the inconvenience (not explaining that the inconvenience was mine completely, and not theirs). With that, I walked away, and did what I had to, to get my section back in check. I also made a point to let that table squirm a bit, as I didn't go back to them until all my other tables were addressed and on track.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Cook it... and they come.

Restaurant Tourists!

Restaurant TouristsAlright, alright... let's get a few things out of the way before I start:

  1. Yes, I work in the service industry. I brought this on myself... it's the nature of the restaurant business.

  2. I am lucky to have a job right, esp. one that pays way more than minimum wage.

  3. People don't know any better, and we should understand that they don't know.

But still (yes, I started a sentence with the word 'but'), can't they find some kind of happy medium? I mean you don't have to be a seasoned restaurant patron for me to like you, but I don't deal well with complete idiots! Meet me half way and we're good!

Ok, what the hell am I babbling about? I'll tell you. It's tourist season and contrary to the economic state of the nation, they are still out in droves. Rockin' the doors right off the hinges at my restaurant.

Overall, tourists are great. Both for my financial well being, as well as my social well being while at work. I meet tons of really nice, interesting people. They bring with them great stories, travel recommendations, and often great tips. This, however, doesn't stop the few from ruining my day sometimes.

Today, for instance was one of the more... well, shitty days. I hate being a server sometimes. Here are few reasons why:

  • Hit a two hour "in the weeds" situation. A 13 top, coupled with an ill timed server phase, and kitchen screw up. (People say things like "dreams really do come true." Well... apparently so do nightmares. Esp. waiting nightmares.)

  • A six top, with two hipster-ish kids (ages around 14 or so), who wouldn't look at me or answer my questions. Look, if you don't want to be social, that's fine. Tell me what you want and I'll go get your food and drinks started. No small talk. What I don't need is two deaf-mute, skinny/pale boys, who wear girl jeans and Jason Marz style hats... wasting my time while I'm in the weeds.

  • While we're on the topic of things I don't need... I also don't need 12 year old girls who point to menu items without speaking. It's not a problem for me personally if they don't talk, as long as we're clear on the order. When you point to an item, then I say the menu item's name out loud (to confirm the order), and then place the order... don't send the food back when I come with the very same item you pointed to, and I verbally confirmed, telling me (oh, now she can speak just fine right?) it's the wrong item.
  • Don't be a 13 top, who staggers in two people at a time, for a half an hour. If you are those people, don't tell me your going to wait for the rest of your party to order. If you do choose to wait for the rest of your party, don't get all excited about getting your food order in when you see me get double sat. If you still choose to be these people (who ordered when they had a total of six of the 13, but didn't want their order to fall behind those of my new tables beginning to sit), don't rush me over saying "We're ready! We're ready, can we get our order in?!" Then when I come over, you take up 10 minutes of my time (when I should be greeting my new tables) to then look at the menu. IF YOU STILL MUST BE THOSE PEOPLE, don't make me repeat your side options, soup of the day, and salad dressings six individual times!
  • As soon as I turn around from my 13 top of short bus riders, don't be the middle aged idiot who scowls at me and asks "Ah, can we order or what?" Listen chief... I'm fucking busy, pissed, and am not ignoring you on purpose.
  • How about the kitchen? Well, I guess I can give the kitchen a bit of break, seeing as they were just as busy as I was. All the same, don't send my table a burger that is pretty much rare, when they ordered it medium. Pink in the middle is fine, the whole damn thing pink... not so much. (I wouldn't run it, if we're all pink. It wasn't... but once you got past the outer layer that was visible... it was pretty pink.)
  • I clocked off two hours after the late shift staff arrived. Due to unbelievable side work and silverware rolling complications.

I know... get used to right? Summer is upon us. It's all good, and I'll be fine tomorrow. Today, I was just filled restaurant rage and needed to vent to the old blog. The money will be good for the next few months, and I'll compromise with all the idiots summer has to offer... to pay off some debt.

Remember... Cook it, and they come.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

"Where's Our Waiter?"

Restaurant Rage

There I am.... busiest night of the week. Kind of in the weeds, but working hard to get out. I'm probably seven to eight tables deep at the moment.

Two are cashing out, one needs drinks, and two others need to be greeted. I prioritize my trips. I head back to the server station and run my checks, head to the bar and load a tray with drinks. I walk by my tables, addressing the new tables with a quick "Hi guys! I'll be right back after drop this stuff off."

Things are going smooth and I start to see a clearing in the proverbial weeds. I grab up my two credit cards that I need to run, after dropping off the drinks. I head back to computer and run the cards. I stuff the credit slips in the books, drop the books on the tables, and thank those tables. Time to go address my new tables right?

I greet the first, they don't know what they want to eat, so I (like pulling teeth) extract a drink order from that first table. I jot it down on my pad and head to the second table that needs to be addressed. "Hey folks, how are you doing tonight?"

"Where's our waiter?" is the response I receive. "It seems like we've been here forever, can you get our waiter?" Unimpressed... but yet still very polite, I answer "Oh, that's me. Sorry about the wait, as you can see, we are very busy tonight."

"Well, our waiter said they'd be right back..." they continue. He looks at his wife and then she starts in, "We've been here forever now, this is just weird." It takes everything in me at this point to not correct them and say something along the lines of "Oh no... you've been here for roughly 3 minutes and six seconds... if it would have been forever, you'd look much older than you already do."

They continue for roughly seven or eight more seconds before I loudly interrupt: "Do you guys have any questions on the menu!?" They try to keep nagging me. I continue: "What can I get for you folks?!" The get the clue that my apologizing is done and that I'm not taking any more shit tonight.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Like Old Friends...

It's kind of funny how things work out. When I say that... what I mean is how relationships form. Let me explain.
I pretty much start off with low expectations for everyone (customers) who walks through the restaurant doors. This is probably a very negative flaw of mine, but I'm not going to lie to you guys. I have very little faith in people. Sometimes... just when you think people can't get any dumber (Dumb & Dumber line running through my mind at the moment)... they do. That fact right there reinforces my way of thinking about customers.
I know that's really bad of me to think that way. To actually go into work each day, with the expectation of disappointment. The thing is... theoretically... that if you start at zero, you can't get worse. People can only gain points right? (I know... I know... there are exceptions. Negative numbers exist, and I'd probably be the first advocate of this argument, in this case... but for the theory's sake... let's just leave it where it is.)
Now, what I like about my low confidence in customers, is the fact that they can surprise you. My attitude errors on the side of safety. With low expectations, you are only surprised for the better! Especially in the case of regulars (and I'm not just talking about Family De Freakshow here...), they can go from horrible to great in just one meal.
There are many people now, that after years of seeing them and waiting on them (sometimes just idle chat at the bar), who I can say that I honestly really enjoy. Some of them even come to parties of co-workers, or join the staff for drinks. You run into them out and about, and stop and talk.
I've been out with my girlfriend (for instance), and a server (from a different restaurant) will bring some free drinks over to us. "It's from the gentleman at the bar." We'll turn to look and it's a regular that I know. Like old friends. That type of thing.
In conclusion... I'm not getting all soft on this blog. I just want people to know that there is a very positive and fun side of being in this business. It's just not as fun to write about, or... may be it's not even that... it's the horrible days and stupid customers that make the proverbial highlight reel. They are the ones that stick out in your mind... they necessitate the need for therapeutic blogging.
(Tourist season is quickly approaching... so keep checking back. I have faith that there is a lot of Restaurant Rage stories to come.)

Monday, March 30, 2009

Like a weed.

Restaurant Rage

Well, I'm not happy to admit it... but they finally grew on me. Like a weed. Stubborn, and persistent. The conditions for growth were not present... yet steady and true, they pushed up through the hard earthy layer of my distaste for them.

Who am I talking about? Family De Freak Show! I know, I know... after all that bitching about them right? Well, the fact is that they are regulars and I see them all the time. The more that they got to know me, the friendlier they became. For me, it's kind of hard to hate people when being greeted with warmth, smiles, and friendly inquiries into my personal life.

Don't get me wrong... they are still as high maintenance as they ever were. It still bothers the hell out of me that the guy doesn't remember his choice of side, he eats there often enough! The kids are still rude at times, but I have to admit are getting better.

I think the old stigma about the first impression is completely wrong in this case. They had several negative impressions with me at first, and I hated them. Over time, they broke me. It honestly makes me wonder if it is possible for me to actually want to wait on them eventually.

Thank You Guys!

On another note... Recently, I have received some very nice comments. From readers telling me they enjoy the blog and for me to keep writing. I really appreciate the feedback, and really appreciate people taking time out of their busy lives to read my bitchy posts! So, thank you all once again for reading! I blog to vent... I blog for you!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

"Warm Flashes"

On Vacation!

Alright, so I've been out of town for a while. I went on vacation ("holiday" for you Brits) this last week. While we were there, we of course ate out a lot. The experiences were mixed.

I should explain, that when I go out to eat at a restaurant, I always read the menu. I don't like to ask a bunch of unnecessary questions. I also don't like to be that guy... you guys know what I'm talking about.

I should also say that I when I eat out... I'm not going with the intention of judging my server. I'm not the guy who walks in with a dry erase board and pen looking to give a 1-10 rating. I actually try not to do that... but you can't help but notice things, you know?

Anyway, the first place we ate dinner was a chain seafood place. Total tourist trap, but I was ok with that. The group I was with wanted to go there, and I was alright with it. I try and stay laid back and kind of just go with the flow, you know?

Our server was a 20-30 something lady. She was nice, but rather short in speaking to all of us. She had a very laid back waiting style. Very causal. A little frumpy, but this place was not white shirt/ black tie. So no worries. Overall, it was pretty good for what it was.

The next server that comes to mind was awesome! A guy in his late 20's or early 30's. He worked at a small coastal brew pub. The atmosphere was great, and he was totally cool after I mentioned that I was also a waiter (which came up after his surprise at my macro brew knowledge and questions). He recommended some awesome stuff for the group and was way cool. This was by far my favorite restaurant experience on this trip. The menu was also amazing at this establishment.

The place we dined next was a seafood/Italian cuisine joint. It looked like a little mom & pop joint, made from a converted house. Our waitress here had a bit of Restaurant Rage for sure. She had to repeat herself a couple of times and point to the menu (due to a few in my group who weren't paying attention). This place wasn't the best service, but thank God for their Chef (or kitchen staff). The food they put out made up for the snotty server. My guess... lots of tourists that day or she just simply needed to get some (possibly both).

The last place we stopped today, took the cake. We were eating breakfast due to the fact that we were leaving town and needed to get home by the early afternoon. She greeted us in a quirky manner. That's pretty admissible in my book, since it takes a special type of person to work in this industry. She must have been in her 50's or so, but looked at least 10 years younger. The reason I assume this, is because she walked by, grabbed her shirt just below the neck, and did that fanning motion people do when they are hot. She looked at us and said "Sorry, Warm Flashes." Then rolled her eyes up and stuck out her tongue. Confused, we all kind of shot each other the "what the f*ck?" look that comes without words. She awkwardly wait on us for the rest of the meal, and add "Whew... warm flash," here and there. It got to the point of being very annoying mixed with some super weirdness. We still tipped well, and left as soon as we could.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Still Mooing


Last night, I'm waiting. I'm in the first section to get phased, so my mentality is to get in and get out. About three hours into my shift, I can feel that restaurant is within a half an hour or so of clearing out. At this point, I'm doing everything I can to keep my tables moving.
I approach my next table. I greet them, and things are off and rolling smoothly. I grab a quick drink order and run off. Upon returning with their drink order, I drop the drinks and then I begin to take their food order.
I take one guy's order, move on to the little girl, and then I come to the lady. Here is where we come to a little hick-up. I'm a little cautious, but not entirely concerned as we continue:
Me: "...and what can I get for you ma'am?"
Her: "I'll have the top sirloin."
She starts to pick her conversation with her friend.
Me: "How would you like that prepared?"
Her: (realizing she isn't finished ordering yet) "Oh, um...."
(Her party and I wait with bated breath)
Her: "I'll.... I think, I'll have it rare."
Me: "Are you sure? Our rare is RARE."
Her husband: (interjecting and addressing her)"Medium rare..."
Her: No, I like it rare.
Me: "Our rare still has blood, is that ok?"
Her: "Yeah, I like it bloody. That's fine, thanks."
A little weary, but not completely concerned, I finish the rest of the table's order. The steak lady wasn't all prissy and high maintenance looking. The lady looked like a seasoned meat eater, so I trusted that she knew what she was doing.
I continue with my let's-get-the-hell-out-of-here waiting frenzy. I swing by the expo window about 20 minutes later and that table's food is up. I run it out, drop it off, everyone looks happy and I move on to my side work. After a few minutes of side work, I return to the floor to check on my tables.
Me: "How is every one's dinner?"
The table: "Good." "Fine" "Mmmm..."
The steak lady and I make eye contact. I can tell she has something to say.
Me: "Ma'am how is the steak?"
Her: "It's pretty rare..."
(Really?! Didn't we just have a full four minute exchange about this?)
Me: "You asked for a rare sirloin..."
Her: (giving a half hearted surrender) "Yeah... can you guys throw it back on the grill for a moment?"
(Seeing as she had already picked it completely apart and touched all of it... we have a few sanitation rules you know?)
Me: "I'm afraid we can't do that ma'am... I'll talk to the kitchen."
Her: "Well... it's not just rare, it's kind of grainy too."
I kind of scoffed to myself and decided to move on. After all, I was almost done. My manager, the sous-chef, and I all had a quick chat about the incident, and recapped the situation. We got the lady another steak, and I... THANK GOD... went home. Haha.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Your circus called...


The restaurant just opened. The host was starting to seat the sections, one by one. The goal being to give every server a table at the beginning of the day. I come around the corner and see that he had skipped me in the rotation.

I wasn't too worried, since I wasn't even in the mood to be at work in the first place. I look over at the table that would have been mine, if the seating order were followed. It was a pleasant surprise.

"Oh wow. Thank you SO MUCH for not giving those people to me." The host look at me with some confusion. I'm sure he was trying to decipher my sincerity from possible sarcasm. I confirmed that I was serious. "I waited on that lady the other day... she's a high maintenance freak show. A freak show that belongs in the big top."

The waitress that had the section started to walk by he and I on the way to that table. "Hey ______, that lady sucks. Good luck." She laughed and kept going. We watched her greet the table, then went back to our idle chatter.
A few minutes into our trivial chat, she comes back, laughing... but trying to hide it from the table she just left.
"So... can you say creepy?" The host and I look at each other and chuckle. I ask, "What happened?" She shakes her head "She orders with awkward eye contact!" The waitress reenacts the encounter by positioning herself to our right. Her head looks straight forward and her eyes shift to the left straining to see us. She starts to order, mimicking the custy.
She resumes her normal demeanor, as she ends the reenactment. "As she finished her creepy order, she asks for a side plate for her salad. Her husband then gives me the same creepy, side-eye look! Then nods, as if to say 'yeah... side plate.'"
I scoff. "Wow... have fun with that." She rolls her eyes, and takes off to enter their order into the computer. Minutes later we meet up by the expo window (this is the window between the kitchen and the service floor. Finished food is put up for servers to deliver to their tables). She looked displeased, "Remind me to never wait on that lady again!" She continues with more detail of torture from the freak show.
I give silent thanks as I head out to my tables. I had a good day waiting that day. My heart went out the other server.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Thank you guys!

Restaurant Rage Thanks You

I thought this post may be a little premature.... but after a little thought, I decided it's never to soon to say Thank You. I want to thank those that have become members of this blog and made it more than just a place in cyber space where I come to rant.

I thought I'd give a shout out and some link love to you guys! To all the other Restaurant Ragers! Especially to The Banquet Manager. Who was gracious and showed me equal love. Thank you Banquet Manager!

The Banquet Manager

You were the first to really comment on this blog. Your comment frequency increased and I knew you were actually checking back. Then, I got a shout out from you on a post. Thank you so much for participating on this blog. Your readership is appreciated.
The Banquet Manager chronicles his escapades with the banquet business. Employee mishaps, unreal brides, vendors, and much more. Make sure to stop by.
The Notorious O.S.C

From SF, a funny blogger. Great stories. He was the second to comment here. Shout out to you Notorious! Make sure to stop by his blog at Mis-Adventures in the 415. Ramblings of a thirtysomething concierge.

Classic stories! I love this blog and happy you stopped in Ninja! Thanks a ton. MAKE SURE TO READ HIS BLOG!

The Only-Slightly Cranky Waitress! Excellent blog of Restaurant Rage stories. Just recently found this one and already love. Visit it. Love it.
Looks like Mike is making the move over to blogger. This link should work soon. Keep an eye out for Mike. He's a frequenter on a lot of food service blogs. I can't wait to see what he has in store.

Monday, February 16, 2009

One Moment Please!

Restaurant Rage

Today's post isn't actually one of my rants, believe it or not. It comes from one of my coworkers. He was a bit rage filled today, thanks to the 3 day weekend the rest of the world has off.

He's usually a pretty cool headed guy (I mentioned him in my last post, he uses the term "alrighty" like I do). Today however, it seemed as if the whole world was prodding at him... much the way a small child would take a stick and poke at a dead cat for an hour. Just poking... and poking.

I was waiting on knuckle headed tourists today. I spent half my time waiting, and half fielding questions about the restaurant's history, retail products, the town, and local events. I had my hands full and people were just being impatient in general. Everyone who is in the industry knows what a joy it can be to wait on impatient people.

Well, when I am caught up in my own little busy world, I seldom take the time to think about how other coworkers are probably having the same head aches I am (unless, I am running their food, or dropping drinks for them, helping to get them out of the weeds, etc). I notice even less when the host stand is slammed.

Today we were deep on the waiting list, and the host stand was packed. My coworkers were busy busing tables, and unfortunately cleaning up my dishes and glassware (which I am usually anal about) that should have already been pre-bussed by yours truly.

As the rush was dissipating, the coworker in question greeted one of our last five tops on the wait. He explained to them it'd just be a moment for him to finish setting their table up, and he'd be back to seat them. He also briefly explained that he was headed over to wipe the table down and clear the remaining dishes. He strolled over with towel in hand... loads the dishes onto the tray... wipes the table... turns around... and is face to face with five eager and worried looking people.

This is probably the straw that broke the camel's back for him. Moments later we meet up at the back of the restaurant (him carrying dishes to the kitchen, me picking up drinks). He stops me.

Him: "Have fun with table 25! They are the umpteenth table that can't fucking listen!"

Me: "Ha ha! What the hell happened?"

Him: "Oh you know... I greet them, tell them I'll be right back to seat them, ask them TO PLEASE WAIT! So... I go over start busing the table, and what the fuck do I turn around to? Five idiots, who followed me to the table, and stood there while I cleaned it!"

Me: "Oh, I hate that."

Him: "Yeah, at least this shit-show is almost over."

His last comment means that our shift was ending. The night crew was about 20 minutes from coming onto the floor. It wouldn't be a moment too soon either, from the day we were all having. We were thankful to have relief.

Maybe we should get the words "One Moment Please," on the backs of our work shirts. This way when the table busing is happening or when the server is with another table, the shirt should say it all. Although... we know that no one reads the menu... so what would make me think they would even bother to read a shirt? It's a vicious cycle.

(All rights and credit of the above image belong to:

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Is that one better?

Restaurant Rage!

This post was actually inspired by one of my other favorite blogs. It was a post entitled "Martinis and bullshit," by the Insane Waiter. I read this one and laughed, because this has happened a lot to me. I pulled this one from memory. Make sure to check out the Insane Waiter.

Diet Pepsi

It was a typical Sunday, a busy lunch rush. The crowd consisted of cheap after church goers and old people who are impossible to please (they always are!). A big top is seated in my section, I hurry over to greet them, and get them started. I make sure to efficiently work my way through this table so it doesn't slow down my section. I get their drink order and put it in. Then I'm off to tend to my other tables.

Moments later, I head back to the table. I had just retrieved their drinks from the bar and I begun dropping them off. As I work my way around the table, one lady says "Oh... this Diet Pepsi is flat." A little irritated, I apologize and grab the drink back from her. I don't want to ruin my timing for my section, and this is how it always starts. No big deal, I just need to get a new one, and it'll be fine. I'll lose a minute, but it's OK.

I rush over to the bar. After a moment of trying to get the bartender's attention, he spots me. He finishes up with the current customer and comes over. He asks, "what's up?" I explain that the lady told me that the diet Pepsi was flat and would like a new one. "It always pours that way. I don't know why, but we do get complaints about the diet from time to time. I'll pour it again, but it'll be the same." He pours the new drink, hands it to me with a half smirk, and I'm off.

"Alrighty (a stupid word another co-worker and I use when schmoozing), try this one out."

Her: "Um... no, that's not much better."
Me: "I'm terribly sorry, let me try that again" (I'm not sorry at all, I'm annoyed... oh well).
Her: (awkward look) "Good idea."
Me: "..." (biting lip)

I return once again to the bar. He looks at me, and shakes his head. I don't want to bug him again. I stand there for a minute, my time is starting to slip. I half shrug at him, he answers in kind. I pull the straw from the drink, grab a new one, and return.

Me: "Let's try this one more time." (I hand her the same exact drink)
Her: (Trying the drink) "That's a little..."
Me: "Is that one better?"
Her: "Yes, that's a lot better. Thank you."


Saturday, February 7, 2009

Illuminating the obvious

Read the menu!

From time to time, it is mandatory to take a customer by the proverbial hand (much like you would a small child), and guide them around the menu. Never mind that many of the answers to a diner's questions are usually easily found in strategic spots on the menu. The usual occurrence typically goes like this:

Me: What can get for you sir/miss?

Them: I'll have the burger/sandwich/any other item.

Me: How would you like that cooked/cut/any other preparation?

Them: This way/that way/(not paying attention)... does that come with anything?

Me: Yes you get your choice of (sounding off like a robot) soup, salad, fries, chips or cold slaw.

Now anyone who would have read the menu would have seen this. Admittedly, I like to physically point out the area of the menu where it spells it out for them. I try and do this with a borderline subtlety, mixed with an 'it's right here you idiot' manner. I still don't know if it is laziness, apathy, oversight, or temporary memory loss... or even any combination thereof that causes people to ask me this question time and time again. It does tend to get very old, and is the source of (yes, you guessed it) much restaurant rage!

This typically will also happen with soft drinks, specials (a loose paper insert, with a big bold heading that reads: Today's Specials), beers, wines, and desserts. It is a forgivable offense to those who just have an oversight, and as I point it out, are semi-embarrassed or apologetic. It is not forgivable however, when I come to a table and have to repeat the sides four times, to four different people. It is also not admissible if halfway through your order, you turn to your friend and pick up the conversation. My time is valuable, and when you waste it, it cuts into my bottom line. Which is never forgivable!

Here is why this is such a big deal. Aside from it being an annoyance to me, it effects the person's food. Which, inevitably costs money (either from my tip, or the restaurant's pocket, or both) to fix. I'm not a psychic, and I cannot read your mind. If you want a really good meal, you have to order it the way you like it! One wouldn't go to a realtor and say "I want a two bedroom house, for $230,000" and then just buy whatever two bedroom, $230,000 house the realtor returns with first. There are tons of other variables involved. They would need to consider things such as location, style of home, age, loan terms, etc. Maybe this example is a little extreme, but I feel helps to illustrate the point.

It really can't be that big of a deal can it? Well, consider this... my slowest section has four tables. Each table has four chairs. On a busy night, each chair is filled, and sometimes additional chairs are brought in. For simplicity sake, I'll give the section a 16 person head count. I'm waiting on 16 people. All who want drinks, food, various condiments, extra plates, extra napkins, split checks, and of course one will inevitably drop a spoon, knife, or fork. Say I put an order in for one table. I now have approximately 20 minutes before their food will be up. If I have one table who needs to be guided through every step of the menu this will automatically eat up five to eight minutes of my time. There are still three other tables, who need drinks, sides, set ups, etc. I also have to remember that the food for the table that originally took 5-8 minutes to order will be up in 12-15 minutes, and delivered to ensure it is hot. During this time I will make 32 or so trips between the tables, the kitchen, and the bar (16 people X 2 food item/drink = 32). I can save my time by consolidating trips (i.e. bringing out four drinks at once), but someone will forget that they wanted ranch for their fries, or realize that they don't like their burger medium-rare, but rather they meant to order it medium-well. You do the math, you can see where it gets time consuming and crazy.

When you are dealing with time sensitive food (hot entrees, melting desserts) and mix that with performance based gratuity... you can see why I get frustrated when needless things waste my time. Preventable things. I am efficient and expect people to aid in this efficiency for their own sake. This is why it is such an inconvenience and nuisance when I have point things out. When I have to illuminate the obvious.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Typical... completely typical.


OK, so when your server warns you about a menu item or cautions you as to something, it is not to challenge you. It is in the interest of three parties. One, you! We don't want you to order something that you don't want, then send it back... inevitably ruining what could have been a good experience. Two, the house or the restaurant. It costs the business money when we make something and then throw it away. It is in our interest to be efficient and get it right the first time. Especially financially. Third, the server! Me! Us! Our livelihood depends on tips. This is part of our annual income. I don't sit down with a manager and ask for a raise. I work my ass for more tip money. If can I add an extra $2 on my tip, five times a night, that's $10 a night. Multiply that across 5 days. That's $50 on the week. Carried across monthly it's $200. At the end of the year it's $1,400. It's real money.

Today at the restaurant

We have the pre-shift meeting. We address drink specials, go over the dinner specials, FOH (front of the house... hosts, bar tenders, servers) focuses and BOH (back of the house... dishwashers, prep chefs, line cooks, sou chefs, head chefs) focuses for the night and/or week. The drinks and the menu are AMAZING for tonight! We have some playful banter with one another, then disburse from the meeting to head out to the floor. Everyone seems to be in good spirits. It's a good start to the night.

As I'm up front, joking with the hostesses, a co-worker ending her day shift comes up to me. We're pretty good friends, and like to vent to one another. She starts her usual way:

Her: OK, so... if have anyone orders the blue plate special today, warn them that it's fucking hot.

Me: Ha ha, oh yeah?

Her: Oh yeah! I had ONE bite of the food sample today... my mouth was on fire for like 10 minutes! My eyes were watering. It's made from pure habanero oil. The essence of habanero.

Me: Oh wow.

Her: Yeah, so I have this lady today who orders it. I warn her and tell her that it is very, very hot! I share my story with her about how hot this fucking dish is. She tells me "oh, it's ok, I like hot stuff." I tell her "NO, it's really hot... I'm just making sure you REALLY LIKE REALLY HOT STUFF." She says yeah. So I order it.

Me: Oh no! Don't tell me, I already know how this ends....

Her: So bring it out to her. She eats like two bites, and SENDS IT BACK!

Me: Yeah, I saw that coming.

Her: No. Then she tells me that she wants to talk to _________ (*Insert manager's last name)!

Me: wow.

Her: Yeah... bitch.

She then walks away to finish her side work, and go home. I look at her at the POS and she looks back. She shakes her head and rolls her eyes. Then disappears into the back to do her check-out. This is typical... completely typical.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Great tables!

In The Restaurant

The restaurant is a weird and wonderful place sometimes. It's funny, because I spent some time writing a post about a bad night and tables that I don't like to deal with. Low and behold, today everything goes just perfect. It's like the dark clouds of stupidity rolled back, and the sun just shined down in my section today.

I kid you not... just pleasant people. Generous, and gracious. I made some good money today, thanks to some great tables! Fun people! I was joking with tables today, and they were with me. I even had a regular open up to me about a very embarrassing story. It's great to get to know the person behind the familiar face... you know? Anyway, it's days like today that even out the bad. Even when the tables are full, and I'm running around the restaurant in the midst of the madness... busy days can be fun and profitable.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Manners: The dying human attribute

Restaurant Rage

OK, this is a restaurant rage rant... so if you're not in the mood to read my version of a little writer's therapy, you might want to skip this post.

The freak show family (also known as "the douche bags" to my fellow coworkers). Normally, there is fight over who is going to wait on them as we see them approaching through the large restaurant windows. Luckily tonight, I'm on the host stand again. I won't have to wait on them. The idiot father, the needy/annoying wife (who we recently decided is actually a bigger idiot than the husband... seeing as she said 'Yes' when he asked for her hand in marriage, and then also proceed to spawn his demon offspring), two male kids completely devoid of manners, and the newest infant minion.

I know, I know... don't attack the kids right? It's not their fault that they have idiot parents. They can't help it, right? Well folks, unfortunately for this ankle-biters, it's a lost cause. These mini criminals are beyond the point of no return.

Enter Family De Freak show.

Me: "Hey guys... how are you?'

Him: "Hey, did you guys find my (insert article of lost clothing)?" he was just here the night before... he's ALWAYS HERE!

Me: "Haven't seen it. We'll put it aside for you if find it."

Him: "OK... well, I'd better not catch you wearing it."

Me: "...." (so many things I want to say)

Him: "Can we sit where we can see the T..."

Mannerless interrupting child: "I WANT TO WATCH THE X-GAMES!"

I hold my breath. I know already it's outburst night. We're going to have a whole night of unruly , rude kids... with parents who (a) look the other way, (b) laugh (reinforcing) at the bad behavior, or (c) just ignore the behavior all together. How do I know this? Countless nights of the past have validated this prediction. It's like dark clouds, and that smell in the air before it rains.... you just know it's coming.

Ten minutes after we seat them, the father comes up to host stand... again bugging us about the TV. The kids aren't happy. They are yelling, bothering other customers, and generally are being obnoxious.

The father returns to his self created hell... the hell that he is completely oblivious to. I hear one of the manner challenged kids let out a shierk. I turn to view the table. Just then a french fry goes flying across 4 tables and hits another man dining. He turns around to look for the origin of the flying edible projectile. No sorry from the parents, no scolding of the child.... but rather, two arms raised by the father to mimic the NFL's official's universal confirmation of a successful field goal. The victim of the fry, kind of laughs along... but I'll assume he was about as completely unimpressed as we were.

Another 45 minutes of them reminding us that the X-games are coming on. Finally, the time arrives... the X-games start. They watch in bliss for about two to three minutes. They then pack up, and leave. My coworkers and I look at one another. We exchange glances ranging from completely puzzled to violent anger. "Why did they bug us that whole time about a show they were going to watch for a minute and a half?" one asks. "Because it's them," another answers. The server comes over, and watches as they pass the big windows. He tells us about the kids getting worse every time he waits on them, and about tonight's debacle.

Coworker: "Working here seriously makes me lose faith in the human race."

Me: (I watch bamboozled as they are obscured by the window frame) "Manners: The dying human attribute."

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

One of Your Own


OK, so tonight I was in a slower section. It's one that starts off slow, and picks up as the night goes on. This is due to phasing.

What is phasing? When it's time to "phase" the manager basically makes the decision to take one server off the floor and the remaining servers gain more tables to their section. This is where things tend to get crazy, if you're still on the floor.

After the call to phase, my section kept getting sat. I went from a four table section to a nine table section. I now am pretty good at dealing with this. This type of phasing used bury me deep in the weeds and cause some anxiety. Now, I'm much better and don't allow my emotions to get the best of me.

Well, after it all started to die off, it was down to one other server and I. She was the closer, and I was pretty much expected to rock out the side work. I finished off most of my tables, and the place was dying. I had two tables left. One table was just ordering and the other had already ate, but was chit-chatting over drinks. I was not really worried however, since I still had a lot of side work to do.

Soon, I was getting close to finishing my side work and was pretty much ready to go home. I stopped by the table that had just ordered and they were doing a good job at eating their meal (3 guys, pretty hungry). They asked for their check at this point were pretty much gone in another ten minutes.

I went over to my last table, the drinking table. Who ordered more drinks. "Fuck," I thought, "they're gonna drink all night." I ordered the drinks and dropped the check off with the drinks after asking if they needed anything else. I do this to kind of give a clue I'm leaving. The one and only guy at the four top table looks at the check. "Oh," he says. "Are you taking off?" I kind of felt bad at this point, as the restaurant was still open for a good hour and twenty or so minutes.

"Yes, I'm getting ready to go. But don't worry, I don't want you guys to rush. There is still plenty of time." He reaches for his wallet. "No it's cool, we're pretty much done. Here cash us out. I'm sure you have side work to do. There's no need to wait on us, this pretty much it." BINGO! He used the term side work. That said it all. He got it! (They never do!)

With that, I ran the card, dropped the check and he had that baby signed within seconds. Close to 30% tip too. I easily made it out of work close to the time I was phased. I love waiting on those in the business. It is always nice to wait on one of your own.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

"Just Checking"

Restaurant Rage!

Have you ever noticed the last four letters in the word 'Restaurant' are RANT? Coincidence? NO! I guess it comes with the territory. There are countless blogs out there about being in the restaurant business, I've recently found many I like and will add to this blog. Anyway, on to the story.

Tonight's little gem stems from a big top. A nine top to be exact. I was on the host stand tonight, and busing. A group of nine, ages 55+ comes in.

Group leader: "How long?"

Me: "Right now? How many in the group?" I count aloud, as he awkwardly looks back to check. (They never know... they never care) "Probably about 45 minutes for a table for nine. Would that be doable for you guys?"

Group leader: "45 minutes?!?!" (This is where he quits talking to me and kind of stands in the way consulting the rest of the oldies) "I'm not sure, we might be back."

The group leaves, and starts to walk away around the block, in only what I can assume is the search for another restaurant. I go on about my duties, I manage to stay pretty busy as tonight is pretty slammed. Roughly 15 minutes later they're back.

"OK, put us down." He says hesitantly.

"For nine correct?" I ask.


I hand him a pager and they exit the building. Things are still busy, and I have more than enough to keep me occupied. Approximately 15 minutes later, I head back up to the host stand to check on the waiting list. Moments later, another from the group of nine walks up.

Customer 2: "I'm with the Donovan party. Just checking to see where we're at."

I'm half tempted to crack a joke about their geriatric memories and tell them the name of the restaurant. However, I know better... and that they meant to say "Just checking our wait status." Funny how the English language can be your own worst enemy if used incorrectly, isn't it?

Me: "Looks like about a half an hour at this point. Possibly faster if some tables turn sooner."

She does not look impressed. Customer 2 scurries off, reminiscent of a lone quail rejoining the flock, to update the group as to their status. Some more time passes... more looks of impatience radiate from the group through the front door windows. Another is voted to come bother us at the host stand.

Customer 3: "Um... just checking..."

I cut her off: "Donovan? Party of nine?"

Customer 3: "Yeah, I was just checking on our table."

Me: "Ma'am, we have a table reserved. We need two, however, to accommodate your party. I assure you that when the table next to it is finished, we'll get you set up as soon as possible."

By now, the other host and I have made several jokes at the expense of the group. We just don't understand what it is about people... that when quoted a 45 minute wait, they feel the need to check back every five minutes. We wrote your name down, gave you a pager, and are systematically seating people on the list. We will not forget about you. HAVE FAITH.

Enter customer 4 (32 minutes into their 45 minute quote time): "Hi, we're just all really hungr... we're starving. Are we any closer?"

Me: "We're real close. We'll let you know."

Finally, the other table gets up to leave. I take my tray and bleach towel over and begin busing the table. As I am scrubbing some dried up mystery stain from the table, I glance up. Six impatient people from the group have made their way in and are now watching me. I am quite positive they are there to remind me (should I show the slightest sign of not remembering) who these tables are fore. I assure you, when I have a group of nine, bugging the hell out of me and my co-workers... I will not forget. Finally, we page them and we seat them.

As they are all settling in, I begin setting menus in front of them. I show the party where they can find tonight's dinner specials. Of course no one is really paying attention to me talk, go figure. I take a final mouthy stab: "Should I grab the waiter? He's about to go on break." Looks of sheer horror. Half hearted attempts to object. I smile: "Oh OK, just checking."

Monday, January 12, 2009

The awkward diners

Restaurant Rage: The Freaks

Ok, so we all know one. The freaks... and unfortunately for people in the service industry, the freaks eat out quite often. Some times there is only one, but at other times, they breed with other freaks, and come in as a family of freakdom.

Freaks are a source of great frustration, and of course... the cause of much Restaurant Rage! You may be asking... ok, what classifies one as freak?

To be classified as freak, sadly, is not all that hard. Worry not, my dear friends... it is much easier to NOT BE classified as a freak as well. Just avoid stupid behavior, blank stares, the need to be notified of things multiple times... I think you get the idea.

Freak Case #1: The Breakup.

This actually happened to a co-work of mine. A couple of co-workers and myself were chatting it up at the host stand. The waitress says to all of us "Ok, I'm gonna go greet that couple in the corner. I'll be right back."

She leaves us and walks over to the table. Seconds pass, and she stops short of the table. Slowly she hesitates left, then staggers right. We watch as spins a 180 degree turn and walks back to us.

"What's going on?" a host asks.

"THEY'RE BREAKING UP!" she replies.

"How do you know?" some else asks.

She answers: "Because as I was approaching I heard the man say '...I don't, I just don't love you anymore.' How fucked up is that?"

"Haha, Wow!"

Freak Case #2: The Charlie Chaplin Table

You remember those old silent films? Well, me neither really. Hopefully you do know that Charlie Chaplin was a silent film actor.

This is a pretty typical table really. You approach. You greet. Maybe two of four look up to acknowledge you are there. No response however. Not one of them makes a sound. "Do you guys need a few more minutes to settle in and check out the menu?"

No response.

"Alright... I'll be back with you in a few moments." From here on out, it's like pulling teeth. You literally count the seconds until this table pays out and leaves.

Freak Case #3: The inevitable air diet lady

"Hi, how is everyone doing today? Any questions on the menu?" Me.

Air diet lady: "Yeah, I was wondering what's in the falafel salad? Does it have dairy? Does it have Wheat?"

I think... shit, should have listened to the chef when this went on the menu. "I'm not exactly sure, let me check with the kitchen. I'll be right back." I return. "They advise you sticking to the menu items over on this side if you have any food allergies. Sorry." I point.

I'm not actually sure anything I said registered with her. She continues: "Can I sub fries for... oh wait. Are your fries fried in the same oil as meats and wheat products?"

Ok... let's just cut this story short. As much as I enjoy actually reliving the visit with this nuisance... I think you get my point. Look, if can't eat an ever expanding list items, please keep your air diet at home. I know you can't eat 98.8% of our menu.... just keep it easy on everyone. STAY HOME. You annoy the restaurant staff, you annoy your friends, and I'm sure you even get sick of yourself. Stay home, and eat your soy yogurt with celery veggie broth soup. (I don't hate you as a person, just as a diner.)

Monday, January 5, 2009

Told you!

Restaurant Stories

**(Please note, this is not my story. It is reposted from**

I was reading this other blog and stumbled across this post. Haha, it's great. It's one of those things I understood immediately. Very similar to my post You love your kids very much... WE DON'T!

No Kids Please

I love to play with cute chubby kids, but when it comes to the restaurant environment I can’t stand them. 2-5 year olds can truly be messy and without any parental control it can be a disaster. I have encountered numerous of families and have come to the conclusion that few ever share any restaurant etiquette. Giving into your child’s demands just isn’t right. The more kids there are the more trouble it becomes. The louder they are it’s a good chance the messier they are. I just wish some of these parents could get a better hold of their kids.
Perhaps the messiest table I have ever served was a family of five. The table was filled with plates, torn napkins, a pile of broken disposable chopsticks, a dozen or so straws all stuck together and mounds of wasted food and debris on the chairs and floor area. The area was covered with pizza sauce, pasta and sticks of French fries. If you thought that was bad, that was the least disgusting part of it.
All throughout the frustrating time of cleaning the area, a distinct odor was coming from the table. Loosely folded underneath the pile of napkins was a soiled diaper. Need I say more? Isn’t it common sense to bring the child to the washroom? For goodness sake, people eat on this table!
I quickly disposed the diaper tied the garbage bag and threw it at the back. I took our mighty sanitizer and sprayed the table and seats to ensure there were no traces of dirt or odor. I wish I had a chance to confront the parents. That kind of behavior just isn’t acceptable. When are parents going to act like parents?

Written Post:

Photo By: J Miller A.K.A. hyperorbit

Youtube Restaurant Rage

Restaurant Rage

This was too funny! I searched for "Restaurant Rage" on Google, mainly to see if I've been indexed on this blog yet. Upon the results materializing, this funny Youtube video some kids made showed up. Thought I'd pay a small tribute to their video entitled "Restaurant Rage" by featuring it as today's post. I think we've got a future Al Pacino here. Enjoy.