Sunday, May 27, 2007

It's Freak Weekend!!

You know - Most regular restaurant diners come out once or twice a month, or maybe even once or twice a week, but on holiday weekends, EVERYONE has a reason to celebrate! They all just seem to come from everywhere! Tonight was no exception.

We had huge parties of unusual groups of people.

One party of 14 stood in the main aisle of our restaurant posing for their waitress to take a picture, while another group switched seats so many times I wasn't sure I got all their orders taken. Another small table of three ordered three soups, three appetizers, and three meals - only to realize they had way to much food, and they ended up having everything wrapped and taking two large bags home.

People are funny, especially when it comes to celebrating.
Have a great holiday!!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Do You Yell At The Post Man When He Brings Bills?

One day I had an interesting discussion with another server about our position in the restaurant.

As servers, we are nothing more than couriers.

We order drinks, and bring the drinks that are made for us to the table. If the drink is not made correctly...well, I didn't make it. Would you like me to bring it back so the bartender can make you another one?

We order food, and we wait for the kitchen to make it. Then we bring it out. We don't cook it. We are not responsible for how it tastes. We are not responsible for the forgotten walnuts, or the extra peppers. We are only responsible for the delivery.

Do you yell at the postman when he brings bills? No, because he is only a courier. Why are you yelling at me about your overcooked steak?!? I only delivered it.

I Don't Cook the Food!!

A single lady was sat at a perfectly good table. She decided that she didn't want that seat, and without asking, moved herself into one of my tables. The door servers had planned to use my table for part of a party of 8, but now couldn't get the woman to move. So I was already irritated when I arrived at the table, because instead of the $25 tip I would probably have gotten, I was only going to get about $2. However, I pasted on that cheezy little smile and went to ask how she was doing.

She ordered, and I sent the order in to the kitchen. When her medium rare steak came out medium rare, she complained that it was undercooked. So I sent it back. When I came back with it about 5 minutes later, she started in on me. "I hope you didn't leave this steak on the grill that whole time! It is going to be so overcooked I won't even be able to eat it!" Already frustrated with the situation, my only response was "I'm sorry, I don't cook here, I just bring things out when the kitchen gives them to me." The steak turned out to be all right - and in the end, she left me $2.55. And the waitress who got my party of 8 got $32

Thank you so much.

If You're Gonna Be a Regular...

...learn to tip well.

For the most part, as wait staff, we treat everyone the same. We get your drinks, get your food, and we do it all with a cheezy little smile on our faces. We have to, that's how we get paid. And since we don't always know how much we'll get paid, we usually try to be as efficient as possible.

But if we recognize you, and we know that you are going to leave a crappy tip, we are far less likely to make those extra efforts on your behalf.

Tonight I got to wait on some of our restaurant regulars who are known for being cheap pains in the &**. They don't order their kid a kid's meal, they feed him the free popcorn that is offered. Occasionally, they may get him a side of pasta, but not always. And they order him a kid size drink, even though he will have 4 refills. (2 tonight - I just wasn't in the mood to make that many trips.) And every time you bring something to the table, they will find one more thing to need. Since I know that I am getting $5, no matter what the bill is, I decided that tonight I would focus on some of my other tables. Tables that will leave a decent tip if given the right service.

I'm pretty sure that my restaurant manager would have a heart attack if he ever read this, but it's the truth. If you are going to be a restaurant regular, and you would like to receive awesome service on a regular basis, learn to tip.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

You got Marinara Sauce Where???

Well, it was another eventful Saturday night at work!!

Actually, I was having a really great night. Tables were turning, everybody I waited on was NICE, and people were throwing money at me. I always like that....

All night long, I was able to keep a steady pace, with tables turning as others were eating. It was actually kind of laid back compared to some of the other nights when I find myself in the weeds.
The night just seemed to roll along pretty uneventfully.

Finally, the push started to slow down, and the MOD started to send some of the waitresses home. Since I was one of the closers, I was in it for the long haul. Once there were just four of us left on the floor, we started to get busy again.

I had a party of 5 who couldn't make up their minds on their order, a party of five who didn't speak much English, and a party of 2 who needed their app plates removed from the table. As I grabbed the plates, I didn't pay attention to how the customers had stacked them. BAD MOVE!! As I turned, the stack they had handed me started to shift. A small dish of marinara was pushed off the pile and went flying through the main aisle of the restaurant.

I ran out back to find a porter to get a mop. As I reached the galley, everyone started laughing. I had marinara sauce from my waist down. So for the next 5 minutes, all tables were on hold as two other girls tried to help me get all of the marinara off my pants. EWWWW!!! I never thought to bring back up pants...

By the way, the couple who stacked the plates left me a 35% tip. Thank you!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Station 9

Last night I got to be in the dreaded Station 9.

Station 9 is a wasteland. It is at the back of the restaurant - as far away from the door servers' podium as possible. As you can imagine, this means that they are FAR less likely to seat station 9 if they have a table in station 2, 3 or 4, which are within sight of the podium.

This is a problem that we have complained about several times, but still nothing gets done. In fact, one of the managers was even at the door tonight, and it was worse than ever. Since the door server who was on tonight - and every Friday - doesn't like to scout for tables, the server in Station 9 actually has to go to the podium to get customers herself. Wow - good thing I wasn't BUSY!

I could tell that tonight was going badly, but when the sales slip came out, and we had to tip out, my sales were over $300 less that the two servers at the front of the restaurant. Believe me, it's quite a difference in my tips, too.

Oh well, what can I do? Good thing I'm in station 2 next week!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Here you go, little girl.

Another nightmare I never thought of...

On a very busy night, we order drinks and go to the bar to pick them up. Our bar staff is great, they usually have one bartender working service, so our drinks are ready within 3 - 5 minutes. However, sometimes it takes the waitresses a minute to get there to pick them up. What usually ends up happening is a log jam of drinks on the service bar with tags stuck to the sides of most of them. MOST of them, sometimes the tags fall off... And sometimes the drinks look a lot alike.....

Sooo, on this one VERY busy night, one waitress ordered a child's milkshake. (Made at the bar) and another waitress ordered a chocolate rasberry (also made at the bar, but containing Chambord, Stoli Raz, and Creme de Cocoa. - Delicious, but I wouldn't want it served to my 5 yo. See where this is going?)

Yep, you guessed it, the waitress looking for the milkshake came up and took the WRONG drink, served it to a little girl, and went on her way. Luckily, the little girl didn't like the drink, otherwise she may have made it through the whole thing without anyone noticing. But once she complained, her mother tried it and called the waitress over right away. Thank goodness for everyone involved that the family was very understanding. (Although the manager DID buy their entire meal.) This one could have ended very badly.

OH one more point to make this nightmare even worse... The mom at the table worked for the Assistant DA in our area. What a heart attack.

Does This Have Pesto?

All waitresses have their usual nightmares, too many needy tables, families with little kids that leave an unbelievable mess, and the usual jerk who doesn't like the way his beer (margarita, jack and coke, whatever...) tastes.

Last Saturday night, I got to witness a new nightmare first hand.

My restaurant has recently added many new items to the menu. One is a sandwich with several items on it and a new "kicking" mayo. So the customer orders it, and all seems to be going fine. So the food comes out, and everyone starts eating. When the waitress came back to check on everyone, the customer with the new sandwich asked her if there was pesto on it. Apparently he was severely allergic to pesto, and thought he could taste it in the sandwich (which does NOT have pesto, by the way). But it is still new, so the waitress said she thought it might, and she would have to check.

At this point, the customer literally jumped from the table and sprinted to the bathroom to try to get the pesto out of his system. (Yes, he was headed to the bathroom to throw up the meal we just served him.) Needless to say, when the waitress returned to tell him that there was no pesto, it was a little too late. I think everyone at the table, and maybe even neighboring tables, had lost their appetite.

So glad it wasn't me! After hearing this story, I took a second look at the new menu to make sure I knew all the details!

Saturday, May 5, 2007

The Curse of Discover Card


Have you ever noticed that people using Discover Cards are generally 15% tippers? Sometimes even less?

Not sure what the connection is, but one of my coworkers pointed this out to me a while ago, and I have been paying attention ever since. She was right. As soon as I see the card on the table, I cringe. Especially if the check is a large one.

Tonight's proof:
$6 on $42
$8 on $54
$4 on $28

Hmmmmmm - and these were the only tips tonight that were less than 20%.
In fact - one American Express user left me $20 on $82!!
And cash tips tend to be rounded to the nearest $10.

Maybe tonight was just a good night, I don't know - but I am pretty convinced that Discover Card is running some sort of special for cheap tippers.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

My Day Off

Today is Thursday!! My day off!

Soo, I spent the afternoon in a meeting with all of my coworkers! Seriously! But they paid me for it - They paid me minimum wage (no idea what that is exactly) to drive my gas guzzling SUV 20 min to work, sit for 1 hour, then drive back. I think I spent at least $10 in gas.

You may have figured out by now that I work for a large corporate company. So, they have all of these little incentives to motivate us. (As if getting tips and paying my bills wasn't enough!) We have currently been working on a new "motivational project". They gave each of us a book with little stories about guest experiences. We were asked to read the stories and answer questions and provide comments about how we are going to work to improve. (Again, I like $$$, so I'm already a pretty hard worker.) We had to come in early -HA HA HA!! - or stay late -HA HA HA!! to work on these books because they were afraid we'd lose them if they left the building.

Today's meeting was a culmination of everything we've supposedly learned. We sat in groups, we discussed, we "improved".

And tomorrow when I get home from work, I'll be sure to let you know how much my improvements helped my bank account!

Restaurant Lingo

After some frantic writing last night, I realized that several of the terms I used were restaurant lingo - Although many restaurants use the same slang, I'll still share some of the more common ones I use here.

apps - Appetizers - Yes, we are usually in such a rush that we can't say full words.

Behind You! - A term yelled when someone is behind you. Don't back up, and if you're walking, don't stop - just get out of the way.

Campers - Customers who have eaten, had dessert, coffee, paid, and are still sitting in their booth. You may even hear a waitress say something like "Table 57 has pitched a tent and moved in." This usually applies to parties who have been in their seats for more than an hour and a half.

FOH - Front of the House - Everyone not in the kitchen

Galley - The waitress area containing our sodas, desserts, napkins, silverware, etc... Don't EVER go in there if you don't work there!

GM - General Manager

HOH - Heart of the House - Kitchen Staff

MOD - Manager on Duty - usually an assistant manager or a shift manager

Michael Jackson - The microwave. (Can't explain this one - I think it may be exclusive to our store.)

Regulars - People who come in so often that they are recognized and known by name (and sometimes drink!)

MY Regulars - People who come in and ask to sit in my station. Many of my regulars will wait longer, just to get a table in my section. (I'm just THAT good!!)

Sidework - The cleaning or stocking that waitresses are assigned each day. (Hate this part - Still making $2.63 an hour, and no tips for time spent cleaning!)

You're Up! - One of your tables has food in the window.

Weeded - In The Weeds - WAAAAY in over your head. Too many people needing too many things at once.

Serious Miscommunication

Well, I just got a phone call from work. It was an apology for "Tom".

Apparently miscommunication is ultimately responsible for the "part time" punishment. While I told one manager, who told the other, the details were not spelled out as clearly as they should have been. And the "offense" was not considered as severe as it should have been. In addition to that, many of the problems that the other had experienced were never even detailed and recorded by management.

Either way, this should not have gone on as long as it did. Even though we are not responsible in any way for what happened, we are responsible for making it stop.

I know that I am not alone in this situation. And I can personally tell you how overwhelming it is to go in and make a stand. But in the end, it is worth it. (Although I will probably NEVER clean out the ice cream coolers again...)

If anyone out there ever finds themselves in a similar situation, please go straight to management. If they are not as supportive as my own management team, go over their heads.

Here is an important Link:
Know Your Rights:Sexual Harassment At Work

And remember that you are not alone. There will be plenty of support for you along the way. And you will feel like a weight has been lifted in the end.

Good luck.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

How was Your Day?


What other job forces you to be cheerful to get paid?

This is an important point to remember when dining out. Waitresses are human. While most of us are usually in a good mood, we all have our off days. And when those days come, we could probably use a little compassion.

I know, I signed up for my job. I like the gamble of maybe getting paid every night, because usually it does pay off, and sometimes I even hit a jackpot night.

However, there are some days when I have been kept up all night by a screaming baby and I need to go home. But I have groceries to buy and bills to pay, so I arrive at your table with a silly little grin, and I take your order. And I hope I don't screw it up - so you'll pay me.

Another $124 check!!

But this time it was for a wonderful family who had a great time and were fun to wait on. And they left more than 20%!!

Thank you!!

Come again!

Sexual Harassment - Normal in Restaurants?

Wow - What a night.

When I started this blog on Tuesday, I mentioned that Saturday was a VERY bad night. I failed to mention the worst parts. One of the cooks was caught staring at my backside as I cleaned out the ice cream freezers. Apparently, he was also making obscene gestures.

I mentioned this to management and the waitresses who witnessed the whole thing were also spoken to. So were the others who have been caught bent over in daily sidework by this "peeping Tom".

When I made my report, I was told that this was the last straw for the cook because he has already been spoken to on several occasions for similar behavior. Imagine my suprise when I arrived at work last night to find him once again behind the line.

Slightly shaken up, and definitely irritated by the whole situation, I went straight to the manager who had been on duty Saturday. Apparently, he was also told that this cook (I'll call him Tom.) would be dismissed immediately. Upper management made the last minute decision to change his "punishment" to part time instead of full time. How exactly does this work?

Fully irate, and feeling a little left out in the cold by the management team (With the exception of Sat. night MOD) I began to ask around to find out what the other waitresses thought about the situation. What I learned disturbed me even more. One waitress had been cornered against a freezer as he pushed himself on her. Another had been assaulted verbally so badly that she would check the cook schedule before coming in to work. She has called out more often than not in the last weeks. And Tom was still on - but only "part time". Well, I work part time as well. And we seem to have the same schedule.

So, with no less than a little urging from my husband, I went to work tonight with the intention of finding a solution to this problem. Somebody needed to stand up for us.

Luckily, the Sat. MOD was on duty tonight. He is now my hero. I walked in and refused to go on the floor. It is certainly the most gutsy thing I have ever done, but someone needed to stand up and be heard. How much more are we really expected to take? Who knows how many others have had experiences like mine? Or worse, like the younger girl's?

Needless to say, I was on the floor within an hour, and the problem had been "resolved". I am not bragging in any way about what I did, and I wish that I was not the one to have to make a stand. But my husband was very supportive. And sort of pushing the issue. And there will be no more uncomfortable moments - at least until a new cook is hired.....

Where is our food?

Hmmmmm - let me think about this one...
If your food was ready, I would have brought it out. If I am too busy to bring it out, someone I work with will bring it out.
Believe it or not, I don't cook the food. I have no control over how long it takes.

I actually had a customer ask me how much longer her food would be. I gave my usual response. "Not too much longer." And she responded by saying - "5 minutes? 10 minutes? HOW much longer."
Well, Honey, if I knew the answer to that one, I would have bought lottery tickets with winning numbers yesterday! I can not predict the future. (In case you were wondering, I quoted 10 minutes, and the food came out in less than 5.)

And I know where your food is. - It's in the kitchen.

Pet Peeves

I have a few pet peeves. Imagine that. These are things that people do over and over, and they somehow seem to irritate me more and more every time.

I know they are completely petty, and a little silly. However, it will be nice to get them out in the open.


We need more silverware!

There is an order to how I do things. Don't mess with the order. When I come to your table all nice and smiley, I want to get you drinks. DRINKS. Don't ask for silverware unless you intend to cut the lemon in your water. I know you need silverware and I will make sure that you all are fully equipped when your meal arrives.

Don't worry - I can handle it.

Why your food might be late...

There could be any number of reasons why your food is taking too long. There is a whole list of people who could have screwed up. Chances are, you will never hear the real reason, but here is a funny list of possibilities.

1. I forget to send the order to the kitchen. - Least likely possibility, but most often assumed as the problem.

2. I forgot about you. Hmmmm - probably not likely since I am depending on you to help me pay my mortgage this month.

3. The kitchen is behind due to weak cooks unable to keep up with the rush. - Very good possibility.

4. Another server stole your meal and delivered it to another table. Happens more than you would think. Especially when the kitchen is crashing.

5. One of the line cooks is on his cell phone. Not even kidding - I've seen it while waiting for an appetizer with a 24 minute ticket time!

6. The cooks messed up your order and are trying to fix it. (Ok, sometimes they messed it up because I sent it into the kitchen wrong, but not always!)

7. You ordered a well done Filet (no butterfly) on a Friday night. Yep, this one is going to take at least 30 minutes. So that means that your WHOLE table is going to have to wait with you.

8. You specifically ask me to hold your food until you are almost finished with your appetizer. OK - You put yourself in charge of this one.

9. The cooks dropped it. not usually a problem, but when it does happen, we have to start the whole thing over.

10. Only half the meal is ready. Do you really want me to bring out the food if your children's meals are not ready?

I'm sure there are more....

Crochety Old Man

Hello! How are you tonight?

Been Better.

Can I get you a drink while you look at the menu?

All you have is Pepsi? I guess I'll have to have tap water. No lemons, though - I hate lemons.

Ok. I'll be right back.

No!! Don't go anywhere! Who knows when you'll be back. I just want a burger. Rare.

Ok - I'll put the order for the burger right in. Is medium ok? That's the least that we can cook burgers.

Well, I guess it'll have to be. Try not to burn it this time, ok?

I'll do my best. (And I smile.) Would you like fries or coleslaw?

Well, I hate your fries because they have the skins. Who leaves the skins on the fries? nobody likes that.

(I smile) Coleslaw?

No. I hate the coleslaw here.

Another potato or veggie?

I'm not eating veggies with a burger!

I have Mashed, B---

They have the skins, too! I hate the skins. I guess I'll have to get fries.

(At this point I was tempted to remind him that Burger Kind is less than a mile from our restaurant. And they don't have skins on their fries.)

Another waitress brought the meal over, and I went back to check on everything, expecting a barrage of complaints.

How is the burger?

I can eat it.

I'm glad to hear it.

What else could I say?

Girls Night Out

As much as I complain about my customers, I do have quite a few that are awesome.

Just last night (right before the $5 on $124 incident!!) I waited on a mother and daughter. They were very nice, even joking with me about the new menu. They were very "low maintenence". And they left an exceptional tip.

I appreciate it. Thank you - You made my night.

Requirements for Dining Out

I firmly believe that before anyone is allowed to eat in a restaurant they should experience at least one day as an employee.

For most people, this would give a little insight as to why your food is taking slightly longer than you think it should. It may even help explain why I need to take care of tables other than your own. There are so many behind the scenes issues that can arise on a daily basis that customers are unaware of. Yet, each of these affects our service in a way that we can not always control.

It is pretty easy to spot a waitress as a customer. They are often easy going (unless you are a terrible waitress yourself). They are very understanding about extended ticket times from the kitchen and bar. And as long as you have been attentive and apologetic, they will often leave a larger than 20% tip. I know because I am one of those waitresses. And I have waited on many of them!

Could this be the premise for a new reality show???

Additional Charges Apply

While I am always grateful for any 18-20% tip, there are times when more than that should be left. Here are a few examples.

1. If I have made more than 10 trips to your table in the course of your meal, there is a per trip charge.

2. We charge an additional amount for excessive messes and spills.

3. After dinner is finished and paid for, rent must be paid for each additional hour that you intend to sit.

4. If you order insanely specialized items and they come out correct, additional money should be left.

5. If your child throws up at the table (or near it), an additional charge will be applied.

6. If it is not your friend's birthday, but you convince me to bring a cake with candles and several other waitresses to sing, you should definitely leave an additional tip.

7. If there are more than 10 people at your table, and you're having a business meeting ordering nothing but appetizers, 20% may not cut it.

8. If you pay with a gift card, and the meal costs you nothing, please leave at least 18-20%.

9. If you hit on me during your meal, please leave a larger than necessary tip.

10. If you intend to leave me your phone number, please leave a larger than necessary tip.

I'm sure there are other situations that I may have missed. But you get the idea.

$5 on $124

Gotta love teenagers....

Well, what can I say? This was not a case of crappy service, although I'll fully admit that when I saw the table with 10 teens in it, I did cringe a little. And they certainly did not get my BEST service. But there was nothing to complain about. I made several trips to refill sodas, several trips to get napkins to clean the spills, and all food was out quick and correct. So what's the problem? I don't know, but it seems to happen more often than not.

I'm not saying that all large groups of teens are inconsiderate, messy, and bad tippers, but these ones certainly were.

Considering there is a Burger King less than a mile from my restaurant, I can't seem to figure out why they would shell out the extra money to come in and sit down.

At least it wasn't Friday... At least they didn't take up my tables (3 of them!!) during a busy rush.... At least I had some other tables who were better tippers.....

Hmmmmmm..... So what happens next time they come in?

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Excuse me...Waitress?

Believe it or not, I do have a name. It's Bethany, sometimes Beth, and Lizzy to the one customer I haven't had the heart to correct.

But I'm usually referred to as "waitress" and that's ok. I like annonymity.

Why today?

Today is Tuesday, May 1, and this is the very first day of recording the wonders of my waitressng career.

So, why today?

Well, there are a number of reasons today....

First, because I have to go to work tonight - I have to go to work in about an hour. And Tuesdays are pointless. There is no money to be made tonight. It is really a waste of time. A day that I work to help the restaurant out so they will let me work Friday AND Saturday night. Seriously, in what other profession would a worker go to work unsure if they will actually get paid? OK - so I will be getting that $2.63 (or is it $2.68???) an hour, but that barely covers my gas money to get there!

The other reason for needing to vent today is that the last day I worked, Saturday, was a VERY bad night. A disaster! The kitchen crashed. (For those of you without a restaurant background - CRASHED means that they went down, just like an airplane - IN FLAMES!!) This causes so many problems for waitresses (and waiters!!) that I don't even know where to start. People don't come in to the restaurant because they are told the wait is too long, they wait even longer when they arrive, so we start each table with irritated customers, food takes too long, people get mad at us, and in the end we make less money and go home with a headache.

After years of saying that I was going to start writing down some of my restaurant experiences, I finally did it. The stories that will soon be appearing in this blog will all be true. I have been a waitress since I was 15, so I have had plenty of them to share. After talking with so many waitresses from so many types of restaurants, I have found that there are many of you out there who can relate.

This is to you.

"Hi My name is....

.....And I'll be taking care of you this evening."

Where should I start? For years I have said that I was going to start keeping a journal of all of the stupid, rude, and unbelievable things I have seen as a waitress. And I am not the only one with stories.

Some of the stories are simply silly.
(The customer who pretended to steal a tray of donuts and ended up wearing them on his shirt.)
Others are stupid.
("No, the French Onion Soup cannot be served without onions.")
Some are about the rude customers.
("Could we get our food sometime today?")
And, of course, the unbelievable.
("He took his LEG off under the table!")

People who have never worked in the restaurant biz may have a hard time appreciating the frustration we face on a daily basis. And some of these stories are much funnier if you have experienced something similar.

If nothing else, this is a place to vent.


Play the Game!

I have always said that people should be forced to work in a restaurant before they are ever allowed to eat at one. This would eliminate sooo many issues. (Most of them are stories for another day...)

I found this game "The Waitress" online and thought I'd add it here. If you have never worked in a restaurant, you should probably try this one out. If you have worked in a restaurant, you should definitely try this one out. It's a good laugh.

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