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Showing posts from 2009

Mind Reading 101

Servers apparently can do it all now-a-days. Along with suggesting wine to compliment your "Lamb Shank;" listen to why you decided to become a "vag"-a-tarian; and refill your ice-teas, add another skill to the repertoire... mind reading. Why else would you, the customer, have that surprised/upset look of, "you didn't know I have a peanut allergy" scraped across your face? Or, "my God doesn't allow me to eat pork products." Well, my God doesn't allow me to read minds. So if you have a food allergy that can potentially kill you, (a la Gene Wilder in "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,") "Please. Stop. Don't eat that." Tell your server before you order your food. Unless, of course, you enjoy eating the emergency room Jello. But I already knew that. until next time, "Bartenders and Servers don't pay their rent with compliments." Bitter? Party of 1. Your table is ready. www.thebitterbistro.

Child baggage

This "bistro" blog is going outside of the boundary for a bit to look into the world of checking baggage on airplanes. More specifically: Children. If anybody should get a discounted airline ticket, it should be the adults. On a recent flight from LAX to Chicago O'Hare, the almost four hour flight was a non-sleeping flight due to a five year old boy who kept kicking the back of my seat. His parents were sitting on either side of him managed to do nothing about the situation. What made the situation even worse, the child has an allergy to dairy, yet the parents didn't bother to bring any appropriate snacks for their kid, allergy or not. And then the parents expected the flight attendants to be able to handle the situation, but most domestic flights don't carry a wide variety of food choices suitable for children with dairy allergies. (Too bad.) Through the flight of kicking and much screaming and crying, (I'll admit, some crying was my own,) the child


Perhaps this is a bit of a "re post" from awhile back, but I would like to remind the foreigners of a little thing here in the States called "the gratuity." When you pass through customs, along with the stamp to get into the country, there should also be a pamphlet in various languages explaining how to tip. 15% is no longer an acceptable gratuity. It is all about 18 and even 20 percent. Don't get me wrong, it should not be just taken for granted. The server or bartender should put in the effort and service for the money. But this is not a salary position. The gratuity is how, WE, the service industry, pay our bills. So whatever language you are fortunate to speak, just make sure you tip. And if you don't speak English, please have someone translate this blog for you. "Bartenders and Servers don't pay their rent with compliments." Until next time, "Bitter? Party of one. Your table is ready."

Please and Thank you

Two words that used to mean so much are clearly absent from the English language, "Please," and, "Thank-you." Especially in restaurants. Of all places you'd want to treat someone nicely, it's the place that brings you food and drink that was prepared OUT of your line-of-vision. Now, I'm not going to go into any horror stories of spitting in food or drink. I personally, have never seen a chef spit in a customer's food. One time I did witnessed the bartender spit in a martini. (Aiden!) But it was a "Lychee Martini," who would noticed? Am I right? Hello! Customers seem to feel that once they have set up camp at their table, that they own the entire forest. Including treating the waitstaff like animals. Barking orders. Yelling at the server from across the restaurant. Snapping fingers. Whatever! A pleasurable dining experience is ultimately in the hands of the servers/bartenders/bussers. Let us do our jobs, so you don't feel

Do you know who I am?

So you've reached the pinnacle of celebrity. Congratulations! Let the parade begin. However, do the floats have to continue to go by every restaurant you walk into? Granted, having a celebrity in a restaurant does help bring in some business, but that doesn't mean you are on the restaurant's payroll and deserve to get free stuff. I don't like to mention names of certain people who are "over-actors" or can't read cue cards... (that would be cruel,) BUT... everyone can learn from a certain individual who has Bob Barker's old gig. Have a low bill and tip well above it. "Come On Down!" And by the way, those of you who are the newest contestants on whatever reality-show-contest you are on, the restaurants in Los Angeles aren't like the ones in your hometown of Tallahassee. Have respect and class. At least if not for yourself, but for the show you represent and for the people who work in the establishment you are annoying them at. And

Holiday People

(Re post from December 28th, 2008.) The holidays have once again come and gone. We're still eating leftovers and exchanging clothes that are the wrong size. But the one thing I'll always remember about working at a restaurant during the holidays are the "Holiday People." These are people that HAVE to eat at restaurants during the holidays because they were not invited anywhere else. Why? Because they're A-holes! (source, Joe Kelly.) And now these people take it upon themselves to walk into whatever dining establishment, without a reservation, seat themselves, and make the lives of servers and bartenders miserable as if they are related to Scrooge. Everything is wrong: Too expensive! The pour is too short on their glass of wine! The service is too slow. I'm too smiley! Don't say "Merry Christmas," I'm Jewish! Don't say "Happy Holidays," I celebrate Christmas! And of course, the biggest "Bah Humbug" of all.

Gum control!

(Re post from November 18th, 2008.) Didn't your teachers tell you that you couldn't chew gum in class? Well, the same goes for restaurants! And what's even more disgusting is how this is now the server's responsibility to dispose your mangled morsel of Trident. There are a few people who attempt to have SOME class by asking for a paper napkin to place their gum in and then put it on a plate to be immediately thrown out. But for most... either directly on their dinner plate or better yet, on the TABLE. Now the gum just sits in the middle of a showdown with the server and the customer to see if either one is going get rid of the gum, or if it is going to become a permanent fixture on the table for all to see for weeks to come like an art exhibit on tour at museums across the country. Is fresh breath necessary before you consume alcohol and food? I can see how Extra's "Bubble-mint" flavored gum really enhances the flavor of a filet and your pinot noir, b

The few. The proud? The Managers!

(Re post from September 24th, 2008.) You've seen them in restaurants. Usually wearing some sort of leisure suit! They look authoritative, but still walk aimlessly around doing nothing more than getting in everybody's way. That's right! They're the Managers! If you are wondering why you might be getting poor service, or why the staff seems to be a little too stressed out, (even though the restaurant isn't that busy;) chances are a manager has reared their ugly mug into the equation. That's their job. Making a servers job harder then it already has to be. Here's a little known fact... you ever want to get a free meal? Free anything? Throughout your meal, say everything is fine to your server, or bartender. Then when presented with your bill, call the manager over, and complain about how uncomfortable your chair is, or how the dim lighting in the restaurant gave you food poisoning. 9 times out of 10, something will be free. Maybe your ENTIRE check. I

Allergy Freaks!

(Re post from March 14th, 2008.) People think they can get away with anything when they're eating out at a restaurant. The other day, I over-heard a conversation of a lady sitting at the table across from me tell her waiter this, "I'm allergic to: 1. Beef 2. Dairy 3. Peanuts 4. Garlic, and 5. Lettuce. What would you recommend?"... I recommend you get back in your mother's womb and finish cooking! You're not done, you ALLERGY FREAK!. Eat at home. Who let you out of your bubble? Put it this way, if you have a severe enough food allergy that warrants you to admit that "lettuce" will kill you... stick with the water. I know people enjoy taking "shots" after meals, but not of "epinephrine." Remember, Bartenders/Servers don't pay their rent with compliments. Until next time, Bitter? Party of one. Your table is ready.

Euro Summer

(Re post from October 5th, 2007.) "Euro-summer" is over.-- To those who have never worked in the "service industry," that is the time from June to the middle of September where our "friends" from Europe venture forth to the land of the free to vacation, dine and complain. The one thing that they forget to pack in the carry-on, is the "European to-the-rest-of-the-World" dictionary. I understand that English is not everyone's first language, so I would not expect a bartender/ server in a restaurant, in a foreign country to be able to speak it fluently. But when I can't speak French, in my own country, I now have somehow disgraced my nation, and my forefathers because I cannot understand how you want your eggs cooked. By the way, in President Bush's next "State of the Union" address, he is going to announce the ground-breaking discovery we've made with eggs here in America. Scrambled. Poached. Omelettes.--What!? No

Are you an actor?

(Re post from July 8th, 2007.) The question that soooo many of us who have plowed through the numerous restaurant and bar jobs have heard before... Are you an actor too? Whenever I was asked this, I was amazed at how quickly I could justify blowing somebody up. "Your honor, my client was merely telling the customers the specials of the day, when unsuspectingly, all of there heads exploded. He was amazed that he wasn't hurt." Customers seem to think that colleges have offered degrees and courses in serving and bartending. Although I did go to UC Santa Barbara, (where bartending was more like an elective,) and I haven't check the class schedule at Devry lately, for the most part, most of us found that the restaurant job allowed us to make a living while pursuing our other endeavors. I would love to see the day when I run into an aspiring accountant waiting tables at a restaurant waiting for his big "accountant" break! And as my mom always would tell me, &quo

A quiet table please.

(Re post from July 2nd, 2007.) I think that many customers have failed to believe that sound travels. "Can we get a table in the quiet section of the restaurant?" Are you dining at the library? "Of course. How about a nice table between "non-fiction," and the "biography" section?" News flash!... the noise from the "busy" restaurant IS evenly distributed throughout the entire establishment. Which means that if you want a quiet table, then bring your bubbles to sit in ala GET SMART. That's the only way I can assure that you are not going to hear the conversation from the next table, the baby crying, or somebody complaining. (Which is probably you... complaining about how much you hate the table you are sitting at...) Also, the table you are sitting at does not set your "social stigma." Your table is determined by how full the restaurant is, or what tables are reserved. Note to customer... make a reservation for the

Check please!

(Re post from June 15th, 2007.) I get it. You are in a hurry. You have to do "x" and you only have "y" amount of time to do it in, and now you are sitting in my section of the restaurant. Like I said, I understand being pressed for time. So I get you your drinks and food in a timely manner. Then the big statement... "CHECK PLEASE!"... if you even say this. Usually people are so pressed for time that they cannot even use words to communicate. I usually get the "check gesture" in the air. (We've evolved a long way.) I bring you the check. (I've managed to learn sign language,) ... and instead of paying right away, you leave the check in front of you for the next two hours. Amazing how your schedule freed up so quickly. And wow! Now you have three friends joining you at a table for 1 person. But you still haven't put out some form of payment, and my shift should've been over an hour ago. (You think that I don't have


(Re post from May 14th, 2007.) This week, we'll explore the finer points of "non-verbal" signals. Many people are big believers in the "clean plate club." (I am actually "sergeant-at-arms" of this club.) But let's help our wait-staff out by placing your fork and knives diagonally across your plate when you're finished eating. That way, your server or busser knows to take your plate. This leaves more room for you to place appropriate body parts on the table... (Arms... Elbows...and Boobs.) And try to leave glasses or cups to the side of your place setting. This helps by leaving the space in front of you free and clean so the food runner can neatly place another plate of food in front of you. (If you have more food coming, of course.) This way, the "runner" doesn't have to stick his arm pit in your face and play a quick game of "twister" with you, while trying to make room for your plate of food. All in all, keep


(Re post from May 14th, 2007) If people think that you have poor social skills, then perhaps being out in a restaurant is not the best place to practice them. Start slow. Then work your way up. Walk up to somebody, say "hello." Walk away. Don't turn and say ANYTHING else. You don't want to ruin your confidence. That's all you need to get you to the social top. Remember, Bartenders and Servers don't pay their rent with compliments. Until next time, Bitter? Party of one. Your table is ready.