Friday, February 22, 2013

Restaurant Incest


I have worked at many restaurants throughout my career in the service industry.  I've noticed that they are like being in a relationship; some are like one night stands where I've left the next shift without saying good-bye or signing my W-2, and others I've made good money and have become quite serious about for years, saying, "I could work at this restaurant for the rest of my life.  This restaurant makes me so happy!"

Then I notice that my sections get smaller, the restaurant gets less busy, and I find myself starting to make excuses about not wanting to be there.  "It's not you, it's me."  I start cheating on that place by filling out an application at another more popular, better looking, younger restaurant.  At this point, my relationship has just become a formality of clocking in and clocking out.  No matter how many times they change the menu, or flatware, the food all looks the same to me.  It just tastes like chicken.

My "restaurant family" helps me out.  They work with me through the good times and the bad.  Good tips, and no tips.  They celebrate and commiserate with me.  I used to work at a small restaurant in Westwood, called "The Gardens on Glendon."  We had a pretty tight crew and we would hang out during and after work, and I also made friends with the staff who worked across the street at "Napa Valley Grill."  It's pretty easy to make friends with service industry peeps even if you don't work with them directly.  A good friend of mine, Jake, worked at that place, and I got to know the bartender Beth.  I eventually left "The Gardens," and moved on to a better place.  Lost touch with my old friends there, and as life goes, we moved on.

Cut to ten years later, I am working at another new restaurant and I see a familiar face, it's Beth.  Both of us are now married.  Still pursuing our other endeavors, and still working in the service industry.  (Old habits die hard.)  In fact, at this new place, I am working with some people whom I worked with at hotels and restaurants when I first moved down to LA 12 years ago.  Again, like the relationship comparison, you date some restaurants for awhile, you get dumped, and you move on to others.

Like Beth so adequately said, "Restaurants are like incestuous circles."  She's right.  So next time you see a server or bartender, and you think that they waited on you somewhere else... they did.

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

"Bitter.  Party of 1?  Your table is ready."

The Bitter Bistro

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Applebee's = Crapplebee''s


This past week, the Internet has been buzzing about a woman, Pastor Alois Bell of the Word Deliverance Ministries, who decided to leave a smart-ass comment instead of a tip at an Applebee's in St. Louis, Missouri.  The server who got stiffed on the large party gratuity showed the receipt to her co-worker, Chelsea Welch, who then took a picture of the receipt and posted it on Reddit.com.

Pastor Bell has been hit hard by Internet junkies who have been emailing and calling her to call her out for her "Godly" mistake.  What does a good Christian woman do?  She calls Applebee's and has Chelsea Welch fired.  Pastor Bell said, "I didn't want it to get so much attention."  Well, you got the attention when you wrote the comment.  In short, you started it.

Many, if not all, restaurants have a policy that states if you have a party of 6, 8 or more, than a large party gratuity of 18-20 percent will be added to the subtotal of the bill.  Large tables are hard to handle for servers and wait staff, so this helps ensure that the servers are taken care of, and of course the customers are allowed to leave extra if they see fit.

Pastor Bell didn't want to pay the large gratuity of 6 dollars?  Jesus, Mary and Joseph, lady!!!  Not only are you tipping the scales on the body mass index, but on decency and karma as well.  Next time you pray to your God at the "Word Deliverance Ministry," maybe he can "deliver" you a soul.  (Which you probably sold for 6 dollars for some extra JalapeƱo Poppers.)  This is her lame excuse below:



So I decided to give the Crapplebee's corporate office a jingle, 1-888-592-7753, and after several denials and vague answers, they had the nerve to tell me that the employee had been compensated.

"That particular employee has received compensation for that table," they said.

"How can they receive compensation if they've been fired?" I argued.

"They've been taken care of," he vaguely answered.

"Well, at least she doesn't work for Crapplebees anymore. I consider THAT compensation.  And btw... I hate you."  And as my good friend Lou Santini would say, "conversation ended, I won!"

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

"Bitter.  Party of 1?  Your table is ready."

The Bitter Bistro

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Lobster and Fruit and Complaints


"The squeaky wheel gets the grease," is a horrible saying that always seems to be true.  That is especially true for customers at restaurants.  The ones who complain the most, seem to get what they want, and they also get it for free.

The same goes for customers who look over the entire menu, and then complain that we don't have anything that they want, and then decide that they are going to be the only person in their party who isn't going to eat.  Who the hell goes out to eat, and then doesn't eat?

Recently I had a customer sitting in my section with her husband, looking confused and pouty.  Yes, pouty.  I was working in an Italian restaurant, and I made the mistake of assuming that the customers understand that the cuisine on the menu IS Italian food.

"Do you have fruit salad?" she asked.

She actually caught me off guard.  I quickly glanced at her husband who was busy on his Blackberry, (yes, Blackberry,) but didn't get any help from him.  So I responded, "No.  We don't have fruit salad.  We're an Italian restaurant.  Italian cuisine."

"Oh."  Now she was disappointed.

"Are you looking for something light?  Like a salad?"  I asked.  Trying to steer her away from anymore embarrassment.

"Do you have lobster?"

"Yes.  We actually have a fantastic lobster salad."

"Can I get lobster with fruit?"

There was nothing else I could do at this point.  I had to be honest with her.  "Unfortunately not.  You see, lobsters don't like fruit."  A la Jerry Seinfeld, "What's the deal with the FRUIT!!!"

"I'll just have a spinach salad," she finally conceded.

"Great!"

I had a feeling that she was going to try to stick it to me come dessert time.  But I was prepared.

"Anything for desserts?"

"Do you have fruit?"  It was as if I was in the movie, "Memento."

"We have mixed berries."

"Oh, that sounds good.  I'll have that."

And just like that, a bowl of boxed berries was brought to her.  And it cost twenty dollars.  Hey, I don't make up the prices, I just provide exceptional service.

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

"Bitter.  Party of 1?  Your table is ready."

The Bitter Bistro