Friday, June 15, 2007

On to My Next RESTAURANT Rant...

Today I came home from work a little annoyed.

We have this little rule that if your full party is not at the restaurant when it is time to sit down, you cannot have a table. Yes, I realize this is very inconvenient for those of you who ARE at the restaurant waiting for a table. A very convenient way to get around this little rule is to be willing to order for the missing person. This will make everyone happy. As the person who is normally the last to arrive at little shindigs, I can appreciate the need to order my food ahead of time. I have a phone; I'd be happy to tell you what I want. This rule only applies to tables when we are on a wait. It is just rude to be a place-holder when there are other people who are willing to order food, eat, pay, and get out while you are just sitting there.

Here is a story about some pushy old women who bullied the hostess into letting them sit down at my table without the rest of their party:

I am what is known as the "opener" at my restaurant. I come into the restaurant about 1/2 hour before we open and I get all the stuff ready. I make tea; I cut lemons; I make coffee; I make back up coffee, lemons, and tea; I get silverware ready; I basically do a lot of shit that everyone else assumes just magically appears. I like being an opener because as soon as our waiting list disappears (and there are plenty of tables available to make sure we don't have to go back on a wait), I get to leave.

I, however, did NOT get to leave as soon as our wait was over today, due to these pushy old women-women who knew the rule and thought themselves above the rule, making my life a little bit miserable. The women sat down, with 3 other sets of silverware at the table. Knowing the rule, I kind of assumed the other women were either in the bathroom (we like to go in groups you know) or next door at the little shop. The women then ordered an appetizer to tide them over "until the others arrive". Whoa.

I took the order and got drinks then asked the hostess if she knew where the rest of the group was. She told me that they would be along in about 20 minutes, but one of the women was diabetic and NEEDED to eat. Now, I am NOT diabetic and don't really know too much about it, but I always thought orange juice was a good thing to tide you over-not spinach and artichoke dip. I was a little peeved at this point, but not too peeved. Normally, the main goal during lunch is to feed the customer and get them out in order to get the next customers to the table. I'm not saying that I rush people, but I do need to 'flip' the table in order to make some money. I'm not being greedy. I'm paying rent.

It was, however, close to time for the wait to be over, so I knew this would be the last set of people to sit at this particular table for the day. It is not that big of a deal because I could do my closing duties while the people finished eating, in theory. In reality, I did NOT finish my closing duties while the people finished eating. What did happen was 2 of the 3 people they were waiting for showed up and finished eating while I finished my closing duties. Then, as I am ready to drop off the check and go home, the last person shows up and orders, half an hour after I was FINISHED TAKING CUSTOMERS.

I then had to wait about a 45 minutes while the women chatted, all so I could collect their $4 tip and clean their table. I'm not saying that I don't appreciate the $4, so don't go getting all upset about that. I'm saying that I should not have been the one with this table. They should have waited until that last women arrived. When I again commented on the fact that the women were so late, the hostess just told me that we were almost off the wait by the time they sat down so other people weren't waiting for the table. THAT, was the point, though, wasn't it? We were off the wait so I shouldn't have had the table.

I was at work for over 8 hours today-on my feet running around for most of it. I was tired and just wanted to go home and be with my family. I'm not blaming all of my irritability on the pushy old women, just some of it. The hostess really shouldn't have picked an opener for these particular people, but I think that people who do take a long time at a table should compensate the waiter for their time. My time with my family is worth more than the $4 that the women left.

A few weeks ago, a fellow server had an even worse experience with this than I did today. Two ladies came into our restaurant at 9:30 in the morning. They left the restaurant at 4:00 in the afternoon. They left her $6. Even if you figure that table would have only 'flipped' once an hour and she would have only received $2 per table, she missed out on at least $12. $2 per table per hour is lousy, but that would've been twice as good as those two women!

I don't want ya'll to think that all I think about is money and the only reason I do what I do is for the cash. It isn't. I truly enjoy my job and have CHOSEN to be a server rather than any other profession. It isn't something I do because I'm too dumb to do anything else (I have a bachelors degree) or I can't get any other job. I enjoy working as a server. I would much rather wait on a nice and fun customer who tips normally (normal is at least fifteen percent, people) than a rude uppity customer who tips better.

But if you put it into terms of other occupations, when you go to work, you expect to get paid, right? How many of you would like to go to work one day and earn quite a bit less, just because someone felt like taking longer and not compensating you for it? If you take an abnormally long time at a restaurant, especially during busy times, please tip your server. We don't mind if you sit around and have a good time; we like it-that means you are happy and will return to the restaurant. We do mind, though, if it keeps us from paying bills!


Kathy T. said...

NOT guilty! Whee! Though I'm a turd when it comes to figuring out what to order, I do tip well and try to be considerate! Sorry you got stuck at work today. One of these days I'll pry it out of you where you work! :)

Mari said...

Shauna and Malia came and visited me a few weeks ago-they know one of the restaurants at least!!

The hostess wouldn't let them sit in my section, though. You already know how I feel about the hostess!

Kerry Woo said...

Alright, some of need to pass along the word where you work and tip you well (and get the heck out)... I don't even know you, but you deserve better! Thanks for sharing.

Amy said...

here's a question--if you hang out at a table longer than normal, what's appropriate to tip?

if I'm meeting a friend whom I haven't seen in a long time, we'll often stay at the table talking long after we're done eating. we don't do it if the restaurant is really busy, and certainly not from 9:30-4 (!!!!). and I always try to be pleasant and tip generously. but maybe my idea of generous isn't the same as a server's. would love to hear a server's opinion on this. is it always annoying? OK under certain circumstances? OK with a minimum tip of X?

Mari said...

It is hard to generalize a tip because it really depends on the restaurant. I would say a MINIMUM of $5/hour. Take into consideration what a server would make in the time that you were sitting there. If you estimate the average tip to be $3.00 ($15.00 check) and that people usually sit for about half an hour, $6 per hour would be nice. If the average tip is $6, then $12 per hour would suffice.

No, it isn't always annoying when someone sits. We do like for you to enjoy yourselves. It is just really frustrating when the restaurant is busy. I get upset when should I have the opportunity to make money because there are plenty of customers, but I can't make money because I can't get people to leave!

At my particular (weekday) restaurant, I don't mind when people come for breakfast and stay for as long as they want (not until 4:30, though-that is just ridiculous) because we (servers) aren't assigned a section-we take turns taking tables. People sitting and visiting don't limit my income because I can always take another table. At lunchtime, however, we are assigned 4-6 tables. If I have a 4 table section and 1 table never "flips," I see a huge deficit in my income!

It is ALWAYS annoying, though, if you are a high maintenance customer who never leaves!! I'm happy to keep your drinks filled and your table clean for you, but please don't stay for 3 hours and ask me for something every time I come by your table.