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Showing posts from 2012

Mayan Customers

Everybody is talking about the end of the world.  According to the Mayan Calendar, that's going to be tomorrow, December 21st, 2012.  I am scheduled to work, but if the world is ending, and I'm going to have to serve people, things are going to go a bit differently.

For customers, it will be easy, simply go out and have a good time.  Listen to me when I am explaining the specials.  Don't change the menu to suit your preferences.  And be ready to order when you say that you are ready to order.  If that's too difficult, then I'll just do the ordering for you.  I'm sure you won't mind paying for some Cowboy Ribeyes, and shots of Johnny Walker Blue Label.

Manager won't micro-manage.  And better yet, managers will actually be visible on the floor because they are ON the floor.  Not hiding in the office, or sneaking off to meet their dealer at some bar down the street.  If you need to hide, just leave the keys to the place with me, I know how to throw a good…

You Got YelpED!!!

It seems as if some people never learn, and if they did, they would probably find something wrong with what they had learned and then they would "Yelp" about it.

This time around, it's Barry "No, it isn't short for Barack," C. from Los Angeles.  I didn't write that tagline, Barry did.  See for yourself on his Yelp profile, Barry is a Douche.  Like all aliens who write their Doctorate thesis on Yelp, Barry claims to know what it takes to give good service, and that he is the master of his domain.  Maybe in a "Seinfeldian" aspect, but not from a server aspect.

Here's what Barry had to say one evening while dining out at Rock Sugar...

"Took a prospective new customer here for a work dinner with high hopes. Unfortunately, this restaurant falls into the "Jack of All Trades Master of Nothing" bucket." Barry is apparently an expert on people who are masters.  And I'm weary of people who throw around the term, "master.…

Customer Sudoku

Customers like to have proof that the food is good.  I can understand.  Who the hell wants to eat something that tastes bad?  But when I go down the ENTIRE menu with you, and give you my opinion of all the dishes on the menu, then that should be that.  No other proof should be required.

Until this couple sat in my section one night...
"So what's good here?"  The wife asked.
"We're known for oak grilled steaks and fish.  A great selection of martinis.  Some of my favorites are the NY Steak, or the Fish and Chips," I said while pointing to the items on the menu.
"I don't see Fish and Chips," the wife not paying attention to where I had just pointed on the menu.
"We have it."  I smirked.  
"Are the Fish and Chips good?"  The husband asked.
"They are.  They are actually one of my favorites."  Notice the repetition going on.
"Do people order them a lot?"
"They do.  It's a pretty popular entree," What is…

People Who Need People

It sounds harsh, but after dealing with people yelling at you that their steak is overcooked, undercooked, still in the form of a cow, I kind of have a hard time dealing with people's antics on a day-to-day basis, and that is probably also the reason why many places offer their employees a "shift drink," (an alcoholic beverage for free at the end of their shift,) to try to soothe and pacify what had just happened to that server or bartender during their shift.

As Josh hilariously said on the podcast, "I can't even like my grandparents now, because they remind me of some of the customers."

Seeing all of the horrible things that have been happening in our country with people going "postal" on other people, I would not be surprised if the next person to go "postal" is a server.  I just had a customer the other day flip out on me because we couldn't get his salad out to him fast enough."

"Where's my salad?  My friends hav…

Excuse Tips

It's ideal for a server to receive 18 to 20 percent gratuity for a job well done.  Now it seems that customers are looking to leave an excuse rather than a monetary tip explaining why they couldn't leave their server any money.  WTF?!!

Of course, because my landlord would love to receive an excuse instead of a check for rent this month. "I don't have the money for rent, because I'm a writer/comedian.  But I adore this building.  So secure."

The above picture was found on Yahoo.com.  One of the comments said that they thought this was an altered pic, but I have actually seen this happen to myself and co-workers.  And by-the-way, what if the server waiting on the woman was a single parent?  So the lady who wrote this has now started a domino effect on their server who is struggling to make ends meet.  And so on, and so on...  Get bent!

I don't believe in saying that if you can't afford to go out, that you should never go out.  There are ways to go ou…

The Bitter Bistro 101 Podcast

The first podcast is up!  Thanks again to my guests, Meredith Green, Katina Nikou, Fran Nichols, and Josh Macuga for helping to make the bitterness happen!  For bitterness on Twitter, follow me @thebitterbistro



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

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

The Bitter Bistro



A Good Attitude on Life

I usually write about the many, many customers who have acted inappropriately and annoyed me throughout the years.  But it would be unfair to not tell the story of a customer who amazed me with the best attitude, when he had a obvious, severe difficulty to overcome.

During one of my shifts, I saw a party of four being sat in a booth.  It was two parents, with their son and daughter.  When they sat down, I noticed something about the son, that he didn't have any arms.  He looked over the menu, ordered what he wanted, and proceeded to have a great time dining out with his family.
Then the food arrived.  And I noticed that nobody helped the son eat, because he was feeding himself without having any arms.  He took his shoes off, and with the most amazing flexibility, brought one of his legs over the table, grabbed a fork with his toes, and fed himself with his legs and feet as if they were arms and hands.  Again, at NO POINT, did anyone help him out, he was smiling, enjoying his food…

I'll Show You How to Wait!!!

Customers love being waited on hand and foot.  But there are some customers who love to tell me HOW to wait on them hand and foot.  I call these customers "waiter watchers."  They weigh their waiter down with all of the crap that they tell them they should be doing, and when they should be doing it.

One time I was serving a table of five, and everybody had order an appetizer and an entree.  But one person in the party had ordered a salad in addition to his appetizer.  I asked him when he wanted to have his salad served, and he told me to bring it before everyone got their appetizer.  So that's what I did.  Next thing I know, I'm getting pulled aside by the guy who is host of the group.

"Why did you only bring out the salad and nobody else's food?"  He demanded.

"Your friend had asked that I bring his salad first so he could get it out of the way, since he ordered more food than everybody else," I pleaded.

"You should bring all of the foo…

To Tip or Not to Tip?

I came across an interesting discussion on The Huffington Post about tipping.  Now it has become some sort of class war?  I'm interested in hearing your opinions about service and tipping.  Here's the link.

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

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

The Bitter Bistro


Watch the Third Base Coach

Who can forget the scene from "Fletch," when Mr. Underhill gives the server a hard time for taking his plate too soon.

Mr. Underhill:  "Does it look like I'm finished?"
Waiter:  "I guess not."
Mr. Underhill:  "Now, I'm finished."
Waiter:  "Whatever you say, Mr. Underhill."
Mr. Underhill:  "I imagine you're expecting a nice gratuity, right?  Maybe next time!"

Customers have no idea when they are finished eating.  Utensils crossing the plate;  plates pushed away and arms folded.  Even stacking plates on top of eachother, but yet, I go to clear the table and it's,

"I'M NOT DONE!  CAN'T YOU SEE THAT?!?"

We need to hire a Third Base Coach for restaurants, so they can signal the servers as to when the customer is done eating, so we can clear the table safely.  There have been many occasions when I was snapped at by a customer, and I thought that I was going to be missing some fingers.

I get it.  In a d…

The Bitter Bistro Book (coming soon...)

People have been asking me when I am going to write a book about my career in the service industry, well, it is in the works.  I wanted to share an excerpt to give an idea of what to expect.  Actually, you guys already know what to expect... Bitterness, sarcasm, and stories you won't believe.  Here you go...
As Stacie passes by me to let me know that she sat the four top, she says the one thing to me that lets a server know that it’s not going to be an easy table, “Good luck with them.”  Meaning her first impression of the table was either rude, or demanding, or in no way shape or form are these people going to have a good time no matter how much charm I turn on.  So here I go…
“Good evening everyone.  Welcome.  Can I start anyone out with a nice martini, or glass of wine?  Perhaps water first?  We have Pellegrino and Fiji.”  No response.  Just blank stares at the menu, and then at me.  Then the leader of the group finally looked up and said,
“Parlez-vous fran├žais?” The gentleman…

You Got Yelp!!!

What better way to get through the work week than to pick on the people who's parents truly should have considered contraceptives before having sex, the people who write negative reviews on Yelp.com.

As always, I have found someone who embodies the spirit of "douchebaggery."  Who alone, stands to make a mark on the world because he is THAT important.  (And by mark, I mean skid mark.)

Scott B., from Beverly Hills, CA makes the list.  His review is short, direct, and abrupt, because he's "got places to go people!"  Here's what Scott had to say about one restaurant in Los Angeles:

"If you have an unlimited amount of time and an equally unlimited amount of patience, than this place might be worth it."  It's nice to see that Scott was stepping out of his box to test himself on this theory.

"If I ever indeed got serviced within the time frame I had to eat, I might chance the food again!"  Since Scott is obviously an alien, he is onl…

A Mountain of Pink for the Middle East

It seems that LA restaurants like to follow certain trends.  Whether it's organic food, comfort food, or celebrity chefs, if it's the thing to do, LA will do it.

The newest trend that a lot of restaurants are doing is having Cotton Candy on their dessert menu.  One of the restaurants that I worked for had a machine in the pastry kitchen.  You would not believe the way people would act when I would bring cotton candy to their table.  And I'm not talking about the kids, I'm talking about the adults.  Or at least I thought they were adults.

"OMG!!!  Is that Cotton Candy?"  One woman shrieked.

"Yes."  I said.  I try to remain as neutral as possible.  Honestly, this woman was practically having an orgasm at the table, and it was over a puff of pink sugar.  (No pun intended for the woman.)

"I haven't had this in years."

"I noticed."  Like I said, neutral, but with SOME attitude.

It has also become apparent that Cotton Candy can so…

A plus B equals a Restaurant Job

I've noticed a new trend in the restaurant world, for the application process, a lot of places are concentrating on personality traits rather than actual skill and experience.  Don't get me wrong, I've gone through many, many interviews for restaurant jobs.  And I understand the need to not hire anyone who could possibly be psychotic.  I've worked with a few psychos throughout my career, and believe me, psychos aren't pretty.  But to even make it through the first phase of hiring you'll need a resume, a headshot (LA thing,) and also have competent skills in Algebra.

Since when does the question "If Train A leaves the station at 10:45pm traveling at 55mph, and Train B is half an hour late behind it's scheduled time, when will these two trains collide?," have anything to do with the question, "would you like to hear about tonight's specials?"

It seems like those that paid attention in high school Algebra are going to have the upper h…

Brought to You by the Number 7

Somehow the number "7" has made it's way as a number to be seen on the gratuity line.  Foreigners, in general, have taken this number that only had fame on the Craps table, and slots,  and made it famous in restaurants... no matter what the total amount of the bill would be.

One time, I had a table of four who were from India.  It was an odd mix of two couples.  At first, the wives did all of the food ordering.  Then before I left, the men did all of the drink ordering.  Apparently, in India, women are for food, and the men are for drink.  (And who says women haven't made advances in that part of the world?)  Then it was time for the bill.  One of the guys signed it to their room, and I picked up the check.  For a total of 155 dollars, they left me zero.  (UHG!)  I decided that this would be a perfect opportunity to educate them about tipping etiquette in America.

"I hope I have exceeded your expectations this evening and you have enjoyed yourselves."  I …

Goo Goo Validation

Celebrities can be both a pain and interesting at the same time.

One day, lead singer of the Goo Goo Dolls, John Rzeznik, was sitting in my section.  He was pretty normal, (for a rocker,) but then he and his friend ask for the bill, I processed their payment, and then I went to validate he and his friends' parking tickets.  I stamped both of their tickets, then...

"Oh, you don't need to stamp my parking ticket.  I'm staying in the hotel."  John said.

"Sorry about that."  I replied.  "Just wanted to make sure everybody gets validated."

"How about stamping my hand."  He asked with a straight face.

"Really?"

"Yeah."  Then he stuck his hand out for  me to stamp.

"Why?"  I didn't even hide the "are you fucking kidding me look" on my face.

"Because it's pretty.  And I like stamps."  He admitted.

So I stamped his hand with a red star.

"There you go.  And your hand will get five…

Ain't no summer like a Euro summer

Once again it's time for everybody's favorite time of year...
When restaurants and bars are filled with tan lines, accents, and the absence of gratuities.  Beaches are showered with both men AND women wearing bikinis without the tops, and exposing hair that most people would consider to be offensive.

It could only mean one thing, it's Euro Summer!

From UCLA Summer School, to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, to baking on the beach, summertime is the time for the European crowd to come to Southern California to soak up the sun, nightlife, and to experience the what we have all come to enjoy from this great area.

The one thing that is missing, is the server's ability to make money off of this group of people.  When the customs agent stamps their passports, they should also make them sit through a class on how to tip in America.  Unfortunately, restaurant checks do not have an automatic gratuity added to them.  Unless it is a large party, of course.  And I am in no way trying…

Orange you glad I didn't say "Orange?"

It doesn't get much better than this!  For the first time, I introduce to you, a phobia that has limited a customers diet:  A FEAR OF THE COLOR ORANGE.  (The sign above is an actual sign posted about a hotel guest.)  No, not just an aversion to oranges, or carrots, or bell peppers, but a fear of the actual color orange!  I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that Halloween is NOT his favorite holiday.  How the hell does this weirdo even go outside.  Last time I checked, the Sun has hues of the color orange.

I've got a joke for this guy...

Knock Knock.

Who's there?

Orange.

ARGH!  NO!!!  (Guy gets into his car and speeds away.)

I guess he can't take a joke.  BTW... my favorite part about the above sign, that it's orange!

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

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

The Bitter Bistro


Customer Inquisition

Throughout my career in the service industry, I have been bombarded by all sorts of random questions.  Everything from, "where's the bathroom," to "Does anybody here sell weed?"  It is the servers job to answer each question with professionalism, tact, and a straight face.  The first two I can still handle.  The latter, I gave up on years ago.

I can't believe some of the questions that come out of the mouths of some people.  It is pure torture, and gives me some insight of what the Spanish Inquisition was all about.  (Okay, maybe not that crazy, but you haven't dealt with some of the characters that have sat in my section.)

One night, I had the leader of the "Inquisition" sitting in my section.  She wins the prize for asking the most ridiculous questions in one sitting.

"Is the Tuna Tartar very raw?"  She asked.

"For most people, yes.  Most places don't normally ask for a temperature on the Tartar, but for you, we'll m…

Tips for the Lips

The New York Post published a story about female servers in France who made better tips by wearing red lipstick.  See below.


RENNES, France -- Waitresses may strive to get orders correct and provide excellent service -- but pocketing good tips is all about the lips, French research has revealed.
Waitresses who wear red lipstick on average received tips 50 percent of the time from male customers, The (London) Times reported, citing a study by sociologists at the Universite de Bretagne-Sud.
The tips were larger in amount than those given to waitresses who wore brown, pink or no lipstick -- and those groups on average were only tipped 30 percent of the time. The presence of red lipstick made no impact on the tipping habits of female customers. The researchers noted that the rise in tips by male customers could be due to red lips being "associated with an indication of estrogen levels, sexual arousal and health."
The study results had "practical implications for female employees…

The Expendables

People who work in the "service industry" are extremely expendable.  Owners and managers like to show how powerful and mighty they can be by placing you on suspensions, and the ultimate, letting you go.  And in a world where you are living by the money you make shift by shift, this can hurt not only your wallet, but your pride as well.

There was one establishment in particular that reveled in treating their employees like cattle, slaughtering them at their leisure, and threatening to do the same to anybody else who didn't fall in line.  I know many of you who live in Los Angeles probably have worked at this restaurant, or one of the sister restaurants at one point in your service career, the dreaded... Miyagi's on Sunset.

One of the owners set the tone the first staff meeting that I attended.  I was hired as a bartender, and was actually pretty excited to be working at such a busy and trendy night spot in Hollywood at the time.  Tom, the owner, simply stated at the…

More Actual Customer Quotes!

You seriously cannot make this stuff up.  Yes, these are actual human beings, who have come into the restaurants that I've worked at, and said these things to me.  As per usual, I will give you the actual quote, followed by my italicized commentary which I may or may not have said to the customer at that time.  Enjoy!

"Can I order room service to my room?"  I actually caught myself making a WTF? face at this person.  No, actually we'd prefer it if you would order room service to your car.  Then drive the hell away from here!

"I'm trying to decide between the fish, the steak, or the chicken.  Which one is better?"  Me:"What are you in the mood for?"  Them:"I think chicken.  But I could like fish or steak."  Customers like this woman makes me think that I did some horrible things in a past life, and they are my purgatory.

"Bring us more champagne.  The little ones need to have bottles to pop open."  Of course.  Because what …

Most Wanted

(The above video was an actual customer of mine from a couple of years ago, dancing by himself at the restaurant, and later he walked out on his tab.  Just like Robert Stack said on Unsolved Mysteries, "If you have any information on this case, write to us at The Bitter Bistro... You need not give your name.")

Paying the bill at a restaurant is a foreign concept to many people.  Customers have walked out me on many occasions... (POOF!)... they disappear in a cloud of smoke, leaving me with an unpaid bill, and without a gratuity.  SHOCKER!  Oh wait, I forgot, I'm supposed to use your fingerprint that you left on the glass you drank from to get payment from your bank account.  Either that, or these people are Amish and they are going to get a goat or some chickens for payment.

One of my favorite walk-outs happened one night when we were moderately busy in the restaurant.  I was the closer, (meaning I was the last server on for the night,) and a half hour before we closed…

STOP! Or I'll steal your tip!

(article via Yahoo.com)

Stacy Knutson, a struggling Minnesota waitress and mother of five, says she was searching for a "miracle" to help her family with financial problems. But that "miracle" quickly came and went after police seized a $12,000 tip that was left at her table. Knutson filed a lawsuit in Clay County District Court stating that the money is rightfully hers. Police argue it is drug money. Knutson was working at the Fryn' Pan in Moorhead, Minn., when, according to her attorney, Craig Richie, a woman left a to-go box from another restaurant on the table. Knutson followed the woman to her car to return the box to her. 


"No I am good, you keep it," the woman said, according to the lawsuit. Knutson did not know the woman and has not seen her since, Richie said. Knutson thought it was "strange" that the woman told her to keep it but she took it inside. The box felt too heavy to be leftovers, Ritchie said, so she opened it -- only to fi…

Closing Time

I now finally understand where the inspiration came from Semisonic's song, "Closing Time."  They HAD  to have worked in the service industry!   Because where else do people feel compelled to continue to hang out and try to order more things than a restaurant that is ALREADY closed.

Eat, drink, and be merry.  But when the kitchen is closed, it's frigging closed!  And stop with these questions:

"Is the kitchen really closed?  Or can they still make a pizza?"  One customer continued to ask.

"Let me go check."  I say, but don't move an inch.  "I'm sorry, but the kitchen is still closed."

And the people that seem to have the biggest problem with this are the people who are over an hour late for their reservation, don't call, and still expect to be treated like the customers who had actually showed up on-time.

"Can you just give us five more minutes?  We're still expecting six more people."  A hairy guy when an accen…

Subjectively Corked

As a comedian, it's true to say that comedy is very subjective.  As a servant of the service industry, the same can be said for wine.  Depending on your palate, your taste preferences, and the strength of the Earth's gravitational pull that day can determine what you taste or smell in a glass of wine.

One particular shift, an older man and woman were seated in my section.  They began their meal by presenting me with two drinks tickets given to them by the front desk of the hotel.  The tickets entitled them to two glasses of house wine, or champagne, or two well cocktails.  The husband felt he needed to educate me on what he should get for their FREE drinks.

"Do these two tickets get us two free drinks."  He started.

"Yes they do."  I professionally replied.

"Me and the Mrs. would like two glasses of your best Chardonnay.  The best that you can give us.  What is your best Chardonnay?"

"The best house Chardonnay?  That would be the Trinity Oak…

I Waited in College

Over the years working in the service industry, I have come across people who have empathized with my plight of bartending and waiting tables to make ends meet.  These people feel the need to want to reach out and tell me how hard it is to do what I do, and that even though they have a "career job" now, they know what it's like to work for tips because they used to wait tables in college.

This has become almost as bad as the customer who tells me at the beginning of the meal that they are "going to take care of me."  That never happens.  It is the "kiss of death," and the people who waited tables in college, did just that... waited tables in college.  There is a huge difference working to make money to use to go out drinking with your college buddies later that night, and waiting tables to make money to put into your bank account so you have enough to write a check to pay your landlord for rent at the beginning of every month.

"Sometimes I would…

You Got Yelped !!!

It's time again for one of my favorite blogs to write, the "You Got Yelped" edition of The Bitter Bistro.  And for those of you who don't know, apparently "Yelp" is being sued by businesses for some for some of the slanderous statements that many of the customers have been writing.  The businesses are stating that they have dramatically lost business because of the bad things that people have been writing about them on "Yelp."  Now, I am not saying that businesses should be allowed to operate and treat customers poorly, BUT, some people feel the need to take out their daily frustrations about their pathetic lives through the reviews they write.  And they are not even writing reviews!  They are writing dissertations about each item of food they had to eat at a restaurant and everything in-between.  Too much power has been given to the customers.  And I have become keenly aware that the customers have lost their fricking minds!

With that being said…

RING! RING!

It's always refreshing when someone who works in the service industry is able to experience some sort of justice when a customer has been evil.  This edition is a tale of that experience.

I had a busy section one night.  Sitting in my section was a gentleman who was dining by himself.  At this particular time, I was working at a restaurant that is located inside a hotel.  This gentleman was a guest of the hotel.  He was having a great dining experience.  He started out drinking a Manhattan, went on to a Pinot Noir with his dinner, and rounded out the evening with a nice glass of Port with his dessert.  Throughout the man's dining journey, I checked on him to see how he was doing.

"How is everything?"

"Great.  The Meatloaf is fantastic, and I really like the Pinot you recommended."  The man boasted.

"Glad you're enjoying everything."  I replied.  I was happy that he was easy going because at that time, I was pretty busy with some other big tab…

Honesty es no bueno!

I am an honest person, and I believe that there is some form of karma in the world.  Some people are put here to test you and see how well you can interpret those situations.  After what happened to me one night, it seems that honesty is not always the best way to go about your life.

A gentleman was dining by himself in my section.  After some mild chit chat, I had determined that he spoke the Queens English, and this meant I was going to get a lousy tip.  (Sorry, but British people don't tip.  It's a fact.)  His total bill was 76 dollars.  He placed cash inside, got up and left.  When I went to pick up the check, I counted five 20's.  And on his actual check, he filled in the total with 80 dollars, and wrote in a tip of $4.00.  (I know, horrid.  But focus on what this blog is about.)  I counted five 20's again and determined that he was drunk and accidentally placed one too many 20's in the mix.

I chased him down the hall.  He was staying in the hotel, so he was …