Friday, December 16, 2011

"Adventure's In Babysitting"

Hello all.  Yes it has been a very long time and I apologize.  I am just back from a much needed vacation and it was wonderful.

As servers we all have our stories about kids in our stations.  This will be my topic for today.

On my first day back to work I walked in feeling very refreshed and ready to make all the money back that I had spent on my vacation.  I checked out where my station was, as usual, and was just a little disappointed but hey, I was going to make it work.

The first table the hostess sat me was a party of four.  Two adults, husband and wife, and two toddlers.  One of them in a stroller and the other in a booster seat.

As I approach the table and introduce myself the two adults look at me with a blank stare.  Then their 4 or 5 year old proceeds to speak to his parents, Spanish I think.  Great, now I have to get through this table by using a 5 year old to translate to his parents.  This is going to be fun.  Oh, and on top of that, they were first time guests.

Here's a rundown on their order...they had drinks, apps, dinner, which by the way, they shared with their two young children, and dessert.

They seemed very happy and everything was going just so so when, as I make my way out of the kitchen with their appetizers, I run into the little boy that was translating.  He was standing right outside the kitchen, away from his parents.  I asked him if he needed anything and he just smiled so I took him by the hand and directed him back to his table.

These people were at my table for two very long hours and the entire time their 5 year old son was wondering around the restaurant and kitchen.  His parents did not budge from their seats one time to fetch his little behind.  I think I directed him back to his table 20 or more times.

Now, 99% of the time, I don't really have this sort of problem with children.  Most are very well behaved.  On this occasion, however, I felt more like a babysitter than a waitress.  I was so frustrated at the fact that these parents didn't seem to care about how their child was behaving and even more so, they expected me to watch over little Timmy while they enjoyed their meal.  I had three other tables to wait on, what the hell are these people thinking!

You would think that because I was able to be an extremely good sport and follow after their son for 2 hours and still make time for them that they would pitch in a couple extra dollars for my tip, but oh no.  After presenting the check, three different times I might add...three different credit cards, all declined, they finally gathered their belongings(kids) and made their way out the door.

SURPRISE SURPRISE.....CHECK-$78.67....TIP....drum roll please...$6.00.  WTF!!!!!!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

"Just a Little Venting"

So, there's this girl I work with, Suzette.  She's a cute girl.  When she comes to work she always says hi to everyone with a smile.  When she greets her tables she is very professional and always describes the specials in a way that makes your mouth water before you even try them. seems as though she suffers from multiple personality disorder.

Each and every shift she moseys on into the restaurant with a mouthful of "Hi's".  As she makes her way to the back of the kitchen to get into uniform she goes through a transformation.  Kind of like a super hero.  Her entire person changes.  She turns from positive to negative in a matter of seconds.

Throughout the night she walks around the kitchen barking orders.  "We need glassware at the bar!".  "Someone needs to shine spoons for deserts!".  "Can someone empty the trash?!".  "Food runners please!".  "Does anyone in this place ever make coffee when they take the last of it?".  "Who took the last glass and didn't remove the empty rack?".  "Am I the only person that actually works in this place?".

No, no, and no!  I swear she thinks that the restaurant would not function properly if she weren't there.  No, she isn't the only person who actually does work.  She's just the only one who complains about it.  All night long we hear her scratchy voice complaining about this and complaining about that.  Everyone hates it when she works.

One time she actually started crying, in the kitchen of course, because she felt that no one was doing any work except for her.  Oh what a scene that was.  She was crying so hard that she could barely speak and what was being spoken was just a tad short from screaming.  She took it so personal.

My opinion,  she needs to chill the "f" out!

She's a pothead, nothing wrong with that but, if you're gonna smoke before you come to work at least smoke enough to get you through your 3 hour shift.  I'm tired of dealing with your attitude as you are coming down off your high.  Your tirades aren't working, can't you tell. 

For almost a year she has worked with me.  Not one single shift has passed without her whaling about what's not being done.  Nobody's listening!  We're hearing but we don't care.  Why?  Well, it may surprise you but, when you aren't at work spoons get polished, glassware gets taken to the bar, trash gets emptied, food gets ran, coffee gets made, and empty glass racks get taken to the dish pit.  The restaurant still makes money and isn't in jeopardy of closing it's doors because you didn't work that day.  Our ability to keep our jobs does not depend on whether you are at work or not. 

So, with that being said, Suzette, don't flatter yourself.  We DO NOT miss you when you're gone!!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

"On Automatic"

Good morning all.  As I am sitting here with my coffee in hand I am searching through my mind trying to figure out which story I would like to share.  I have decided that, today, I will talk about automatic gratuities on parties.

At the place where I work we automatically add an 18% gratuity to parties of 8 or more.  I do believe this is the case in most restaurants.  Sometimes it's a good thing but most of the time it's a bad thing.

Back in the day we would be allowed to add the gratuity at our discretion.  This meant that if we had a 10 top and 7 of the people happened to be children we usually would decide to leave off the gratuity in hopes that we would get 20% or more as a tip.  Also, if we felt a vibe from the table that we may do better without the auto-grat, we would leave it off.  Most of the time this worked to our advantage.

Over the past few months, however, our managers have made it their mission in life to monitor this and have decided that, no matter what, if there are 8 or more people, we add the gratuity.  This happened because a specific server would get parties of  7, 6, and sometimes 5, and would add the gratuity because she thought she may be in jeopardy of getting stiffed.  She ruined it for everyone.

Anyhoo, my beef has to do with adding the grat.  I hate it!  In about 99% of the cases we almost always get ONLY 18%, nothing extra.  So no matter how well you take care of the table you're stuck with 18%.

I waited on a table last night, 15 people.  They received exceptional service.  Their cocktails stayed full as well as their waters.  They received all of their meals in a timely manner and they were served piping hot. The table was immaculately prebussed.  They also received 3 deserts on the house because of 2 birthdays and an anniversary.  When they left, the only thing on the table was napkins and water glasses.  They had my full attention the entire time.

I didn't receive not an extra dollar from any of them.  I worked my ass off to make sure they had an exceptional dining experience.  They told me how I took such great care of them and how great of a server I was and thanked me for an enjoyable night.

Complaining about this may make me sound unappreciative but who cares, I'm venting!  We, as servers, work so very hard to make our money.  With each table comes the opportunity for us to do whatever it takes so that we can make that 20% or more as a tip.  A lot of us go above and beyond just to get shot down.  A little extra would have been nice since, by your own words, I did a fantastic job.  A $19.93 check with an added 3.59 just doesn't cut it for me.  I usually get a $5 tip off of a $20 check.

Come on people!  If you really feel that your server was that awesome, then show them a little love and throw in a little extra.  I threw in an extra effort to make sure you had a great dining experience didn't I?  I scratched your back so why don't you scratch mine?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

"Hardy Har Har!"

It's been another great week and I am loving every minute of it.  We were a little slow however, but I worked with what I had. 

I had a customer yesterday, a New Yorker, gosh I love these guys.  I sometimes wish I had their accent.  Sometimes when waiting on these fine Northerners I find myself mimicking a little accent but I don't think you can tell.

They were my last table of the night.  Father, wife, and grown son.  We talked a bunch which was nice.  They showed me pictures of their pets.  The son had a pet raccoon.  He had found her when she was just a few weeks old.  I found myself being dragged into a conversation of how smart and brave raccoons are and how big they get and so on.

Anyways, the point of my story today is about the father.  He was kind of like joke guy with a little twist.  He would order an item and then every time I brought him what he ordered he would tell me it was wrong.  With a straight face he said " I didn't order a martini.  I wanted Grey Goose, straight up, shaken well, with a little bit of olive juice, 3 olives, no vermouth, and in a martini glass."  Sounded like a martini to me, right?  That's how I kept referring to it.  So he would go through his rundown each time I would bring him something, and say it was wrong.  For a minute I thought I might have been going crazy or maybe my hearing was going.  Idk.

He would laugh after each encounter but it still made me nervous.  Of course I was laughing right a long with him.  Secretly, I didn't care for the jokes at all.  It made me feel like I was messing up(when I really wasn't) which caused me some anxiety.  I pride myself on paying very close attention to details when customers order and I have 99.99999999% accuracy.  This was kind of a tough table.

Needless to say, these customers enjoyed everything.  We had some laughs and I tried my best to keep up and catch on.  In the end it was worth it.  The check was $144.73 and they left me $40 for a tip.  I'd say I put on a pretty good front with this table...thanks joke guy(kind of) for making me feel anxious and then rewarding me for sticking it out:)

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Little "Tip"sey?

I woke up this morning in a fantastic mood.  Yesterday was a great end to a wonderful week and, it was my birthday.  As I grab my coffee and sit down to my computer I decided to check up on my fellow bloggers and read quite a few entries on tip sharing.  Guess what my subject will be today?

This topic seems to be a bit controversial.  It seems most of the issues include whether an employer is allowed to make you tip out an employee who would otherwise not get tipped, is the percentage too high or too low, or who deserves a tip out and who doesn't.  Today I will express my thoughts on who I think should get a portion of my hard earned money.

My employer requires all servers, and only servers, to tip out 3% of our total sales.  This gets divided between the hostesses, bussers, and the bartenders.  So, if I have a $1000 night, I am forced to tip out $30.  That's a lot of dough.  In most cases I still take home 20% after tip out but in some, it turns out to be way less.  I remember one time I had close to $800 in sales and before tip out I had $93.  Minus tip out...$69.  Terrible!

Let's start with the hostesses.  I feel that no tip out should be given.  Why?  Well, does it really take that much effort to walk people to their table?  I'm not knocking on the host, I too have held that position.  They do put up with some crap.  Customers aren't usually familiar with procedures that affect where they will be sat.  Like rotation, table size, how many staff are on duty, etc. Moving along, hostesses have the power.  If they like you, they will make sure you keep a full section all night.  If they don't, well, I think you get the picture.  So, If I have beef with a hostess and she doesn't seat my section like others then shouldn't I be allowed to not tip her the same way as her fellow hosts?

Next, we have the bussers.  They, for the most part, do a pretty good job.  Carrying around a heavy bus tub all night and having to scurry around the dining room to clear tables as fast as they can has to be exhausting.  But, yes there is a but, I think they should get paid minimum wage or higher to do so.  Not all bussers do their job but still get an equal part of the tip out.  Also, they pick and choose which tables to bus first.  If you haven't done your job as a server and prebussed your table, no matter how busy you are, they may choose not to bus it.  There is favoritism as well, same as the hostesses.  If you have beef then you will have dirty tables.

Lastly, we have our wonderful bartenders.  This is a position I have also held in the past.  At the establishment where I work we have 1 bartender on the well.  This person makes the drinks for only the servers.  Then there are two other bartenders that work the bar.  All 3 stay behind the bar all night.  The servers are responsible for running drinks, stocking and shining bar glassware throughout the shift, filling the ice for the bar, emptying their bus tubs, fetching their bread, emptying their trash, and running their food.  They are not required to tip out.  So, after doing everything for the bartenders, except make their drinks, tell me why they deserve a tip from me!

My final decision on this issue...I deserve ALL of my tips.  Not only do I have to wait on multiple customers at any given time, I also am responsible for making sure my tables are prebussed, the bar is functional, my own running side work is done, running my own food and beverages, and holding a smile on my face.  We servers have lot's of different responsibilities around the restaurant and we work hard at it so why can't we keep the money that we earn?!

Monday, October 17, 2011

"The Klumps"

This week was a really really slow week.  I was disappointed, but part of the job description in being a server is that you gotta take the good with the bad, right?

Though I didn't make the money I usually do, the customers were still there and I had to oblige.  Most were wonderful, as usual, however, yesterday I had a table that I almost let ruin my night.

They were one of my last tables of the night.  A couple and their 23 year old daughter.  Things started out really good.  I greeted them and we made small talk for a minute or so and then I proceeded to tell them about happy hour.  They each ordered the house Cabernet and appetizer...yes, they each had their own appetizer.  I scurried away to place their order.

Just a little info before I continue.  I open about 2 days a week.  When you open you kind of lose track of time and it usually feels later than it actually is.  I don't wear a watch so I am constantly looking at the computer to keep track of happy hour times.  So I know when to do last call, you follow?

Well, I had gotten a little busy because, of course, before the manager decides to cut me the hostess filled my entire station.  I'm gonna call this table of whom I am referring to today "The Klumps".

As I scan my section to see if everyone is okay I notice the Klumps have finished their appetizers and their wine was just about empty so I approach the table to clear plates and ask them if they would like another glass of wine.  I haven't had time to check the time so when they order their second round I inform them that happy hour was over so it would be regular price for the wine and would they still like to have it.  They reluctantly said yes seeming upset that I had not informed them sooner that happy hour was over and that if they had known, they would have ordered two at the same time.  They also asked if I was going to bring them their bread anytime soon, as if they were starving.  I apologized about the drink situation and told them I would bring their bread out right away.  They requested 2 loaves and LOTS of butter.

I quickly rang in their drink order noticing that there was 45 minutes left for happy hour.  Yay, this will surely get them in good spirits again and I feel I have a chance of turning this potentially bad experience into a great one.  I grab their bread and butter with fresh plates, make my way by the bar to check on their wine, and mosey on back to their table to tell them the good news.

As I set the bread on the table I inform them that I had been mistaken and that happy hour was still going on apologizing at the same time.  They give me smiles.  Whew, I'm in good with them again.  Or so I thought.  They notice that I don't have their wine and "Mrs. Klump" asks "Why haven't you brought our wine yet?".  I respond with a smile "I'll get those for you right away."  All the while thinking to myself and wanting to say "Bitch, I only have two fucking hands."  Pardon my french, this table was beginning to piss me off. 

I practically sprinted back to bar and returned with their wine at which time I noticed they had scarfed down the 2, yes 2, loaves of bread I had just brought not a minute earlier.  "Can we get some more bread and butter?  Make it two more loaves." 

Now, I'm hoping I don't offend anyone here but these people certainly didn't look like they had missed any meals and they definitely didn't look like they were wasting away to nothingness so I made a mental note to take my time on the bread just because, well, I'm the server and I'm in charge.  If they weren't going to be happy by now I probably didn't have a chance to make them happy by the end of dinner.  I threw in the towel and they were gonna know it. 

A little rundown on their total order...3 glasses of wine each, 1 appetizer each,  1 entree with an added on salad each,  6 loaves of bread total,  and they each ordered dessert.  This sort of kind of made me happy because it meant that their check total would be quite large and I had a possibility to get a pretty good tip.  Maybe I was jumping the gun a little when I thought I may get a decent tip.

The rest of the meal went perfect.  Everything came out in a timely manner and I made sure they had full drinks and bread.  I didn't speak but three words to them the rest of the evening.  Silent service.  I presented the check, which was close to $100, and waited for payment.  Cashed them out, they paid by credit, and said "Thank You".  After they waddled their way out of the restaurant I went to the table to clear glasses and pick up the check.  To my surprise, and what a surprise it was, they left me $8.  Yeah, you read right, 8 fucking dollars.  I'll apologize again for my language.

Now, usually when I get a tip like this, which doesn't happen very often, most of the people are extremely nice and I dismiss it as they just didn't know proper tipping.  In this case, however, I felt these people knew exactly what they were doing.  I had gotten the feeling early on that they weren't going to be happy no matter what and were probably searching for any reason to complain.  This would justify, in their minds, leaving a bad tip which in turn would relieve them of feeling guilty by doing so.

I'm going to go on a rant now.  I feel that if a person or people have the cash to go out for a $100 dollar meal then they should have the cash to tip.  I did everything I could to make these people happy and they just weren't having it.  On top of that, when the manager visited the table they said everything was fabulous.  The only thing that made them happy the entire evening was stuffing their faces with forks full of cheesy potatoes, steak, crab cakes, mussels, fried shrimp, calamari, bread, brownies, ice cream, and butter...I swear they used a cup full. 

They might have thought they were insulting me by leaving only $8 but guess what...I let them keep their damn $8.  Since I can't chase people out the door and lecture them on tipping etiquette I just decided that when I closed out their check I would leave out the tip all together.  They obviously needed it more than I did anyways.  Now they can get really excited when they realize they have an extra $8 to spend on their next dining experience.  I bet they're thinking about what they are going shove into their mouths right this very second. 

The rest of my tables tipped me extremely well which made up for the time the Klumps took up during the evening.  I give a big thank you out to them because if they had not been so repulsive and rude the rest of my customers may not have tipped me the way they did.  So....Thank you Mr. Klump, Mrs. Klump, and baby Klump for choosing me to serve you because without you I would not possibly have had one of the best money making nights of my serving career.

Monday, October 10, 2011

"You're the Boss....I Guess"

I haven't wrote in a couple, sorry, but life has been going pretty good in all departments lately.  I do have ONE complaint however.  My boss!  Technically I have 3 bosses, 2 of which are men.  The head honcho of the place is a woman and thank goodness for that.  I get along with all of my managers but one of them is slowly getting under my skin.

I have been in the restaurant business for 18 years now.  I graduated culinary school and have plans to open my own establishment when I retire.  Over the years I have rarely worked for women.  It seems that this business is dominated my men and I think that's a real shame.  In my opinion, and experience, I have come to realize that men seem to abuse their position of power more than women.  I'll explain.

My relationship with our GM/Owner is great.  She takes pride in her work.  She is stern but fair.  Very fair.  I like that about her.  I am continually taking notes.  Always carefully watching how she makes business decisions, her dealings with customers, how she interacts with staff, etc.  She has a work ethic that is out of this world.  She has had my respect from day one.  She is very serious about her business but can also let loose enough to have a normal conversation with one of her employees.  There is no favoritism or fraternization with her, which is one of the things I like about her the most.

Now, with manager #3.  He's a pretty laid back cat.  He's the executive chef.  Around my age...which I will not divulge.  He also takes his job very serious and doesn't play favorites, although he does hang out with some of the guys at work, outside of work.  Guys stuff, you know, like football, golfing, working out.  He can crack a pretty funny joke here and there and isn't afraid relax a little if needed.

Then, there is our Asst. Manager.  He's a big problem in my book although he will not ever know it.  Not only does he play faves but he is 100% unfair.  I am convinced that I have to constantly call out sick, show up late to work, not prebus my tables, make sure I don't run any food or drinks, and completely forget to do my running side work, to be able to get a good section on days that he works.  Those kind of employees seem to get everywhere with him when I can't get anywhere. 

I am an extremely great employee.  I always do ALL of my work and some.  I help anyone who needs it. I have, not one single time, never been late for work.  I also have never called out sick, I had my shifts covered by other employees instead, otherwise I would go to work regardless.  I keep my station immaculate and help others do the same.  I feel I sometimes am picking up a lot of slack but hey, whose keeping track right?  I have never had a customer complaint and my comps are one of the lowest there.

So tell me why this mf don't see that and reward me accordingly.  This summer he had taken an extended amount of time off, 3 months, and it was the most glorious 3 months ever.  Stations were rotated properly and everyone got a fair shot at making some really good money.  It was like we were all together in this thing we call hospitality and things ran so smoothly all summer long.  Then he comes back and everything goes down in shambles.  Ever since his return I have gotten a good station maybe 3 or 4 times. I haven't broke $100 one time.  However, during our slowest time of the year(summer), I made over $100 every shift.  I have not been allowed to clock in early, not once, but when certain other employees come to work 1, maybe 2, hours early they are allowed to do so.  This burns me up so bad I almost cannot write this entry.  What the hell!

He has reminded me why I have always hated working for men.  I'm not saying that all male bosses are like this but 99% of the one's I have worked for, have been.  I have been considering bringing this to my GM's attention but I really don't want to be a tattle tail or seem like a complainer.  What should I do?  HELP PLEASE!