Sunday, August 31, 2014

Empty Restaurant Syndrome

When Charles Dickens wrote, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times," he must have worked in a restaurant that used to be booming, but had come crashing to a halt.  Time cannot be crueler, than time standing still in an empty restaurant.

I've noticed that restaurants have busy and slow seasons.  Yes, there are some restaurants that are busy 365 days a year.  Spago in Beverly Hills is one of those places.  But for the rest of us peons who couldn't get hired at one of the cash-cows, we work at places that suffer from great highs, and extreme lows.  When it gets close to tax time, my restaurant is slow.  When the holidays roll around, business picks up with parties and bosses acting like they care by paying for the company to have a 3-course meal.

Right now I am in the midst of the slow season.  School just started.  Families are adjusting to their fall schedules.  Whatever!  This in turn has given me ample time to reflect on my life and how long I have been in the service industry.  It has not been positive reflection.  I have told you guys many times that I have worked in this industry for 15 years.  To say that I have made my way around the Los Angeles restaurant scene is an understatement.  I have been fired from hotels and restaurants like a high class call girl working the Polo Lounge, but I didn't make as much money.  But I do have pimps, they're just called managers.

When I have a customer, they have my attention, I give great service, and they leave happy.  But then the "empty restaurant syndrome" begins like a clock ticking until the next reservation, or walk-in comes into the restaurant.  As much as I want some customers to hurry up and leave, I feel the same way about wanting them to come in.

Comedian Bret Ernst has a great joke about waiting tables.  He hated waiting for customers to show up, and when they did, he'd shout, "WHY DO THEY HAVE TO EAT HERE?"  Ah, so true.

What's even better is when, on a slow night, I approach some guests and the first thing they say to me is, "when does it get busy here?"  Now I need to be able to make people magically appear out-of-nowhere.  I'll just add ILLUSIONIST to my abilities as a server.

The worst thing about having EMPTY RESTAURANT SYNDROME is having to spend extra time with a manager.  No server wants to do that.  

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

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










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Sunday, August 24, 2014

How Not To Order Drinks At A Bar

The other night, I found myself back behind the bar again.  The restaurant had another buyout from USC, so I was once again entranced with the likes of Tommy Trojan.

One thing that they don't teach at this university is how to behave at a bar.  The following were actual interactions that I had while behind the bar:




An Asian girl walks up to my bar, and I ask her what she would like to drink.

"Vodka."

"Vodka and what?" I ask.

"Vodka." she says.

"One vodka and vodka coming right up."

Then I had the pleasure of another gentleman come up to the bar and order his drink.  He was okay with his ordering, but what wasn't okay was the way he smelled.  He smelled like farts.  Not like he had farted and it followed him, but his body odor was farts.  Needless to say, he had a shitty personality.

My last story revolves around a girl who ordered a drink that I have never heard of before at a bar.  Not that she ordered a cocktail that I had never heard of, but an alcohol and a mixer that should never be said out loud again.

"I want a whiskey and Dr. Pepper," she ordered.

I couldn't help but laugh.  What bar has Dr. Pepper?!  Gotta love the Trojans.

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

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










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Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Bitter Bistro Podcast 218--The Bitter Diaries

Just me on this episode.  I rant about stuff that is happening in the service industry over the past couple of weeks.

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

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








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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

6 Joke Degrees from Robin Williams

I always thought Robin Williams was an amazing talent.  "Mrs. Doubtfire" and "Dead Poet's Society"  are two of my favorite films. As an improver, I admired how quick he was to pull from his bag of tricks to justify anything that was going on in that moment.
There was, however, a bad stigma with him and stand-up comics because he had a reputation of being a joke thief.  Joke stealing happens more often than not, (unfortunately,) but when you have a celebrity status--like Robin--the label became somewhat legendary.

BUT, they do say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Pope Benedict won the crown of Big Popa April 19th, 2005.  Cardinal Francis Arinze was a forerunner to take the crown before losing to Benedict.  Cardinal Francis is from Nigeria.  After Last Pope Standing had concluded, I started doing a joke about what it would be like to have a Black Pope:  POPE DADDY!  I did the joke for the first time at The Hollywood Improv.



About two years later, I was doing a show at Room 5 in Hollywood.  While I was unnervingly watching the host do way too much time in-between comics, he started on a premise about having a Black Pope.  It's not a crime to have your own take on a premise, but when I noticed that his pacing, punchlines, and act out to conclude the joke were the same as mine... I decided to have a little talk with him.

I mentioned that I have a very similar joke and that if we are ever on the same show again, he shouldn't be doing it.  The host tells me that people steal good jokes all of the time.  He then defends himself by saying that he saw Robin Williams doing the same joke, and that's where he got it.

Entertain the angels Robin Williams.  Thanks for the flattery.

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

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










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