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."