Tuesday, December 16, 2014

I Want You To Sit In My Section But Not When We R Closing

Nobody is in the restaurant.  The tables have been cleared off, or they have been set-up for breakfast/lunch service for the next day.  Even though the clock has not struck "closing time" yet, the fact that there haven't been any tables for almost an hour signals the staff to close.  Then they appear.

The customers who just want a quick bite to eat and then they say they'll leave.  These people make sure to point out that it's still a minute before you close, so they guilt trip their way to a table.  I clear away all of the set-up that I had done and re-set their table for dinner.

"Was it busy tonight?" the girl asks.

"We were earlier.  But then those people left," I reply.  Don't get me wrong:  Yes, I want to have customers, but not when we are about to close.  It's not worth the extra few dollars to stick around for another hour or so.

I explain to them that the kitchen is closing, so they are going to need to decide quickly.  They order some drinks and say they'll be ready by the time I return.

I return.  The man gestures for the girl to order first.  She's still undecided.  (Shocker!)  I can feel the kitchen staff burning holes into my skull with the stares they are giving me to get the order in.  But I get it, they want to go home too.  Finally the man chimes in and orders a steak.  Then I turn my attention back to the woman.

"Nothing really is jumping out at me... do you think they can make me some type of pasta with chicken, vegetables, and some type of sauce?" the woman demands.

"Actually the Penne Pasta on the menu has all of those things," I explain.

"I don't see that."

I point it out to her.  What is the deal with people having to see exactly where things are on the damn menu?  I'm not making it up.  If I say it's on the menu, then it's on the menu.  Regardless, she orders the pasta after carefully reading it over... a couple of times... out loud.

I finally put their order in, and it's already 20 minutes past the time that they sat down and were told that we are closing.  A restaurant is the ONLY place that things like this happen.  If you're at the bank, and it's closing time, you had better believe that one of the out-of-shape armed guards is going to be bullying you out the door.  Just because your money is there doesn't mean that you own the place.

My manager comes back to check on me and the table.  This is always interesting to me because managers will ALWAYS seat a late table, so we have the business, but then they are the first ones to ask if they're finished yet.  They would've been finished by now if you had NEVER SAT THEM IN THE FIRST PLACE!

The couple finishes their entrees and I use the old "bring them some chocolates on a plate" trick, so they think that this will be their dessert, so they won't stay and order dessert off the menu.  Fortunately, it worked.  I drop their check and was thinking that I was finally finished.  When I go to pick up their payment, I was lectured by the woman that she really didn't like her cocktail--even though she had decided to modify one of the specialty cocktails that we have on the menu.

At this point, it's better to take it off the bill rather than argue that she is an idiot.  They pay.  They leave.  For all of that, I made less than 10 percent.  The closing Gods were unkind to me this night.

When the restaurant is closed, that means that they are closed.  Jack-in-the-box has a 24 hour drive-thru.  Go there, and say hi to Jack for me.

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

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









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Saturday, December 6, 2014

5 Tips To Surviving Your Holiday Party by Bitter Party of 1

It's that time of year again, and before you put on that holiday red and green dress, or Christmas Tree tie, I would like to help you out with a few tips that will let you enjoy your holiday party, get you home safe, and still be employed when you go back to work.

NUMBER 5:  DON'T ASK YOUR BARTENDER TO POUR EXTRA ALCOHOL 
Whether or not it's a hosted or cash bar, don't tell the bartender to put a little more in your drink.  We get it, you're a lush.  Either that or you have never been out to a place that serves alcohol.  Either way, the bar will not be going anywhere for a couple of hours.  Meaning, that after you finish one drink, you can go back and get another.  Anybody who asks for more booze in their cocktail has just become a target for ridicule amongst the service staff.  Save your breath for the meaningless conversation you are going to have with the coworkers that you probably don't like.

NUMBER 4:  THE PARTY IS NOT AN OPPORTUNITY FOR YOU TO ASK YOUR BOSS WHY HE/SHE DIDN'T LIKE YOUR PRESENTATION.
There are other things to talk about besides work.  This is a good place to practice that.  Kind of like how you shouldn't talk about religion or politics on a first date, the same applies here.  This is an important one to remember early on because, as the night goes on, and everybody gets hammered, it will be good to know that you haven't said anything to your boss that will revoke your invitation to next year's party.

NUMBER 3:  UBER UBER UBER
Save yourself some time and grief and Uber, Lift, Cab, Unicorn, or Rickshaw your way to and from the party.  How are you going to make it back to work if you are stuck in the drunk-tank?

NUMBER 2:  THE PARTY IS NOT A GOOD PLACE TO TELL YOUR COWORKER THAT YOU HAVE A THING FOR THEM.
Office hook-ups are probably going to happen, but remember, they usually end up getting broken up by security, the boss's wife or husband, or the cleaning crew to tell you that the party ended three hours ago, and the two of you passed out on top of each other in the utility closet.

NUMBER 1:  TIP YOUR BARTENDER
You are not paying for the party, and since it's a "holiday" party, show some love and throw down some cash on the bar.  We are trying to make your party as jolly as possible, and nothing says "Ho Ho Ho" more than some 10's and 20's in the tip jar.  (Not just talking about the office whore.)  Just like you got that end-of-the-year-bonus at the office, getting extra cash during the holidays is our bonus in the service industry.

HAPPY HOLIDAY PARTYING!!!

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

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









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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Customers Are Not Right, Marshall Field

When the phrase, "The customer is always right," was uttered by Marshall Field back in 1904 he wanted to give the customer the ultimate service experience, but unfortunately, he didn't get to experience the magnitude of customers that we have today.  In fact, if he were alive today, he probably would have said, "The customer is out of their  F@#King mind."

I haven't had any difficult customers in a while, so the universe decided to bestow them upon me the other night.  A man and a woman, dressed like they came out of a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon strip, were seated in my section, waiting to be served.

"What's good here?" they asked.  No initial response to me asking them how they're going, mind you.

I took them on a tour through our menu and pointed out some things that I actually enjoyed.  Why the hell do people ask that question?  What's good?  The chairs.  They have great back support.

Then came the questions.  Not just the normal one or two, but asking me about every item and ingredient.  I'm all for educating my fellow man/ woman, but some people need to embrace Google a bit more.

"We are going to share the NY Steak," the man ordered for him and his woman friend.  I actually didn't know if they were "together," but now in the aftermath of it all, I hope that they are.  They deserve to be together for the holidays.  Probably by themselves, complaining about me.

"How would you like the steak cooked?" I asked.

"I like mine medium, but he likes his medium-rare," the woman blurted out.

"How about somewhere in-between?"

"Why don't you have the kitchen cook one half medium-rare and the other medium?  And I want to order a cocktail."

"Well, we can't cook a steak, two different temperatures--"

"--they did it for us the last time," she interrupted.

I could feel my eyes in the back of my head.  "What kind of cocktail would you like?"

"I can't decide.  Surprise me," she ordered.

I saw this as my opportunity to leave, so I did.  I got my supervisor involved and he diplomatically got the kitchen to be able to accommodate their dumb steak request.  I brought the woman one of our new fantastic cocktails that I chose for her.  I explained to them that all of their requests could be accommodated and they seemed... (Ahem)... pleased.

This is the one problem with this time of year.  The week before a big holiday, restaurants are usually really slow.  In the case of my restaurant, it's painfully slow.  Like having your gums scraped.  (Mr. Mom, anyone?)  So we have to please a customer like this because if we didn't, there wouldn't be anybody else in the restaurant to serve.  I see the woman waving me over so I go check on them.

"I don't like this drink," she says.

"What don't you like about it?" I ask.

"I don't know.  It's just gross!  I'll just have an Ice-T."

I knew that she was wrong about the drink, but I just went to get the Ice-T, and tell my supervisor.  Their dinner comes out and they get to it.  I check on them and they tell me that one half of the steak is cooked correctly and the other is overcooked.  This is EXACTLY what I knew would happen.  If any of you reading this post works in a restaurant, listen to me and don't underestimate the power of "NO."  I should have confidently said "no" at the beginning.

We cook another steak, and now the man says it's undercooked.  Sorry, actually he said it was, "RAW."

We cook another one, bring it out, same response.  We compared the steaks that he sent back and they all were cooked correctly.  Apparently this man is the Goldilocks of steaks.  "Too rare.  Not rare enough.  Wrong shade of red."

Surprisingly enough, the man and woman actually ate the last steak we brought to them.  But not without saying that they didn't like the mac n' cheese, because... "It's gross."  No lady, you're gross!

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

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









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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Dating Advice From Your Server

I have witnessed many first dates throughout my shifts.  Some of them successful; most of them bad.  There have been some signs of how the date is going that I have picked up on and noted.  Being a server in these situations is kind of like being the third wheel on a friend date.  I am there for support, but I can't say anything except to offer them more booze and bread.



Here are some things I have noticed:

If I see a cell phone on the table at any point in the dinner, the date is over.

If a second drink is ordered in-between apps and entrees, the date is being forced.

If both people are missing by the time I return to check on how the food is, then the date is being consummated.

There is a dating service called, "It's Just Lunch," where they bring together two possible matches and have them meet at a random restaurant for a first date.  And most of these dates are at night, so calling it, "It's Just Lunch" already sets things off on a bad foot.  These dates seem awkward and forced.  On one date, the guy was rapid-firing questions at the girl like he was a college admissions officer and her college career was on the line.

"What do you like?"

"Where do you live?"

"How long did it take you to get here?"

"I had sushi one time.  Have you ever had it?"

"Do you like sitting in booths, or do you prefer tables?"

And then these dates end with each person getting their own check.  This ends up being awkward for me because a lot of times, I'll present two checks, and the guy will get annoyed with me and demand that I put both checks on his credit card.  Justice was mine on the last occasion this happened because his card declined, and while I usually tell customers discreetly about this, this time I just told him directly.

"I couldn't put both checks on your credit card--"

"--what's the problem?" he interrupted.

"The problem is that your card declined.  What you like to use another form of payment?  Unfortunately, we don't accept I.O.U.'s anymore."



Pay close attention to how your date treats your server.  And I mean throughout the entire service.  Because sometimes they might start out nice, but then they start to come out of their shell, and they get more and more demanding and short with their server.  This goes for guys and girls.  Because, if they are not nice to the server, they are going to treat you horribly as well.  I think the wife character from the movie, "Gone Girl," was known for treating servers poorly.  And look how that relationship ended up.

The best dates I had in my section are the ones that admitted right away how awkward the situation was, and let it go from there.  In fact, I should get credit for successful first dates, and even more credit for crappy first dates.

Ah, amore.  

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

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









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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Dickey's Staff Sticks It To Dickeys

I just wrote a post about Dickeys BBQ Pit (who is hiring on Craigslist) and how horrible it would be to work there, and what type of person would apply.  (CLICK HERE if you missed it.)

Today I see a Facebook post from Bitchy Waiter about another Dickeys restaurant where the ENTIRE Dickeys staff quit at the same time.  That's the epitome of what every waitstaff wants to do to every restaurant employer who treats them like crap... complete EXODUS.

So many times, at so many different places have I talked about and schemed with my co-workers about taking a ten minute break, and never coming back.  Or better yet, waiting until the entire restaurant is full, and then dumping our aprons at the host stand.  (Josh, Jude, Kyle, Andrea, and anybody else who worked at The Gardens remember this?)

Bravo Ex-Dickeys BBQ Pit staff.  You have done what we have all dreamed about doing, and you have done it well.  You should have a flag raised in your honor.

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

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









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Monday, November 10, 2014

Crappy Craigslist Restaurant Jobs

Good restaurant jobs are almost as hard to get as an acting gig here in Los Angeles.  Craigslist provides many opportunities to try and find some of these wonderful pits that we call employment and I have found some that are worth sharing and commenting on.

Crew - Dickeys Barbecue Pit (Pasadena)






© craigslist - Map data © OpenStreetMap
compensation: $9-10/hr
Dickeys Barbecue Pit in Pasadena is hiring!

We are looking for people that wants to be part of a growing new business. Get in early and be part of our team. Growth opportunities available.

Dickeys serves the best Texas style barbecue in town. With over 350 stores in the US and growing. We are the first in the SGV.

We are looking for people that want a stable position, fun and face pace environment.
At Dickey's, We are passionate about the art of great barbecue!!!

Applicants should have experience in fast food or Quick Causal Restaurant.
Duties: Cashier, Food Prep, FOH, BOH, dish washing, no servers.

Knife skills a plus!

To apply, bring a resume to the restaurant, best time between 2pm-5pm.
Where do I begin with this?... Dickeys. UHG! BBQ is a passionate business, (ask anybody in Texas,) but adding a "fast food," or "Quick Casual" element to it is a tangy recipe for disaster. (See what I did there?) And why are people constantly trying to create new hybrid atmospheres for restaurants? Casual fine dining. Quick casual restaurant. What's next? Fine dining fast food? People need to hit the brakes as far as how fast the food needs to be delivered to the customer. If you're in that much of a hurry to have your food cooked, then maybe you should eat astronaut food.

"We are looking for people that want a stable position." So clearly, if you're an insecure person, who's from a broken home and is not flexible, then this is not the place for you. But they want people who can do it all. They want someone who can be a cashier, food prep, FOH, BOH, and a dishwasher. But nobody who just wants to be a server. That's just lazy. AND, the best part of all, if you are skilled with a knife, you will get special consideration. The last person you want to have "knife skills" is someone who has to work in the service industry. I'm glad I don't have knife skills, or I might be in jail right now writing this post.

 Flaming Saddles (8811 Santa Monica blvd)






compensation: Will be paid based off of hiring
part-time
Flaming Saddles is Hiring all positions. Bartenders who can dance, dancers who can bartend, barbacks, security and cooks!
Friday 11/7-Saturday -11/8
12pm-4pm

Ah, Flaming Saddles. The name just says it all. But apparently, you have a be a "jack-of-all-trades" to work there. I've joked both onstage and in this blog about how being your server is much more than just being your server. Now potential employers are finally saying just that. "Bartenders who can dance, dancers who can bartend..." Why stop there? They should include these: Hostesses who can do root canal. Food Runners who can do Lasik Surgery. And, Managers who can shoe a horse.

Even though my restaurant is painfully slow right now, I'll stick with what I have... for the moment.

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

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









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Thursday, October 30, 2014

TBB--The Bitter Diaries

Same bitterness, different day!  Service dogs, dine-&-ditching, and BH drivers, oh my hell !!!  Put a 5 star rating in iTunes please.  Remember, Christmas is coming.

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

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









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IT DOESN'T GET ANY BITTER THAN THIS!