Tuesday, December 20, 2011

My Vodka's not strong enough!


One of the fun things about many restaurants is that not only do they have a creative, seasonal, and fun food menu, many of them also have a drink menu to compliment the food menu. (I'm not talking about the Cheesecake Factory's drink menu! Too many choices. And the poor bartenders who have to learn all of those ridiculous recipes. (One word that you should NEVER associate with bartending is "RECIPES.")

One shift, I had a table of seven people who all ordered drinks.  Everybody ordered some sort of fluffy cocktail, while one girl ordered a Grey Goose Vodka martini. There are three ingredients in this martini: 1. Olives. 2. A glass. And, 3. Vodka. There is very little of the first two, and a lot of number 3. So basically the whole drink is Vodka. Perfect for any lush who thinks that she is still attractive, even though her attractive ship sailed ten years ago. After the first drink, she waves me over... "I love this martini, but I don't feel buzzed, and I would usually would feel a little fuzzy by now. It doesn't take a lot to get me drunk." She raved.

I politely explained, "The only way to make your vodka martini any stronger, would be to use a bigger glass." (And seriously, who doesn't want their drink served in a cauldron?)  She didn't take the hint.

"Well, can you ask the bartender if they could make the martini a bit stronger?  It's the least you could do."

"Of course.  I'll ask him that."  I, actually, was making my own drinks this night.

CUT TO:  20 minutes later...

The "not-drunk-girl" waves me over.  "Where's my drink?"

"I talked to the bartender.  He said he could try to make your vodka martini a bit stronger.  So would you like me to order another one for you?"

"I ALREADY order another one from you.  Get me that drink!"  She barked.  (I say barked because I believe that is her first language.)

"Of course.  It was my miscommunication."  I love this game.  It's the closest thing I can get to punching a customer in the throat.

I go back to the bar, make her martini the exact same way, except... I switched the proportions between vodka and vermouth.  It' the equivalent of putting Visine in someones drink.  Without the side effects of explosive diarrhea.  So now it's a vermouth martini, disguised as a vodka one.

"Here's your stronger "vodka" martini.  Can I get anybody anything else?"  The rest of her friends now finally see the truth about their friend, and apologize and thank me.  Knowing they are going to unfriend his troll after the dinner.

She takes a few sips.  "Wow!  That's a strong vodka martini."

"That it is."  (WINK!)

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

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

The Bitter Bistro

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

You Got Yelped!!!


Now it's time again for one of my favorite things to do, call people out who enjoy writing long, ridiculous, and pointless dissertations on the website Yelp.  I've purposefully kept the names of the establishments out to protect the innocent, and to bring more attention to the colossal waste of time these people put into writing these reviews.  I've made my comments in bold italics.

This one goes out to Katie L. from Valley Glen, CA.  Katie writes:


Huge Disappointment! And I've been sick for the past 18 hrs since eating here....   (Hard to believe since food poisoning takes over 24 hours to start to make you sick.)  Had a TravelZoo voucher, which unfortunately did not make the meal any better...  The restaurant is located inside the beautiful (omitted) LA hotel. The design of the hotel is beautiful. The $8 valet fee WITH validation at (restaurant) ... not so beautiful.  It was 7:30pm on a Sunday night. The restaurant was dead.  (Why do people always have to comment on how busy or slow it is in the restaurant?  If you really want it to be busier, then invite more friends to come eat with you.  Or at least, rent some more friends.)  We were seated in a nice booth and were ready for a great meal. That never happened.  A bread basket was the first thing we received- it was delicious. Lots of different breads in there. I ate them all.  (Shocker!)


Appetizers- 
fried rock shrimp: some over friend, (I didn't know rock shrimp could have too many "friends.") some under fried, breading was overwhelming.
Crab Cake: average cake. Boooooooring.  (You should've ordered the crab cake that can sing and dance.  Not boring at all.)

Dinner-
WANTED to get Lamb Porterhouse... but they were all out. LAME.  (You should've asked your server to go and and hunt some lamb for you.  After all, you want the freshest.)
Short Ribs: meat was cooked nicely. Watercress was so boring. So so boring. (Again with not liking food that doesn't entertain you.)  Sweet potato pancakes were more like a breakfast item.  (I'm going out on a limb here and suspecting Katie is in the red on the BMI chart.)
Australian Wagyu Sirloin- what a waste of $50!! It was undercooked, over seasoned and just a big wallet buster.
Side- Truffle Mac and Cheese: EWWWWWWWWWWW! WAY TOO MUCH TRUFFLE OIL! We literally could not take more than 1 bite. Such a shame.  (Because Katie likes to finish her food.)
Dessert- Peanut Butter Bar w Salted Caramel Ice Cream: Ice Cream was a little too salted. Peanut Butter Bar was too sweet.
Also, the lighting in there is horrible. I felt like a 95 year old woman (I'm 26 w great eyes). I could not see a single thing I was eating and I actually got super tired and thought it was bedtime!  (or it could've been the food coma that Katie was going into.)
Our waters stayed empty for a lot of the time, our server's presence was barely known and we will never go back. Never.  



Well Katie, for someone who has picky standards for her food, I doubt that you would not ever return to this restaurant.  Since you mentioned that you used a "Travel Zoo" voucher, which gives you a substantial discount at restaurants, you obviously enjoy eating a lot but pay very little for the food you consume.  But look at it this way, since you've been sick for the past 18 hours since you last ate, think of all the food you will be consuming when you feel better.  Katie L. from Valley Glen, CA... YOU GOT YELPED!!!

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

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

The Bitter Bistro

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Future Holidays!!!

Today is "Black Friday."  Originally the meaning of this horrid day began with the start of the Christmas shopping season, and the point when retailers would start to turn a profit, and were "in the black."  Now I feel it is called "Black Friday" because of the color of people's hearts that venture out to conquer the best deals possible, at the expense of their souls.  And not just the shopper's souls, but retailers as well.  (Apple's deal on iPads today saves you a whole $45.00!  Woo Hoo!  Now I can finally buy that iPad AND fill up my gas tank!)
You can't even enjoy the currant holiday anymore because you are constantly being made aware of the holiday that is coming up next.  Stores are putting up holiday decorations, and the music to fit earlier and earlier.  Starbucks started to offer the "holiday lattes" a couple of days before Halloween.  And they try to be cute with their chalkboard signs that say, "Can't wait for the holidays to enjoy your favorite lattes?  Wait no longer.  Get your Christmas Latte before you go out trick-or-treating tonight!"  I had to step out of line and choke every employee working there that day.
Believe it or not, I actually do enjoy the holidays.  It puts me in a good mood, the California winters are beautiful, chilly but tolerable (sorry Lou's mom,) and my entire family gets together for merriment and mirth.  But the way that they are blended together now, makes it seems like September through December are one 30 day month.  Next thing you know, some advertising agency is going to switch the days of the holidays, and we'll be celebrating Christmas on Halloween, Thanksgiving on Labor Day, and Halloween on Summer Solstice.

In my professional opinion, I think the only thing I can say to these people/ corporations/ sloths who are trying to rush us through every holiday of every month is this... Suck it!

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

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

The Bitter Bistro

Monday, November 14, 2011

Gateway to the Service Industry


I have written quite a bit about my battles with customers, tipping, and the way people behave in restaurants.  I have put up with a lot, (and to be honest,) some customers have put up with a lot from me.  What I haven't talked about yet is how I was introduced to the wacky world called the "Service Industry."  The high of getting my first gratuity, and the low of getting stiffed.  How I learned to give good service, and how I learned to get back at customers who didn't tip me.  This, my friends, is an origin story.  So, to be cliche, it started when I was eleven years old...

                                                                                                                                                  FADE IN:

I wanted to have a way to make extra money.  The extra chores that I could do around the house didn't excite me.  Mainly because the only choice I had was to pull weeds from the front hillside.

"What's the point?"  I cried.  "They just grow back.  It's a conspiracy!"

And after quickly learning that I was running out of tricks to fool my parents that the weeding had actually been accomplished; i.e. complaining that they were violating child labor laws... getting my friends to help me out... burying the weeds with the dirt from the hillside; I looked elsewhere for monetary satisfaction.

My friend Jason who lived across the street was looking to give up his paper route with "The Camarillo Star Free Press."

"You just roll up the papers.  Put them in the bag, put the bag on your bike, and simply throw the papers onto your customer's porches."  He skillfully persuaded me.  "And at the end of the month, you collect the money your customers owe for their subscription, and then they tip you."

My blue eyes stayed wide with anticipation.  "What's a tip?"

"That's money they give you for doing a good job.  It's like your paycheck for delivering the papers."

I was in.  And the best part, it was an afternoon paper.  It had to be delivered by 5pm.  But the weekends it was by 8am.  So my would-be boss Christine came to my house to meet me and have my mom sign something.  I remember her being weird and ditzy.  We all sat down in our living room.  She explained the job.  I agreed.  My mom signed the form.  Then it got weird when Christine tried to touch the family Bible that was on the coffee table.  The hairs on the back of my neck rose as my mom thwarted Christine's attempt by simply saying, "Don't Touch That!"  (The Irish have a way with words.)  Christine quickly left, and I was hired.

Then I started to learn about what customer service was all about.  Some of my customers wanted their paper before a certain time.  Others wanted it with a double rubber band, and a rain bag.  (Even if it wasn't raining!)  And the hardest of all, some wanted their paper placed perfectly in a designated spot.  Right in front of their door.  The middle of the driveway.  Not on the lawn, but on the stone step in front of the lawn.  In the mailbox.  And... in front of their gate because they have two little dogs who will eat the paper if I throw it over the gate.

At first, the placement of the paper was nearly impossible.  I'm riding a BMX bike, one-gear, up multiple hills, with a thirty pound bag of newspapers sometimes hanging from my handle-bars and other times wearing it over my head, all while trying to gracefully hurl a rolled up paper 18 feet to hit it's mark.  I received many complaints.  Phone calls to my house.  Etc.  But I managed to get the hang of it, and my route times were becoming quicker and quicker.  I was proud of the work that I was doing, and pleased that I was giving my customers what they waned.  Until I went collecting.

"Collecting" is a term for paperboys which means going to your customer's houses at the end of the month to get the money that they owe you for their newspaper subscriptions.  This is when they would also tip me.  What I really learned here was that customers expect you to do everything for them, and if you don't, they punish you with excuses, canceled subscriptions, and bad tips.

"Can I pay you tomorrow?  I don't have my check book with me."  One customer pleaded.  First of all, I had to ride my bike their house to get the money that they owed me.  So now I have to make an extra trip all the way to their house when I have other important eleven year old things to do.  And second, who the hell doesn't have their check book with them?!  Do you have a second home that you house your check books at?

"They old paperboy got my paper where I wanted it every time.  I would gave him five dollars.  You should try to be more like him."  As they handed me a whole dollar.
"The only times I missed your porch was when it was pouring rain.  I kept crashing on my bike to get up your driveway."  I politely defended myself.
"I'm sure I could just ask for a different person to deliver my paper.  And I'd like fifty cents back from that dollar."

Some customers flat out didn't tip me.  At first, I didn't understand why.  I put the paper in front of their gate like they instructed.  Their dogs didn't get the paper.  I had done no wrong.  But they never tipped me.  Until I figured something out... retaliation.  My customers that tipped, got their paper the way they wanted it.  On time.  "X" marks the spot.  Those that didn't tip, found their newspaper torn to shreds by their two little white dogs that somehow found the paper on the wrong side of the gate.

                                                                                                                                              FADE OUT:

The dog customer eventually got the message.  Other customers stayed loyal, while others canceled their subscriptions and went with the "LA Times."  The paper route helped shape the person that I am today.  Hard-working, diligent, and professional.  But the thing that truly has stayed with me to this day is that being given a gratuity is a compliment.  But when I don't receive compliments, I am a bitter person.

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

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

The Bitter Bistro

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

I'll have the special and have you seen my kid?



McDonald's has had tremendous success incorporating playgrounds into their campaigns.  There is a reason why they work:  McDonald's has happy meals, dollar menus, and the playgrounds are outside.  

The same is not true for restaurants.  You are seated by a host, handed menus, and you are waited on by a server.  When the hell did it become a good idea to let your two year old run around a restaurant, bothering other customers, and having waiters avoid running into them like a game of "Frogger?"  

"He'll calm down after he tires himself out."  Said the mom to me after I almost, (I said, almost,) stabbed her kid with a steak knife that I was bringing to another table.

"If you need to tire him out, he can bus Table 23 for me, and take the drink order for the couple on the patio."  In other words, get your kid the f@*k out of the way.  Your child may be cute, but he won't be cute after he's been run over and step on by servers, food runners, and drunk customers who unfortunately didn't see him because he was chasing after his ball the you threw for him.  

I like kids, but a restaurant is an opportunity to teach them how to behave in public.  And if they don't behave, as Tom Leykis would say, "Get your God damn kids out of the restaurant.  Drinks are on me."

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

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

The Bitter Bistro

Friday, October 14, 2011

BOOBIES !!!

My buddy Lou Santini says that when you "say the word 'boob,' you can't help but to smile."  Well, when you see one pop out of a woman's dress sitting in your section at a restaurant, you can't help but giggle your ass off.

That's right.  An unintentional, non-breast feeding, in-your-face boob popped out to say "hello," and I was there to wave "hello" back.  But let's not rush into this.  I am still under fire from co-workers about what should have been said during the ordeal, so let me present all of the evidence, and let you guys pass down judgement.

A husband and wife are seated in my section.  I heard some sort of accent, so I think that they are European.  The husband is looking at the cocktail menu as I approach the table to greet them.

"Welcome.  How are you doing this evening?"  I said.

"Hello."  The husband muttered.  "I want champagne.  What would you recommend?"

At this point, I went into my usual script of dry and sweet champagnes and sparkling wines that we offer by the glass.  The husband places his order, and I turn to his wife who is still looking over her husband's shoulder to read the cocktail menu.  (I could go into the whole argument that the husband ordered before his wife, but that would take away from the meat... [ahem]... of this blog.)

"And what may I offer you to drink?"  I say with as much faux sincerity as possible.

"I want something sweet."  She says.  But then I notice that the right side of her dress is much more "flowy" and less full than the left side.  Because the right side of her dress has been pinned down by her right BOOB!  No bra.  No exterior armor.  Just one of the girls coming out to play.

I have worked in the service industry for many years.  From The Four Seasons, and The Beverly Hills Hotels, to Wolfgang Puck... none of the training I have had prepared me for the professional thing to say or do.  The only thing that kept coming to mind was, "BOOBIES!"  But what made it worse, was that the woman had absolutely no idea that her boob was out and about.  I'm looking around for my other co-workers to see if they are looking at this car crash, fumbling with my pad of paper, all while trying to wipe the stupid grin off of my face.  I had to focus my attention back on the husband, who also had absolutely no idea that one of his wife's mammary glands was taking a breather.  (At this point, the food runner did see what was going on, and he informed me that I was beet red, and had a huge smile on my face.)

"Is the Lychee Martini sweet?"  The wife asked, still naively questioning me about drinks.

"It is sweet."  I answered, looking down at the table, up at the ceiling, basically anywhere but the direction of the woman.  "Perhaps you might like to try the cocktail of the day?  The "Slippery Nipple."

"No.  I think I'll get champagne too.  It's too early for Martinis.  I don't want to get too crazy yet."

Her right boob is way ahead of her.  "I'll be back with your champagnes.  And I'll adjust the AC.  I can see it's getting a bit chilly."

I get their drinks.  Return to the table, and sure enough, the woman covered herself with a shawl.  I don't know if they knew that I knew.  But I knew.  Some of my co-workers told me that I should have told the woman about her "wardrobe malfunction."  What the hell was I supposed to say?

"Psst!  Ahem!  Ma'am, you want to holster that breast?  If you don't put it away, I'll have to charge you a corkage fee."  I believe I handled it correctly.

I usually attach some sort of picture to coincide with my blog, but in keeping within FCC regulations, the fact that my mom reads my blog, and to leave something to your imagination, this post will not have a pic.  And I just noticed that this is the longest blog I have written to date.  What can I say?  I've got something to say about BOOBIES!

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

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

The Bitter Bistro

Friday, October 7, 2011

A little PDA goes a long, long, way...


Many of you have asked me to blog more often about the things that people do in restaurants and bars.  I try to write about what happens as much as I can, but sometimes, I am so shocked about some of the things that I see and hear, it takes awhile for me to digest it all, and transcribe it to you.  Now that I've finished digesting, here you go...

I've noticed in many fine dining establishments, that to cleanse the palate in-between courses, they will bring you a scoop of sorbet.  It's refreshing and gets your taste buds ready for the next course.  Here in Los Angeles, some customers have a better way of cleansing their palates... by jamming their tongues down the throats of their dinner guests.  And why not?  Don't birds do the same thing?  One evening, I had a table of three people, one guy and two girls, who were eating on the patio at the restaurant I was working.  To say they were having a good time is an understatement.  I went out to check on them, and the guy was making out with one of the girls with the other girl sitting behind them eating.  Then they stopped making out to eat some more of their meal.  I figured the food most be fine, and their water glasses were full, so they didn't need me to hang around the table staring at them.  So I went to the side-station to stare at them from there.  After they ate some more, the guy then turned to the other girl and started making out with her.  I think this is what athletes call carb loading.  Needless to say, this cycle continued on until the meal was complete.  A compliment to the chef... perhaps.

This would now be the time that I would offer them a dessert menu, but I figured they wanted something that wasn't on our menu.  And lucky for the three of them, we were at a hotel, so they could get a room.  Which is what I told them when I presented the check.  And who knows, maybe the were European?  Like Clark W. Griswold said, "European standards are very different from Americans."

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

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

The Bitter Bistro

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Stronge' You stink therefore you are!

Dress for success.  First impressions are lasting impressions.  I understand all of that.  But keep this in mind when you are going out to eat; I should not be able to smell you, your perfume or cologne all the way from the other side of the restaurant.

I respect my elders, but I believe it's fair to say that the older you get, the less you can smell.  Especially if you are dousing yourself in Chanel no. 5.  Please ladies, even if your sniffer is out of order, at least count the number of spritzes you depress upon yourself.  It will not only save you money, but save the people around you and the people in the surrounding counties as well.

And for the guys.  The pimps, the players, but mainly... the Persians.  (This is not racist.  I have Persian friends so I am allowed to say this.)  My buddy Lou told me that he asked a Persian why they wear so much cologne.  They said, "My friend, it's because Persian men like to stand out."  Not only do you stand out in a restaurant, but even the garlic cloves have to pinch their noses and run out the door.

But like I said, it's not just Persian men, it's other meatheads as well.  I can only imagine how much cologne some guys must go through in a single week.  Like the old saying goes, a lot goes a long way.  But by the standards of these men, that way is not that long.  (Which reminds me, I need to buy stock in Drakkar Noir.)

And this brings me to the people who don't need to wear any kind of perfume at all.  They wear "Ode de Anus."  They simply smell bad.  The only time I can stand these people is if they are sitting next to the people mentioned above.  They cancel each other out.  In short, take a quick whiff before you depart your dwelling for your night out.  Some people have stunk me out so badly that my contacts have melted.  And if you don't have the money to cover your stench, do what my friend T.K. does in his joke, "I don't wear cologne.  I just drive through Glendale with my windows down."

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

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

The Bitter Bistro

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Freshmaker!


I always loved the old "Mentos" campaign which showed that you could get out of any of life's dilemmas simply by taking a step back, popping a Mentos into your mouth, and immediately be struck with a creative sense of resourcefulness to get what you wanted. If it were that easy, I would've been popping Mentos throughout my entire service industry career.

 I understand when your food comes out wrong you're upset because you are hungry and now we have to find a solution to what should be a small problem, but what is it with these people who suddenly come up with a case of the "I'm not hungry anymore, or I'll just eat off of my friends plate" plague? Yes, sometimes a small hair drops on the plate, or a tiny bug manage to escape it's death by not getting washed off, but does that really dampen the good times that you came to have in the restaurant? And if I was the friend sitting at the table with you, and you said that you would just eat off of my plate, f@&k no! I'm like a dog. Stay away from my food bowl and my mouth when it's time to eat. (And I know I'm not alone on this one.)

And then there's the "glass is half empty" people.  These are customers who absolutely have to have their water glass filled to the top at all times or else they can't focus on their company or even attempt to eat their meal.  You know who you are... your water glass has at least a third of water left in it, and you tell the entire restaurant staff that you need your server.  I rush over to stop the apparent rape that is happening, and without saying a word, you motion to your water glass meaning to top it off.  I'm all about optimism, but this would even make the Dalai Lama say, "this bitch is nuts!"  In the industry, we make it a point to keep things filled, but if there's still some water in the glass, you'll survive.  After all, we're in a drought for Pete's sake.

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

"Bitter, party of one? Your table is ready."

The Bitter Bistro

Friday, August 12, 2011

I'm nuts! And I'm also allergic to them.


Harry Potter should stop chasing evil wizards and put on a chef's coat and get in the kitchen. That is the only way these evil "menu changers" would be able to get the food that they really want to get.

"Since I'm allergic, I'll have the peanut bar but without peanuts... I'll have pecans instead." I didn't know there was a choice of nut for this dessert. News flash... if you are allergic to peanuts, and you're looking at a dessert menu that has an item called "the peanut bar," you probably should decide on something else. (Right, Irene?)

"I'll have the 'beet and goat cheese salad' but I don't like goat cheese, what would you suggest?" I suggest you order one of the dishes that doesn't have a main ingredient you don't like.

Or better yet, "Is there a lot of crab in the 'crab salad?' I'm not a huge fan of a lot of crab." If the main ingredient is in the title of the entree, there's a good chance that it's the majority of the dish.

If a restaurant lets you walk in and order whatever you felt like eating at that moment, chances are, you're still at your house. Chefs create menus based on their creativity and what's readily available during that season, not off a customer's personal preferences for that day.

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

"Bitter, party of one? Your table is ready."

The Bitter Bistro

Sunday, June 26, 2011

a la Jerry Seinfeld, "Who are these people?"


I talk a lot about the annoying things that I have encountered with customers throughout my illustrious service career. People with allergies. Splitting checks. The tale of the tip. So, I think it would only be fair to spend a little time talking about the other side of the coin; People who work in the service industry.

I try not to judge other people in the industry. After all, to some, I'm just as whacky and bitter as the rest of them. But sometimes, I can't help but wonder how some people got hired to work in the service industry, when the main focus of the job, is SERVICE oriented.

This one place I used to work, this girl from the Eastern block of the world was hired as a hostess, the first line of defense in a restaurant, but the girl doesn't use English as her first or even secondary form of language. One of the most amusing things I saw this girl do one night was when she sat a party of four, and it turned out that it was only going to be a party of three. The hostess, in her thick-Slovak accent, confronted to guest about only having three people show up when it was supposed to be four. "The reservation says four people, and you are only three! What happen to the other?" Confrontation is usually never a good idea for anybody in a restaurant, especially the guests. Now that I think about it, maybe the hostess had a friend standing by in the wings who could join the table for situations like this one. But I will say this for her, she liked to have things numerically correct.

Most recently I ordered a Turkey Burger, and a bunch of other food from a restaurant to be delivered to my house. The girl on the phone asked me, "How do you want your Turkey Burger?"

"I want it delivered with the rest of the food."

"No." She scolded. "How do you want your Turkey Burger cooked? Medium? Medium-well?"

This is why it's always important that you know your product before you sell it. Especially with something like, say, poultry?

"Oh... medium. I like my Turkey Burger with just a touch of Salmonella. And instead of fries, I'd like a side of E. coli."

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

"Bitter, party of one? Your table is ready."

The Bitter Bistro

Sunday, June 12, 2011

My parents neglected me as a customer.


There aren't too many places you can go in the world, where you are constantly stroked, hand-held, and paid attention too as you are when you are sitting as a customer in a restaurant, and your server is taking care of you. For that amount of time, your server treats you as if you are their only child. Whatever you want, it's brought to you. If you don't like something, they will get you something you like. And even in some instances, if you don't like your server, a new one will be brought to you and you can start anew with that one. It's like a perfect little customer universe that was created with one thing in mind... to please the customer. You are basically allowed to pick and choose the family you always wanted to have, at least for two and a half hours. But even then, it's still not enough!

I remember this one unforgettable Saturday night, (believe, it's not like I haven't tried to forget it.) It was a table of three ladies. They were going to go to an "80's" party afterwards so they were dressed the part. I thought they were dressed like "Wonder Woman." They corrected me and said they were dressed like "Madonna." But apparently we all were wrong, because my manager said that they were "Cougars." (Tres Bien, Freddy!) They were having a great time. Taking pictures, getting the attention of other customer's, drinking! Then, the woman sitting in the middle stops me and asks,

"I wanted to ask you a question?" Next thing I know, the other two women stop her and say that everything is fine, and that I am doing a great job. Now, unfortunately I can't let this go. But finally she says, "oh, never mind."

"No, please. Now I have to know what your question is?" I pleaded.

"Okay." She says. "Are you neglecting us? I see you going around to other tables, but I kind of feel neglected."

"Of course not." I swear.

"I'm sorry," she claims, "I just wear my heart on my sleeve. I had to ask."

But like I've said in the past, I will anticipate my guests needs. So I said, "I wouldn't do that, but since you've asked, I'm going to neglect you now."

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

"Bitter, party of one? Your table is ready."

The Bitter Bistro

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Only Birthday in the World...


Birthdays that are celebrated in restaurants are apparently the only birthdays in the world. (At least for that day.) Don't get me wrong, birthdays are fun, and it's great to get together with friends to celebrate a birthday at a restaurant, but keep this in mind... there is a strong possibility that there are other people celebrating birthdays that same day as well. I know, hard to believe, but it is possible that there were multiple births on that day.

And we've all seen this happen. Out at a restaurant and one of the friends get up from the table to go to the bathroom, this is the universal signal that they are going to tell their server that it's their friends birthday, and they would like them to do something special. Oh, and of course, make it a surprise. A surprise?

"Surprise! Happy birthday!" Says the server.

"Oh my God! I had no idea it was my birthday." Shrieked the surprise birthday person. Apparently they used to be a Jehovah's witness.

Or how about this... It's a Saturday night, and the server gets to the table with a candle in some sort of dessert, and everybody at the table, including the birthday person, all look at him like they don't know what the hell he's doing and the server is standing there like he's some whack-job standing at their table with a flaming cupcake. Then the server second guesses themselves at the last second because he thinks he made a mistake even though these are the same people who told him that it was their friends birthday. So he doesn't know what to sing...

"Happy... Saturday to You!" What's the matter with this guy?

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

"Bitter, party of one? Your table is ready."

The Bitter Bistro

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Money Can't Buy You a NEW ATTITUDE


The Countess LuAnn was right when she sang, "Money can't buy you class." And I know, who the hell is The Countess LuAnn? Subject for another type of blog. But the people who think that because they are spending a lot of money at a restaurant/hotel, entitles them to become part-time owners of the establishment.

"I've spent over 25,000 dollars at this hotel, I should be allowed to smoke inside if I please! That's the least you could do for me." --Of course. We'll get the Governor on the phone and change the law for you right away. In the meantime, perhaps you could light yourself on fire so you could get that warm feeling from smoking. Let me know if I can help. :)

Or the people who spend a good amount of money for dinner with 8 or 10 of their friends, (thankfully only 1 person paid the check, not 8 different forms of payment--see my joke about "paying the check.) The restaurant closes, and the people are still there like they're "squatting" on their house that was foreclosed. There is a reason why it's called "business hours," because at the end of those hours, the business is CLOSED. I have an account at Wells Fargo, but when they're closed I don't get to continue to sit in the lounge at drink free cappuccinos. "What do you mean you're closed? My money is here! And I know Wells!"

Have a great time. Spend tons of your money. But you don't own the place. Besides, if you have that much money to spend, buy your own place. And while you're at it, buy a new attitude. Let's incorporate a new standard for going out to restaurants... SIT DOWN. SHUT UP. and SMILE. The "3 S's." Keep it simple.

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

"Bitter, party of one? Your table is ready."

The Bitter Bistro

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Sample Winers


UHG!!! Enough with the people who think that they are foodies and wine connoisseurs. Believe me, I am a huge fan of "Top Chef," but that doesn't make me go into a restaurant and question every ingredient of each dish, and the complexity of each grape that goes into every varietal of wine.

One night, I have this couple in my section, and they begin to ask a few questions about some wines they had the last time they came in to eat. FINE, but then they suddenly need something "fruity," but "smooth." "Wait. Maybe not smooth, but more fruit forward. Yes, we want a wine that is a fruit-bomb."

"Fruit bomb?" I confirm. Getting hard to control my smart-ass tendencies at this point.

"Yes." Said the woman. "Something that will please my palate, then explode in my mouth." (Not kidding! Actual words.)

"A fruity, palate-pleasing, mouth exploding wine. Sir you are a lucky man. I have just the wine for you."

"But what about a Zin?" The man interrupted. Then he proceeded to ask questions about EVERY bottle of wine that was on the wine list. Followed by, "I would like to try some of the wines."

YOU ARE NOT AT YOGURTLAND!

Restaurants can help you pair wines with food, and you should try one or two wines AT MOST, but keep in mind that if they're only two of you at the table, you should not have eight empty wine glasses in front of you from sampling wines.

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

"Bitter, party of one? Your table is ready."

The Bitter Bistro

Sunday, April 17, 2011

My Favorite Customer Quotes !!! PART I

The 1980's gave us such great things like MTV, the Apple IIE, and the saying..."the customer is always right." With that being said, here is a list of some of my favorite customer quotes from my career in the service industry. Of course, I will be adding some comments to justify why they said what they said, but the list will be as true today as when they said it to me the first time. Feel free to comment and add some of your own favorites as well. Without further delay...

"Are you our server?"
--No. I a regular customer just like you. Except I enjoy wearing all black with a black apron and hanging around your table for the past 45 minutes.

"We thought you forgot about us."
--Trust me. If ever a time when I'd want short-term memory loss, it would be to forgot that you were sitting in my section.

"Can I get a new water? There's something gross in mine."
--(An ACTUAL porn star said this to me) More things have gone in and out of you than the Lincoln Tunnel. Your body can tolerate some "gross water."

"Are you sure this coffee is decaf? If I'm up at three in the morning, I'm coming after you."
--(blank stare)

"Is the vegetarian pasta, vegetarian?"
--Did you forget to wear your helmet today?

"What are these bubbles in my coffee?"
--That's what happens when you pour coffee into a cup.

"We didn't know we drank THAT much, so we're not going to pay for half the bill."
--Apparently I work at the 'pay what you can' restaurant.

(Customer) "I'll have the 42." (Me) "That's the price."
--Apparently I work at a Chinese restaurant.

"I know the chef."
--So does everyone else who owns a television.

"I sit there all the time."
--You still can, you'll just have to sit on that woman's lap who's ALREADY sitting there.

"They let me order it before."
--That was so you would stop talking about how bad your life is because you can't get what you want.

"My wife doesn't like eggs for breakfast, but she enjoys eating fruit. What should she have?"
--How about the fruit plate?

"This table's too close to the kitchen" (After moving) "This table's too far from the kitchen."
--You're not buying real-estate!

"I want the chef to make me this dish that I had at this other restaurant."
--Sure. Just go to that restaurant, get the recipe, and stay there.

"So, are you an actor too? Have I seen you on anything?"
--Right now you can see me acting like I'm happy you're here.

"Is our food ready yet?"
--When it's in front of you, it's ready.

"I'm allergic to the following... (laundry list of items) ...what do you recommend?"
--I recommend the water.

(These two ladies got drunk, and left the restaurant and sat in the lounge. I finally found them) "We were looking for you."
--You could have found me back at your table. Where you ate your food.

"Can you do something about the hot light?"
--(Woman was sitting outside, motioning towards the sky) The Sun? Of course. I'll get a busboy to move it for you.

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

"Bitter, party of one? Your table is ready."

The Bitter Bistro

Sunday, January 30, 2011

And my cat will have the veal.


You think you've seen it all in restaurants and hotels. Think again friends! Now menus are available for ALL of your children. Not just the human ones, but for your animal children as well. The best place to get take your furry friend for a birthday dinner, none other than Beverly Hills, CA. I'll never forget working at this restaurant in the heart of Beverly Hills, one of the nicest customer's to eat there was Vidal Sassoon. Yes, the guy who doesn't look good, if you don't look good. He and his wife were super friendly, great tippers, no egos attached to this couple. But, whenever they would dine with us, their two dogs dined as well. The restaurant went as far as to keep the dog bowls in the restaurant for them. Nothing was too good for their canines. Chicken breast. Egg whites. Apparently the dogs were on Atkin's.

And now I've seen many luxury hotels catering to the animal clientele. And not just Charlie Sheen. (BAM!) When you order room service, or even if you have turn down service for your room, now the maids leave chocolates for you, and some carob treats for your pets to nosh on before calling it a night. Seriously, who wants to carry a fifty pound bag of dog food when they travel anyways? What's next? Bars serving up pet cocktails? I don't think that's too far off. And if that does happen, I thought of it first.

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

"Bitter, party of one? Your table is ready."

The Bitter Bistro

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Can I warm up your caffeine for you?


Throughout my illustrious career serving the lucky people who have walked into the establishment that I was employed at the time, I have served drinks ranging from the "Long Island Ice Tea," to "Soy Vanilla Extreme Ice Blendeds." The difference between the two? Serving drunk people is much easier than serving caffeinated. People who want booze like to "sit and stay." People who need their coffee want to "grab and go." Of course, most towns don't let you order alcoholic drinks to go, unless you're in Vegas or New Orleans. Or if you are courageous enough to have your server put your alcoholic drink in a to go coffee cup. And if you do the latter, double the tip for that server, and admit to him that you are an alcoholic.

I worked at The Coffee Bean for five months one year, and that was the longest five months of my life. All of the bartending gigs I have had seemed to be a blur, (not just because of the booze,) but seemingly because time stands still when you are being ordered around by a customer twitching for their "double-short-nonfat-2 pump-no sugar added-soy-latte-w/easy whip." And of course the kicker, after I had made that drink for said customer, I had to say, "double-short-nonfat-2 pump-no sugar added-soy-latte-w/easy whip for Tim the Twitcher."

Here's how specific coffee junkies are: I was serving a customer their "French Press" coffee. I poured it at the table for him. He points to his cup and says, "What's that?"

I being the professional smart-ass reply, "That's coffee."

He comes back with, "What are those bubbles in my coffee?"

I peer into his cup, look back at him and confess, "That's what happens when you pour coffee from a pot, into a cup. Would you rather have the 'bubble-free' coffee?"

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

"Bitter, party of one? Your table is ready."

The Bitter Bistro