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, August 07, 2009

Closing Time

Probably the worst policy (ok, maybe that's a stretch) that I have seen at a restaurant I believe I have mentioned in passing before.

We stay open fifteen minutes after the posted closing time.

I don't mean we keep the kitchen open for diners that arrived close to the closing time, I mean we keep seating.

Even if there had been no new tables for hours and the restaurant is empty.

Anyone who has seen the movie "Waiting" would recognize the scene when the entire kitchen is counting down the seconds until close and that one last table arrives fucking everything up.

Its pretty much that, except the second we close the clock gets moved back another fifteen minutes.

Now there have been managers who don't roll with this rule, and frankly neither do I.

It is one of the many contradictions that this business in general adheres to.

Well, a couple weeks ago it had just turned ten o'clock and I was up at the host station when I saw a table come hustling in.

"We're not seating this table, I've been doing nothing for the last hour and I'm not going to hang out for another hour for this." I said to the hostess.

"Ok, but you handle them." She replied.

"Hi, two for the patio." Our new guest proclaimed.

Coincidently the patio was the only place we did business that night, at it was still full of campers sipping on mojitos or whatever fad drink is in this year.

"I'm sorry, the patio is full and by the time you get out there we won't be serving. Maybe you can get a pizza or something in the bar, usually they stay open later." I replied.

"Well we knew we were running late, we'll catch you next time." He said.

Problem solved.

For now, a few minutes past close the hostess was waving me down.

I arrived at the station just in time to see a clearly well-to-do couple enter the door. They were making a big show of looking at their watch.

"We just made it!" The lady exclaimed.

Ummm, no you didn't.

"I'm sorry, but we close at ten." I said.

Not used to being told no she began to argue that her clock said, "it is only five till."

"I'm sorry, but I have five after and we are closing down for the night." I replied.

"So you're not going to serve us?" Her husband exclaimed.

This was quite different from the group that had come in right after close.

I pulled the asshole card.

"I'm sorry, but we have people that need to get home to their families, that's why we have posted hours."

"But its only five after." He said.

"Yes, but how long were you planning to stay? I'm sorry, but we're done for the night.

With that I received a dirty look and out the door they were.


At 4:31 PM , Blogger G.H. said...

Yessss!! You tell them! .

At 4:57 PM , Blogger Mr. Ninja said...

The sheer ignorance of people just never ceases to amaze me. Can you imagine trying to pull that shit at the DMV, or a Doctors office? What waitstaff, because they feed us, are somehow safe from rules of time and space?

I think people take the title "Server" way to fucking literally!

At 6:05 PM , Blogger SkippyMom said...

Don't all staff of any restaurant wish that patrons understood the unwritten rule of "We close at 10 pm, but we stop seating at 9:15 in order that our staff not have to stay after the appointed time listed on the door."

I don't get the 15 min open after closing if you aren't going to serve someone. It just creates more aggravation for y'all.

At 11:46 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a customer, not in the industry, but as a traveler, I rely on the good graces of you dedicated professionals. My rules for a happy life:

1) Don't make a scene, and don't ask for anything special until the staff knows you. At that point you can ask for favors, with the tacit understanding that tips are involved.
2) Be a pleasant human being, not a jerk. Don't schmooze the staff in an obvious search for favors, but don't be a stand-offish ass either. Be yourself, and get to like the people who are helping you get through this #&*&$^%'nable time away from home.
3)Tip 20%, with adjustments as above.
4) Repeat as needed.

At 4:06 AM , Blogger purplegirl said...

We're technically supposed to leave the door unlocked until five minutes after--fuck. that. noise. What's the point of a closing time if you're not going to adhere to it?

At 2:31 PM , Blogger purplegirl said...

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Are you cranky? Do you hate the asshats you have the schlepp food to every day? Or maybe you usually don't mind it, but one day somebody just pissed you off. Maybe you prefer to keep your blog more civilized and don't want to casually throw around the swear words .... but sometimes you just want to write something hateful and vitriolic. Maybe you want more blog traffic. Or maybe you actually have a good story to share. You know, whatever. This cranky blogger wants to feature your stories.

At 10:18 AM , Anonymous Ohio Waitress said...

I don't see why restaurants have a closing time if they don't stick by it. If they want to keep the restaurant open for 15 more minutes, why don't they make it 10:15?

At 4:02 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stupid. We actually close 15 minutes early when the restaurant is empty and the owner isn't around, but if he is we have to wait until 10. I know it's important to be consistent with your closing time, but it's kind of pointless to stay keep a waiter, a manager and a cook or two on just for one table. Isn't it stupid how restaurants are the only business where you can walk in five minutes to close and stay until an hour after close without being told to leave?

At 9:43 AM , Anonymous Kate said...

Good on you for telling them. Some people are so inconsiderant of others, and ESPECIALLY inconsiderate of waitstaff. I know we are there to 'wait' on them, but, seriously, late tables disrupts our lives sooo much. Even though we can techinally refuse that table after close time, how many other times during the week do our routines get put out? To the point where we don't have routines. You all know the drill - sleep when you have a few minutes, stuff down a quick risotto in 30 secs during dinner service (coz hell no, the chef's won't do it after), miss out on a drink after work because you finish so late the bars are all closed...

At 2:18 AM , Anonymous Chris Mollo said...

I hear you, man. I've been in the "business" for almost twenty years now and there is nothing I hate more than selfish, inconsiderate customers who think you're whole life revolves around serving them for a lousy 15%. I'll never forget one Easter we had been slammed and we did a brunch that was by reservation only. The buffet stayed open until until 3 pm, but the last seating was at 1:00. The idea was to sit by 1pm and have two hours so we could clean up and break the buffet down at 3 and be out by 4:30 at the latest. This guy and his wife and 2 kids come in at almost ten after 1 with no reservation. To make a long story short, they were so rude that the manager broke down and sat them. It took all I could muster not to piss in their mimosas!

At 2:06 AM , Anonymous shawn said...

I feel your pain bro. Back in the day when I did restaurant work, we would have clowns rolling in late all of the time. We would lock the door early, but the manager would catch us and open it back up. It sucked, especially Friday and Saturday nights.

At 9:15 PM , Anonymous Vijay Eswaran said...

I totally agree with the you.
I am usually sympathetic to the workers and will nudge my friends to leave if I see them stacking the chairs. Will quickly ask for my bill.

At 7:24 PM , Blogger The Waitress from Hell said...


At 11:59 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

but after being in the industry for more than 30 years I also find that it is quite often the very same hospo people that berate tardy guests (and I do agree with this post) that will then turn around and on their night off will be the last to leave a restaurant or bar that should have closed an hour earlier.
I have always found that baffling

At 4:18 PM , Blogger Stefan said...

My favorite part of the night is the last ten minutes before we close. You have not seen animilistic until these last few minutes of the work day. The biggest scenes made at my job were made when my manager decided to close up early due to an extremely slow day and customers walked in before we locked the doors. Some people just dont understand. Very ballsy with the guilt card.

At 4:28 PM , Anonymous Dben900 said...

Really, Mollo. You're slammed and one lousy table (with kids) shows up 10 whole minutes past last seating and that gets your panties in a bunch?!? If they have kids, they will be gone looong before your other tables. Folks with kids ain't campers. If you had a table available, they should be sat. A couple extra bucks in your pocket, and it's a goddamn buffet, for crying out loud. I agree with Insane Waiter, but you need more important things to cry about.

At 4:42 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Starbucks has a "10 Min rule". This means that the underpaid workers have to be prepared to serve 10 min prior to opening and 10 min AFTER closing! Which means everything can be cleaned and put up and we have to fire up the machines again and dirty more dishes to serve these inconsiderate bastards!

At 5:31 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just a guess here... I'm guessing the people who have no problem with guests who come in late and linger have never had to be a waiter/waitress. And those who think it's a faux pas have had to serve those people. Follow the golden rule. Be considerate. Use your noggin. It's called common sense, y'all.

At 6:41 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I totally agree! I've been in the business for 28 years, the last 10 in management, and I seldom, if ever, seat a table after regular closing time. The overhead cost (and personal aggravation) of staying open for one table simply isn't worth it. I have offered to let them order to go (if they were nice about it), but when the food is ready, they're outta there.

At 7:23 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I worked at a chain restaurant and a family came in on Christmas Eve, right before closing time. Everyone was mad and they made me wait on the family. I tried very hard to be polite and when they asked what I was doing for the holiday I said I had to drive an hour and a half after my shift to my family's place. Apparently this was the wrong answer. They took everything to go, left me a lovely tip, then call corporate and said I put a guilt trip on them.

My boss said because I was such a hard worker he didn't want to fire me but I was still taken off the floor (after serving there for almost a year and having more experience than most other servers) and put into an expo position.

At 8:06 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

All of you commoners can and will likely be replaced by illegal alien workers anyway.

It is time you commoners learn your proper position within society.

You are nothing.

Grovel serfs.

La Raza will own you eventually and the elite ruling class will own all after they have implemented their oligarchy.

At 7:06 PM , Anonymous Brian said...

You lazy twats. Your jobs exist only because the business generates a profit. The manager is responsible for making that happen. When you come in to work, you do what the manager tells you to do because that is how your job is going to continue to exist. Because of the low barrier to entry, a restaurant is low margin and a small number of customers can make a big difference in profitability.

Whatever the stated policy of the restaurant happens to be should be followed uniformly. It should be uniform just to avoid the scenario of someone coming in at a time when they have been told they can be seated and be turned away. In that case the customer feels lied to. You're not just losing that one cover, you're making it less likely the person will be back, and certainly not close to closing time. The ideal scenario for both management and staff is to have customers coming in up until you stop seating tables and that will only happen if the closing time is uniform.

The one thing I agree is nonsense is the manager or host seating people past the stated policy time, because they beg or argue or what have you. That kind of customer costs a business money and should not be accomodated. Take it up with the manager. It is entirely his responsibility to follow the predetermined policy.

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