Re-launched, but still slightly under construction. :-)

Thursday, January 01, 2004

Serving FAQ

Let's start the new year off with a training lesson. Read and learn.

What took you so long to get our drinks?

If you ordered tea or coffee, I probably had to brew it because the other servers were having personal conversations that rendered them unable to work. If you ordered a bar drink, I probably had to wait for the bartenders to finish their personal conversations before they would make the drink. If you ordered a soda, I may have had to change the syrup. All of this assumes that there were clean glasses and ice available at the serving station. I may also have had to get those before I could make your drinks.

We’re starving: when will our food be ready?

Your well-done steaks are still going to take the requisite 20 minutes to cook. Yes, 20 minutes. Even if you didn't order something well-done, all food is cook to order... plus time for personal conversations by the line cooks.

It don’t take that long at home.

Doesn’t. And of course it does if you do it our way. First, you would begin by marinating your steaks for 72 hours. Second, you have to wait for the grill to heat up. And third, we don’t cook them ahead of time. If you want to argue, I’ll get the cook and the manager.

Why is my food cold?

It was hot when I brought it. You were too busy running your big fat mouth to eat it.

Don’t you know that you’re not supposed to charge me for my soda if I buy a bar drink?

No. I don’t know that.

A tip? Why should I be responsible for paying your salary?

You aren’t responsible for paying my salary. I’m not a salaried employee. Servers are paid $2.13 an hour for their time. Now, that isn’t your responsibility, either. But the facts of the matter are these: 1) If the restaurant industry were to pay its servers the regular minimum wage, they would not take a loss to their profits. They would pass that increase on to the consumer. 2) A more than 50% increase in hourly wages (and the taxation and accounting headaches that come with it) means at least a 30% increase in menu prices. You only pay half that in a tip. 3) If you are using a service, you should pay for it. Otherwise, go somewhere where that cost is not added in, like, say: WENDY’S.

I never tip more than $2. Why should I?

That’s a good question. Allow me to tell you: Servers are taxed at 8% on the amount they sell, not the amount they actually make in tips. So, if your bill is $100, and you leave $2, that’s only a 2% tip. That means the additional 6% has to come out of my pocket. Effectively, I’m buying a portion of your meal for you. If you could at least tip me 8% so that I break even, I’d appreciate it. Thanks so fucking much.

Why do we have to go through the hostess stand? I see empty tables over there/
Why can’t we sit at that table? It’s empty.

People, this is not a new system. But, since you seem to have been raised on Mars, allow me to explain. 1) There is what’s called a “rotation” in seating at a restaurant, so that people don’t duke it out over tables like they do parking spaces, and so that each of the servers get a fair shake at making money. 2) Not everyone has the same needs. That couple wants a table in nonsmoking because they’re meeting another person who is in a wheelchair and has a respiratory illness. That person wants a quiet corner to himself because his wife recently died. That is a party of 25, and we need to reserve tables adjacent to one another until enough tables are empty that we can seat them all at once. The hostesses, ideally, can coordinate meeting all of those needs so that everything runs smoothly. Apparently, they haven't communicated this to you.

Why is the wait so long?

Many factors can push a wait longer. The kitchen could be running slowly due to short-staffing or – usually – due to hangovers. The floor may be short-staffed of servers, so that it’s difficult to take care of everyone quickly. There could be large party taking up many tables so that we can’t seat others at those tables. Large parties also tend to want to “camp” and socialize, so we can’t turn those tables as quickly as usual. But speaking of camping, think of the last time you ate out. How long did you stay? At least an hour, probably. Did you hang out at your table and socialize afterward? Pretty fucking likely. Sometimes tables just won’t get up from their chairs and go so that we can seat you. Finally, sometimes, outside factors slow down the restaurant so that things don’t move as quickly: equipment (ice machine, dishwasher, grill) could break; employee injuries can affect service speed; demand could be unusually high. But, usually, it’s the very people complaining about the wait that screw up the wait. Is that your kid running around getting in everyone’s way? Why does that server have to say, “Excuse me” four times before someone steps aside so that she can walk through the lobby with her guests’ food? How long did you wait to order after sitting down at your table? Usually – although not always – it’s the customers who make it hard on themselves.

Why is this charge on my ticket?

Beverage – Because you ordered it, and you drank it.
EntrĂ©e/Appetizer/Dessert – Because you ordered it, and you ate it.

Can I get some bread/peanuts to go?

Yes, but I’ll have to charge you for it.

Why? It’s all-you-can-eat!

So, eat it.

But, I’m too full.

So, you can’t eat it?


Well, there you go. You’ve eaten all you can eat.

Can you take this off my ticket? I didn’t like it/I couldn’t finish it.

If you didn't like it, then why did you eat it? I asked you three times if everything was okay, and if I could get you anything. You said: “Everything is fine.” So, no. I can’t take this off your ticket. If you can't finish it, then take it home. You're the one who ate his weight in bread.

Will you take a check?

Will you get real?

I can’t afford this. What happens if I don’t pay?

You see that cop over there? He’ll arrest you.

For what?!

For theft by taking. And, hopefully, stupidity, cheapness, and generally being an asshole.

You seem pretty smart; why didn’t you ever go to college?

Thanks so much; I did. The market took a hit after 9/11, the area is economically depressed, and I work 75 hours a week so that makes job hunting kind of a hobby, and not the singular goal in my life.


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