Friday, August 7, 2015

Cover My Shift!!!

The anxiety of trying to get your shift covered at a serving job ranks up there with wondering if the pee stick is going to turn positive or negative after a long night of having shots with your coworkers, and you ended up hooking up with one of them.  Eventually, the pregnancy scare turns out to be negative, you get your shift covered, and everything is right with the world.

But trying to get your shift covered is never easy.  Especially when you feel like you go out of your way to cover other people's shifts when they ask, but when the time comes for you to ask them, it becomes an entire ordeal.

"Hey Steve, would you be able to cover my shift next Wednesday night?  My parents are going to be in town," I asked last Saturday night.

"I might be able to, but I won't know until Tuesday.  Can I get back to you then?" Steve replied.

"That's cutting it close," I said.  "Would you be able to tell me by Monday?"

"I can't cause I have a thing.  And I won't find out about that thing until Tuesday."

And so I waited.  And of course, didn't find out until late Tuesday, that the thing that Steve was waiting for, actually turned out to be, a thing, and he couldn't cover my shift.

Such is the case for a lot of servers.  The whole reason why so many of us work in this industry is because we are pursuing other endeavors.  Such as the entertainment industry.  The service industry allows us to have flexible schedules, so hopefully when we have an audition, we will be able to get the shift covered, go to the audition, book it, and then end our penance of working in the service industry.

So this is meant for Steve, and all of the Steve's out there.  Cover shifts, because sometimes that thing you're holding off on covering someone's shift, may cost you.  And in Steve's case, that thing was drinking on the job, or in other words, alcoholism.

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

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









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Friday, July 31, 2015

The Bitter Bistro Book: Chapter 1-- The Bitter Intro "Go Home!"

Here is a sample from my upcoming book, "The Bitter Bistro."  If you're looking for a positive read, stop right now and put on your Anthony Robbins CD.  This is as negative and bitter as they come.  

the bitter intro:  go home!

Thousands of hopeful comedians, actors, and writers move to Los Angeles every year.  Los Angeles needs more of these people like Kim Kardashian needs another husband for publicity.  Hasn’t anybody learned from the previous thousands of people who moved here and failed?  I’m speaking from experience.  15 years ago, I was the same idiot.
   
I was living in Santa Barbara, working full-time as a bartender, and I wanted to be on Saturday Night Live.  This should already tell you what kind of moron I was, because SNL shoots in New York, and I wanted to move to Los Angeles.  I figured I'd move to LA, start doing improv and stand-up comedy, and Lorne Michaels would come-a-calling.  He didn't.  And nobody else did either.  I probably should've taken the hint when I was kicked out of the Drama Department at UC Santa Barbara.  They told me, “you're not ready to be pushed in the direction that we like to push our actors.”  Meaning, I couldn't even act well enough in a classroom, so why even try down in LA.

15 years later:  I've been hired, fired, and quit over 9 restaurant and bar gigs, performed the minimum 10,000 Malcolm Gladwell hours in stand-up, auditioned for very little, booked a lead in a celebrity driven pilot, but the only script I consistently have to memorize are the daily specials.  I am stuck here, but the least I can do for the people who are thinking of moving here, or the ones who haven’t been here as long as I have is to tell you all to get THE FUCK out of here, and stay THE FUCK away!

Los Angeles doesn't have enough parking spaces for another actor.  Fountain Avenue has become too congested to be considered “the fast way,” and the wait time to use the machines at the gym is longer than the “Star Tours” line at Disneyland.  Do you get where I am going with this?  I am saving you thousands of dollars and years of therapy.  And since you won’t have health insurance, it will cost you even more.

The Bitter Bistro will not renew your faith in humanity, nor will it be a book to inspire you to push forward no matter what the obstacle.  In fact, this book IS the obstacle that makes you pack up and move.  I know, you think you're going to be the exception.  You're in a great acting class, and you found a restaurant gig where you make decent money that is flexible enough to give you the time off you need to make it to your auditions.  But that is a farce.  The fact that you are working in a restaurant should tell you that you aren't going to succeed in the entertainment industry.  And the only thing your acting class is going to do for you is to help you act like you like working in a restaurant.

I had an audition for the show, “Entourage.”  It was for the role of a SERVER, and they were shooting the episode at the actual restaurant that I work at.  I got the audition through the sales team who handled the location booking and they said that I could go right to callbacks for this part.  

I auditioned and I didn't get the part.  Meaning, that I'm not even good enough to play myself, in my server uniform, at the place that I work.  A metaphor for all servers in life.

If you insist on reading further, then be prepared to consider another career option.  The service industry will prepare you for the entertainment industry, but at the end of the day, you will be back putting on that apron, or getting back behind the bar, and working with idiots and serving people that you hate.  

That’s the service industry.  

You're welcome!  The Bitter Bistro.

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, July 18, 2015

1 Fish 2 Fish Whole Fish Means the Whole F#&king Fish!

People don't know how to read anymore, or they are reading selectively.  Whatever the case, customers are not using their brains and are making themselves look like idiots.  Sounds like any Friday night in the restaurant biz.

I had a lady order the Dorade.  It says on the menu that it is a "whole fish."  This means, that when the fish arrives at the table, it will be looking at you.  No, it won't be swimming or moving around on the plate, but it will have a head and a fin and other parts that would necessitate us calling it a "whole fish."

I even repeated back to her that she was getting the Dorade, the "WHOLE fish."  She confirmed that was what she wanted.  I put in her order.  Guess what?  When her entree arrived, she freaked out.

"Is everything okay," I asked.

"This isn't what I ordered," she replied.

"Didn't you order the Dorade," I asked.

"Yes.  But they didn't filet it.  Why would you serve something like this?  I can't eat it like this!" she complained.

"Why don't I have the chef filet it for you so you don't have to make eye contact with the fish," I joked.

"Fine.  Just take it."

I took it back to the kitchen.  First, the chef looked at me like he wanted to cut me, but then he finally took the meat off of the whole fish that also had already been deboned.  I brought it back to the lady.

She calls me back over.

"I found a bone in the fish.  Just take it away.  The food here is terrible," she cried.

Just to let everyone know, you might find a bone here and there if you order fish.  The bones are very fine and had to get sometimes, but MOST of the time, fish will not have any bones in it.

I tried to offer her something else so the woman wouldn't be so upset.

"Would you like to try something else?  Perhaps the WHOLE filet mignon?"

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

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









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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Waffle Versus the Egg

"We're vegetarian.  We don't eat egg or egg white," they told me for the tenth time in less than an hour.  I get it.  You're from a part of the world that worships cows and you don't consume animal products, but you are getting on my last nerve.  And I was on my last nerve over two hours ago.

Your dietary restrictions, whether based on religion or allergens, are fine with me.  But please stop making it the responsibility of the server or the restaurant to cater to your needs.

This couple came in for just desserts.  The woman ordered a hot chocolate.  But she said she's vegetarian, but somehow she is okay with milk.  Then her husband came in and joined her.  He said he's vegetarian.  He wanted to know what desserts we had that didn't have any egg or egg whites.

But before I left to get a dessert menu, he stopped me and ask me to have the chef make sure that he would have an eggless waffle ready for him when he comes in for breakfast the next morning at 7am.  Eggless, waffle?!?  I don't even want to imagine how that is going to taste, but if you don't eat eggs, then maybe you shouldn't eat things that have eggs in the recipe.  

I went and got the dessert menu and I reviewed it with them and explained what they could and could not have.  Again, the husband explained to me that they're vegetarian and cannot have any dessert that have eggs, meat, or fish.  Seriously?  You're the same guy that is going to eat an eggless waffle tomorrow morning, right?  I know you don't eat that stuff.

By now, I had my fill of vegetables.

"I'll be right back.  I need to check with our Pastry Chef to see which of our desserts have fish.  I'm pretty sure you can't have the caviar sorbet."

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, June 24, 2015

The Butter Knife

I've noticed that the majority of customers that come into my restaurant know which silverware to eat with for each course.  But this blog is not for the majority of customers that come into my restaurant, it is for the the people who live life on the edge, by trying to cut their steak with a butter knife.

I'm talking about the short knife that is on the edge of the small bread plate that is to the left of your salad fork.  Sorry, I know I just dropped a lot of knowledge just now, but try to keep up.  If it were up to me, we would just use sporks and a steak knife for everything.  But that is not the world we live in.

We live in a world where a customer yells at me to bring them another knife, or asks me why their drink is taking so long to get to them, and I have to point out that the knife and drink that they asked for the first time, is sitting right-in-fricking-front-of-them.

"Anything else I can get for you right now?  I didn't think so."

Pay attention, please!  Get off your phone, stop texting imaginary people who you think care about you when you are sitting next to someone doing the exact same thing.  And use the butter knife to butter your bread; the small fork for your salad; the big fork for your entree.  And use your big knife for your entree or steak knife for the same.

And please don't steal any of the above said items.

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, June 11, 2015

#TBT Throw Bad Tips

It's like quicksand.  Meaning, that the more I struggle to get out of the restaurant industry, the more I sink into to it.  At this moment, I can't even get fired from my current gig, and I'm not even knocking on wood.

Summer can be a lonely time for those of us that work far from the beach.  As I write this, any server working in a Santa Monica restaurant has made at least $200.00 for a lunch shift.  And if you didn't, you probably still made more than I did on my night shifts.

I have almost come full circle at my current restaurant.  I helped open the place 9 years ago, and it was the busiest and most profitable gig I have had to date.  It wasn't perfect, but at least I knew that all I had to do was make it to the end of the shift, and I would somehow see the light.  And that light being at least $300.00.  Nowadays the light is very dim.  But the new light at the end of the tunnel is a complete renovation of the space.  That's right.  Soon I'll be opening another restaurant, in the same spot that I currently work at.  Yes, even my head is spinning.  But like they say, when one door closes and you can't open it, it's because a manager has the key, and you can't find them.

All of this does however give me ample time to work on all of my impressions of my managers and co-workers.  And I must say that they have become quite good.  Maybe I should start doing impressions in my comedy act?  If only strangers would know who the hell I'm talking about...

I remember one time, years ago, the restaurant manager wrote me up for pointing at him during a busy dinner shift.  I had to put in orders for three tables, and he wanted me to go and greet a new table that just got sat.  Yes, I know that he should have just gone over and greeted them, but he's a manager... remember.  He just kept telling me to go over to the table, so finally I got frustrated and just pointed at him.  I didn't say anything.  I just pointed.  The next day, he sat me down in the office with the assistant manager, and they went over the write up with me.  He wrote my name 17 times in the actual write up.  17 TIMES!  "Joey did this.  Joey acted this way.  Joey grew increasingly frustrated.  Joey.  Joey.  Joey."  WTF?  The fact that my name is at the top of the form, inside the box that says, "name of employee," should have sufficed.

Another time, I was waiting on a guest who was sitting outside on the patio.  She was joined by two friends.  She didn't want to see a menu, she just wanted me to order things for them.  When they finished the first course, I went to clear the dirty plates.  She stopped me and demanded that I go get them another bottle of wine.  As I turned to walk away, she stopped me again to say that she wanted more shrimp, and she asked for the bottle of wine again.  As I turned to walk away again, she stopped me and began to stack the dirty plates that I had left because she had demanded more wine, and barked at me to take the plates away.  As I had the plates in my hands, she pushes my arm away and tells me to get them another bottle of wine.  Somehow, I forgot that I was clocked in and said,

"Don't fucking touch me!"  And I stormed back into the restaurant and told my manager that I wasn't waiting on her anymore, but I was still getting the tip.

I think I understand why Danny Glover's character in Lethal Weapon kept saying, "I'm getting too old for this shit."

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

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









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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Don't Forget Your Teeth

An older lady was dining with her husband, granddaughter, and her granddaughter's boyfriend one night, when the old lady turns to me and says,

"What do you have that's soft to eat?  I forgot my teeth."

Who the hell forgets their teeth?  Let me get this straight, when you looked at yourself in the mirror before you left, you didn't notice something was missing when you smiled?


"I know how you feel," I said, "sometimes I forget my phone.  I feel lost without it."  She just looked at me as if she didn't know what I meant by that because she still uses a rotary phone.  (Look it up.)

I explained that we have soups that she could have, but she was concerned about her choices for salad.  She and her family were using a Groupon, so they had to select from the items on the prefixed menu.

"Is the salad soft?" she asked.

"I could have the kitchen chop it fine for you.  That would make it easier to eat." I replied.  I was also going to suggest that our food runner, Gerry, chew the food for her and then feed to her like a mama bird.  But I managed to keep my mouth closed on that one.

The first course arrived for everybody, and the old lady was enjoying her soup.  Then she calls me over to ask for another spoon so her granddaughter can share the soup.

"I'll get you one," I answered.  And I grabbed a spoon and quickly returned to see that the old lady was indeed sharing her soup, but she had managed to pour the granddaughter's portion onto her bread-plate.  (I'll give you a second for this one.)  Let me type that again, she poured the portion of soup she was going to share with her granddaughter on a bread-plate!

I turned to the granddaughter and said, "enjoy your puddle of soup."

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!