Tag Archives: waiter blog

“Don’t Pee for Me Argentina!”

23 Jan

I find myself really losing my “censor” at the table.

Tonight I had a PPX (that’s super important for you civilians) 12-top of asses. One of the guests, let’s call him Ken, was particularly successful at making my shit-list, and raising my heart-rate.

Ken prides himself on being an investor for a worth-less-than-piss South American wine. His wine is so bad that it is our designated freebee; we just give it away to people. He insisted on ordering liters upon liters of said Third-World Kool-Aid for his table, and taking the opportunity to make of photo-op of the dinner, thumbs-up and all, holding his wine as if to say, “Look mom, I made a wine.” Did I mention that he didn’t know what a Malbec was, and he makes wines south of the border. Hmmmmm.

Ken was an alcoholic. How do I know? Well, he was as nicely dumb as could be, until he got five drinks in him and became something larger than life, a reality TV show caricature of someone playing “incensed.”

The table was flawless, but, as usual, there had to be drama surrounding the birthday. Always drama around a birthday; I need to write a whole separate post about birthday dramas. Anyways, I was slammed at the moment the 12-top needed dessert. I managed to get six orders from the drunken idiots, but then needed to great a table, and come back to them. I honestly didn’t think anybody would notice I was gone for one minute, considering I had to literally clap my hands to get them to see me.

Ken didn’t like my plan. When he noticed I didn’t get the rest of the table’s dessert order in one sweep, he got up, came over to me, and while I was greeting my new table, grabs me by the arm and he starts to lambast me, “You didn’t take half the table’s dessert order. Where’s my wine I ordered? It’s her birthday and you didn’t even offer her anything for dessert!”

I waived down another server to pick up the greet where I left off, and then returned to Ken’s table. Ken pointed to the birthday girl and started yelling, “It’s her birthday… don’t you know! And we ordered a bottle of wine twenty minutes ago, where is it?” He’s yelling at this point.

“Sir,” I said. “You’re wine is right here, I’ve been maintaining the glasses all the time. Now, can you see anyone else who needs a glass? No. And yes, I know that half the table has yet to order dessert. My apologies. I was just about to finish that, if you would be so kind as to let me complete the order?” And yes, I do speak with people in this kinda stilted British over-the-top way, just to shame the fuck-faces.

He looked a little dumbfounded and commanded me, as if he was a silly little Dauphin, who had a Whipping Boy his whole life, “I need a glass of wine! And she needs DESSERT!”

At this point, the censor was gone.

“Just sit down, and lemme’ do my job, okay? Thanks,” I said.

That shut him up. Poor Ken. Drunk on his own Argentinian produced piss. He tried to apologize in his own popped-collar manner, after I had brought out the bday girl’s cake. I wasn’t accepting apologies tonight. When he asked where his wine was, I just put some coffee down in front of him and said, “Drink this. It’s better for you, at this moment, Sir.”

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Xenophobia

30 Dec

I am a masochist when it comes to foreigners: no matter how many times I’ve been stiffed, I just keep smiling.

Last night I had a section of Aussies, Italians, Brits, Indians, and Norwegians (in that order.) I didn’t have a single American table. First the Aussies left nothing after holding my table for three hours, then the Italians profusely thanked me by leaving $20 on $556 (“Grazie?”), and the Brits left their traditional Medieval tithe of 5%.

At my old place, I could just ask management to slap 20% on the bill. Unfortunately at my current establishment, you have to wait for the table to slight you, then you can ask for a manager to “talk” with them. As you can imagine, this policy is just embarrassing and ineffective.

As a waiter, I am not motivated by tips. I don’t do a better job if I think there is going to be a “fat tip” at the end of the night. I do a good job because I am just wired that way; I take pride in my work. I think most of us in the industry share this attitude. Waiters don’t walk around thinking, “Oh, I better get her drink now, or they aren’t going to tip me.” If we did, we’d all go crazy. Now, that said, when you realize you’ve been working all night and you’ve contributed twenty-two dollars to the tip-pool, reality sets in and you realize that indeed, you need some Goddamn tips or you’re not gonna’ be able to pay the rent.

Enter the Indian kids who turned me into something out of the French Revolution. Indians, (Yes, “Indians,” I’m just gonna’ start making mass sweeping statements about nationalities, so brace yourself ((I earned it)). No, let me qualify this statement a little further before I’m accused of being Xenophobic, rich Indians.) Rich Indians are even worse than the most loathsome, offensive group of international diners that the world has ever produced: Spaniards. Spaniards are simply insane, but rich Indians are not only insane, they’re emboldened. You would be emboldened too if you grew up in a country where more than 160 million people are rendered “Untouchables,” by an ancient caste system.

Well Mr. Kunadharaju, this is Manhattan, and while you might be able to get your government friends to kill me and get away with it in Bangalore; while you are here, you cannot hiss at my Bengali busser like that, and you certainly cannot leave us twelve bucks in cash on a five hundred-dollar tab. Oh the rage, the rage.

And you wanna’ know what I did? I went New York on him. I smacked that check presenter with his twelve singles in it back on his table, and said, “Keep it.” He seemed confused, and insisted, “This is for you!” I then gestured grandly to the twenty front of house staffers working the floor, as if he was a child visiting the zoo for the first time. I pointed to all the animals by name, listing about thirteen servers, bussers and runners in total, “You see [insert server name here], and —-, and —-, and this is my friend —. We all work here for fun. Please, keep this!” And you know what he did? He took the twelve bucks! Took it!

I just laughed, and moved on to the Norwegians.

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.

The Grand Manner: A Waiter Rant

20 Oct

TheInsideWaiter is about to take an unprecedented step: rant on another waiter.

We all perform as waiters; we play the part.  It’s hard to approach hundreds of strangers every night without a mask, or a costume for that matter (I remember one time my restaurant ran out of aprons, and I felt completely naked approaching tables). Some waiters, however, take the waiter-act to a tragic extreme.

[ENTER, the waiter from Vice Versa].

After walking past Vice Versa about seventy times on 51st st., I decided to try it out with my boyfriend and his parents, who were visiting from San Francisco.  Unfortunately, nobody told our waiter that we were in Hell’s Kitchen, not a period Restoration Drama. He simply was too much.

Every bow, every grand manner, felt like an affront. He delivered the menus with such magical pretension, that I half expected wild white doves to fly from the pages.

Selecting the wine was a scene in itself: “The Frog’s Leap Sauvignon Blanc, Sir.” Our waiter presented the bottle before my guest like a loaded revolver. Were we about to make a toast, or commence a round of Russian Roulette?  Our waiter performed the latter circumstance. And we all know that a gun presented in Act-I, must go off in Act-III.

I don’t think my San Francisco guests knew what was happening to them; they had fallen under his server spell; but me and my New Yorker comrade knew better: this waiter was a first-class jerk, or just another failed forty-something actor with a four person audience. Either way, we were stuck with an unwanted 7pm matinée, and a waiter who was delivering lines like we were the geriatrics in attendance.

I can’t really complain about the service; it was impeccable; indeed, our server didn’t miss a beat, and I envied him for having such an attentive, communicative support staff.  His intoning just made the experience so uncomfortable, that I couldn’t enjoy it.

I started with the Insalata Di Cuori Di Palma con Avocado, Pomodoro, Basilico e Salsa di Limone (That’s Italian for a sophisticated, but surprisingly small, hearts of palm salad, at $14.00).  I went with the server’s recommendation for the main, “The Strangled Priest,” pasta with duck ragout and black Gaeta olives ($19).  The pasta was a little overcooked, and the duck ragout wasn’t really a ragout, so much as dry duck with tomatoes.  I needed crushed red pepper to get through it.

As far as our waiter was concerned, we were nibbling away at ambrosia.  He kept the act up through the final bow, bill in hand. I felt a little bad for him; but I swear: You make me go to a matinée, and I’ll be the one using that revolver.

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.

Waiter, I’d like a “Pinot.”

13 Oct

“I’d like a Pinot,” many a guest will tell me, perusing the bottle list.

Unfortunately, “Pinot” has become the accepted moniker  for “Pinot Noir,” and the phrase “I’d like a Pinot,” is often a red flag for snobbery, much like the word “appee” is a sure sign of douche-baggery (See my post Spreken Ze Douche.)

If I want to one-up the snobs I reply with, “Would you like a Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Meunier, or Pinot Grigio?”

Inevitably they want a Pinot Noir, but the real problem is that people who say “I want a Pinot,” really have no idea what they want, even if it’s a Pinot Noir.

There is ONE underlying factor that determines what someone who says “I’ll have a Pinot” wants, and it has nothing to do with region, taste, year, or food-pairing.

Usually the conversation goes something like this:

Waiter: “What region?  Would like an old world Burgundy, or something from Oregon, California or perhaps New Zealand?”  

Snob: “I don’t know.”

Waiter: “Well… are you looking for light, soft, fruit-foward Pinot Noir, or something darker, earthier, with more tannins and spice?” (Of course, the best wines  may have all these qualities, but it’s a start.)

Snob: “Ughhhh…. I don’t know.”

Waiter: Let’s go by food pairing. You’re getting the filet, and she’s getting Monkfish, so how about something dry, medium bodied, with ripe fruit for the fish, yet enough tannins for your filet? Let’s look at this Oregon…

Snob: Uhmmm, okay. But I’m still not sure if…

Waiter: I love this winemaker here… (Snob sees price; $162 dollars).

Snob: No— no no. I’ll have to look at this a second…

Waiter: There’s also a similar Pinot Noir, not quite as complex, from Central California… (Snob sees price $54.)

Snob: Oh. We’ll try that. Sure, why not?

See, “I’ll have a Pinot,” also means “take me to the $50 dollar bottle,” which isn’t problematic except when you are being directed to the $50 dollar bottle of Pinot Noir (Thankfully my restaurant doesn’t even bother with $50 bottles of Merlot, “No-no0-na-no.”)

“Take me to the $50 bottle you’d drink,” is indeed a very good question to ask a waiter, because the waiter will know exactly what delicious bottle to recommend. The guy who can ask for his price point right off the bat is certainly going to get a better bottle, than the snob who pretends to not care about the price.

Lesson learned? I hope so, Mr. Pinot.

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