"You know how to take a Reservation..."
"You just can't hold a reservation" - Jerry Seinfeld
That goes to the customer as well.
So its approaching the end of a slow Friday night shift.
Weak tables with little in the way of the pricey entrees and almost no wine or drinks, let alone appetizers, salads or desserts...
Abysmal ticket averages and lower than average tips were making for a bleak out-look for my weekend funds.
Earlier in the night me and Chris, the other lead server, had noticed a reservation for a party of sixteen.
It was as 10:00 p.m., not the best time for a party that could last several hours,
Chris an I looked at each other and said simultaneously, "Do you want it?"
We were at a crossroads, both of us needed the party for the money, however, neither of us wanted to stay until after midnight.
After a few minutes of debate we decided to split the group and the tip.
At our restaurant we routinely take tables up to 20-25 without splitting them, we just figured that we could both make up the difference of the weak night and maybe have a little bit of change in our pockets.
Eventually 10:00 rolled around, then 10:15, then 10:30.
No sign of the group.
We call the contact number, no answer...
Great, another no show.
We start tearing down the front of the house and the kitchen is preparing to shut down for the night.
Its 10:55 now.
I see a lone man standing at the host desk.
The manager on duty, Brett, is on the desk phone and I walk up there to see if he needs help.
"Yes, I'm here with the group under Richard." He declares.
There is no group under Richard, I have a sinking feeling in my gut.
"Would it be under Johnson?" I ask.
An affirmative answer.
"Party of sixteen?" I ask.
"Oh, there might be more, we'll need another table."
Bret gets off the phone, "So we were expecting you about an hour ago."
"We're running late," the man responds.
"I can see that," said Brett.
"We called the number you gave us." Brett continued.
Our new friend Richard said, "Well we were at a function."
"Well it would have been nice if you called and let us know you were running late, we close in five minutes." Brett said.
"Is it going to be a problem?" Asked Richard.
Me and Brett lock eyes for a moment, if we say it is a problem, with a party of 16-20, likely there will be hell to pay when they call one of the owners and say we refused service.
With half a shrug Bret continued, "No sir, this is ____, your waiter, he'll adjust your table and get you taken care of."
I move around a few tables and add a couple more on to accommodate his liking.
Back in the kitchen I stop Chris from tearing down the line, he's almost done.
"So they're here." I said.
"Who?" Chris asked, eyes filled with suspicion.
"Our group, lets get them watered."
"FUCK!" Chris shouted as he threw an empty pitcher across the room.
"I know, I know, lets put this soda machine back together."
"Hey guys, twenty top coming back!" I shouted to the guys on the line.
This was met with a collective groan.
"This is bullshit man, we're almost out of here!" a few of the guys exclaimed.
"I'm only the messenger." I said.
Don't think saying that did much good, but what can I do?
Returning to the table the gentleman ordered a glass of red wine and assured Chris and I that the rest of the group would, "be along shortly."
Shortly turned out to be around another twenty minute wait.
Moving all the tables around was for nothing as well, only fourteen showed up.
The table ended up ordering so so, no appetizers or salads, but plenty of drinks and wine and decent dinners.
"We going to sell some desserts?" Asked Chris.
"God I hope not."
The dessert line was torn down and locked up with nary a prep cook in site, the rest of the kitchen had headed out to the bar. I really didn't feel like prepping fourteen cannoli's myself if it came down to it.
"Hope they don't want coffee," I continued, "we've got about a half a caraft left or regular, no decaf."
Chris smirked, "magic coffee pot?"
I nodded, with a wave of a hand it becomes decaf.
So without offering any desserts or coffee I found the man in charge, Richard.
"Here you go sir," I said dropping off the check.
"What, am I supposed to sign this?" He asked.
"Well I need your credit card first."
"This was all supposed to be taken care of," He said.
"How so?" I asked
"The lady at our office was supposed to call in the credit card number and do it over the phone."
Great, no one told me about this, I grabbed Chris and went looking for Brett.
He had no idea either.
While he looked in the office for any notes about the credit card in his log, we ransacked the host desk for any clues.
In the meantime the whole party started to skate out the door, including the man in charge.
"Sir, you'll have to wait a moment." I declared.
"What, you haven't taken care of this yet?" He snapped.
"Sir, you'll have to wait for the manager to come up and talk to you." was my response.
He rolled his eyes and waved his hands as if we were the inconvenience.
Just then Brett showed up.
"Sir, I have no documentation on your party, we'll need a form of payment before you go." Bret said.
"Can't you just call the lady at our office?" Richard asked.
"Sir, It's nearly one in the morning," Brett said.
"Can't you call Monday?"
Richards wife stepped foreword, "Here, put it on my card, we can get reimbursed."
He pushed her aside, "No, the office was supposed to take care of this."
"Perhaps it was a miscommunication sir, but we need a method of payment before you leave." said Bret.
"Can't you just take my number and hold it until you verify with our office?"
Brett glanced over at us with a grim look on his face.
He conceded to the demands with a, "we don't usually do this, but..."
Satisfied the last of the party left...
A minute later, Brett came up with three shots of Jagermeister.
"We're not getting paid tonight, are we?" I asked.
He handed me a shot, "you'll have to wait until next week for your tip."
The only thing we could do was start laughing.
"That guy came in here and punched every one of us in the balls tonight, you guys, the bar, the cooks, everyone. To end it all without even paying it just another fist between the legs on his way out. That was real spit in the food shit if I ever saw it." Brett ranted.