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....

Friday, January 25, 2008

Bread Nazis

I hate bread Nazis, they troll restaurants and bars solely to run their sever for complementary bread and freak out if anything gets in the way.

Their close cousins are the Tortilla Chip and Snack Mix fascists that inhabit Mexican joints and bars.

A fond memory of mine is running my ass for refills of chips and being balled out for charging for queso and guacamole when I was a working bar at a local sports bar. Chips and salsa are free, other sides cost us more money and they will cost you money as well.

But I digress, back to Nazis.

Lately I have taken a stand against them, this has been an off and on battle for me for years. The fact is we don’t serve bread and butter, or bread and oil for that matter during lunch service.

The reason is this, we don’t want to have the guest stay for any more time than necessary and since the cost of meals is lower, complementary items such as bread, olive oil and butter aren’t figured into the cost of the meal. Bread also takes away from money making appetizers and salads.

Try telling that to a customer.

Today for instance when I asked a table if they wanted any soup or salad before their dinner they responded with, “Well the bread you’ll be bringing us will take the place of that.”

I kindly informed them that I didn’t plan on bringing them bread ahead of time as we don’t offer bread service at lunch, if they wanted something while they waited for lunch I’d certainly offer them a cup of our delicious corn chowder.

They weren’t takers.

The secondary reason I’ve taken a stand is the domino effect. The second a neighboring table notices someone with bread service they feel they’ve been slighted and demand to know where their precious bread is.

“Why didn’t you bring us bread?!” They ask with an accusatory tone.

I’ve even had a group complain to a manager that I, “didn’t even offer us bread,” in their words.
That’s because we don’t serve it, give an entitlement junkie an inch, they’ll take a mile, something that this business is known for.

The other afternoon I had a fifteen top ask when I was bringing out their complementary bread.

My choice was round up butter that gets lost in the cooler, oil bottles that had been emptied and cleaned, oil for the bottles, baskets, bread and bread plates for all fifteen guest. That or I could say no.

Guess which choice I took.

Instead I used that time to get refills for my section, orders for a few other tables, I bussed a table and I also ran food for that fifteen top.

I suppose I could be chastised for denying the wishes of the guest, but what is better service? Attending to actual needs or attending to wants that aren’t even being offered at the time.

Now myself I occasionally make an exceptions, especially when people ask politely and just don’t assume I forgot to bring them something or that I’m somehow trying to slight them.

A, “may we please have some bread,” goes much further than asking ,“Aren’t you forgetting something? Our bread?” in a presumptuous and annoying tone.

Bread is not a right, its a privlage, act like children and I will take it away, even at the risk of a subpar tip.

Of course, one acting that way pretty much means I wouldn't expect much of one anyways


At 4:12 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have people ask all the time "Don't dis come wit som bread?" to which I reply, "You'll get 4 rolls for a dollar fifty, it's not complimentary here." Then I proceed to eat the rolls myself in the kitchen. They're not the good rolls from O'charleys or anything like that, these are shit rolls, and I charge for 4 of them. Fuck bread nazi's.

At 10:14 AM , Blogger Lane said...

Speaking of bread - why is it that just about every restaurant I have ever been to insists on bringing three pieces of bread to a party of two? Are they just being chintzy, or is there some higher reasoning that I'm failing to grasp?

At 3:57 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Free Bread cost money. Have you checked the price of Flour latley ?

Free bread
Water with lemons and sugar
Xtra this and that
Bring lot's of Ranch
More gravy
Put some booze in it
Pour it like you don't own it

There all related

At 6:53 PM , Anonymous TheDame said...

I had a "friend" who would always force her company upon us when going out to eat, then never eat with us, but insist upon basket after basket of rolls. At the end of the meal she'd insist we get to-go boxes for our meals, then pack pack them up with the rolls she had ferreted away! This behavior stopped after my boss took me and my coworkers out to lunch, and she wrangled herself an invitation (though she didn't even work in our department). Since bossman was paying, she went all out and actually ordered a meal, but still took a dozen rolls home too. Funny, we didn't hang out with her too much after that.

Did you know the french term for bread is 'pain'? Oh, the truth of it!

At 11:58 AM , Anonymous erin said...

This reminds me- I worked in a diner-style restaurant in a college town for 7 years (actually just quit at the end of December). During breakfast, since we're lazy, we set up little bowls with the assortment of butter/jelly/honey packets to just take to tables and let them use what they want. One morning I watched a woman dump the entire contents of the bowl into her purse. She then asked me for a 'refill'. I said no, and considered telling her I wanted the others back too... really, lady?? Come on. Oh, and she of course did not leave a tip.

At 4:13 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Certain people have entitlement issues. I was standing in line with about 20 items in my grocery cart and a woman and her husband behind me kept making little noises and creeping closer and closer. They wanted me to let them ahead of me because they only had a few items. Normally, I would. But not when she kept doing fake coughs and pushing her items almost in my face. Later my husband thanked me for not giving into her passive aggression and agreed had she not been so pushy we would have let her in front of us.

At 4:22 PM , Blogger Lane said...

"Free Bread cost money. Have you checked the price of Flour latley ?"

I don't know if that was meant as a response to me or not; but assuming it was, look at it this way:

This is anecdotal, but it seems to hold true with others as well, at least in my experience.

You give me and my wife a basket with three rolls. We're going to eat all three, and probably ask for a refill to cover the disparity. So that's six total.

Now, if we had received four in the first place, everything's equal and we probably won't ask for more. Sure there are some who will take all you can give them, but it seems to me when you are blatantly creating that inequality, the end result is going to be having to offer even more bread, not less.

Unless I'm just misreading the whole thing.

At 9:29 PM , Anonymous marco said...

No, you're reading it perfectly. It's a vast conspiracy to blatantly create inequality across the restaurant business, thus destabilizing the entire economy...which is Phase One of their ultimate goal: global domination. By getting annoyed you are playing right into their hands. Don't fall for it! Next time you get only three pieces, take a deep breath and say this to the server:
Thank you.

At 9:44 PM , Blogger Lane said...

Fine, fine.

At 3:02 AM , Anonymous marco said...

Actually a really good busser and/or waiter would take that into account and fill your basket accordingly, without having to be asked. But to make sure just slip the busser a five and you won't have to worry.

At 3:22 PM , Blogger Damned Hippie Feminist said...

We have a new management team in our restaurant and because we haven't been meeting food costs, they've been pushing us to not bring bread to the table ahead of time unless it's specifically asked for. After being harassed about it all last week, I finally gave in to management's requests last Friday night and saw my tips go from 20-25% for the night to somewhere just below 15%. I don't care about their "food costs" - I have to meet my "living costs" Free bread for everyone!

At 10:42 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just to let you know, I posted a link to this entry of yours in this weeks edition of The Round Table.

If you'd like to host it sometime, you're more than welcome to. I just couldn't resist using this one though!


At 4:53 PM , Anonymous wheezy waiter said...

I completely understand your plight, however, I love
chips and salsa
. As I always say, I can't be held accountable for my actions, no matter how annoying and rude, in a Mexican restaurant.

At 9:37 AM , Anonymous wowzer said...

I'm so glad I didn't want the bread anyway.

At 9:34 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The restaurant I work at is a well known "italian grill". We offer complimentary bread to every table. We don't bake the bread from scratch, we have it delivered everyday from a local bakery mostly baked. Then we bake it the rest of the way in our ovens. Most days, we're able to keep up with the demand. A couple of weeks ago, the bakery delivered the bread for the day FROZEN. Normally, it takes about 15 minutes per batch. The frozen bread was taking an hour. Ever see the Burger King commercials about the "whopper freakout"? That's nothing compared to what happened. People either: a)walked out furious b)complained to a manager, demanding their entire meals be comped or c)refused to beleive their server, ordered a meal, and then refused to eat it until they were brought their bread. It was the most childish behavior I've ever seen! I hate people more and more everyday.

At 4:08 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Three pc's of bread for two people sounds like a last ditch effort to save food cost. I agree with Lane give four and you'll use less. Maybe the GM should look alittle deeper or factor it into the cost of the meal. We use bread as a filler on all you can eat dishes. The more bread thay eat (it swellS with beverage)the less they eat.

At 9:52 PM , Blogger the Grader said...

On the well known Italian grill running out of bread, been there, done that, even better when you run out of pasta. Better than that, is when a table tells you that they must have their pasta dish comped because the substitution of rigatoni for penne completely changes the texture of the dish ...

At 7:25 PM , Blogger Void said...

"why is it that just about every restaurant I have ever been to insists on bringing three pieces of bread to a party of two?"

short answer: Because they're told to. I don't know any good reason, but orders come from management. I got sick of customers complaining about it and would thus even it out.

"make sure just slip the busser a five and you won't have to worry"
Giving the busser a 5 he may give you more than bread...

About the Italian restaurant running out of bread: people go absolutely ape-shit if the oven breaks at Red Lobster and they don't get their cheddar biscuits. What's funny is they get the attitude that you're denying them those calorie-filled greaseballs on purpose.

At 2:57 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

lane -its simople NOT everyone eats bread/some dont like it or the extra calories since they are gonna eat alfredo sauce or are on an Atkins diet

SO they dont want to hand out a basket of bread UNLESS you eat it

most servers will clue in on the bread thing if your bread is gone instantaneously and refill the basket accordingly

UNLESS your passive aggressive about and you might get on a SLOW boat to china refill cycle

At 10:36 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

once we had to remake a tank of salsa due to an "off" "salty" flavor that a few tables complained about. The next hour was practical insanity. Chips without hotsauce for an entire 10 minutes while bob was back there with the supermix2000 going as fast as he could. The world was over.

Our policy with chip baskets is 1 basket 1 bowl per 2 people, and round up for 3. During a rush the hostesses will get lazy and bring 1 basket 1 bowl for a 12 top. You would think this would spell tragedy for the tip until you make a quick joke about how your hostess (who made them wait an extra 15 minutes so she could text her bff) is a total moron.

At 12:05 PM , Anonymous Strawberry Blond said...

If we're going to gripe and complain about three pieces of bread for two people I have a simple solution:

Bring them two. Two, or none at all.

Thank you and good night.

At 6:29 PM , Blogger Mike huntt said...

To front of the house workers: we all know the 'how much couple'. Try a couple that brings in a notebook to right down their cheapness, or makes note of specials this place offers. As a person who always worked for their service they preformed, it's not my fault you're cheap. When I go out to eat; I want a certain thing, I'll pay whatever, no worries..isn't that the point of going out?!?....and I love the vibe and hospitality of local Mexican places that offer chips N dip with no charge..but I'm trying to get my drink on, you're holding me back. I watch how many times you could have rotated my table, I'll pay that plus a server to server tip!


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