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2013 Service Industry Top 5 Moments

2013 is heading out of here like an old French couple who leaves $2.00 on a $120.00 check.  (Hello!)

There have been many fun, frustrating, and let's say interesting times this past year in the service industry.  I have narrowed them down to my 2013 Service Industry Top 5 Moments.

Some of these moments are from my own experiences this past year, and others are from around the country.  Let's get started.

NUMBER 5
This actually was the most recent thing that happened this year.  Dayna Morales, a 22 year old server from New Jersey claimed a couple wrote on the credit card slip that they appreciated her hard work, but couldn't tip her based off of her gay lifestyle choice.  She posted the slip online and it quickly gained lots of attention from the news and other online sources.  People even began to send Dayna compensation for her lost tips in the area of thousands of dollars.  (Huh?  Maybe I should start posting some slips saying I got stiffed because of some of my choices i…

The Birthday Song

Today is my birthday.  I plan on going out to celebrate at a restaurant with my wife, but I do not want my server to sing "Happy Birthday" to me.  As a server, that is one of the worst things about the job.  I am fortunate enough to not work at a place where it is required to sing.  Or at least, I ignore the requirement.  But my wife, my friends, and most of my service industry friends on Twitter do work at places that require the singing of "Happy Birthday."

That is the most annoying, repetitive song in the world.  Why in the hell would you want a complete stranger to sing it to you?  I'm going to go out on a limb and let the selfish people out there know that you don't have the only birthday in the world.  Yes, hard to believe, but other people where conceived by a man and a woman--wedded or not, possibly a surprise--like myself, and they now celebrate a year of their birth on that same day every year.  Unless you were born on Leap Year, but then you'…

You Got Yelped !!!

A "good" restaurant experience is not only defined by the food and service, but also by the staff's lifestyle choices.

Meet Chillferd I.  Chillferd, (his parents must have hated him,) likes people who are fit and take care of themselves.  While out at a fine dining establishment one evening, he felt that his server didn't fit into his ideal mold of a human being.


Here is his Yelp review:



"This place needs to hire new staff, (especially the short, chubby guy with a beard and glass.)"
Apparently Chillferd's waiter was Santa Claus.  Santa is hard up for money this year.

"Never had such a rude waiter at a 'fine dining' establishment in my life."
He obviously has never been served by a French waiter before.  (Rim Shot!)

"From the start of the night, he was making condescending comments about our food and drink choices."
But Chillferd, that's offensive to the food and drink, not to you.

"I seriously don't know if this guy h…

Kerry Simon Says... It's About the People

I've worked for a couple of "celebrity chefs" throughout my service industry career.  The one that has made the biggest impression on me is "Rock and Roll Chef" Kerry Simon.  He was named the "Rock and Roll Chef" by Rolling Stone magazine because most of his fanbase are rock-and-roll stars, and other celebrities alike.

Kerry himself looks like the front man of a rock band.  Long hair, easy-going demeanor, and a charisma that the ladies love.  He has many accolades, but my favorite is that he won "Iron Chef America."  I helped open his first L.A. restaurant, "Simon LA," six years ago inside The Sofitel Hotel @ Los Angeles.  It was the busiest and most profitable restaurant I have ever worked at to date.  But no matter how busy we were, Kerry would always make us laugh with his laid back, "What's going on guys?" type of hello's while he would text people from the expo line secretly overseeing everything.

At first…

The New Drunk

I bartended another fraternity/sorority party for USC again at my work.  I think I might be getting some sort of reputation as a bartender at that school.  Once again, I irritated one of the frat boys to the point of them throwing a tantrum... and I loved it!

This dude comes up to my bar and asks for an A.M.F.  (Adios Mother Fucker.)  Basically a "Long Island Ice Tea," but without the Coke, instead Blue Curacao.  I started to make the drink and I noticed something odd with the guy.  While he's gently swaying back and forth, I see that his eyes are closed.  He was SLEEPING STANDING UP!

I look over at the security guy who was stationed at my bar and give him the "can you believe this shit" look.  He looks shocked.  I put the alcohol bottles down and instead put water in the glass I was using.  The frat dude, who's still asleep, notices nothing.  I then begin to wave my hand in front of the guy's face to see if he's actually out.  He finally opens his…

Tips For The IRS

Our friends at the IRS are cracking down on the people who do not need to be cracked down upon... The Service Industry.  Starting in January 2014, the large party automatic gratuity will go away and be replaced as a "service charge," so restaurants will have to report this income and it will be taxed.  What does this mean for many servers?  Most places will probably do away with the large party gratuity and leave it up to the customers to determine the tip for a party of 8 or more people.

Great!  Just what a server wants to hear.  That their tip is being handled by the restaurant they work for and the customers we serve.  Right now, I happen to work at both a hotel restaurant, and a "free-standing" restaurant.  At the hotel, they've moved our tips onto a paycheck so all of our tips are taxed.  At first, it sucked.  But I realized later that it's better for things like trying to get a loan, or to show income by having my tips on my paycheck.  But the other …

The Cabernet Heist

I thought I had seen it all.  I'm humbled to say that I was wrong, and it was so worth it.  The following happened recently while I was bartending an "exchange" with a sorority and a fraternity from USC.  For those that don't know, an "exchange" is a themed party for frats and sororities at different locations, and usually they act horribly and get drunk and any outsider would see this and immediately weep for the future.

This particular night was no exception...

There was about 250 people at this party.  One bar was inside with two bartenders, while there was an outside bar with one bartender.  I was bartending the outside bar.

The first hour of the "exchange" was a hosted bar.  So the college kids made sure to consume as much free alcohol as their livers could tolerate within the allotted time.  Everybody who was of age was wearing a wristband to ensure no underage drinking, and I was only giving out one drink per wristband.  The free hour qui…

Are You Smarter Than A Customer?

If my life were a game show, then I would be constantly playing against my customers.  So let's get ready to play, "Are You Smarter Than A Customer?"

Recently I argued against one lady who spoke annoyingly slow.  When she finally finished her question, it was along the lines of, "Is there caffeine in the herbal mint tea?"

"No.  There's no caffeine in the mint tea," I answered.

"I'll have the decaf mint tea," she replied.  Mind you, she spoke extremely slow.

"There is no decaf mint tea.  It's herbal.  There's no caffeine in mint leaves."  I argued.  But I wish there was caffeine.  So she could speed herself along and get the hell out of my section.

Then, on the same night, the bar was busy so I went behind it to help out the other bartender, Matt.  There were only two bartenders behind the bar.  Matt was on one side of the horseshoe and I was on the other.  A group of girls comes up to my side and one of them says,

Less Ice, More Alcohol

I survived another Halloween shift at work but not without my fair share of comments from peeps trying to get the most alcohol for their buck.

I get it.  It's Halloween and people want to drink and get crazy.  I stepped away from the serving scene for the night, dusted off my bar tools, and got back behind the bar for a night of freaks, sluts, and bingers.  And that was just the employees.  (Rim shot!)

For some reason, people have this belief that too much ice is damaging to their drink.  As a bartender, when you make a cocktail, you start out by filling the glass to the top with ice.  The reason for that is to ensure that the alcohol stays at the proper temperature.  Most bars nowadays have the type of ice that doesn't melt as easily as ice that looks like it's "wet."  It's the ice that is not clear.  Cocktails that are made by not filling the glass full of ice will be diluted, because the amount of alcohol causes the ice to melt.  But more ice just keeps t…

I've Got (No) Personality

They say that a great personality makes a great server.  Somehow I've managed making it 15 years in the service industry, making a living, while continuing to build my comedy career, and still not have a personality.

I take customer's orders correctly.  Recommend wines, alcohol.  Make tables laugh.  I have settled arguments, and helped with celebrations.  I've waited on people who were visiting from all over this great country, and interpreted hand signals from international guests from places like Asia, all with decorum and best of all--without killing anybody!

I work at two establishments right now.  One has been my "bread and butter" for a couple of years, and the other place is newer and that means it's an opportunity to make better money.  Well, just because it's new doesn't always make it better.  I recently discovered that my lack of shifts at the newer place was not a matter of my work ethic, or experience, but rather because the two owners t…

I Fart Therefore I Am

It's truly is the little things about this job that really bring an innocent smile to my face.  Like crop dusting (farting) at work.  The best happened one night, during my last shift, while managing a small bar called Cafe Muse.

Cafe Muse was a beer and wine bar located on the corner of Olympic Blvd. and Sawtelle Ave. in West Los Angeles.  The place was owned by a Persian family, and the clientele was primarily Asian.  So you can see that I fit right in with the place.

When I first started working there, I noticed that there was a lot of underage drinking going on.  I told all the servers and my boss, Alan, to card people no matter how old they looked.  It's better to risk feeling embarrassed about asking for an I.D., then to get caught by the Alcoholic Beverage Control, get fined, and jeopardize the business losing their beer and wine license.  Sure enough, on a night I was gone, ABC sent in some undercover agents, one of the servers didn't ask for an I.D., and he ende…

Yelp is Ruining America

I write a lot of posts about my disdain for Yelp, but I have never really given a full explanation of why I feel compelled to call out these people who write these dissertations and have the nerve to call them reviews.  In short, Yelp represents everything that is wrong with society, and has given people the opportunity to be mean while hiding behind a keyboard.  I hate Yelp.

I believe that Yelp actually started out as a useful resource.  It gave people the address and number of businesses, with a quick explanation of what they are about, and a casual review by patrons who either liked or disliked their experience at the place.  But that quickly dissolved as Yelp welcomed people to create profiles and openly bash and berate businesses, and rewarded these so-called "reviewers" with an "elite" status on the their Yelp profile.  Which is basically nothing more than a fancy badge to put on your profile page, and you're invited to the "Elite Yelp Squad" e…

My So Called (Mentally Challenged) Persian Girlfriend

I swear by everything holy that the following is the truth.  This story is from when I managed a beer and wine bar called, Cafe Muse. I know that I'm probably going to take some heat from people thinking that I'm being mean, or not compassionate, and to those people I say, "get bent!"  I say it now and I will say it again, I WAS THE VICTIM!

It was at Cafe Muse that I had my very first stalker.  It was too hard to pronounce her Persian name, so everybody told me to call her Donna.  Donna was a very nice woman who had a mental handicap.  Now, I’m probably am going to offend some of you with this, but just so you can get a clear picture of what I was dealing with during these shifts, she had a very hard time talking, and back in the day before it got confusing with all this political correctness, she would have been called retarded.

Donna came in one afternoon and ate with one of her relatives.  I don’t have a problem with anybody with any kind of condition.  As I have…

5 Ways to Know You've Been #servingtoolong

As I write this I shudder to think that I have worked in the service industry for 15 years.  (Maybe more.)  But you would never ask a woman her age, and the same goes for anyone who works in the service industry.  There's no promotion.  There's rarely any benefits.  So there sure as hell is no way that I have made a living for as long as I have waiting on people.  Have I?  UHG!  What can I say... time flies when you are wishing people would go eat somewhere else.

But alas, here I am.  Sure of myself as an excellent host of whatever section I might be assigned to for the evening.  Confident behind any bar.  And able to describe any varietal of wine even though I probably have never tasted it before.

"How would you compare the Artesia Pinot Noir with the Opus Cab Sauv?" asked a lady one evening.

Me, having absolutely no clue.  "Well, the Artesia Pinot has a hint of pepper, with a finish of dark berries and vanilla.  The Opus is a full-bodied Cabernet, slightly a…

Ready To Order!

I've noticed that there's a fine line between being ready to order with your server, and just wanting to sit at the table for an eternity and talk.  Because there have been many occasions when I have gone up to the table to take an order and then be waved away and told,

"We haven't even looked at the menus yet.  Give us a few more minutes, we're catching up."

So I oblige.  Only to be waved back to the table and scolded.

"We need to order!  And we're in a hurry!"

It's hard enough sometimes trying to judge when is the best time to interrupt a conversation at a table to tell the specials and take an order, so perhaps it's best to save the "reunion" conversation til after you've given me your order.

These also seem to be the same people who think a certain way.  I'm talking about people who have homes that are over 3500 square feet.  And that's probably just there "second home."  These  people expect certain …

The Service Industry (guest post by MAX TIMM)

This is the first of many guest posts about how the service industry has affected people's lives for the better or for the worse.  MAX TIMM is a very talented writer whom I've known through my own writing endeavors.  But I never knew he had a connection to the service industry.  Soon, Max will be coming out with his novel, The Wishkeeper.  My wish is to stop waiting tables.  Max's came true.  But before the novel, there was the service industry.  And not only did Max work in it, he was submerged since childhood.  
See below...     
At the outset of World War II, men and women were enlisting in “the service”. I’ve always marveled at how patriotic and brave such a simple term really is, much less the mere act of risking and sacrificing life for freedom. The men and women who enlisted in the War called it “service” as if it was their responsibility as Americans - it was as simple as that. They had a wish to retain their individual freedom, and grant the same types of wishes …