Tales from the Restaurant

Tales from the Restaurant
Where you'll find all the restaurant dirt you'll ever need.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Good Service on a Popular Occasion? Pfft!!

If you insist on going out to dinner on a Friday or Saturday, you'd do well to understand that patience is your best asset; your venue of choice will be packed, seating will be scarce, your food will take longer to prepare, errors may occur more frequently, and sightings of your server will become increasingly more rare. If you're still completely hell-bent on going out when there is a special event going on, know this--the event or holiday will surely overshadow your personal celebratory requirements during a fancy dinner with your beloved company, and your lack of even a wet-noodle grasp of your situation will catapult you into a catastrophic level of dining suck. Your cache of self-respect may even atrophy to the point that you will wish you had friends who were lemmings.

Or you’ll just be annoyed throughout the entire evening and end up taking it out on your server.

This weekend, there was a special all-purpose sporting event that dragged throngs of people from all over the world to the town where my current restaurant is located. Being a relatively small restaurant, reservations on a weekend will fill the premises up and place walk-in guests at the mercy of a long wait for any table whatsoever (no matter how small) upon which to enjoy dinner.

I find that when the restaurant is empty on a Monday morning, a single person will frequently complain, wondering why he or she can't have a table that would satisfy the needs of King Arthur and all of his knights. Alternatively, during a holiday rush, I could auction off spaces on a table surface the size of the wide end of a toothpick.

Being a chain restaurant, people showed up in the lobby unannounced in quantities that can only be described as machine-gun bushels. For an entire weekend, the host stand of my restaurant looked like Ellis Island.

...so my restaurant's management decided to drastically lower its standards.

In a retributive effort to circumvent the crowding problem, the management thought that it would be best to try and place all of the large party reservations in a big, cold tent outdoors.

The guests reacted accordingly.

Cue the onset of New England weather. A couple of two-foot space heaters suddenly refused to keep sixty-or-so potential diners from achieving contact hypothermia from an outdoor cold front. Since I was assigned the responsibility of waiting on these 'outdoor igloo tourists,' one thing became immediately apparent; I couldn't give away an outdoor table big enough to elect its own congressman.

Hail the cusp of the seasons.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Holidays; A Time of Good Cheer

When the holidays approach, it’s universally understood that they represent a time of peace, harmony, and unity. They are a part of the year when it is important to spend time with your family, and create memories of fun and happiness. You catch up on recent developments, you eat good food and drink good wine, and you share your happiness with those around you.

Except when you work in a restaurant.

Chances are that when you work in a restaurant or similar business, someone of the management clan has approached you to ask that you give up those loving, caring times in order to make an unequivocal sum of money just to provide the services of a skeleton crew in a trivial prison of monotony for the express purpose of further padding a CEO's pockets.

Anyone could tell you that they've had this happen.

If you're a sound person who enjoys spending holidays with your family, it makes you miserable.

Let me explain;
There's an explicit contract that you do anything but sign when you take a job as a restaurant employee which states that you voluntarily concede all of your celebratory holidays. You justify it by telling yourself that you will make a decent amount of money in the long run, because you'll probably have a few kick-ass Saturday shifts to keep you knee-deep in booze and not-being-evicted stew.

When the holidays roll around however, you'll be hard pressed to find anyone who isn't a tumbleweed or a chirping cricket who will help you spend time with your family.

You'll be scheduled for sure. You'll be promised an early cut so that you can leave and at least catch a few minutes of family time.

But in all reality, you'll be there the entire holiday, waiting desperately for someone sitting at your table to finish their unconventional celebration at a place far from home so that you can imagine what your own holiday would resemble.

So you get grouchy. By the time you've realized that the restaurant has stolen family time that you'll never get back, you will have contemplated murder by means of shoving an entire deep-fried turkey into an HR-Rep's eye socket.

...and no one will ever remember owing you a favor.