Friday, March 28, 2008

In Need

Tonight was slow.
Slower than the average Thursday.
Haven't figured out why, but whatever.

I was scheduled to close, and by the way the evening was going, it looked like it was going to be an early night...until four tables walked in 10 minutes before the dining room closed.
Two 1-tops, a 2-top, and an 8-top. I had the undeniable pleasure of waiting on one of the 1-tops, a man in his mid-to-late thirties. When I first greeted him, he asked to move to an area of the restaurant that had better lighting. After he moved, asked obnoxious questions about the menu, and changed his order twice, he asked to move to the bar. Well, he wanted to sit at a cocktail table to watch the game, and the bartender didn't want anymore guests than I did, so I just kept the table. His food was up wicked fast since the kitchen was trying desperately to close, and when I delivered his entree, he asked if I ordered the other entree we had discussed. "No, I didn't, I thought you changed your mind," I said, kind of surprised that the man wanted another entree. He then asked if I would mind ordering it for him anyway. He looked at the entree in front of him and told me that the other entree couldn't be any bigger than the one he had in front of him. I responded by telling him that all of entrees were of generous proportions, and I told him that if he's going to order it, I should order it expediently considering the time ticking away. He told me to go ahead and order it. Well, I've never seen an entree fly out of that kitchen faster, but he had it within minutes. After I delivered his second entree, he started asking about one of our appetizer "dips." By this point, I didn't want to order ANYTHING. The KM was already pissed that four tables walked in when they did, and now this guy was being a douche and ordering a ridiculous amount of food. The guy then asked me what his tab was up to. I printed his check for him, and showed him. He decided against the app--thank God. Then, he asked what we offered for dessert!

Grand total: 1 Beverage and 2 entrees = $19.31. I saw a $20 on the check, and he was standing by the cocktail table. I started clearing, and left the money where it sat. He asked me if it was okay if he ran to his car to get my tip. I shrugged my shoulders, a little uncomfortable about this conversation, and told him it was fine. He ran out to his car and returned in less than two minutes (meanwhile, I went and got the change for the bill, I rounded to $0.75). He told me that he couldn't find any more change in his car, and he handed me $0.31. Then he mentioned how he wasn't going to be able to pay the I told him if he needed the change, it was really okay. What else was I supposed to say?? He took the $0.75 and left his $0.31...weird. And he will still be a quarter short for the toll.

And to think, if only he hadn't been a COMPLETE glutton, he would have had the money to tip his waitress.

Open-double tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A First...

Tonight, I had a table ask the hostess for another server. This has NEVER happened to me before. I don't doubt I was a little annoyed with the table, but I didn't say or do anything mean...per se...

First, I was annoyed in general because my manager decided to triple seat me (it was really a double-seat, but I had just put the drink order in for a table that was sat before the others). This pissed me off because they sat my 10-top table with a 5-top. And I notice that another server has one table and an open 6-top. Why wouldn't they quickly buss that and seat the table there?? So, I, of course, make it known to my manager that it's bull-shit, but I proceed to greet the tables. I was definitely feeling weeded, but I made my rounds as efficiently as I could. I set the chips down at the 5-top and asked for beverages. The "lead" gentlemen asks for bottled water. Then he asks for a large bottled water. I tell him that we only offer one size. He asks if it's the "large"...I tell him that I can go get one to show him before he ordered--he then told me that he knew it wasn't the large because it was 500mL. Oookaaay. 2 bottled water, 2 ginger ales, and 1 lager. As I am preparing the drinks, I notice that both the ginger ale's are empty, and a manager has to change it. So, I deliver the bar drinks (of course I checked the bottle...sure enough, he was right, but why did he have to ask me then?), and tell them I'll have the ginger ale's in a minute. When I bring the sodas, the "lead" man yells that they wanted lite ice. Well nobody TOLD me this! I don't understand. So, at this point, I'm kinda weeded, but my other tables are nice enough(although pretty high-maintenance, which added to all the weeds), so I'm trudging through, but his demand definitely annoys me. I'm sure my annoyance showed. I can't help it--I don't usually keep too much hidden, but I'm a good server, and I'm polite-ish. I don't know. I just never thought that this man would get up and ask for another server! I guess it worked out for both of us. I can't lie, I didn't really want the table, but I wouldn't have ignored them. I would have given them everything they needed. I don't know. I have to shake that stuff off, but it was just weird. Then, I dropped dishes in my section while they were there--I'm sure they were praising the karma gods for that one.
The other three tables in my section didn't have a problem: $8 on $32; $8 on $30; and $7 on $26.

Close dinner tomorrow.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Operation Communication

I was told that my previous post offered no positive, I decided to look at the things I bitched about to find some kind of solution...I'm trying to channel my bitchiness. One of the things I thought of was Operation Communication...I know it's silly, but it's cute, so whatever...I think that the restaurant as a whole can benefit from this movement. We never yell "heard" or "ice" or "behind you" or...well, you get the drift. It's just weird to me how individual we've become. (I did talk about this before, so I won't bore you more details...) I just think we could work better as a team with a little more communication. I spoke with one of my managers about this tonight, and he was receptive-ish. Our problem is implementing...I just think it has to be pushed into habit, which could take some time...

$200 day! I'm a happy girl!

Happy Easter!

Off for the weekend!!!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Lesson in Kicking Ourselves in the Ass

In my restaurant, speed is the top priority. This is aggravating because the speed precedent is what will ultimately bring this restaurant to a screeching halt. Management is so speed oriented, they don't take the time to notice how it affects the rest of the restaurant. It's all about turnin' and burnin'. We don't even offer dessert, so people will turn and burn the heck out and the next table can take its place. It's an interesting concept; however, execution needs some serious work.
The beginning of the shift usually starts off fine; rotation is implemented, and everyone has the same amount of tables. I guess this works through the first full rotation. Once the restaurant is full and we go on a wait, the rotation goes to shit, and it's every man for himself. It's bananas. In our restaurant, there is no such thing as "pacing the wait." In every other restaurant I've worked in, the hostesses have been taught to "pace the wait." This will ensure that servers don't get double and triple-sat, and more importantly, the kitchen will not crash. It's unbelievable that every Friday and Saturday night the kitchen will crash at some point. What's even more unbelievable is that no one I work with (except select few) has any idea what "crashing the kitchen" even means. Ridiculous. Two weeks ago one of our KMs (the best one, I might add), looked right at me in the middle of the rush and said, "What the fuck are they doing out there?" His co-workers, his peers, set him up for a serious ass-kicking that night. They flat-sat the restaurant. Flat-seating the restaurant means that the hostesses seat tables faster than the kitchen can get out tickets.
This is wrong on so many levels.

Flat-seating the restaurant from a kitchen perspective:
  • If everyone is fighting to manage the tickets because there is a steady stream flowing out of the printer, you know that quality assurances has flown out the window.
  • At this point, it's only about speed. Entrees are slopped together, sometimes half-falling off the plate.
  • Tickets aren't read properly. In my restaurant there is already a language barrier between the wait-staff and the kitchen-staff. Tickets are read to the cooks by the KM on duty. Stupido. There are a few kitchen-staff members who can read English very well and can translate, that helps, but it's still a huge pain in the ass.
  • Tables get the wrong food. I love when my tray comes out after waiting nearly 25 min, and it's wrong. Maybe if we were more focused on quality assurance and less focused on speed, we wouldn't have so many fucking promos.

Flat-seating from a server perspective:

  • Weeded. We have a lot of green servers, and that should be taken into account when flat-seating the entire restaurant. If everyone is getting triple-sat, it's no wonder we can't help each other out--some of us can't handle it.
  • If we didn't have so many brand-new servers in the weeds, we would have less promos and less customer complaints.
  • Because speed is priority, no other side-work, store cleanliness, or teamwork takes place because in this restaurant, it's survival of the fittest. Every man for himself. It's really a shame.
  • Having tables wait, then realizing that the kitchen forgot to put their side items on the tray, so I have to go back. If I ask for extra dressing or sauce, I rarely get it, so I've stopped ringing it in.
  • We are supposed to use an "appetizer" button when ordering entrees, so the kitchen has the ticket. The kitchen is then supposed to wait the allotted time-standard. With speed as the TOP priority, time-standards also fly to shit. I do not use the "appetizer" button. If I do, I know that my table will get everything pretty much at the same time. It's annoying. I've learned about how long it takes for appetizers and menu items, and I time it. If the app only takes a few min (like soup, salad, and dip), I'll order the entrees right away because chances are the table will be finished before their meal is delivered. If it's another, larger appetizer, I will wait until the table has its app before ordering its entree. This gives the guests a little bit of time to digest and not feel rushed out of their experience. My check-times are still on average 30-40 minutes (at lunch) and 40-45 at dinner--and so are everyone elses. My guests do not stay longer, they are just happier when they leave.

For both perspectives, I have to add that this type of restaurant is so exhausting to work in. I've worked in extremely busy restaurants before, but I've never worked harder than I do now--just to keep up with the side-work that no one is doing.

This is also the first restaurant I've worked in where servers are treated like absolute crap. Management could give three shits about the servers because they know there will always be more servers--we're disposable. What they don't realize is that if they trained their servers properly and stayed consistent with rules, etc., more people would stay longer. Shit, I've already been there a year, and I only wanted to stay for six months. They don't realize really how many servers would stay for a couple years. If they had an older staff, who worked well as a team, they would see how valuable good servers really are.

Servers in my restaurant don't talk to each other. I mean, we talk to each other, but we don't communicate throughout the shift. No one says "behind you" (we have crashes all the time), no one says ANYTHING that will contribute to the successful running of the shift, except when the managers start nagging at us unnecessarily throughout the shift.

The only thing I can say we're good at, is cleaning up those spills (except for the new buss-boy, he leaves his spills all the time, and he's a clumsy mother-fucker).

It's a vicious circle of management trying to execute the plans of a misguided leader who has never waited tables a day in his life. I feel it should be a prerequisite for all owners and management to have served (or worked the line, if we're talking kitchen) before being in charge of a restaurant.

I think I'm gonna write a letter. This is bullshit.

Double tomorrow.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Smooth Ridin'

Tonight was...well...pretty great. Patrons were happy (and generous), the staff was cool and collected, even though the Regional Manager was poking around. We all get along with him really well...we don't really feel like he's scrutinizing us or judging us (even though, secretly, he is). We know that he is there to see how things are going, and he will definitely give us criticism, but it's not direct, I guess (unlike corporate refill bitch). He's just pleasant, and he listens to us. It's pretty cool. Originally, I attested the happy evening to the fact that The Other Manager wasn't working (see the previous post), but now that I think about it, I think it was because of the the RM. He makes us feel good about the job we're doing. It's amazing how affective a positive attitude can be.

Close tomorrow.

P.S. I had a job interview for a part-time position at the local community college today...I'm hoping I get to wave good-bye to full-time serving soon! :)

P.P.S. Don't worry, I'll still have plenty to write about! :) :)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Negative Reinforcement

It is so unbelievably difficult to stay positive in a restaurant where negativity is its foundation. I say that because not one positive thing escapes from any manager's lips on any given day. Nothing. They have nothing better to do than to tell us what we're doing wrong and never praise for the job well done.
Tonight's young manager is one who insisted on being up my ass all night long. I don't know what I did to deserve such treatment, but I want my name removed from the list. I considered bringing this to the manager's attention, but decided it would be a waste of my time. I don't get it, I'm standing there with a broom, sweeping the appetizer station, and talking with a co-worker, who was using the computer, and young, powerful manager comes over and tells us to find something to do. Wasn't I just doing something? I think this manager just likes to hear its own voice. Me and three other servers kept up on silverware all night (we're required to roll all the silverware each shift), and this is a rare feat because of the laziness that prevails in our establishment. Anyway, I was kinda pissed because the manager said nothing in regard to our achievement. Whatever. Then, when cuts finally went up, the manager put 30 silverware for each server. This manager pulled that number out of the sky. There is no way that each server could possibly do 30 each because they were nearly finished. This all-mighty manager does these things because of the power that comes with the title. It's as if this manager feels it's sole priority is to prove to the entire staff just how powerful the job's ridiculous. Not to mention the fact that this manager is the moodiest's like walking on eggshells. It sucks.
I had a horrible section, and out of the four tables I did have, only one rotated consistently throughout the night. I had a four-top of women (my first table of the night shift) who tell me that "they weren't in a hurry." Great. Then, my big-top was sat with two families (four adults and four kids), and they sat forever because small children take forever, especially when their parents probably make them chew 37 times before swallowing. Don't know, but I do know that they sat there for nearly 2 1/2 hours. Unbelievable. Then I had an older couple who were nearly finished with their meal, when another person joined their party--so she had to eat, too, of course. Then, my other table rotated, I think three times. Either way, I had a shit-filled day, a shit-filled night, and I blame it mostly on the manager who was stuck up my ass.

Open tomorrow.

*Don't forget to check out the 13th edition of the Round Table!! Thanks Ribeye!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Whatta Wednesday...It Happens...

Yeah right. Lunch was dead. I was off by 2, so I had a decent break. Dinner was busy for a minute--we actually went on a wait.

You know, I consider myself to be a good waitress (I'm pretty sure I started another post this way, but whatever), but sometimes, every now and again, I am not a good waitress. For the last couple weeks, I have been fucking up more than usual...stupid stuff, really. This one night, I was talking with a table about their choosing one of two appetizers. They chose the one, I ordered the other. It happens. We have a lot of "combination platters," and this one lady ordered one, but they look the same on the computer, and if I have an impatient server behind me, I get, la, la...I ordered the wrong combo. That also "happens." It just keeps happening. Tonight, I had a three top--mom, dad, small child (probably 6 or 7). They ordered an appetizer that I absolutely forgot about, and none of the other servers felt they should run it, so the table got their food and no appetizer. Boo. Then, the lady wanted me to wrap her taco salad, which has a huge, stupid, gigantic shell around it, that she hadn't eaten. I usually forewarn my table that I will scoop out the inside, then give them any of the salvageable shell, but for whatever reason, I was too busy, or she was too preoccupied with her beer, that I just didn' happens. When I got back to the To-Go station, I saw that we had no bags, so I wasn't able to properly seal it for her. When she got it, she opened right in front of me and said, "What happened." I told her that we didn't have boxes that would adequately fit the large taco salad, so I scooped and salvaged. She seemed somewhat satisfied with this, but I still wasn't sure, so I even had my manager do a table luck they were a secret shopper. (I hope I didn't just jinx myself!!!!)

Dinner tomorrow.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Another Rent's Paid

This weekend was borderline ridiculous. When we go on a wait in our restaurant, I think it's typically, at most, 30 min for small-tops and 45 min for big-tops. This weekend, I think we topped out at an hour and a half for bigs and an hour for smalls. Crazy.

Friday, I worked a double, and it was a roller coaster ride through complete and utter frustration and the general hatred for all patrons, to a delirium that sent me above the negativity, to a place where all my cares slipped away, and I allowed myself to be candid, have a little fun, and make some money.
The lunch shift tested my patience, tried my professionalism, and just pissed me off. *Side note: I got pulled over speeding to make it to work on time. Not too bad of a ticket, but it still set the tone for the day.*
My first table was obnoxious from the start. We didn't have fresh chips available, so I brought the cup of salsa and an explanation. But, before I could give my schpeale, Suzy Original says, "Oh, *giggle* what should we do with that? *giggle* Drink it?" She and her cronies giggle because I guess Suzy is the witty one of the group, "Well," I snidely giggle back, "I could bring you a spoon..." *giggle* "I'll bring fresh chips out in a minute." They liked my little quip. In my mind, I took that cup of salsa and poured it over her head.
At this other table (also gabbing women) I went to take their order and two kept talking while the third ordered. The woman ordering asked me several questions about the menu, while her friends continued to talk getting louder and louder. Completely annoying. Finally, she ordered, and I moved to the gabster, who had the EXACT SAME QUESTION. The third woman did it too. Unfuckingbelievable. I wanted to smack them all with menus.

Word to the wise. Every server in every restaurant I have ever worked in HATES MAKING SHIRLEY TEMPLES. They are a pain in the ass. It's one of the last drinks I make because I have to slide by the bar to get the grenadine; then, I'm at the bar with a full tray, trying to pour the sugar substance into your child's drink. Red dye makes small children crazy. Why would you want your children to have sugar poured directly into their sugar-filled soda. That's just silly. It's no wonder kids start climbing the walls before the end of the meal. Besides, not every server knows how to make one properly. I know how to make them properly, and I tell you right now that if you order a Shirley Temple, I will use a very liberal amount of grenadine. If you are an ADULT and you order a Shirley Temple (or a cherry coke) your stomach will probably hurt and you will most likely order a water later.

Has anyone ever had a guest order half regular coke/half diet?? This guy asked for that this weekend...weird. It, too, was a pain in the ass, and he really had a diet, but never said a word.

The rest of lunch was slow and annoying, so I went on break, took a breath filled with nicotine, and headed back in for the night shift. Patrons were in fine moods (that always helps). Feeling tired and numb, I slipped into my happy place (like a stage for my opening night act), focused on my tables. They loved me, and I made the most money I've made in a long time.

Saturday night was so busy, it's all a blur. It went by quickly, and it was lucrative. All I know is, another rent's paid.

Open tomorrow.