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....

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Como Se Llama?

Well our fearless leader the GM, who inexplicably still has a job, really out shined his past performance this week.

Apparently he can't be bothered to learn at least the first names of some of our Latino employees so he resorted to some middle-school trickery.

Remember that old game where the class bully would slap you on the back and leave a taped on sign that said "kick me" or some other lame sign?

Well GM decided that it would be cute to write out some stickers and walk around the kitchen slapping the Mexican cooks and dishwashers on the back with name tags so he wouldn't have to remember who Javier or Gerardo are.

Apparently he thinks the Latinos have the mindset of a small child and wounldn't notice his little gag.

Rest assured they did.

So did a few of us second, third and fourth generation Latinos.

There's been some talk of a lawsuit.

Its a shame he gets away with firing people at will that get on his bad side for criticizing his many flaws, yet the company won't can him for a blatant racist offense.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Closing the shift

“Hey could you come check me out?” said Aaron.

“What’s your side work?” I asked hurriedly, in the midst of ringing in my orders.

“Well I was supposed to fill the grinder and wash out the sinks” Aaron replied.

Shit, what else was on his list of duties, at a glance I noticed he didn’t fill the grinder or wash the sinks, what else did he skip out on?

“Top off the coffee grinder and wipe down the sink area, then I’ll be back to sign you out.” I said.

“This is fucking bullshit!” Aaron said, ”the sink was clean a minute ago and I can’t fit any more beans into the grinder.”

“I can still see air, either do it or don’t, I don’t want this half-ass shit right now.” I snapped back.

I hustled out of the kitchen to service my nine tables I had rolling. I was stopped by another server, Bill.

“Could you check me out?” Bill said.

“Give me a sec, I’ve got to take another order.” I said back.

“But I’m on a double and meeting a friend for lunch!” Bill whined.

“Jesus, I’ll be back in a minute,” I replied.

After taking another order and dropping off some food I went to attend to the inpatient servers.

I glanced over the side-work chart and noticed Bill was on take out implements and that Aaron was to fill the ice bin, which was woefully nearing emptiness.

“Bill, I need more to-go bags and large boxes,” I said.

“But I’ve got to go…” Bill pleaded.

“I don’t care, don’t bother me unless you have your work done, look , you haven’t done a single thing on the list!” I snapped at him.

He retreated out of site in a huff.

Then I noticed Aaron giving his cash-out paperwork and money to the assistant manager.

“Where the fuck do you think you’re going?” I asked, “I haven’t signed you out yet.”

“This is bullshit, I only made twenty bucks today and I want to get the fuck out of here!” Aaron bitched, “I can’t fill the grinder any more, where the fuck am I supposed to put the coffee? On the floor?”

“What’s up with you letting him go without my signature?” I demanded of the manager, ignoring Aaron.

“Just let him go, he’s had a bad shift.” Said the manager.

“I don’t give a shit, I’m sick of wasting my time checking out people who are trying to skip out,

I’m getting my ass handed to me out there and I’ve got to deal with this bullshit?” I yelled.

Aaron took the manager and I arguing as an opportunity to slip out the side door.

“We’re almost out of ice and I just got sat a new table, who the fuck is going to stock it? You? Its his job, I don‘t care how much money he made.” I said.

The manager had no answer.

I stormed back into the dinning room.

A few minutes I was getting ice in the bar since we had since run out in the service station when a waitress came up to me.

“Could you check me out?” She asked.

I took a deep breath, she was one of the newer, more unreliable servers.

“What did you have?” I asked.

“The second service station.” she replied.

It took me a second’s glance to tell she hadn’t done shit, glasses weren’t stocked, the counter was full of trash and empty pitchers stood haphazardly on the counter. Worst of all there were two ice buckets containing puddles instead of ice.

“You haven’t done a fucking thing up here, why are you wasting my time?” I said sharply.

“But, but, it was clean a minute ago, someone must have left this here.” She stammered.

“That’s likely given that enough time has passed to melt ice into water, I want this spotless.” I demanded.

Shit, I still had nine tables at this point and I was getting a little sick of people taking advantage of me being in the weeds to try to skate on their work.

Work that I myself would have to do if I checked out with management and it wasn’t done.

About half an hour later things had calmed down, the flow entering the restaurant had stopped and most of my tables had cashed out with me. It was then I noticed that the to-go station was nearly empty of containers and take-out bags.

“Has anyone seen Bill?” I asked to several servers.

“I saw him walking to his car.” replied one of them.

“Fuck,” was all I had to say.

The next time I saw the assistant manager I cornered him.

“Bill was the second waiter to leave without doing his work, what’s the point in having me check them out if they aren’t going to do their shit?” I asked.

“Bill had the GM check him out, he said you were too busy.” he replied.

“Bill deliberately checked out with him so he wouldn’t have to do his work, I checked him out and he was one of three servers who hadn’t completed their work and along with Aaron got away without doing shit.” I said.

“Well maybe we need to crack down on side work,” said the manager.

“I’m trying, but it doesn’t help that you and the GM are undermining my job and that of the other closers, now I have to go down to the basement to get ice and take out containers or the GM won’t let me leave. I don’t care if people want to leave early or have plans or didn‘t make any money today, if they don’t do their jobs I’m held accountable for it. The other closer just let me know that Aaron skipped out on rolling silverware also, why bother having me check side-work at all? Why don’t we just let the staff decide for themselves when they’ve done enough.” I said ranting.

“Well I’ll talk to the GM about this,” said the assistant manager.

“What good will that do, he’s more worried about how we roll up our sleeves and how many earrings we can wear than how this restaurant actually runs.” I stated.

The manager just shrugged his shoulders.

What else was there to do but that?


Thursday, September 06, 2007

How a restaurant operates, 101

Oh I had to comment on this one, I’ll run it by you, many people don’t have any idea how this business works, my answers are in the bold fyi!

Not edited for spelling or grammar. But you should be used to that, hah!

Ok, run this by me.. Front door, thats right - nobody opened it for me.

So what? We’re servers, not servants. The only people who open doors for others are boyfriends trying to get laid and kindergarten teachers, you’re a big boy, do it yourself.

Front desk / hostess - 17 year old annoying chick who is mumbling to her coworkers and eventually gets around to asking me "how many". ( Not "Hello, welcome. How are you... etc", just barks out the 'how many' ) This chick makes about 7.50 an hour, and at 17 years old that’s usually more than most of her friends.

Actually with all the minimum wage bumps, that’s about average.

other hostess type person - Again, 17 or so, making $7.50 an hour also. Puts me wherever the front desk person said to. Doesn't care if the table is slightly dirty or junk on the chairs, walks back up to front desk, sometimes mumbles 'someone will be with you soon'.

Actually you are right, hostesses are pretty much worthless eye candy, though there are some exceptions.

random water person - "Would you like some water?". This person usually doubles as the coffee, tea, and busser. Bussers make at least minimum wage. Bussers who know any more english than "Water?" might make 25 cents above minimum wage. (This is their choice to work there, not educate themselves for a better job, and not learn more english to make more money doing some other position/job ).

I don’t believe you have any right to judge a person’s position. I bet your immigrant forefathers jumped right off the boat with a degree, knowing the Queen’s English and landing a position as a CPA. Nice way to lump bussers in a group as well, many are in High School or college and are using this position as a step up, as part of their choice of life. And who cares if they aren’t? Most bussers I know do a lot more shit work than you probably do, I gotta respect that.

Actual Waiter - Usually doesn't ask how we are or how our night is going. Usually tells us about the special we already read about at the front waiting area.

So he's reciting the features, its his job, or would you prefer them to just scribble shit down?

Asks if we want any other drinks.random drink person - this is usually another 17 year old who doubles as a food runner. They almost never know who gets what drink. They probably have access to that information, but it's easier and quicker to just ask the people at the table.

I don’t know where you go out to eat, but unless it’s a sommelier, who is more learned than yourself in these matters, I’ve never had a drink runner.

waiter again - either comes by every 2 minutes upset that you don't know what you want yet, or doesn't come by for 5-10 minutes because they are somewhere fucking off or bullshitting with a different table. Some of them even sit down with you and pretend to socialize, but the majority who i see do this are doing it simply because they are lazy as hell and want to rest their legs/feet.

I’ll cover this a bit more in depth in my upcoming “how to order” column, however while it is understandable to chat a bit before deciding, after the waiter stops by once or twice its probably a good idea for you to decide upon dinner. If they are gone for a bit its usually because they are at work or tired of checking on you because of your indecisiveness.

As far as the whole sitting down thing, I am not much of a fan of that. I try to keep it professional and polite and only reserve true friendliness for good regulars or people who seem open to joking around.

The sitting down/squatting thing came about with chain restaurants doing a study that claimed customers felt less intimidated by servers who were pretty much debasing themselves, sucking up or making the guest feel superior. In most cases I do feel superior so I refused to do that whole thing while working for corporate in years past.

food runner - again, has no idea who gets what food. It's quicker and easier to just ask the people at the table. Some times if there are only 2 people at the table, they'll toss the food on the table and just hope for the best. Usually to be polite, we wait till they leave and then trade plates. The better food runners will stick around long enough to ask if you need any condiments, but this happens less than 20% of the time.

Most food runners that I have seen do a simple thing, read the ticket. Unless you are one of those tables who plays musical chairs, and I bet you are, the food will be delivered in order of how the waiter took the order, its called pivot point seating. Food runners typically get paid out of the server's tip as well, often being paid a low wage.

waiter - Usually has no idea how long your food has been on your table or who delivered it to you. So they either ask 45 seconds after you have gotten the food, which is too soon to know if you really like it or if you have any issues - or comes by 10 minutes into it - and at that point half the people at your table are 1/2 done eating so why slow everyone down by sending your order back or creating a big stink?

Erroneous, I know exactly how long your food has been taking or when it was delivered, true I have 15-20 other customers I have my mind on as well so me checking back could have a little variance. I try to live by the two minutes/two bites rule. Unless I sense you’re a bad tipper, then I just cut you lose. That probably explains a lot about how you feel you’ve been treated.

random busser - Someone eventually comes by grabbing plates or glasses. Again, this person is making at least minimum wage. Many cases they don't know enough english so if you ask them for something they have to send a food runner or find your waiter.

English is capitalized, btw. Their job is dirty and hard, while they may be able to get simple items like an extra plate or glass of water, they aren’t versed on the menu or bar list in most cases. Usually the busser makes under minimum wage, especially in chain restaurants.

The server actually supplements their wage by paying them out of our own pockets, something that was legitimized with tip credit laws, enabling employers to pay under minimum just like servers. Weird system and one that benefit’s the owner for certain, its akin to your boss asking you to pay the maintenance man out of your own paycheck.

I’m not necessarily happy all the time with this system as often I find myself doing more than my fair share of the work I’m supposed to be paying for.

Legally if the busser makes over minimum wage it is illegal to force staff to tip them out, however management usually finds a way to intimidate or threaten if you try to refuse.

waiter - will either try to upsell you into some coffee, desserts, or could care less and just slips your check onto the end of the table as they walk by.

Um yeah, that means dinner is over and its time to pay or order further, you know this, how is that even a point?

SO, By all means.. Tell me why I would tip big????? 80% of the help you got were from hourly people who couldn't give a damn. 20% of the help is from the waiter who does nothing but scribble down your order and hope that 3 other people don't fuck up making it or serving it. WHAT IS SCRIBBLING AN ORDER WORTH???

You should tip because it is a social norm. You should tip because if you don’t you’re pretty much a cheap asshole. If you want to make a statement about tipping by stiffing the wait staff, you’re talking to the person with the least ability to change the system. I do a hell of a lot more than scribble the order and pray someone takes care of anything, read this or any other article/blog on dinning, that’s all the proof I need.

Often the people you have been griping about depend on the server's tip to bring them above minimum wage. The server has to pay that regardless of what you tip, meaning waiters actually have to pay out of their own pocket for the privilege of waiting on some tables who leave absurdly low tips or non at all.

The actual restaurant is making 300% profit on most of the food, and 800% profit on most of the liquor you order. They hire the cheapest staff they can. So you end up with half a dozen people who really don't care what you want or what went wrong, and as long as you keep tipping 20% they don't spit in your food???????

Its obvious you have no idea of the overhead that a restaurant maintains. Salaries, rent, mortgage, business loans, equipment, electricity, licenses, taxes and countless others cut the profit to 5-7% in most cases, Thom and JP could weigh in on that one. The mark-up may seem unfair, but at the end of the day you’re not just paying for the food itself, but everything that supports the restaurant’s ability to serve it.

Long story short - Restaurant needs to tip their own staff by paying out a % of profits. Not gouge their customers and underpay their staff!!!!!!!

I’m fine with that, when restaurants inflate the rate of their dinners another 20% to accommodate the service staff’s desired income I’ll be the first to line up for my first paycheck in three years.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

More P.C. Fun

If I had these little drunk scumbags do that in my section I'd throttle them.

Of course I wouldn't lump Asians in with a stealing stereotype, I'd leave that to the Gypsies or Mexicans...

Ouch, I can say that because I'm Gypsican!

"Stiffing is not cool"

Eight on $164??? I'd be pissed as fuck as well, this is how stereotypes continue. I like how she gave no reason to stiff the guy other than a couple lame ass excuses, comparing a dinner at a nice steakhouse to Taco Bell.

Yeah, this is 2007, fucking tip unless you have a reason, the waiter probably had to shell a buck or two out of his own pocket for the privilege of waiting on this woman.

I've seen a patron or two called out on stiffing and its funny as hell, maybe not professional, but hey, still funny. Wish I have this woman on my last shift ever, make my fucking life!