Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Bitter Bistro Podcast 105

The new podcast is up!  Reservations included Beth Scherr Haggerty, and guest co-host Meredith Green.  We discussed how to get better service in a restaurant/bar, guest pooping and peeing in public, and another edition of the "LA Yelp Diaries."



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

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

The Bitter Bistro

FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER CLICK HERE        

Monday, June 24, 2013

Kryptonian Old Men


I've never understood why "older" people always think that the music is too loud, but yet, they always yell "WHAT!" whenever I am talking to them face-to-face.  It must be a case of very selective hearing, or a matter of habit.  But nonetheless, it is humorous whenever it happens.  I find most of the antics that "older" people do are funny, and unfiltered.  And yes, I am putting this demographic in quotes because I don't want to just say old people, or worse yet, old bags, and piss off a good portion of my readers.

On a recent shift, my section was filled with an "older" clientele.  It reminded me when I used to work at The Gardens on Glendon in Westwood, CA.  The owners, Marilyn and Harry Lewis, used to own all of the Hamburger Hamlet around Los Angeles.  The Gardens (former Hamlet Gardens) was their fine dining experience.  That was back in the day.  But by the time I started working there, it had become a mess hall at a convalescent home.


So like I said, I was busy running J&B scotch on the rocks, and Dubonnets to my four tops.  I had one table on the end of my section that was still open.  The lead hostess at my work made sure to seat that table as quickly as possible to ensure that I stayed "weeded" throughout my entire shift.  That was protocol.

Three "older" people were sat at that table.  An "older" couple with their third wheel "older" friend.  This table was the oldest of my section.  But I have a way with this clientele.  I think they see me as some type of grandson that they can boss around for a couple of hours without giving me any birthday money.  Right away, the third wheel asks me,

"Is this the quietest section you have?"

"The noise level is pretty equal throughout the entire restaurant," I replied.

Then he motioned to the couples seating next to them.  "They are talking loud."

"Well I'll put a stop to that," I said.  Just to acknowledge that I had heard what he said.  What the hell was I supposed to do.  Make an announcement:

"MAY I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION.  DO TO RECENT COMPLAINTS OF LOUD TALKING, WOULD EVERYONE PLEASE STOP HAVING SUCH A GOOD TIME!!!  THANK YOU."

Somehow, I managed to make sure everybody had a good time that night.  Or so I thought.  Here's where the "older" guy got one in on me.  Everybody was done.  My two four tops had already paid their checks, and were just finishing up their coffees and conversations.  Next thing I know, the third wheel from my last table turns to the four top and starts talking to them.  I just figured that he may have known them.  But the lady from the four top looks at me with a look of "can you f#$king believe this guy?"  I quickly go over to her and she says that the third wheel told them that they are talking too loud and should keep it down.  That's when I noticed that her husband sitting across from her was in a heated argument with the third wheel.  She calmed her husband down, and they left in a huff.  I'm just glad that I already got their tip before this happened or this blog post would've had a completely different premise.

The three top was my last table.  I picked up their signed check and the third wheel says,

"I couldn't hear the conversation at my own table because those couples were talking so loud!  So I told them to keep it down.  You should have done that," he protested.

"It must be a burden with that super hearing.  I'm surprised you were able to sit still when the fire trucks screamed by.  By the way, I love your son's new movie-- Man of Steel."

Kryptonians are so demanding!

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

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

The Bitter Bistro

FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER CLICK HERE        

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Mark Wahlberg Experience


I have many stories of waiting on celebrities.  This one happened back in 2001.  I was bartending at the Beverly Hills Hotel and Bungalows.

I have served them all.  I have attended some of the best celebrity-studded parties not because I was invited to them, but because I was clocked in.  Some celebrities treat the wait staff horribly, while others seem to give you a chance.  This time it happened at Ozzy Osbourne’s birthday party.  It was his fiftieth, (I believe,) and was set in The Crystal Ballroom at The Beverly Hills Hotel. 

This ballroom is beyond big.  It has a huge staircase that winds down into a giant lobby area with a main oak-half-horseshoe bar.  The place was covered from corner to corner with glass-cross coffins all lined with candles.  I mean, if you are one of the biggest rockers in the world, that apparently is the decoration of choice.  And it worked! 

Everybody was at this party.  Rockstars, actors, wannabes, you name it.  Rob Zombie was hanging out at my bar for most of the night, drinking champagne of all things.  Rob Thomas, (again,) and Mark Wahlberg.  This was the year when the movie “Rockstar” came out.  Mark was still shooting the film because he was still wearing his long hair and torn jeans.  I had no idea that he was a “method” actor.  He was hanging out with his entourage, (before the show “Entourage,”) and my manager asked me to go over and ask him if he wanted anything to drink.  My bar was only two feet away from Mark, but what else was I doing?

I was wearing my banquet bartender uniform.  Black slacks, white button down shift, black bow tie, and white jacket.  I looked like a bartender.  I approach Mark and his friends and asked if I could get them anything to drink.  He didn’t even seem interested in a drink.  In fact, I didn’t even start the conversation with him.  He started the conversation.

“Hey man.  How’s it going? Mark asked.

“Hi.  Good.  Great party.  You can never have enough crosses,” I answered.

“I think you’re right,” Mark replied.  As if we had some kind of rapport between us.

I was about to get to the part about asking him if he wanted something to drink, when all-of-a-sudden this girl comes out of nowhere, gets in-between me and Mark, and very barks towards me, “He’s just here to take your drink order!”

“Yes, I am.  That’s why I’m wearing this uniform,” I said.  Why is it always the wannabe assistants who mess everything up.  Especially this.  Mark and I were meant to be friends, and now I was just another bartender to him.

“I’ll have a Merlot,” Mark said.  And I was sent on my way.  He didn't even ask me how my mom was doing.

Lesson learned:  Bartenders stay behind the bar for a reason.  For protection and to remain the most important person in the room.  Once outside of the bar, you lose your power.

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

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

The Bitter Bistro

FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER CLICK HERE

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Check Your Coat Before You Wreck Your Coat


Restaurants nowadays have been streamlined and simplified as far as decor and cuisine, but some things that we used to have are now no longer, like the coat check.  Another one of my favorite bloggers, The Bitchy Waiter, also wrote something similar to this, Does Anyone Still Wear A Hat?, and the answer--sadly--to all of these questions is quite simply, no!

When I think of a coat-check girl, I think of that scene from The Devil Wears Prada where Meryl Streep keeps dumping her coats and bags on the desk of the "new girl," like she was some hallway closet that never gets cleaned out.  I am certain some dining establishments still employ such girls, (any maybe even guys,) but they have quickly died out like Lindsey Lohan's career.  Too soon?

"Can you check mine and my wife's coat for me? a gentleman asked me one night.

"Unfortunately, we don't have a coat-check sir," I replied.

"Why not?"

Because it's not New York's Russian Tea Room , circa 1987!  "We just don't have a need for one here at this restaurant, in Los Angeles sir."  I said.

"Then perhaps you can just find a place for our coats.  And then find our waiter.  We're thirsty!"

"I'll take care of your coats.  And I am your waiter."  I quickly left and discarded of the coats in our make-shift coatroom that we use when we occasionally get this type of request.  It usually involves putting the coats over some chairs, and leaving them in some office, or up by the host stand, or stuffed into some cubby hole.



Then I returned to take their drink order.  "What can I get you to drink?"

"Aren't you going to give us a claim ticket?  So you know which one is our's," the gentleman cried.

"No claim numbers sir.  You have the only coats in the restaurant tonight.  But if you'd like, you can describe your coats to me before I go to get them."  Now I know how my dry cleaner feels.

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

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

The Bitter Bistro

FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER CLICK HERE

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Customer Quotes


They say it, (the customers,) and sometimes I can't believe it.  But these are words that came from the mouths of human beings that sat it my section while I was clocked in.

It's been awhile, but it's time again to list some ACTUAL customer quotes and then of course followed by my (smart - ass) answer that I would have said, if we lived in a perfect world.

"I would like my Lamb rare, but pink."
If a chef could cook a piece of meat rare and got it to come out looking pink, then that chef would be a pioneer. If you order something rare, you had better like the color red, because that's what you are going to get, bloody red.

"Do your salads have any greens in them?"

Are you friends with the pink-rare-Lamb lady?  How long have you been on this planet and not seen some kind of salad that didn't have greens in it?  Yes, I know of some salads that don't have greens.  For example, the caprese salad.  Which traditionally is buffalo mozzarella and heirloom tomatoes.  But that salad is garnished with basil, which is GREEN.  

"Can I order room service to my room?"
No.  Actually we would prefer that you order it to your private residence.  But when it gets there, feel free to take it to your room.

"I'm trying to decide between the fish, the chicken, or the steak.  Which one is better?"
It's better that you leave.  That's better.  And while you're gone, look up what fish, chicken, and steaks are and look like.

"Bring us more Champagne.  The kids want to pop their own bottles."
Of course sir.  A family that pops Champagne together, is probably Persian.

"I don't like the steak knife you gave me.  Can you go get me one of the cook's knives?"
The only time a chef would bring out one of their knives, would be to stab you."

More customer quotes to follow...

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

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

The Bitter Bistro

FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER CLICK HERE