Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Woman's Day Magazine Says You Too Can Be Cheap!

As much as I love to hate working in the service industry, I am drawn to it's idiosyncrasies, much like the Millennium Falcon to the Death Star.  My blogging friend, Bitchy Waiter, has again opened my eyes to someone trying to pull one over on us servers, and make it seem like it's okay.

 This time, it's Woman's Day magazine.  That's right... Woman's Day.  First off, why just one woman, Woman's Day?

So one of their illustrious writers, Sabah Karimi, wrote an article recently about, Money Saving Ideas for Dining Out, in order to show her readers how they can save a buck when going out to restaurants.  The article could have been a lot shorter if Sabah had any brains and wrote, If you are struggling with money right now, don't go out to eat!  But alas, Sabah's quest for literary recognition blinded her to these facts and had her write her 7 ways to save at restaurants.

I won't go through all 7, but to sum it up, Sabah claims you can just order an appetizer, or get an entree but take half of it home.  But my favorite being that you don't have to tip the server too much, because according to Sabah, "don't feel pressured to leave a 20 percent tip at all costs; if you didn't receive exceptional service or were disappointed with your dining experience, plan on tipping between 10 to 15 percent.  Over-tipping can quickly make a dent in your dining expenses, so think about how much you're paying the server."

This article just sets people up to have a bad time when they go out!  And 10 to 15 percent?  Did we suddenly travel back to 1986?  Where's my DeLorean?  Who the hell over-tips?  Nobody leaves a restaurant thinking, "It was great, but I think I gave that server too much.  Now I don't have gas money."

The whole reason for dining out is to relax and have a great time.  Putting a limit on what you should spend at a restaurant is like saying that you want to pay less at a movie theater so you can just watch half of the movie.  Go home weirdos!

Also, a restaurant is a place of business.  So Sabah is saying that just because you're struggling, now the restaurant has to struggle with you?  And why is the gratuity the one thing that people see as the place to save a buck?  If you do the math, an 18% tip is not going to break your bank after you've already gone out to spend money.

The gratuity is how us "servers" support ourselves and our families.  And like many of the comments have pointed out, the majority of the people working in the service industry are women.  So a female writer, who writes for a woman's periodical, says it's okay to stiff one of your own.  Way to support your own cause Woman's Day.  Sabah is probably like the lame people who write reviews on Yelp.  Her expertise stems from, "Well, I spend money.  So I know how you can save it."

Sabah, your name rhymes with Jabba, but I would rather have him in my section than you.  At least I know he'll order multiple courses.  And yes, I used two Star Wars references in one post.  You're welcome, Ken Napzok.        

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

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

The Bitter Bistro



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Friday, January 24, 2014

The Bitter Bistro Podcast 209


It's time for the conclusion of my two part podcast with my guest, Hayly Mickles.  We find out what happened while waiting on 1 of the members of the Swedish House Mafia, giving customers boundaries, and the LA Yelp Diaries.  Enjoy!




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

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

The Bitter Bistro


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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Potential Emotions

Nowadays, the checks presented to you in restaurants are pretty self-explanatory.  You see what you ate, drank, what each item costs, and a count of how many of them you had.  Some checks even break down taxes for you, both food tax and beverage tax.  The tax thing is not so necessary in my opinion; I find it adds more confusion to the table than necessary.  But technology has provided this for you, the customer.

I had a customer recently, he was hosting a dinner for five of his co-horts.  It's important to mention that this guy, Kenneth, is a doctor.  They had multiple courses, wine, and after dinner libations.  In short, a successful table for me, and everybody had a great time.  Then I present the bill, and Dr. Kenneth says right away that me and him are going to "go over" the bill.  I comply.



"Why are there two tax charges on the bill?" he asks.

"It's broken down into food tax and beverage tax," I answer.

"This check is pretty expensive.  Did we have that much?"

I actually paused and stared at him when he asked this.  Have I mentioned that this guy is a doctor?  I could see if it was just two people and they only had one course and a drink, that should raise some red flags, but a six top?  Do people NOT remember what the hell they ate?  So I finally replied, "yes sir.  You ordered a lot of stuff, and consumed it all."

Then he asked about the lamb special that he and another one of his guests ate.  Specials are usually rung up a certain way on checks, and are called "open food."  That just means that we normally don't serve this special--hence the word "special"--so we don't have a specific button for it on the computer.  We just ring in what it is, and the price.  On your check, it would look like this,

Lamb Sp.
open food -- $42.00

Sure enough, Kenneth asks, "what's the open food and the lamb?"

I explain it to him.  He seems content, pays and leaves happy.

What do you fricking know.  When I got to work the next day, I find out that Dr. Kenneth had called twice to ask why he was charged so many times for the lamb and what the hell this "open food" thing was.  If Dr. Kenneth is like this with a restaurant bill, I would hate to see him try to break down a blood test for one of his patients.

"So we got your lab results back and there are a bunch of numbers and stuff.  Let's see... blood type: A positive.  Don't know why there would be a letter A."

Before my co-worker and I were even done setting up for dinner, Dr. Kenneth walks into the restaurant, sees me and comes over.

"I was going over my bill and was getting a bit angry over the charges.  Can you explain the open food charge?" he demands.

"Well, two people had the lamb special last night, so the open food charge is for that.  Specials don't have a button on the computer.  We have to type it in manually."

"Oh.  But I see "lamb special" on one line, and "open food" on the line below it."

"That's correct.  But for both of those lines, there is only one charge for the special," I answered.  A bit annoyed, but I answered him... again!

"I see.  Thanks for letting me know.  I was POTENTIALLY UPSET," Kenneth admits.

I didn't know emotions had potential.  That must have been what my high school teachers meant when they told me I wasn't living up to my full POTENTIAL.

"I glad I could POTENTIALLY explain things to you."

"For a minute there, I thought you charged $42.00 for the bread," he laughed.

"I only do that for customers I don't like.  And it's $50.00 for bread."

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

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

The Bitter Bistro



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Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Bitter Bistro Podcast 208


Season Two of The Bitter Bistro Podcast is finally here!  (slow clap)  It's a two-part episode with the very funny Hayly Mickles.  It's got co-worker relationships, Fondue, and the Swedish House Mafia.



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

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

The Bitter Bistro




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Thursday, January 9, 2014

Real Jobs vs Fake Jobs

I have recently come across a lot of backlash concerning the custom of tipping and whether or not working in the service industry is a "real job" or not.  After dealing with all the various customers throughout my years in this service industry vortex, I can assure everyone that this job is VERY real.

I posted an article written by Matt Walsh for "The Huffington Post" where he addresses a server's plea about bad tippers on my Facebook Page to show how some people's attitudes about tipping (or not tipping) coincide with the remark, "Get a real job!"  Read the comments after the article.

Enough already!  Who the hell is to say one job is "realer" than another?  One girl (Jade L.) was dumb enough to say that waiting tables is not a "life" job, it's a "student" job.  Granted, I am tired of working in this industry and would rather be running my own TV show, and doing stand-up in the off-season--a la Louis C.K.--but in the meantime, this IS my life.  And people who work as servers or bartenders while getting their undergraduate degree aren't working to make a living.  Some, yes.  But most are not.  They are working for free booze, booze money, and if any tip money is left over they'll spend it on hookers.  Just kidding!  They'll spend it on books about booze.

My east coast counterpart, The Bitchy Waiter, recently wrote about somebody commenting on his post and saying that if we are all so unhappy with our unfair wages, federal average is $7.30, that we should get "real jobs," and stop whining.

So to all those ignorant people out there who think that what I do is so fake and unworthy, let me tell you what I have done through my fake jobs...

  • If you average my tips with my minimum wage  (CA min. wage $8.00) I make more per hour than most executives.
  • I have met and or waited on George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Jermaine Jackson, Molly Shannon, Ozzy Osbourne, Whitney Houston, Saudi Princes, The artist Prince, Cindy Crawford, David Mamet, Everybody on every show on HBO, Joss Whedon, Ron Jeremy, and too many others.
  • Been able to live in Los Angeles, CA all through tips.
  • Watch friends get famous.
  • Worked at The Beverly Hills Hotel and Bungalows, The Four Seasons Hotel and Resorts, Wolfgang Puck and Kerry Simon.
  • My wife and I honeymooned in Tahiti, Moorea, and Bora Bora in an overwater bungalow through my service industry job.
  • This blog (for those that read it--thank you!)
  • Podcast
  • Pursue stand-up/writing/ and acting while not having to go broke.
Tipping started centuries ago.  If you really have a problem with it, get in your time machine, go back to the English pub that started it, and stay there!

This all sounds pretty real to me.


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

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

The Bitter Bistro




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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Not A Resolution

This past new year's eve was one of the busiest that I have ever worked in my service industry life.  I was behind the bar and it was insanity.  At the end, I was exhaustedly-happy, but for most of the night I was elbows deep in the ice and wait times for drinks was reaching 30 minutes.

To let everybody know, I don't have a rhyme or reason how I go from customer to customer while bartending.  It's really about who gets my attention first, and me remembering whom I think is next.  To all of the people who thought I was rude and was making you wait on purpose, well, I did.  Some of you were jerks and have serious drug and alcohol problems.  To the few who were actually nice and actually wished me a happy new year, (only four people did,) I'm sorry you waited.  When it's that busy none of Jon Taffer's rules apply.  But I did think of them.

Speaking of Taffer, when it finally slowed down, there was one guy at my bar who wanted me to do the "generous tip" pour.  I played dumb.

"Pour a lot and I'll tip you for it," the guy begged.

"What would Jon Taffer say?" I asked.

"I'm really glad you just said that," the guy smirked, and then he handed me his business card.  He is one of the heads of Spike TV.  "I buy all the shows for Spike."

"Now I know where to pitch my sitcoms."

"Were not buying scripted television right now," he conceded.

Trumped by reality television.  And he really wanted me to pour extra alcohol in his drink.  Some people think they're above Taffer law.

Nobody seemed to want to rescue me at this bar.  Later, at 2 am, a different guy came up to my bar and tried to get a drink.

"Can I get a glass of champagne," he stumbled.

"We're closed," I abruptly said.

"Not even just a little bit.  So I can toast the new year?"

"Remember that countdown thing everybody did two hours ago?  That was your chance to toast the new year."

He left.  Pissed off into the new year.

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

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

The Bitter Bistro





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