Thursday, October 13, 2005

Oh what a night!

Late September back in...well, you know the song. Tonight sucked. Waited tables this time. Tonight the place was short-staffed. All of this area of Florida is desperate for help, especially in restaurants. As I look into any old place, restaurant, store, fast food, AC (hey, AC is big business in Florida), Repair shops, just every place in general, there are help wanted signs. My restaurant is no different. We need servers, bussers, hosts and just the whole thing. We should have for a night like tonight 14 servers, and could likely go with 18 if the management wanted to make it an easy night. Tonight we had 10, including the two bartenders. It pretty much sucked. Waiters call being slammed busy "In the Weeds" just a term that they have left and are so far off the fairway that they are in the weeds, and can't see the fairway, type of term. Tonight we spent the entire night in the weeds. The restaurant has a policy that it won't seat the tables if there isn't anyone to wait on them which looks bad to the guest. The guest has no idea how short we are, they just see an empty table and they are still asked to wait 20-30 minutes. Meanwhile, the rest of us have picked up an extra table near our station, so we are more than busy. I sure hope it gets better, because I ran my as off tonight for hours. I made good money, rang a pretty high sales total, but that is NOT the way to do it...I gave almost the minimum service tonight to probably half of my tables...I am good at this job, and a veteran. Noone suffered in my section tonight, but they also weren't ecstatic. Part of my waiter schtick is to hang out and chat with the tables, use the same tired jokes that work every time and entertain so that the guest feels like it is an experience, not just a dinner. Ask the guy who ate every freaking last bite all concerned sounding "Sir, if you didn't like your dinner, I wish that you would have told before, I could have totally gotten you something else!" The two top both have caeser salads, and ask which one of them had the caeser, all teasing like. You guys eat that crap up! Tonight, it was everything to just keep the drinks full and the food coming. I hate that. I can do it till the cows come home, but then you get 15% from most tables, some a little less. I like tables to love me, and laugh a couple of belly laughs. That always adds up to 20% or more.

Here is a story relating to being in the weeds...

So I am working at the big bar/restaurant. It is the very beginning of the summer, and we are slammed every night, but Saturdays are the worst. On Saturdays, we are pretty much used to what we call it the 1-to1 rush. It got crazy busy at around 1 in the afternoon, and the place stayed full, like EVERY seat, all 450 of them until 1am. On a normal night, we had 23 servers and 5 bartenders. Two bartenders upstairs, two in the big bar (mine) we called the Sunquest and one in the "Main" room. The night before on a Friday, my bartending partner in crime Noah tossed a wine bottle into a full garbage can and it smashed, shooting a shard of glass out and slicing the tendon on his index finger. It was late, so no biggie. The next night I need a new partner in the Sunquest and it is supposed to be a decent night except last minute, like four servers have mystery illnesses. (The weather was 85, not a cloud in the sky, and very little humidity, rare for a DC July day, so who could blame them for the sickness.) My partner evaporates into thin server air. I am forced to work an 18 seat bar plus over flow/standing room for the busy, beautiful Saturday night, plus make server drinks. To say that I was in the weeds would redefine that term via restaurant standards. I was crushed, killed, and stamped out, no mulligans tonight. I spend the night in the weeds, and around the end of the night, like 1am one of Noahs friends shows up, Dave. Dave is a sales guy, and prides himself in being fit, and working out all the time. He made lots of money in his sales gig, and had bad habits like strippers that like their good time "snowy" if you can catch my drift. Dave and I are friendly, but it kind of ends there. He always shows up grinding his teeth, talking speedy and pounding expensive wine (on our comp ticket) and basically annoys the hell out of me. BUT he is Noah's friend, and Noah ALWAYS puts up with my posse, so it is cool. So I comp the bottle and a half of wine he and "Bambi" pound in 45 minutes, and charge him the for two glasses of wine, $13.70. He gives me $15 and tells me keep the change. I have made so much money that I could care less what anyone tipped me at that point, I just wanted to go home. In fact, at the end of the night after all was said and done, I made so much money, I gave the barback $100 to clean up for me so I could just leave. Now it is about 1:50am, and in this area last call at all bars is 1:30am, 2am ALL drinks are off the bar and cleared, no exceptions, local police driving by our picture windows peeking in. Dave has been speed talking to people all over the still full bar forever, and finally comes to me and orders two more glasses of wine. 20 minutes past last call, 10 minutes til close. After leaving me $1.30 on what SHOULD have been a $50 tab had I not comped it.

Me: C'mon Dave, it's past last call, ten minutes til close, it's time to go bud!
Dave: Dude!justgivemethetwoglassesofwineanddon'tworryaboutthecops, justgivemetwomoreglassesofwineman!
Me: Dave, I can't. It's TOO close to last call.

Now here is why it is important to tip your bartender: selective service. I can cut ANYONE off anytime that I want to, and YES just because you gave a bad tip. I will have the FULL support of the management EVERY time; all I need to say is "I think that he has had too much" and management will throw him out immediately and call the cops. With Dave, I didn't want to go that far, I just wanted to go home. He basically stiffed me and then demands more. I gotta paraphrase my man R.Lee Ermey again and say if you wanna fuck me in the ass, at least give me the "g-ddamn common courtesy of a reacharound!" Dave didn't practice his manners.

Me: Dave, we are too close to closing, so NO!
Dave: Dude! (standing up to his full 5'9" height, puffing his chest, throwing his shoulders back giving me the hairy eyeball through his dilated, bloodshot eyes getting indignant now) are you gonna make me come accross this FUCKING bar and get my own FUCKING glasses of wine?!?!?!
Me: (Calmly looking the situation over, and leaning over, placing my hands on the bar edge while assuming my 6'1"{plus another two or three inches with the stupid shoes we had to wear and barmats height} and stating simply, not breaking eye contact) Dave...After this night, you would make my YEAR if you would try to come accross this bar.

He stared blankly at me for about 5 seconds, and then said, "Is there any way you could call us a cab?"

The doorman got him one quick...


At Thu Oct 13, 02:25:00 AM, Blogger DanaĆ« said...

Nice blog! :)

I love hearing restaurant stories. My sister has been a waitress in several places, and she'd always have some great stories to tell (she's also a BoSox fan - you'd really get along with her). Unfortunately, when she worked at Red Lobster, she'd smell like unwashed hooker crotch when she got off, and she'd usually be complaining about someone who didn't tip, or tipped $1 and acted as though they were doing her a favor.

I have a lot of respect for waiters/waitresses and barkeeps, because it's a job I know I could never do. I always tip at least 20% unless the service was attitude-laden or unbearably slow (if I have to wait nearly an hour for my food in a half-full restaurant, I'd like an explanation... I mean, I know IHOP means you should lower your expectations, but come the hell on).

Anyway, keep up the stories, I dig 'em.

At Thu Oct 13, 08:34:00 AM, Blogger waltoncad said...

Red Lobster=Unwashed hooker! Not only is that hilarious, but it reminds of the tims in my life that I got food poisoning from Red Lobster...the worst week of my life. I'll tell that one later!


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