Wednesday, April 18, 2012

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, I get sat with a 3 top.  (Three people.)

I approach the table to greet the one man who told me he was waiting for his two brothers.  He was wearing a "Tap Out" hat and T-shirt, and he had a thick Brooklyn accent.  I knew I was in for a good time.

"I'm a boxer.  I have 24 wins, and six losses."  He said to start our conversation. Most people usually introduce themselves with their names first, he gives his fight record.  Why not?

"I'm a server."  I replied.  "How about I start you with something to drink while you wait?"

"I'm Anthony.  I'm waiting for my two brothers.  They're MMA fighters."  Obviously, there's a lot of pride in his family.  "I'm going to be in an MMA fight if my doctor approves it.  I've already had two MMA fights and lost."  Is it me, or is there an immediate red flag when anybody needs their doctor to approve anything?  "I'll have a Long Island."  He finally ordered.

I bring him his Long Island Ice Tea, then the conversation definitely took a turn for the worse.  It was already weird you say?  I agree, but Anthony had much more to say about his fighting career, and about his love for my name.

"The doctor said he's not going to approve me for anymore fights after this one coming up."  WTF?  Obviously he hasn't seen "Rocky 5."  "Friggin doc!  I have a growth on my brain.  It's from getting hit in the head a lot."  Anthony tried to explain.

"I can hardly tell."

"You're funny!  What's your name?"  Anthony asked.

"It's Joey."

"JOEY !!!"  He exclaimed.  "Are you from the East Coast too?"

"I actually am from Southern California.  I'm a minority."  I hesitated to tell him.

"Wait 'til my brothers Bobby and Vinny find out you're name is Joey.  JO-EYYYY!"  My name now had become his mantra.

I left Anthony to nurse his Long Island.  While I was attending to my other tables, I heard from across the restaurant, "YO!  JO-EEEEEYYYY!"  I turned towards the sound, and sure enough, it was Anthony.  Now it was getting even worse because my co-workers felt the need to give me a hard time.  "What's up with your friend?"  They jabbed.

I cautiously approached Anthony.  "You rang?"  A la Lurch.

"I was just practicing."  He added as he finished the rest of his drink.  Practicing for what?  In case he forgot my name?  "I'm hungry Joey."

"Why don't you order something while you wait for your brothers."

"Give me a Caesar.  But I want chicken.  Something with both."

"How about a Chicken Caesar?"

"That's it!  And another Long Island."  He muttered.  "I'll be back.  I need to get my brothers."

Then Anthony left.  I brought him his drink.  His Chicken Caesar was delivered.  Time passed.  The ice in his drink diluted the Long Island.  The chicken and the lettuce cooled and warmed to the same temperature, and still no Anthony.

I told my manager.  We asked the front desk staff if he was a hotel guest.  "No.  But we saw him wandering around the front of the hotel for awhile, and then he left."

Just like that, (POOF!), I had been bamboozled by Anthony, the fighter with a growth on his brain.

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

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

The Bitter Bistro





Saturday, April 7, 2012

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 find bundles of cash wrapped in rubber bands. 


"Even though I desperately needed the money as my husband and I have five children, I feel I did the right thing by calling the Moorhead Police,"


 Knutson said in the lawsuit. Police seized the money and originally told Knutson that if no one claimed it after 60 days, it was hers. She was later told 90 days, Richie said. When 90 days passed, Knutson was still without the $12,000. Police told Knutson the money was being held as "drug money" and she would receive a $1,000 reward instead, the lawsuit states. Lt. Tory Jacobson of the Moorhead police said he could not disclose much information about the case because it is an ongoing investigation. 


"With turning this money over to us, we initiated an investigation to determine whose money this is," 


Jacobson told ABC News. "The result has been a narcotics investigation." Police argue that the money had a strong odor of marijuana and therefore falls under a law that allows for forfeiture of the money because it was in the proximity of a controlled substance, the lawsuit states. But there were no drugs in the box and Richie said he believes this law is not being used correctly.


"Because it was in contact with drugs somewhere along the line, it's somehow drug money," Richie said. "This isn't drug money." 


A police dog also performed a sniff test on the money and, according to the dog's handler, discovered an odor. Two of Knutson's co-workers, along with her son Brandon, were at the Fryn' Pan the night she discovered the money. Her co-workers say they did not smell marijuana. "I know the smell of marijuana," Nickolas Fronning, a line cook at the Fryn' Pan, said in an affidavit. "I can also assure you that there was no smell of marijuana on the bills or coming from the box." 


There was nothing suspicious in the restaurant when the money was found, co-workers said. They don't why it was given to Knutson. "She was just in the right place at the right time," Tracy Johnson, the assistant manager at the Fryn' Pan, told ABC News. Knutson's family has had a long financial struggle. She has been a waitress at the Fryn' Pan for 18 years. 


"We do everything we can to make ends meet, but often times everything is not covered," she said in the lawsuit. Knutson's financial woes are well-known in her church, Richie said. She believes that perhaps someone from the church gave her the money through this woman but did not want to be identified. 


"Somebody knew she really needed the money and she needed to be helped," Richie said. 


Jacobson says it is up to the judge to decide who the money rightfully belongs to. "The police department doesn't have a decision on either side," Jacobson said. "She did the right thing, we credit her with that. It's certainly not the police department against her. We're actually with her." But Richie said he firmly believes this is not drug money and it rightfully belongs to Knutson. "The only thing that smells bad about this is that it's unfair," Richie said. "So that's why we're doing something about it."

(end article.)

All I can say about this is that it is hard enough to wait tables, (and a diner is probably even worse then LA restaurants,) and something like that happens?  What the hell would the police do with the money anyway?  Put it in their doughnut fund?  Chances are that they would divide it up amongst themselves and not even use it for evidence against... whomever!  And Stacy Knutson continues to struggle waiting tables at that diner.

As a server, once in a great while, you have that awesome night, when you make more money than you had thought possible in one shift.  And that makes up for any assholes you have been dealing with all the years.  The assholes turned out to be the cops.  And I know from personal experience, that cops are horrible tippers.

On a lighter note, my favorite part about this article, her co-workers trying to help out by saying, "I know the smell of marijuana."  Boys, I'm sure you do.

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

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

The Bitter Bistro

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

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 accent asked.

"Unfortunately the kitchen closes in ten minutes, so I really need to get your order in now."

"But we had a reservation for dinner."

"Yes.  But your reservation was for 8:30.  It's now 10:50.  We'll be setting up for breakfast soon."

It's not real-estate.  You don't get to hold the table and kitchen like a rental property.  When the sign says, "CLOSED," trust them that it is, and go home, and next time, show up on-time... please.

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

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

The Bitter Bistro