Tag Archives: new york restaurants

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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10 lies, in 60 minutes.

19 Oct

New Yorkers distrust Waiters, and they should; we are forced to lie constantly.

In one hour alone, the following 10 lies were told tonight:

1) “I’m sorry sir but we’re out of that Burgundy.”

Translation: Management has reserved 12 bottles of your Burgundy for a private party.

2) “You’re still waiting on that Cosmo… oh.”

Translation: You’re cut-off, Drunkard.

3) “It is cold… I know… I just told a manager to raise the temperature.”

Translation: Management is literally chilling the walls because this place is going to be packed with hundreds of people, and your individual body temperature is of no concern to me, or to them.

4) “I don’t own a TV.”

Translation: Yes, that is the girl from The Sopranos.

5) “Oh, yes, I love the Monkfish.”

Translation: Your date just ordered the Monkfish, after I recommended the Halibut, and now you are asking me if it’s any good.

6) “The busser just cleared your water glass? Oh– so sorry, let me get you another.”

Translation: You’ve been holding this table for two hours; get the hell out!

7) “Yeah, unfortunately that table’s taken.”

Translation: You can’t sit there, douche-bag.

8) “He said thanks. He got the joke.”

Translation: The NFL superstar didn’t get the “Blow-Job” shots you ordered him, and I’m not going to solicit him, asshole. Did you really think I’d give a football player “blow-job” shots?

9) ”   —   .”

Translation: If I say anything right now, “yes,” or “no,” to whatever sexually inappropriate question you just asked me, I’ll be fired.

10) “It’s a good time. You’ll have fun.”

Translation: I’d rather wait two-hours for an G-train, than see that Broadway show.

It’s not the MOB; it’s Grey Goose.

10 Oct

Last night I had a conversation with the head bartender from a Tribeca hotspot. I learned some very interesting information about liquor sales and distribution in Manhattan.

First, he confirmed what I’d always suspected: “Hot” restaurants get huge discounts from liquor companies for featuring their products in house made cocktails. Liquor sales reps don’t offer discounts to just any bar or restaurant. They only court high-volume establishments that will help promote their brand name, to an “in” crowd.  Apparently the only vodka that doesn’t have to do this kind of restaurant  recruiting is Grey Goose; it sells itself. No surprise there, but what do these discounts mean on paper?  

It plays out like this: A Svedka representative says to the restauranteur, “Svedka will give you ten percent off our product, if you make a signature Svedka cocktail, and run it on your menu for three months.” Then management tells the bartenders, “We need a Svedka cocktail.” However, if Chopin all of a sudden says, “No, no, we’ll give you twenty-percent off,” the Svedka cocktail quickly is changed to a Chopin cocktail. This explains why the vodkas are always changing on new featured cocktails at my restaurant.

“Just how inflated are drink prices then, if restaurants are receiving these discounts?,” I asked.

“Well,” said the bartender. “A two oz. pour of a premium vodka might cost the restaurant less than $1.25, and we charge $14 dollars for the drink. Does that answer your question?”

Yes. It did.

Additionally I learned why some popular liquors are “86’d” for months at a time at my restaurant.

For example we were “86 Patron” for months. Do you know what it’s like telling people you don’t have Patron? Management kept saying, “Oh, we’re working things out; we’ll get a shipment.”

I never understood what was really going on: the restaurant was playing hard-ball with Patron, punishing them for not giving the restaurant a discount, essentially saying, “We can run fine without you. You think you’re so hot you don’t need to give us a discount? Well, watch us not sell your product for a couple of months.” Of course, in the end, a deal was struck, and management finally said, “We got our shipment of Patron.” Yeah right, what you got was a discount, finally.

I hope this information is helpful the next time you order a $22 dollar Stoli Elite cosmo.8

BAD ROMANCE

2 Oct

People dining on dates don’t talk over a meal anymore, they text, tweet, and tube. They spurl-flick-deal-click.  Smart-phones are slowly killing romantic conversation, and changing dinner as we know it (Call me Laura Bush, but if you loved food and dining as much as I do, you’d understand that Apple, Microsoft, and possibly North Korea, have created an Axis of Evil, determined to ruin dining everywhere).

Why bother dressing to the nines, and paying for a $400 dollar meal, when you can follow Rachel Ray’s Tweets?  I don’t think I’m exaggerrating when I say that cell phone technology has dramatically changed how our culture interacts –or fails to interract–  at the dinner table. 

The dining experience is no longer limited to real time or space.  People are communicating, and having experiences (see the ipad below), outside the immediate circumstances of dinner. To be brief, people are fucking distracted, and it’s pissing me off.

Before texting, people would have to ask to “excuse” themselves before making/receiving a call. Now you just place your phone on the table, like a piece of esssential stationary, and wait for the phone to light up.

I try not to praise Europeans at any cost; but, when it comes to cell phone use, I would be remiss in not commending them for being tactiful tableside.  In general, Europeans seem to appreciate the experience of having a meal. Also, I believe they understand the value of moderation. Americans, however, are prone to developing medical compulsions over new gadgets.

People on their phones simply can’t be bothered to eat; but the server still must “serve,” often to the dismay of the guest. The server is either bothersome for interrupting conversation, or unattentive for not being available at the very moment that the guest puts down their phone. 

It didn’t always used to be this way. Guests had a responsibility to order.  I came across a corporate  hospitality manual from 2007, from my old restaurant that states:

Guests on cell phones: If a guest is using their cell phone upon being seated, greet the guest with eye contact, and offer ice water without asking water preference.  Do not interrupt the guest’s conversation. However, remain attentive until the guest has completed their call. In order to avoid miscommunication, do not take an order while the guest is on the phone, even if the guest indicates they would like to do so.”  

Doesn’t that sound lovely? Now people expect you take their full order while they are mid-conversation, while passively scolding you,  “Hold on Hank, this guy needs an order.”  Right, you don’t need the order, I do.

Cell phone conversations are the least of my worries.  2010 was the year of Apple’s Ipad Touch (Yes, people actually bring Ipads out at dinner. And Yes, I work in a restaurant where the majority of our socially programmed  guests own one.)

Now, what can I say about the Ipad touch, other than that they are totally obnoxious at the diner table?  To begin with, they look awful in dark dining rooms, radiating a white flourescent glow, like a  bug-zapper on the back porch in summer.  Additionally, Ipads are a complete liquid liability for the service staff.  Cells phones were hard enough to avoid, but try deshelling a four pound lobster tableside, around an ipad. It’s a disaster.

But these Ipad users aren’t concerned about lobster, or eating in restaurants.  Why eat when you can finger paint, play the Magic Piano, and my personal favorite: steer your ipad like race-car, with Real Racing HD. Turn that curve, but don’t knock over your bellini, bitch! People just aren’t really “there” anymore.   

I had a couple last night on a 6:30 reso date –not a business lunch– who decided to bring both their Ipad touches with them.  The lady facebooked, while the gentleman seemed to be arranging some sort of slideshow of their dog. Atleast the lady looked up from her screen to give me her order, but the gentelman couldn’t let his eyes drift away, not even to request his steak frites (Wrong temperature, surpise.) I pictured the two of them in bed with their ipad touches, never touching, making love with their Apple applications. 

I imagine that when television was first introduced into the American home, there were critics like myself, who were concerned that it would destroy the quality of family life.  Or maybe not, maybe the intelligensia didn’t notice a shift in family interaction until it as too late (See 1992). I’d rather not wait forty years to see what the smart-technology will do to the culture of cuisine. And for the record, I do not own a television.

Dining is one of the greatest joys in modern life.  In Manhattan, there are two places where people commune: the theatre and the restaurant. The theatre has already been lost as a cultural force.  The satisfaction of thirty-second youtube clips, has forever recoded our attentive DNA. We haven’t the patience for ideas, for experiencing life in the real. The restaurant, however, still may have a chance at surviving as a communal event. Food cannot be ignored; it must be contended with; it must be eaten, and perhaps even enjoyed, if only for our survival.

What is our romance with these new technologies?  Eating, drinking, talking. These are the actions of life.  The texting, the tweeting, the tubing — they are distractions. What purpose do these distractions serve? What compels us to busy our minds with the clicking? Why isn’t the plate in front of us enough?