Tag Archives: food service

44 Patron shots in 10 minutes

24 Oct

Last night I had a twenty-two top that waited over an hour for a table.  It was a bunch of trust fund kids (by kids, I mean early thirty-somethings who have fake jobs, and are drinking with the same people who they invited to their Bar Mitzvah.)

Needless to say, by the time I got them they were already drunk from waiting at the bar, and very, very irritable.  My manager sent them a round of shots at the get-go. And then another manager sent them another round of shots, with the rationalization, “These people run in some crazy circles.” That’s 44 shots delivered in a matter of ten minutes -not fun to carry on one tray, and run around a crowded banquet table-.

For the record, I’m a high-volume rockstar, if I do say so myself. They could not have been in better hands. I can handle that many people. I just can’t handle that many people who aren’t aware that they ARE that many people, and that it does take some time to get an order in, when a party is that large.

Of course once I got to the table I was held there for twenty minutes taking a food and drink order, despite the fact I had other tables. It was IMPOSSIBLE to leave. And of course, it took another ten minutes to make the twenty-two specialty cocktails ordered. And it takes another ten minutes to deliver their drinks. So— yes, some people had to wait twenty minutes for their drinks.

This one guy kept saying, “I’m waiting on the Goose Rocks that never came.” By this time I was pretty pissed and just said, “Oh yeah, well, it takes a few minutes to make twenty-two-drinks.” He responded with, “Well, since it’s taking so long, put in three more Grey Goose rocks in, now.”

Did I mention that five “joiners” came to the table, making it 27 people? And there was nowhere to put them. Nowhere. And we were so busy that nobody could help me. I delivered all the drinks, cleared the table, put down their miss en place for the entrees, cleared and entrees and put down the set-up for desert. (My busser was probably eating a filet somewhere in a side-station.)

Basically the night consisted of me cocktailing my ass off till there tab was at about $2,700. They started a small food fight when they couldn’t agree who would pay the bill. First they handed me 12 credit cards. When I explained I couldn’t split the bill that many ways, they played Credit Card Russian Roulette, and settled on 8 cards.

By the time I was done running around for this table, and bussing it, I had sweat through my shirt and was fairly delirious. I was so out of it in fact, that the table adjacent to the douche-bags offered to let me sit down with them. I did sit with them, and conversed, while I waited for the douches to play Roulette.

It took me about seven minutes to apply the cash, and split the bill 8 ways. One of the douches came back to the server station and demanded to know what was taking so long. I just looked at him and said, “I’m on check number 8 right now, Sir.” He responded with, “Oh, man, thanks, right… I mean, it’s not your fault. You’re great man… I mean, you’re really cool.” I had to wonder why he was yelling at me then if I was “really cool.”

They were a classy group.

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The Wine Nazi: “NO WINE FOR YOU!”

7 Oct

You all remember “The Soup Nazi” from Seinfeld? Well, I just met “The Wine Nazi;” he’s a twenty-eight-year-old Lebanese tight-wad (or should I say tight-end?) who graduated from Cornell, works in a PR firm, and who lost three-hundred dollars on Fantasy Football last week (Yes, I got all that information from his conversation tableside).

 Tonight the Wine Nazi thumbed through the wine menu for his party of four. Price was the only factor.  The varietal, terroirvintage and winemaker were inconsequential.

He chose a cheap bottle from a mega-wine-maker, a $72 dollar Malbec that you can get at Trader Joe’s for $13 bucks. 

After he tasted and approved the Argentinian grape juice, I started to pour his guests a small glass (To begin with, I am always conservative when it comes to the first pour; I find that a series of consecutive small pours kills a bottle faster, and ensures a second sale; the guest always thinks there is more coming, and therefore, drinks more liberally). 

I was just about to pour 1.5 ounces on the first guest’s glass, when Wine Nazi threw out his hand like a traffic cop, covering the guest’s glass, and scolding me, “No-no-no! No more.”

I thought maybe his friend didn’t want to  drink much, and the Wine Nazi was trying to help me.  And so on the next pour I went even slower. Sure enough, just as I was about to hit 1.5 ounces (less than half a pour), the Wine Nazi’s  hand flared up to stop me.

It’s not unusual for guests to silently indicate they don’t want to drink more, by raising their hand to the glass (This is a polite and traditional gesture. Blue Monied persons usually just raise the hand without comment, or thanks.  It’s very classy, much like putting your knife and fork parallel to eachother, as a signal to clear the plate.) 

However,  I’d never had the person ordering the wine, physically and verbally command me to “STOP!” pouring, before the first toast.  The Wine Nazi seemed to get a real kick out of ordering a bottle, and then having the power to dispense it over his friends.  It was pretty rude and messed up in my opinion.

The strange part was that he didn’t just pour the wine himself, and looked at me impatiently when his friends’ glasses were empty, as if to say, “Hey lazy, aren’t you going to fill our glasses?” But of course, the moment I started to pour, there was the traffic-light hand again, telling me to stop.

I should have just yelled at him, “NO WINE FOR YOU!”

OVERHEARD: Dynasty Brunch

30 Sep

This past Sunday brunch, I was a witness to the most impressive order regarding eggs, that I’ve heard to date. It was delivered by a Grande Dame in her late sixties. She was real blue money, with real fake red hair, straight out of the late ’80’s soap Dynasty. (For a good time, check out this classic catfight from the show).

She thought I was writing down her detailed order, but really I was just jotting down the gold that was spinning from her mouth:

“My friend, I will probably like this omlette with lamb sausage, but, can I do it without the onions, without the tomatoes, -AND- with goat cheese instead of the gruyere -AND- no creme fraiche, -AND- the merguez extra well done? -AND- Can it be firm, but, not too firm? OH, -AND- with Canadian (Is it actually Canadian?) bacon? If it’s not real Canadian bacon how much would it cost to take it off? Do you know? And if they can take it off, make sure it’s one not two eggs; I haven’t eater anything all day.”

The order to the kitchen, looked something like this:

Table 72, TheInsideWaiter

MERGUEZ OMELETTE

-ONE EGG

-NO ONIONS

-NO TOMATOES

-NO GRUYERE

-SUB GOAT CHZ

-NO CRM FRAICHE

-SAUSAGE XWELL

-FIRM

-SEE SERVER

“I don’t have my ID, but I do have my cellphone.”

30 Sep

“I don’t have my ID, but I do have my cellphone.”

Seat 3, Table 1, on forgetting her ID at home, in the Netherlands. 

For those of you who didn’t read my post  “The Ball’s Over Cinderalla: ID Please,” the New York District Attorney continues to crack-down on underage drinking in the city. And for the first time since they grew breasts, models from the Netherlands who are unable to produce a valid U.S. issued ID, are being told “No;” or, as my co-worker monologued in the service station:

“NOOOO! Your cellphone? Gimme an I.D. from the United Fucking States of America, ya’ fuckin’ six-foot-two, Bambi-eyed-ALIEN!”

When the future of a business might hinge on one illegal Kir (Who am I kidding, the kiddies don’t order Kirs), carding everyone seems like an obvious choice. However, an interesting dilemma has developed in New York establishments, where the girls have always been more notorious than the food:

If you don’t card the models you might get shut down; but, if you card the models, they won’t come back. And if the models don’t come, neither will the older men who follow the fawns to the breeding-grounds, and pay for their endless shots of Patron (Bambi’s no cheap date).

Fortunately, my restaurant is erring on the side of good lawful judgement. I card anyone who looks under 35 ( I once saw an undercover cop hand-cuff a server who had just served a minor -unknowingly-. The server was taken straight to jail, and faced over 5,000 dollars in fines, not including legal fees. Needless to say, he also lost his job). I don’t take risks.

But as you might imagine, giving servers the freedom to say “NO” against a privileged class of jetsetters, is a recipe for fine drama. Did someone say DRAMA? Entre moi, TheInsideWaiter.

Just tonight, an older male guest threatened to “have my job,” if I didn’t serve his date, who was prancing around New York without an ID ((Really a dumb move to begin with, considering you can get arrested in New York City for failing to have proper identification on your person at all times (Thanks, Department of  Homeland Security)).

I explained to him that I would certainly lose my job if I did serve the guest’s date.  At that very moment the girl admitted to being underage. Can someone say  — Awwwwwkward? Last time I checked you gotta have sex with kids over 18?

Carding has truly become the most stressful element of my job. You simply don’t know how people will respond, particularly the women.  One lady, Seat 1-Table 21, said, “You just made my day; seriously, I love you right now;” but, the very young girl that replaced her at the same table, winced at me with, “Why? You’re carding me? Why?” She was twenty-one. Twenty-one, and she was complaining I was carding her. You can only imagine how the women who are thirty-one respond. It’s like I asked them how many people they’ve slept with, or why they’re  Republicans. Why are they Republicans?

At the end of the night,  I decided card two twenty-three year old girls, who were out with two fifty-perhaps-sixty-something-year-old guys. I couldn’t figure out the fouresome’s relationship.  Were they co-workers? Was this a fathers and daughters dinner? Cute.

Fortunately one of the older gentleman blew his cover when I asked for the girls to produce IDs.:

“Just don’t card my other daughter, when I bring her out. She’s the underage one,” he said, winking at his significantly younger significant other, across the table.

Honestly, I’m gonna be glad when this whole “following-the-law” thing is over, and we go back to the good ‘ole days, when the girls could just drink, and they guys could get their rocks off because they paid for the girls to drink, and the third parties involved (i.e. the waiters) never got yelled at. Yeah, those were the good ‘ole days.*

*Legal disclaimer: I’m joking.

Follow The Fold

29 Sep

The Industrial Revolution failed; people still fold napkins.

Every night, a restaurant’s staff  folds thousands of napkins, in order for them to be unfolded, soiled, cleaned, pressed, and then folded again. It’s an endless enterprise.

Over the course of one evening, the house stockpile of folded whites, rises and falls, like the tides.  Usually around 11:30, the last reserves have been snatched up, and reset on tables.  Only after the saddest, off-white  folds begin circulating into service, do the bussers begin to prophetize, “No napkins soon! No napkins!” Service must stop, folding commences, and the famine is kept at bay.    

Folding is time intensive.  The more elaborate the fold, the more time it takes.  The past three restaurants I have worked in have used the same exact basic fold.  So I’m quite comfortable with this particular tri-fold, and can produce the napkin in 8 seconds flat. 

At 8 seconds a napkin (I just timed myself), 50 napkins should take only 8 minutes, but that doesn’t seem reallistic. In fact, 50 napkins usually takes 10-15 minutes, even at a pert pace. There must be some breathing room in there that I’m not counting? Ah yes, gossip.

I just calculated that I have folded a minimum of 31,200 napkins, in the last three years.

(Minimum of 50 Napkins a day)* x (Average of  4 days a week) x (52 weeks a year) x (3 years)

=31,200

*Some side-work requires 200 napkins. Number of napkins folded does not include silverware “roll-ups” for the patio.

31,200 napkins is a substantial amount of gossip. Lots of sex has been relived over those clean linens, lots of dreams shared, and lots of tears shed.

Not everyone socializes over folding. I once had a manager named Sally, who folded napkins like a solitary Catholic reciting her rosary. She had an alcoholic boyfriend, and slowing stacking the perfect piles of white, seemed to give her solace.  It took her about 200,000 napkins before she decided to break up with the brute for good, Hail Mary!”

There was a girl Lilly, from Tennessee, who could talk faster than a cotton-mouth could slither, and who could fold faster than she could talk.  That girl could talk n’ fold, and talk n’ fold, like she had been doing it for all of eternity.  She even could take an espressos break, tell you about her last bikini wax, and still be a good fifty napkins ahead of you.  I once tried to catch up with her and nearly folded myself into an anxiety attack.

 And then there was Ahmed, a quiet, stoic Bengali, who approached napkins, much like he approached waiting tables (And life for that matter): absolutely precise, but without a hint of urgency.  Ahmed wouldn’t have folded fifty napkins a night, if Allah Himself had commanded it (He had not).

So many folds, somany friends. Tonight I taught a new server the tri-fold I’ve had in my hands for the past five years. I can’t remember who taught me my first one; I’d curse the sorry soul, but, I think it was Sally. Poor Sally. She’s probably still praying over a fold in some back server station, planning her escape, one napkin at a time. Aren’t we all?

What time are the fireworks?

28 Sep

Tonight table “4” came with a plan: agree to a 6:30 reservation, and then ride it out for five and a half hours, so that when the witching hour comes, and the glitterati arrive, they could be within gawking distance.

Smart girls? And I liked them a lot, they were eaters, drinkers, and bawdy business types. I just wish they had been honest about it and said, “Hi, what time are the fireworks, 11:30? We’ll wait.”

Instead, the girls played an embarrassingly long five hour game of Nurse-The-Miller-Light. Realizing that the only food item remaining to claim their campsite was a side of green beans, and that they had no intention of getting dessert, the girls decided to eat one bean at a time, for oh, two hours?  Every ten minutes the Maitre ‘d was coming up to me:

“The fuck is going on with The Baby Sitters Club on “4?” Pull their water. I need them out, out, out, NOW!

I had pulled their water. I had dropped their check –somewhere in hour two–, but each time I returned with the bill, seat three decided to take one for the team, and be the designated drinker, “She’ll take another beer.”

“Ladies, I’m sorry,” I said, “but the bill is closed. If you’d like another drink, please  join us in the bar.”

Well, the Designated Dessie wasn’t going down so easy. She took the bill and sat on it.  Now, usually this is a move that pisses me off but, in this case, the girls won me over –I don’t know, they reminded me of my pals from the Midwest, girls who drank beer– and I just decided not to care. Somehow, in the madness of five-hundred other people trying to get tables, the front-desk gave up on Table-4 too, and took them off the seating map, and just let enjoy the fireworks.

When the pretty people arrived, Designated Dessie had the crazed eyes of a five-year-old on Christmas morning, or perhaps a fifty-year-old at a strip high-end strip joint (Too tired for similes here). At the end of the night, my Midwestern ladies picked up the beer bottles, pulled the picnic blanket off the table, and tipped me accordingly.

“We’ll be back, what’s your name?,” asked Dessie.

I told them, but then failed to mention that if they ever wanted to come back, they’d have to do so under an alias, as Designated Dessie’s guest profile on Open-Table, now had a big red flag on it that said, “CAMPERS.”

Be We Shrinks, or Be We Waiters?

27 Sep

“I’m sorry, but the hour’s up. We’ll have to continue this chat about your compulsive shopping next week. There’s a wait on this table.”

Sound familiar? For the record, I like this profession, waiting tables. Yes, I have a critical –one might say even acidic– tone in many of these posts; and yes, sometimes I feel truly victimized by downright cruel people; but for the most part, I like helping strangers.

In fact, sometimes I like serving the cruel people the most, because you can help them have a moment of clarity.  You can play therapist, while you’re playing servant.  It may sound grand, and perhaps its just my personal rationalization, but I like to think that people in the service industry are in fact public servants, helping the greater good, one table at a time.  

People are so determined to be miserable; yet, I am equally determined to  make them happy, if only for a moment.  Take this evening’s patient: a Russian birthday girl, dressed to defy the thirty-seven candles on her cake, in a naughty slip of black sequins.  Still a young woman, Ms. Sequins was quite the accomplished neurotic, even for a New Yorker, let alone a Russian. 

Before I even got to the table she was yelling at the hostess for placing her at such  small table, pointing fingers and all.  That didn’t get her anywhere with the hostess, and so, feeing defeated, Sequins asked me if her party of nine be moved to an adjacent table, because they were too tight.  She wanted an argument, a fight, an incident to assert her status, but no, all I earnestly said was:

“Yeah, let me see what I can do… I just want you guys to have a good time.” 

Sequins was soooo not going to take that for an answer.  She looked at me like I had insulted her intelligence.

YEAH, RIGHT!,” she protested.

The notion that I might actually care about her and her friends having a good time was offensive, if not obnoxious.  It was her party and she was going to cry if she wanted to, but oh NOOO, I was not going to let her. 

Situations like this call for tough love. A little bitch slap of reality.

“It’s your birthday right?,” I smiled.

“Yeah?,” she hesitated.

“Well, will you let me give you guys a good time? And get that table for you?,” I said.

“Uhmmm. Okay. Sure. Thanks,” she conceded, with an oh-my-god smile. 

Victory for humanity! And for the rest of the night she was like a debutante, blissfully seated at the head of the very spacious table 31.  I got my manager to agree to send Sequins out a bunch of desserts on the house, and then my manager personally delivered a round of champagne.

Sequins entered seathing, and left smiling. Too bad I can’t charge three-hundred-and-fifty dollars an hour for my psychological services.