Sunday, August 31, 2014

Empty Restaurant Syndrome

When Charles Dickens wrote, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times," he must have worked in a restaurant that used to be booming, but had come crashing to a halt.  Time cannot be crueler, than time standing still in an empty restaurant.

I've noticed that restaurants have busy and slow seasons.  Yes, there are some restaurants that are busy 365 days a year.  Spago in Beverly Hills is one of those places.  But for the rest of us peons who couldn't get hired at one of the cash-cows, we work at places that suffer from great highs, and extreme lows.  When it gets close to tax time, my restaurant is slow.  When the holidays roll around, business picks up with parties and bosses acting like they care by paying for the company to have a 3-course meal.

Right now I am in the midst of the slow season.  School just started.  Families are adjusting to their fall schedules.  Whatever!  This in turn has given me ample time to reflect on my life and how long I have been in the service industry.  It has not been positive reflection.  I have told you guys many times that I have worked in this industry for 15 years.  To say that I have made my way around the Los Angeles restaurant scene is an understatement.  I have been fired from hotels and restaurants like a high class call girl working the Polo Lounge, but I didn't make as much money.  But I do have pimps, they're just called managers.

When I have a customer, they have my attention, I give great service, and they leave happy.  But then the "empty restaurant syndrome" begins like a clock ticking until the next reservation, or walk-in comes into the restaurant.  As much as I want some customers to hurry up and leave, I feel the same way about wanting them to come in.

Comedian Bret Ernst has a great joke about waiting tables.  He hated waiting for customers to show up, and when they did, he'd shout, "WHY DO THEY HAVE TO EAT HERE?"  Ah, so true.

What's even better is when, on a slow night, I approach some guests and the first thing they say to me is, "when does it get busy here?"  Now I need to be able to make people magically appear out-of-nowhere.  I'll just add ILLUSIONIST to my abilities as a server.

The worst thing about having EMPTY RESTAURANT SYNDROME is having to spend extra time with a manager.  No server wants to do that.  

Until next time... Server's don't pay their rent with compliments.

"Bitter.  Party of 1?  Your table is ready."










TWITTER
PODCAST
FACEBOOK
THE BITTER BISTRO


Sunday, August 24, 2014

How Not To Order Drinks At A Bar

The other night, I found myself back behind the bar again.  The restaurant had another buyout from USC, so I was once again entranced with the likes of Tommy Trojan.

One thing that they don't teach at this university is how to behave at a bar.  The following were actual interactions that I had while behind the bar:




An Asian girl walks up to my bar, and I ask her what she would like to drink.

"Vodka."

"Vodka and what?" I ask.

"Vodka." she says.

"One vodka and vodka coming right up."

Then I had the pleasure of another gentleman come up to the bar and order his drink.  He was okay with his ordering, but what wasn't okay was the way he smelled.  He smelled like farts.  Not like he had farted and it followed him, but his body odor was farts.  Needless to say, he had a shitty personality.

My last story revolves around a girl who ordered a drink that I have never heard of before at a bar.  Not that she ordered a cocktail that I had never heard of, but an alcohol and a mixer that should never be said out loud again.

"I want a whiskey and Dr. Pepper," she ordered.

I couldn't help but laugh.  What bar has Dr. Pepper?!  Gotta love the Trojans.

Until next time... Server's don't pay their rent with compliments.

"Bitter.  Party of 1?  Your table is ready."










TWITTER
PODCAST
FACEBOOK
THE BITTER BISTRO

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Bitter Bistro Podcast 218--The Bitter Diaries

Just me on this episode.  I rant about stuff that is happening in the service industry over the past couple of weeks.

Listen on iTunes
Listen on Stitcher

Until next time... Server's don't pay their rent with compliments.

"Bitter.  Party of 1?  Your table is ready."








TWITTER
PODCAST
FACEBOOK
THE BITTER BISTRO

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

6 Joke Degrees from Robin Williams

I always thought Robin Williams was an amazing talent.  "Mrs. Doubtfire" and "Dead Poet's Society"  are two of my favorite films. As an improver, I admired how quick he was to pull from his bag of tricks to justify anything that was going on in that moment.
There was, however, a bad stigma with him and stand-up comics because he had a reputation of being a joke thief.  Joke stealing happens more often than not, (unfortunately,) but when you have a celebrity status--like Robin--the label became somewhat legendary.

BUT, they do say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Pope Benedict won the crown of Big Popa April 19th, 2005.  Cardinal Francis Arinze was a forerunner to take the crown before losing to Benedict.  Cardinal Francis is from Nigeria.  After Last Pope Standing had concluded, I started doing a joke about what it would be like to have a Black Pope:  POPE DADDY!  I did the joke for the first time at The Hollywood Improv.



About two years later, I was doing a show at Room 5 in Hollywood.  While I was unnervingly watching the host do way too much time in-between comics, he started on a premise about having a Black Pope.  It's not a crime to have your own take on a premise, but when I noticed that his pacing, punchlines, and act out to conclude the joke were the same as mine... I decided to have a little talk with him.

I mentioned that I have a very similar joke and that if we are ever on the same show again, he shouldn't be doing it.  The host tells me that people steal good jokes all of the time.  He then defends himself by saying that he saw Robin Williams doing the same joke, and that's where he got it.

Entertain the angels Robin Williams.  Thanks for the flattery.

Until next time... Server's don't pay their rent with compliments.

"Bitter.  Party of 1?  Your table is ready."










TWITTER
PODCAST
FACEBOOK
THE BITTER BISTRO

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Dine LA Brings Out the Cray Cray

I survived another Dine LA restaurant week.  Dine LA is the St. Patrick's Day for foodies.  Most of the people participating in it are amateurs, don't go out in public much, but somehow think they are culinary critics.  Pretty much all the people who write on Yelp.

I had three Asian ladies sitting in my section.  They were giving me a very bitchy vibe, but I tried to ignore it.  One of them was drinking wine, but they all were there for Dine LA.  When clearing the first course, the wine lady yells, "I'm not done with that!" when I tried to clear her plate.  She had her fork across her plate and only had a piece of lettuce left.

Then at some point, the wine lady snaps at my co-worker, holds up the wine menu and says she needs another glass.  Listen up:  Not all servers look alike, you racists!

They get their entrees, and then, the real bitchiness happens.  They call me over and the wine lady asks me about some of the greens on her Seabass.

"Is that dirt?" she asks.

"I can't really tell.  But it looks dark," I answer.  "It's really meant to be a garnish.  We use organic greens, so sometimes this happens.  I would be happy to have them make you a new plate."

"No, I like the fish.  I just didn't know if I was supposed to eat that.  I don't normally see dirt on things when I go out.  I didn't know if that was on purpose or an accident.  Should I eat it?"

"If you're not normally accustomed to eating dirt, then I wouldn't eat it."

Yes, I ACTUALLY said that to her.  Give me a break.  When you break this down, she was asking me if she should EAT DIRT.  Unless you're at a vegan restaurant, or you're 5 years old, who the hell would be serving and eating dirt?

They took it the wrong way because one of the friends chimed in.  "She was just asking a question.  I don't think she appreciated what you said.  Can we talk to the manager?"

"Okay."  And I walked off to tend to my two other tables near them, who were neglected because of my dirt debate with the whino.

I tell my manager.  She smooths things over and tells me that they are happy with the service and food.  Whatever!  So I go to clear their entree plates--very carefully this time--and the whino says to me, "You know, I was just asking you a question, you didn't have to take it personally!"

This is when I turn on the fake empathy and make them think that I care.  "I was just concerned that you weren't happy with your meal.  And I wanted you to enjoy your dining experience here."  Boom.

They have their desserts and then demand the check.  They give me three credit cards to split the check between them.  Then the whino lady says, "And take off the two glasses of wine!"  I just stared at her.  "Your manager said that she was going to comp them."

So I go tell my manager and sure enough, she didn't say that.  But like all people who complain, they did get a discount for being horrible people.  And I'm just waiting for the Yelp review.  Because Asian women are drawn to Yelp like Hello Kitty.

Until next time... Server's don't pay their rent with compliments.

"Bitter.  Party of 1?  Your table is ready."










TWITTER
PODCAST
FACEBOOK
THE BITTER BISTRO

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Yelp Auction

The more things I see and hear about Yelp makes me believe that this company is owned by the Nazis.  Extortion, pay-to-play reviews, and false info make this company a necessary evil for businesses in this day and age.  But it's not right, and now even the Yelpers are trying to cash in on the blood money.

I found this a few weeks back through Bitchy Waiter.  It's one of those lame "People Like Us On Yelp," stickers--a would-be 'badge of approval'--that was being auctioned off on Ebay.  My favorite part of this has to be the description of the item:


I have for auction something that you just can't put a price on. It took me 16 long, hard years to earn this and you can have it for just 1000 peso's. I have sweat, shed blood, walked miles, been a slave, worked my entire behind off (its really true, I can't even sit in a chair, I just fall straight to the ground), and downright given my soul for this sticker. It is BRAND NEW and still smells so fresh and so clean. Ready for you to place on the window of a really crappy establishment and fool people. When people see this sticker in the window, they know that they are about to get superior service, and exquisite food. You will make millions of dollars in your first month, and the money will never stop. Who needs Gordon Ramsey or John Taffer.........them guys don't have a clue. You don't need to re-decorate, no need for a menu change, just this sticker. You can totally cut your wait staff, people will be happy to serve themselves........You can even go down to one cook. People will wait for hours for their food. Imagine all the dough that you will save on labor! This thing will pay for itself......and it can be yours in just one click! Happy Bidding and congratulations on your first million! 

So apparently, all restauranteurs have had it wrong this whole time.  The restaurant I'm at right now doesn't need to be renovated.  We just need to get rid of the waitstaff, go down to one cook, and PRESTO!  Instant success.  All you need for success is just need this crappy sticker!  

And how the hell did it take this person 16 long years to get this sticker--which he sacrificed his soul for--and it's still "brand new?"  But bad news everybody though, it's been sold.  For a bargain of $46.00!!!  Which is way less than a 1000 pesos.  The person who bought it saved $31.00, AND will now be an instant millionaire from the flocks of customers that are going to be flooding the doors.  

Forget about being innovative, just stick with a menu from the 80's/90's.  The proud new owner of this sticker will now be ahead of the pack by having a cruise ship-like menu consisting of classics like Cherries Jubilee, Baked Alaska, and Quiche Lorraine.  YUMMY!!!  Wash all of that down with some Bartles and Jaymes wine coolers and you are ready to hit the town and go party at The Roxy.

The only thing people like on Yelp is attention.  Attention that they can get by hiding behind their keyboard and being a cancer to society.  Just like the guy who auctioned off this sticker, who calls himself a chef?, I can only say one thing to Yelp... GET BENT!!!

Until next time... Server's don't pay their rent with compliments.

"Bitter.  Party of 1?  Your table is ready."










TWITTER
PODCAST
FACEBOOK
THE BITTER BISTRO



Friday, July 4, 2014

'Merica

Many years ago, we declared our independence from the tyranny of Great Britain, and began our journey as a country.  I'm sure that after signing The Declaration of Independence, the guys went out for drinks and apps at one of their favorite restaurants to celebrate the start of a sovereign nation.  And they were likely served by a waiter who wasn't able to get the day off, even though he had requested it off a month prior.

I can only hope that Samuel Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Richard Stockton, and the 53 others made it worth their server's while by tipping him well, because he was stuck working all day while they were getting drunk and waiving their Cocked Hats around while folk dancing to "Yankee Doodle."

The July 4th celebrations will continue on from today throughout the weekend.  Remember that bartenders and servers have not declared our independence from customers, so when you put your "John Hancock" on your credit card slip, leave a 20% tip.  Cash tips are greatly appreciated as well.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA!!!  Launch your fireworks.  Eat hot-dogs and drink beer.  Sing the national anthem.  We deserve it.

Now tip your servers.

Until next time... Server's don't pay their rent with compliments.

"Bitter.  Party of 1?  Your table is ready."








TWITTER
PODCAST
FACEBOOK
THE BITTER BISTRO