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.