The Insane Waiter

Running wild on customers, chefs, owners and managers since 1997. I bring to you, The Insane Waiter. What do bring to your table? A crisp bottle of San Pellegrino ? Perhaps a lovely seared Sashimi Tuna? Start off with a wonderful bottle from Tuscany perhaps? Why I'll be more than happy to bring you your White Zinfandel and Chicken Caesar. No you can't order the mac and cheese off the kids menu and sorry no, we don't serve cheese sticks....

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


Well here’s what happens when the majority of restaurants have call in policies such as this or oppose offering health benefits to their employees such as stated here.

In the news during the last couple weeks there were articles and newscasts reporting the Norovirus outbreaks that have been attributed to The Olive Garden restaurants.

Locally there was an outbreak at Trostel’s Greenbriar (excellent dining btw) and the same employee was found working at The West End Diner (not so excellent), article here.

Well enough with the hyper linking for now.

My point is this, many restaurants make employees feel obligated to report to workif they are ill.

If I were to call in to work with vomiting or diarrhea the assumption from my management staff would be that I am nothing more than hungover and need to get my ass to work.

This can be applied to anyone that works in many restaurants, particularly corporate chains.

Personally I have worked for three corporate restaurants and the staff was intimidated into coming in sick with the threat of termination or write ups at all places, my peers can attest to the same treatment where they have worked.

In the restaurant environment if you do stay home ill you are virtually marked as a troublemaker and risk losing shifts and prime sections as “punishment” for the crime of falling sick.

As well there is no sick pay, so if you stay home you lose out on a shifts pay.

You might be required to go to the doctor to bring a note excusing yourself from work, never mind that health insurance is often not offered and that a simple doctor visit can cost $150 just for them to tell us we’re sick.

But really that’s noting I haven’t said before.

So what do most of us do?

We suck it up.

We go to work with sore throats, the flu, bronchitis, diarrhea and what have you.

We’re told to wash our hands often (which we should do)

But in most cases, when half a dozen people touch your food before it gets to your table, this approach is just a feel good safety method.

So what happens is the customer and other staff members fall sick when we either are forced to work or can’t afford to take off.

Most of the time it is a simple cold bug that gets around, no one traces these things back to restaurants because they aren’t that much of a risk.

Hell, I’ve seen half or a restaurant’s staff come down with a cold or the flu, I wonder how many of the customers came down with it as well?

But when a Norovirus, E. Coli or Salmonella outbreak hits it spreads fear which a head cold won't.

People are afraid of tainted spinach, lettuce, green onions or stomach flu and the restaurants that they are traced to.

Is it because some server, some cook didn’t wash their hands?

Or is it because the employees might lose their jobs or income because management can’t manage the shift when employees are ill?

So Olive Garden will lose many customer’s and the owners and investors will take a hit, servers will have less customers and the good reputation of a local restaurant will diminish.

They might have staff meetings reminding everyone to wash their hands, wear gloves and all of that common sense.

But at the end of the day when someone calls in sick they’ll be told…

“Either come in and work or you won’t have a job.”

The same thing that was said to me a several years back as a rookie server when I had the flu.

I came in.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Customer, right?

Another bit of wisdom...

"The phrase ‘The Customer is Always Right’ is the single worst philosophy that has ever been adopted by American culture. It gave an entire generation of people the green light to be as impolite, unreasonable, and demanding as their little hearts desired because they were always going to be considered right. It destroyed the entire concept of courtesy and rendered manners obsolete. People began to treat their peers in the service industry like incompetent morons, lacking in feelings or human dignity, who deserved to be browbeaten and abused for no other reason than they had the audacity to run out of a particular brand of coffee. Furthermore, instead of suffering negative repercussions for their appallingly disrespectful behavior, they are awarded with free coupons and plenty of ass kissing. In reality, they should be shunned and humiliated for behaving like such self absorbed little children."

More at:

Violent Acres

Common Sense

Caught this on Bitterwaitress, how to be a good customer. I agree full heartedly

Customers can fall short too:10 Tips to be a good one

By Tucker Shaw, Denver Post

A couple of times over the past month I've made the point in this column that the standards for restaurant service in the Denver area are, in general, not as high as they should be. But that is not my point today.

Today, instead of griping about service foibles and frustrations, it's time to turn the tables and see a different point of view. Because it's not only servers who are falling short. It's us too. We've all been there: You're at dinner with someone whose attitude and behavior make you cringe. He or she complains about everything, scoffs at and speaks condescendingly to your server, throws attitude and leaves a miserable tip. You find yourself smiling extra broadly to your server to make up for it, even slipping a few extra bucks under a glass of water on the way out to make up for the difference. It's a horrible feeling.

On behalf of overworked, and underpaid and underappreciated servers, here are 10 things the rest of us need to keep in mind.

One: Your server, (not your servant) is a human being and deserves your best manners. A moment of eye contact and a smile up front, the most basic and respectful way to acknowledge a fellow human being, can make the difference between a smooth evening, and a bumpy one-on both sides.

Two: Your server works hard. Quite likely, they work even harder than you do. Staying on your feet for four to six, or eight hours at a stretch is a lot to ask of anyone. Throw in having to schlep plates, fight with chefs, absorb customer frustrations and maintain a positive outward attitude-this is a tough, demanding job, worthy of out respect and admiration.

Three: Your server doesn't make much money. Few and far between are the restaurant jobs in Denver that pay servers to say, buy real estate. And benefits? With very few exceptions, forget it.

Four: Every night is a gamble for your server. Most of us know much we're getting paid every week, whether we're busy that week or not. But beyond their sorry base rate (usually around $2-something an hour) restaurant servers are paid based on how much business the restaurant does that particular day-and how generous people are with their tips. If it's a lucky night at an expensive restaurant, a server can net up several hundred bucks. But $40 and $60 nights are much more common.

Five: You are not the only one in the restaurant. Ever had to do more than one thing at a time at your job? Then you can relate. Don't hog the server with endless questions. Ask about the menu, yes, but think first. Questions like "what should I have" are about as unreasonable as "what size am I?" when you're on the phone with J.Crew.

Six: Your server cannot read your mind. If you need something, say so. Don't stew on the fact that your iced tea needs more ice. It's unfair to resent your server for not noticing, then punish them with a bum tip. Seven: Patience is always appropriate. Berating the host or hostess will not free up that patio table any faster. Stay in sight so you're not forgotten, and be willing to give them a few minutes' grace. And if the wait for your table is longer than you're willing to wait, just say goodbye (A good restaurant will at least buy you a drink if you wait more than a few minutes.)

Eight: Your server deserves the benefit of the doubt. If, for example, the wrong entree is delivered to your table, you can be sure it was an honest mistake. (who would do this on purpose?) Before you go busting chops, give your server a break. Point out mix-ups politely.

Nine: Remember, you chose this restaurant, not vise versa. What's on the menu is what's available. Don't make unreasonable requests, like asking for the three-cheese lasagna without the cheese, or a cold beer for your 14-year-old son.

Ten: Don't skimp on a tip. It's 2006, and a 10 percent tip isn't cool anymore. Between 15 and 20 percent is appropriate. When in doubt, leave a little extra. It's good karma.

Long story short: Good service requires honest participation on both sides. So, if we expect our servers to do a better job, we must be willing to step up too.

Monday, December 11, 2006

I've Been Tagged!

Ok, I normally don’t do blogger things like memes or tags or anything but I was tagged by Strip Club Server and she’s a sexy beast so I better comply, beside, I really don’t talk too much about my real life outside the restaurant so here we go!

5 things about me that you don’t know.

1. You know I’m a wine snob, damn White Zin drinkers! Well I also am a beer snob. I actually don’t look down on customers, friends, et al, that order domestics. Except maybe the “Boooosh Light” and “Keeeeeeers” . So when I go out I pretty much drink good stuff like Czechovar, Spaten and any type of IPA that I can find, pretty much stuff that will put hair on your chest, and evidently your back as well. Plus I’m a big fan of Brew Pubs, if you’re from the central Iowa scene you’ve probably seen me bellied up at Court Ave or hanging out at the “Coon”. And although I may be a beer snob, really there is nothing like an ice cold PBR on a hot summer day.

2. I am absolutely terrified of public speaking. Which is very strange considering that I get up in front of strangers everyday and speak for a living. Not only that but I usually go on a lengthy and detailed spiel about any features and such. I’m finally taking a speech class and I’m pretty sure I’m going to wind up having an anxiety attack in front of everyone. This all stems from a business law class I took and halfway through a presentation I froze and forgot everything I was talking about. I stumbled through the rest and decided law isn’t the right career for me. Evidently selling a twenty top on the virtues of Ruffino Gold label is ok though.

3. In high school I once had my paintball gun confiscated from me by the police for shelling our arch-rival’s school busses with them. As well we did all kinds of fun stuff to incoming freshmen such as chase them around with paddles (I know, we stole that one) shooting them with paintballs and spraying them with super soakers filled with Kool-Aid, nice sticky mess. Pretty much a bunch of hick style fun straight out of Dazed and Confused. By the way my Mom knows nothing of these events, but she will now I suppose!

4. I’m a huge movie buff, have about 300 DVD’s and a Netflix subscription. Going to see Apocalyto tomorrow, and really I don’t think this one will be anti-semetic. Top movies in my list are The Big Lebowski, All Quiet on the Western Front, Caddyshack and Goodfellas. As well I’m starting to collect television series such as my personal favorite Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm and The Sopranos, of course, next up Buffy!

5. I absolutely love history. I take every course I can take, though unrelated to my major, and probably should teach it. Unfortunately I probably make more as a server and I really don’t have the patience to try to get through to a bunch of kids that probably don’t care and are more concerned about degrading a kid that want to learn or purging their lunch before they gain a calorie. That being said for some reason I find the decline of civilizations interesting, there’s something about being at the end of something that is kind of special, if a bit sad. I always find it interesting that the Aztecs foretold the end of the world, and it pretty much came true on the year that they predicted,, So I read about the fall of Rome, destruction of Nazi Germany, the fall of Alexander’s Empire, pretty much the end of decadent societies. It can be noted that there are many parallels to our own, I could list some, but that would be a bit preachy and a downer.

Well there you go, a few absolutely random things about me. If you want to know more, field a question! I might answer it. I’m not really going to tag any bloggers, especially since pretty much all of my little circle has already been tagged by others! Catch you next time everyone

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Oh How Cute!

“Oh your table has just the cutest little girl at it!” Exclaimed Nikki, one of the female servers.
I only could give her a grimacing look.

“What, you don’t like kids?” She said accusingly.

“I don’t like many things,” I said.

My eleven top had turned into a nightmare of two couples and their seven kids, they had taken over my section and the toddlers of the group were running rampant past customers that might actually spend some money.

“Um yeah, can we move over to that table?” asked one of my other customers.

The table was out of my section, I would have to give them up.

And they looked like the type that would drop some serious cash, including a twenty spot for me off of their two top table.

I grimaced again.

“Sure, I’ll get you set up over there.” I said.

I didn’t blame them for moving, hell I’d move too if I was them.

I blamed the eleven top and their demon spawn.

Nikki had come up to the table in the meantime and was fawning over the little girls, just as one rushed out in front of a waiter trucking through with a heavy tray over his head.

“Oh my! They are so adorable!” Nikki gushed.

As she said this one of the other little girls started breaking her crayons and throwing them across the restaurant.

“Sir, you might want to keep an eye on your girls, I wouldn’t want one of them to get hurt.” I said.

“Oh they’ll be fine.” Their father replied nonchalantly.

I spied another toddler crawling on the floor.

“Well there’s a lot of people coming through here.” I reiterated, thinking of customers and servers with drinks and heavy trays.

The man just waved me off.


Jesus, if I acted like that when I was a kid I’d be on the way home by then, with the prospect of a hard hand against my ass.

But these days it might hurt the poor self-esteem.

So the group finally gets settled down enough to order.

Except the kids at the end of the table, they managed to fortify themselves under their chairs.

“Ummm, yah, she would like pasta with sauce on the side, not too much butter, but with chicken, can she get that on the side too? And can she have marinara instead of alfredo? And she can‘t, I repeat can‘t, have anything green on the plate, she won‘t eat it! That means no parsley or anything.” The mother requested for her daughter, for a kids meal.

No wonder people these days are so finicky and entitled.


“Sure sure,” I answered.

So after similar orders for the other kids I’m sitting at a $100 eleven top, not the best table sales wise.

After taking the order I was doing the usual, dodging kids in my section why trying to appease the eleven top’s annoyed neighbors.

I could tell who and what they were going to take their “ruined” dinners out on, me and my tip.

So as I was returning to my table with the adult’s salads I spotted the adults standing together in a group, with concerned looks on all faces.

“We need a band aid right away!” One of the mothers shouted.

“What happened?” I asked.

“Just get me one now!” She snapped.

“Yes ma’am.”

Returning with a band aid I asked again, “what happened?”

“We found this!” The mother hissed as she placed a sliver of bloody glass in my hand.

Yeah, I want a bloody sharp object in my hand, thank you much.

“My daughter cut herself on this, I want to speak to a manager now!” She said.

“I just don’t know how this can happen.” The dad said.

Oh man, I wanted to speak up.

It happened because you feel you don’t need to control your children.

It happened because they were crawling on the floor of a restaurant.

A floor that can get quite filthy from the hundreds of people that walk on it, drop food on it, and yes, break glass on it.

Instead I fetched the manager.

I caught part of their conversation, mostly the manager groveling and offering comps on their dinners.

The parents just couldn’t believe we ran the place with broken glass strewn about.

Well in a darkened restaurant it might be hard to find a sliver of glass that slid under a table leg.

That’s one reason out of many that children should not be crawling on the floor or under the table.

It wasn’t acceptable when I was a kid and it sure as shit isn’t acceptable now.