Saturday, December 20, 2014

The early bird gets punished?

This is a story about that awkward moment when you discover your friend has a habit of which you highly disapprove and believe is detrimental to success.

Tuesday morning I served in the Cocktail part of the restaurant. Three servers scheduled, with staggered clock-in times. Pretty standard. While we awaited the third server's arrival, Jackie and I alternated taking tables, as is the routine with only two servers. Cocktail is primarily open seating, but the hosts will still seat the area if needed. 

As I chatted with one of my tables about their orders, I realized that the man sitting alone at table 111 still had his menu but not yet a drink. And that he had been that way for about three minutes. He was Jackie's guest, per rotation, but perhaps Jackie hadn't seen him come in? Or perhaps Jackie talked to him while I was in the kitchen just a moment ago and now she's in there getting his drink? I guess we'll see what happens, I guess.

She emerged from the kitchen and walked right past 111 to drop something off at table 110. Then she walked off, completely ignoring him. Well maybe she thought he was my table? Honestly, it doesn't matter; I mean, it's just one guy. Taking him on as a new table would certainly not put either of us in the weeds. But we need to be clear on the rotation here. Sitting three minutes unattended-to is at least two minutes too long in my book. Neglecting a table is not acceptable.

I walked quickly over to Jackie and spoke to her out of earshot of the tables. "Are you going to take 111?"

"Yeah, I got him. He's just waiting for the rest of the party."

"Oh. Really?" (Now I'm confused.) "I was just wondering, cuz he'd been there a while and I didn't see a drink on the table. But if you got him, then that's good." We parted ways.

I don't know what happened while I was in the kitchen submitting food orders, but when I reemerged I noticed an iced tea on the table. For whatever reason, I caught myself chuckling a bit to see that. Would she have gotten him the tea if I hadn't said anything? Or did she get him the tea just to satisfy me? Who knows.

Only a few minutes later, the rest of his party arrived. Normally, our restaurant has a policy against seating incomplete policies, but (just like the list of side dishes on our menu), most of our policies pretty much get overlooked and ignored. Especially for small parties at lunch when the restaurant has enough open tables to spare one.

Shortly afterwards, it's my turn again. As I take entrĂ©e orders from my new guests at 109, in walk three tables almost simultaneously. Our third server is nearly an hour late at this point, so the first will go to Jackie, the second to me, and the third to Jackie. Easy as pie. Now we're each at five tables -- enough to keep us busy and on our toes, but not enough to become overwhelming. I'm not so secretly hoping that our last server doesn't show up. I'd rather be running around to make my money than be underworked, bored, and leaving without enough to make it worthwhile.  

Anywho, this third table is, once again, just one guy. And once again, he is waiting on the rest of his party to show -- this I gathered from the phone call he was making as I walked past. Jackie brought him his menu and silverware and, I'm assuming, was given this news. After she walked away, I kept an eye on his table, this time specifically curious if she would bring a drink without my prompting.
[ photo credit ]

Five minutes later, still no drink on the table. His friend arrives, and they almost instantaneously get back up, walk back to the host stand in the lobby, and ask to be seated on the other side in Dining Room.

Okay, so now I'm really curious. Was the Cocktail area environment not conducive to their working lunch? Doubtful, as many other guests I serve in Cocktail, including some regulars, use our stations as makeshift conference tables. Was the table not big enough? Doubtful again, as two people should have extra room when seated at a four top. I am running out of ideas to release Jackie from blame.

I can't shake the idea the first guy at the table just plain didn't want her as their server because she didn't provide any service other than bringing a menu and silverware in the five minutes he was at her table. Regardless of the reason for his move, the facts remain that twice Jackie refrained from bringing drinks to a table immediately when she found out that the guest was waiting for the rest of his party. I would like to witness this happen a third time, just to confirm my suspicions, but in the words of my mother, "Doing something one time is just that. Doing something two times is starting a habit." I guess this is just a part how she serves.

I caught a bit of a breather at the gossip station host stand right after the men got reseated. I told one of the hostesses what I had witnessed between these tables, and told her that, quite frankly, I was shocked she wasn't bringing them drinks. Host(esse)s may not be directly involved in the dining experience whatsoever once they walk away from seating the guest, but it constantly astonishes me how much information they can absorb about the servers. Her response? An knowing eye roll and an annoyed, "Well that's Jackie for ya!" I shook my head and walked away, not wanting to learn what other faults the hostess could tell me.

As frustrating as serving a party with staggered arrival times can be, I would NEVER make a guest sit at my table for five minutes, or however long, without at least a drink just because the friend is arriving later. To quote a former manager this time, "A guest won't feel like he's being served until he's got something on the table in front of him." [ This is a huge reason why I work to sell appetizers at every table. ] Obviously you know my stance on this issue, but out of curiosity, what do all you servers out there do? If an incomplete party is sat in your station, do you tell the guest(s) that you'll wait to serve them 'til their completion? If so, why? I am most curious!

[ degreed waitress ]

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Sunday, July 20, 2014

A whole new level of stupid

Today, a fellow server placed an entree in front of the lady who ordered it. One of the side dishes she chose was broccoli cheese casserole.

She looked at it in confused disappointment, then legitimately asked the server why there was broccoli in this broccoli cheese casserole.

She then proceeded to eat the entire casserole except for the broccoli.

[ degreed waitress ]

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Something I witnessed today.

This woman has three kids. They’re adventurous kids, sure, but overall, they're not bothering anyone.

Then one of the kids hit another. Hard. Like echoing across the room, hard.

The little boy starts crying from the pain. Totally understandable in my book. But Mother-Of-The-Year here just yells at him to shut up and stop crying.

He can’t stop crying instantaneously [ obviously ], no matter how hard he tries, so MOTY takes off his flip-flop and screams that she will slap his leg with it if he doesn’t stop crying by the count of three. "I WILL HIT YOU AGAIN IF YOU DON'T STOP CRYING! NOW SHUT UP! "

The fuck, lady? How is that remotely logical? How does that even enter your brain as decent parenting?

By all means, you classy, classy lady, PLEASE have more children.

[ degreed waitress ]

This literally just happened....

I’m cut for the night and minding my own business, sweeping my section.

A lady walks over to me from the next section over…

Lady: Could you get me a to-go box for my son’s food?

[ I cannot see her son’s plate from here. ]
Me: Sure! Would you like a large box or a small one?

Lady: Just large enough to put his food in.

Me [ What I wanted to say] : Well, no fuckin duh, lady. Now does he have a lot of food or just a little bit?

Me [ what I actually said ] : Of course, ma’am!

I brought her a large one with a large smile.

[ degreed waitress ]

Monday, June 2, 2014


Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to direct your attention to the video screen for some good ol' fashioned server ranting :D


I wish I could say that I had anything to do with this, but I cannot. I did, however, watch all 7 of their videos and subscribe. I suggest the same for you!

[ degreed waitress ]

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

To-Go Tips Galore! -- Tip #7

Okay, so I put you on hold. I realize neither of us wants that. But let's take a second, shall we? Let's think about why. Why did I put you on hold?

The answer really is quite simple  -- Now's not a good time to talk.

To-Go Tips Galore! Tip #7: If you want your food, then stay on the line.
This is a concept I've touched on before in a previous To-Go Tips Galore! post, but it certainly needs repeating.
I only have one computer, you know. I share that computer with my other bartenders. If one of them is ordering food or processing a payment for another guest, I have to wait to use the computer.
Please, dear caller, allow me to take two or three minutes to get some other things settled for the people standing directly in front of me, and then you can have all of my attention.
I promise I will come back to you.
I have two phone lines, and most of the time during the weekend rush, both of them are ringing simultaneously. I could very well be answering a to-go call on the other line while you're on hold.
I answer the calls in the order in which they came. So when you decide you've waited long enough, hang up and call back, guess what you've done? You've put yourself at the end of the line again. You're likely going back on hold to wait out a few more minutes.

Together, my fellow bartenders and I are processing the pickup and placement of to-go orders by the people standing right in front of us, serving food and drinks to the bar guests, making drinks the servers have ordered for the restaurant, and acting as our own bar-back, in addition to answering the two to-go phone lines.

And the last thing I, or my bar guests, could possibly want to hear while doing all of this is that God-forsakenly-annoying riiiiiiiiiiiing BEEP BEEP of the to-go lines. Putting a caller on hold solidifies his/her place in line while silencing that haunting noise.

[ Side note: a bar guest the other day had the gall to ask us if we could silence the phone ringer. It took everything within me to not retort, "And how do you expect us to answer the phone if no one knows it's ringing?" ]

Now if you've been on hold for ten minutes -- which is extremely rare [ and far more rare than the guests claim is occurring ] -- then, yes,  hanging up and calling back is a good idea, because I have likely forgotten about you in my scurrying about. That's my bad. But seriously, don't yell at me. You chose to call in at 7pm on a Saturday night, or at 12:30 on a Friday afternoon, and so you have to deal with the consequences: longer wait times. What did you think I was doing? Just sitting around, twiddling my thumbs, hoping and wishing that you -- yes, you! -- would deign to call me so that I would finally, finally have something to do??

I cannot tell you how many people offhandedly comment upon arrival, "Well, I was gonna complain about how long you had me on hold for, but then I got here and saw how busy y'all are! I don't know you keep up with all this!"

So what now, you self-entitled jerk? In yo' face!
Maybe you should get your panties untwisted and you won't be so insufferably impatient!
Stand there in awe at my epic multitasking skills!
Revel in amazement at the sheer volume of sales I am conducting by the minute.
Realize that you are significantly less important to me than you had initially presumed.
And be patient in that line 'til it's your turn for my attention.

So there.
[ photo credit ]
Sometimes, our situation is exacerbated when we are extremely busy by the management blocking off one of our to-go lines to help save the kitchen from going down in flames. When the cooks are slammed with the food orders for hundreds of people actually seated in restaurant, adding five or six orders every three minutes or so for someone who's not even here yet can be the straw that breaks the camel's back. My standard, and fairly accurate, "15-20 minutes" quote time becomes "20-25 minutes." But this means that now I have only one to-go line. So if I'm talking to someone on that line, or someone is on hold, then no one else can place any to-go orders. Sure this kills my potential for tips from the lost to-go orders and can irritate some guests, but it maintains the kitchen's ability to function, which, from what I can tell, is pretty darn critical for a restaurant to operate.

This is yet another reason for you to stay on the line! Again, if I put you on hold, I'm coming back! There are anywhere from one to four bartenders working at any given moment, so if none of us can get to you at that precise moment you call, please be patient. My restaurant as a corporation technically does not support the to-go operation, but is forced to tolerate it, meaning that we don't have a designated to-go person. As in, on weekend evening shifts, we have four bartenders: one up to his neck in drink orders for the whole restaurant while two more are drowning in to-go orders, and the fourth is generally acting as the assistant, the "go fer" running the errands the other three need to stay afloat. And somehow between the four of us, we manage to serve our fifteen or so bar-top guests. Despite the corporate anti to-go stance, our store's to-go sales constitute 15% of the entire restaurant's sales. We would not even remotely need a fourth, or even a third, bartender on weekend nights if we had a smaller to-go operation. Even other stores in our chain here in the area would be crippled by the sheer volume of to-go orders that we handle routinely. We have a lot going on.


[ photo credit ]

[ degreed waitress ]