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.