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....

Thursday, June 21, 2007

I want to work here

From Craigslist:

Reply to: job-347399212@craigslist.orgDate: 2007-06-07, 11:52PM EDT

Face it, waiting tables (and it's sidekicks bussing and running) is often a pretty crappy job. Anyone who tells you otherwise is either:

a) lying

b) trying to sell books

c) is about to offer you Kool-Aid.

Psycho bosses, long hours, annoying entitled New Yorkers ("ugh, you said 20 minutes 15 minutes ago!"), strollers, damn strollers......ahhh, but you do leave with a good amount of cash in return.

Well here's a thought - how about leaving with your self-esteem in tact, too? Yes, I think it is entirely possible (call me a fool) to work the front of house and not die a little bit inside each night. If you do too, and you can find Brooklyn on a map, maybe we can work together.

I sincerely believe that a good dining experience starts with the owners and staff being happy. I don't let people talk down to my staff (including my staff). I don't own high chairs. My coke comes in a can. And is actually Pepsi.

I'm looking for several hard-working, sane, wine-savvy and reliable people to take the stage (and you should know it's all about taking control) at my little Brooklyn restaurant and wine bar. We serve primarily pizza (in Brooklyn, the wonder of it all) from a normal old pizza oven, the kind with gas heat and metal doors. No bricks. I know, a borough shudders. There will be some exotic ingredients thrown in, but for the most part I am aiming for simple, fresh pizzas and esoteric wines in expensive stemware. There are about 35 seats. I should have over 200 labels on the wine list by the end of the year.

I am more interested in finding the right people and building a team (ugh. i hate that word. better than coven i suppose) than in saying I need " x number of waiters, x number of bussers, etc." Hire adults and these things tend to work themselves out.

Here's what I am looking for:

- be hard-working, reliable and operate on intuition.

- be able to go eight hours without sending a text message (for real) - have solid wine knowledge. Knowing that Caymus is an expensive CA red (and white) is not enough. Tell me the process of Recioto and then we're getting somewhere.

- have good general food knowledge, like knowing whether turbot is a vegetable or bird

- be personable, articulate and attractive (define that last one for yourself. it does come from inside)

- speak profoundly fluent English

- not bitch about Brooklyn (also two hosts or hostesses who are GREAT with the phone. and not just texting - see above)

Pay is above minimum wage, but real minimum wage (plus tips), and not that crap most places (under)pay you while charging you for family meals that suck. The front of house is pooled, including bar. I intend on the opening staff to help determine steps of service and such. I want to make this the restaurant job you leave one day and wish they could all be like that. For me and for you. We are opening at the end of the month for dinner and two weeks later for lunch. We DO NOT serve that Sunday meal whose name shall be neither spoken nor typed. I expect to rather if not very busy from the outset. But who knows?

So if you have two or more years of New York or equivalent experience (SF, Chicago, NoLA, but not LA. The food sucks in LA) send me a resume. A photo is nice too. Maybe a story about your worst or best table. A haiku about how much you hate Southern tourists. Something. I know you may earnestly love food and wine and be quite bright, but you must have some serious experience for this work. I will be checking references, so tell your friends to be creative.

You know the formula: more skills + harder work = less staff = more money = Prada. Or grad school. (How shallow) Please write with any questions you may have.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Keep it Simple

I felt that I had to write about his issue because there seems to be some confusion. The topic is pretty simple, or at least it should be.
How to pay your tab.

The first step is to actually acknowledge that your server/bartender/waitron/personal whipping boy has indeed left you a bill.

It's hard work, I know, believe it or not I have to eat as well and on occasion I pick up the tab, ok on almost all occasions since I am a male and it seems to be my assigned duty, though I would like to thank that nice girl from a couple weeks back that at least made an effort to reach for the bill.

I digress.

Acknowledgement, that doesn’t mean become squatters and hang out for an hour and the sheepish, “oh, I forgot!” doesn’t fly well either.

But at least that’s better than the occasional, “Yeah, we’ll pay when we’re ready/are you in a hurry for us to leave?” being snapped at me.

You are ready, you aren’t ordering anymore, you said you were finished or you even asked for the bill.

This goes double for the hated late night diner that wants to camp out, yes I am in a hurry for you to leave and I’d rather have my paperwork set for the office so I can get paid than to sit on the other side of the room with my thousand yard stare being glared at you as you dawdle.

I’ve also noticed two bad habits that the diner has taken up, the first is the most insidious. The diner picks up the check presenter, looks it over, then puts it in front of them leans on it for what seems like hours.

That’s not an armrest, that’s something you put fucking money in.

The second habit is putting a credit card or cash in book so it cannot be seen and then placing it exactly in the position that I left it in. Most servers just tip toe around the table after that not knowing if they should pick up the presenter, as they don’t know if payment has been made. As a rookie server many moons ago I was accosted by an unruly guest for not making their payment in time due to this. I learned quickly and now have no problem asking if payment has been made.

So you managed to actually pick up the check by now, here’s step two, actually read the fucking thing. This counts for credit slips as well. Yes your waiter will make mistakes in their life and dicking up you check is one of them. Its much easier to ask questions when you are there than to make angry phone calls to your credit card company or our office.

Another good reason to peruse your bill is the inclusion of gratuities/service fees corkage fees or any other fee or tax. Yes your server should cover this or make a note on the check, but at the end of the day its your responsibility as well to look at the bill and its far easier than to haggle over the phone for refunds and such.

I have been on the end of nasty phone calls and sit downs with management over getting the double tip or people plain pissed that we charged money for them to bring in their own wine.
As for corkage fees, fucking deal with it, if I had my way there would be no outside food or beverages brought in, period. The other day I had a twenty-five top with a limited menu, I was excited until I saw the wine listed for the evening, not a single bottle was on our list.

Guess how much I lost out on that because they brought their own wine?

I estimated my loss at $100, not to mention that was my only table of the night since they camped out and I lost my later reservations to the closer, so maybe it was more like $200 I lost, however we will just deal with the corkage for now.

I’ve always placed it akin to me not wanting to pay for a bottle of beer at the bar and walking in with a six-pack of High Life, I don’t care if your bottle is special or not, use it at your own dinner party, not where the sale of wine is the bread and butter of both the restaurant and its staff.

But back on track to the checks…

I’m a big fan of Keep It Simple, Stupid.

1. Pick up the check within a minute or two of receiving it.

2. Read the fucking thing.

3. Fumble with the credit card slot like an invalid or place cash in a conspicuous manner.

4. Place presenter on the edge of a table.

5. Fucking leave, squatters don’t pay rent.

How hard was that? School’s out kids.