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Marty’s Half Dozen Chapter 5: The Bigger They Are… by Jill

Ralph had done it. His warning had been haunting me for over a week now. When someone says something that you know or fear deep down is true, their words infect you. “He’s angry.”

I’d never seen Marty angry for a micro second. But he had this thing about him. My father was a full on Orthodox Jew when he was growing up in Brooklyn. He was so Jewish that his parents sent him to a Yeshiva in Israel when he was 18. And my dad used to tell me about these Rabbis that, within 2 minutes of talking to you would know your fears and dreams and strengths and insecurities. Their level of sensitivity and insight, only surpassed by their wisdom, allowed them to instantly see into a person’s soul.

I knew Marty had this. Night after night random strangers would sit next to him and with in minutes they’d completely open up, pouring out their deepest problems and darkest secrets. Without missing a beat, Marty would pay them a compliment would light them up like a 5 year old getting the best Christmas gift of his childhood. I loved to watch him do it. Marty, giving someone the reassurance or compassion or whatever it was that person needed…like a psychologist with a cheat sheet. But always in the back of my mind, I wondered, what if he wanted to do the opposite. How easily he could decimate someone. 

Ralph didn’t mean angry like yelling at someone who cuts you off in traffic or even a bad temper.He meant the type of anger that’s vindictive and out of control. And that’s what terrified me. I had opened up to Marty so much. Where with most people, mere minutes gave Marty all he needed to bolster them, with me he had enough ammunition for an arsenal. I felt dangerously vulnerable. 

Every night since then, I prayed that Marty wouldn’t come in to Wild Child Wings. And for the week I was lucky. Until Thursday night. He had such a smile on his face. I hopped he would sit down in a booth where Jess could serve him. Or maybe next to Carolyn or Eddie as they debated the Republican agenda. 

But instead he walked right over to me, smacked the bar counter and asked,

“Jill, tonight I’m doing a full dozen! What’s Gus offering on the specials?”  

The golf ball in my throat thwarted my efforts to play it cool. There was no way I’d was going to get out the nightly wings specials, so I coughed. Then I coughed again. Then decided to go with it.

“Are you okay?”

I squinted and smiled and let out two more suppressed coughs, then held up my finger to signal “one moment” and walked into the bathroom hallway to get a hold myself. But what then? What was I going to do? Quit? It took me 6 months to get this job. Then another 3 months to learn all the ins and outs so I wasn’t a deer in the headlights every night.

I leaned against the wall and sank down to my knees. I wanted to be so much stronger than I was. The whole reason I moved to New York was to toughen up. I left with my tail between my legs, a failure, more lost than when I got there. But here I finally felt like I had done it. Found my voice, doing something I was good at and actually enjoyed. And one man, who I can’t stand up to, takes that all away…makes me realize that everything I had built was all an illusion. And he didn’t even have to try to take it from me. But then, I felt a warm hand on my shoulder.

Jill…I think it’s time you told me what your problem is with me.”

 To be continued…

 
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Posted by on October 1, 2013 in By Jill, Marty's Half Dozen, Restaurants

 

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Well, I guess this is growing up. — By Mack

I’m sitting in my boss’s office. Charlie Mandolin doesn’t call his waiters into his office except for one reason. To fire their sorry asses. And not just a regular firing. He’d let one of the managers do that. No, he’s called me in fillet me.

I’m not sure how to describe Charlie Mandolin. If you could picture an adult sized baby with glasses, a chef’s uniform, and a South Jersey accent, you just might have an idea about his unreasonable but authoritative nature. That’s Charlie, the head chef, owner, and micro-manager of everything at The Magic Mandolin, a fine Italian restaurant in the lower east side of Manhattan. I’m alone in the office. It is very compact but perfectly organized. I can’t help but stare at the cartoon on the wall.

Real 99%

The comic’s prominence clearly demonstrates that Charlie and I don’t live in the same world. That getting him to understand my point of view was going to be pretty much impossible.

Charlie enters. He doesn’t say a word. Instead he swats his hand for me to get out of the chair. When I get up he plops down and folds his arms.

“Mack, Mack, Mackie-boy. You got yourself in some hot water this time.”

What he was referring to was a wine distributor that I had waited on last night. It was a 20 person banquet. And the head guy had a serious control issues. You see, most of the time, parties that size have prefixed menus and the food is prepared ahead of time. But when the food hit the table he was mad we didn’t have one thing or another.  Even though the party had been paid for ahead of time, he kept ordering martini after martini and after the 6th one, I had to cut him off. Long story short, the guy screamed “Fuck you! You’re the shittiest waiter this side of Yonkers. I better not have a gratuity on that bill or Charlie’s going to hear about this,” and then he walked out on the party midway through dessert.

Normally, I’d have let it go and write it off as Manhattan Ass-hole Syndrome. But I’ve not been myself lately and between running around to get the guy more butter ever 20 seconds and trying to switch the menu around in the middle of the dinner rush (which got the cooks super pissed) I followed him out into the middle of 2nd Ave and punched him in the fucking face.

With Charlie in his swivel chair, yelling at the top of his lungs, threatening to not only fire me, but to call every restaurant manager in Manhattan to make sure they piss on me if I even look at a job application, I simply tuned him out. I couldn’t stop thinking about that cartoon on the wall. I had been doing the actor/waiter thing for 10 years now. 10 years of trying to get people to cover shifts and I race across town for an audition. 10 years of seeing my friends from high school and college get married, buy houses, and have children. 10 years of serving dip-shits like Charlie Mandolin who will never see me as anything but a monkey who wants to take his money so I can be a lazy screw up artist.

So in the middle of Charlie’s yelling, I opened the door to his cramped little office and walked out.

I’m sure he was surprised. He probably started yelling louder. But I didn’t care. My life had been going wrong for far too long. As I walked on to 2nd Ave in my waiter’s uniform, tie, vest, apron, pocket full of pens, I saw right where I had hit that bastard, and I knew it was time for something new. It’s time to leave New York.

—Mackified for your Entertainment

 
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Posted by on September 27, 2013 in By Mack, Restaurants

 

Marty’s Half Dozen: Chapter 2 — By Jill

Slow night.

Continued from Chapter 1.

Day 94

“Nothing ever changes, Jill.”

Marty’s lip trembles as he blinks to hold back his tears. I’m terrified. How could a person, so sensitive, so in touch with humanity, turn into this…monster? The bar is silent. Every single person’s eyes are fixed on me.  I have no idea what to do.

Marty breaks the silence. “I’m tired, Jill. Then he commands, “So pour me the drink.”

Day 5

It was a slow Tuesday at work. At first I was relieved as I was finally able to get comfortable behind the bar. But after about four hours I wanted to pull my hair out. There was me and a quiet and silly homeless man spending his “spare change?” money. I had nick-named him Sloppy Joe. I couldn’t help wishing Marty would come in. He and I didn’t really have a chance to talk the other night as I was perpetually in the weeds.

The front door opened and I sharply turned my head like a dog left home all day. But no Marty. Just a young couple. They immediately went to the back then started gratuitously making out. I could have gone over to them to ask them to order or get out, but when you’re working a painfully slow shift, you don’t really want to do anything. So I left them to their public privacy.

In your face!

Eventually, I couldn’t take it anymore and rested my head on the bar top. After what felt like seconds, I was awakened with a startling thud. Indentations in my forearms and cheek mirroring the rivets of the bar top paired with the warm apprehensive tingling sensation of the chest and neck were indicative of an ill-timed nap. I surveyed the bar. PDA couple, Sloppy Joe and…was it…could it…yes! Marty.

He was sitting in the exact same stool from a few nights ago. Black trench coat, hat resting beside him and his briefcase propped open on the bar. That explains the thud. I approached him as he sorted through his papers.

“What’ll it be stranger?”

“1/2 dozen hot buffalo wings and a club soda with lime.”

He ordered matter-of-factly, not looking up from his papers.

“Sure, you don’t want a Negroni?”

“A club soda with lime will be fine, thank you.”

Nothing. Nada. He is a customer. I am an order taker. I was a little heart broken. Maybe he had gotten drunk the other night before he came into the bar. Hell, maybe I had imagined the whole thing to begin with.

“You want those less cooked, so their not crispy, right?”

He gazed up from his papers and took a good look at me.

“And if you don’t want a drink, Can I make it a ‘Marty’s Half Dozen?”

“Why that sounds magnificent, Jill.”

He smiled and went back to his papers.

***

When his food finally came up he put his papers away and we started talking. I told him about New York and my mistakes with Mack prompting me to move back to Seattle. We were interrupted by PDA guy.

“Excuse me. Can we get some service, please?” he demanded.

“Thought you two wanted your privacy.” I quipped.

He sneered then, “Two shots of Patron.”

After dealing with him I went back to Marty. “Can you believe those two? This isn’t a motel.”

“Well, I don’t take to his rudeness, but at least you can be happy for them.”

“What? Why? It’s disgusting.”

“I guess so. But I walk through this city, riding its buses, and with the constant overcast, I find myself surrounded by so much solitude, so many grimaces, and utter contempt. It’s nice to be around someone enjoying themselves.”

“Well it doesn’t make me feel any better. It makes me feel angry. It feels unfair.”

“I know. Believe me, I know. That’s hurt. That’s loneliness. You wonder why love has been kept from you. Rationalizing that luck simply just hasn’t gotten around to you yet. But when you see two lovers there, in front of you, it’s real. Like being picked last for baseball, there’s no denying the problem is probably you. And you sink deeper.

But that breeds something dark within you, Jill. I used to have a friend. She’d  say that we should always feel the joy of others. For the longest time, I rejected that. But I’ve found that she has a point. Something magical happens when you spread the good.

“Sounds like some cheesy after-school sentiment to me.”

“Maybe it is.”

With that he left me a 20 for his wings. “Hey Marty, one thing before you go. You always do the club soda thing. You ever drink?”

“No. Never.”

“Why not?”

“Let’s just say, I lost something very very special because of it. And I’ve been wandering ever since. But that’s a story for another time.”

“And you still, ‘spread the good'”?

“Yes, I have to.”

He put on his coat, packed up his briefcase, gave me a smile, and went over to Sloppy Joe.

“Have one on me.”

Day 94

I’m still terrified, but I stick to my guns. “Marty, if you want a drink, you’re going to have to go somewhere else.”

“No Jill. You’re going to pour the drink. Or you’re next.”

And that’s when it occurred to me. That when the best of us fall, they do the most damage.

 
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Posted by on November 20, 2012 in By Jill, Marty's Half Dozen, Restaurants

 

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Marty’s Half Dozen Chapter 1 — By Jill

This one’s next to the bathrooms.

Well almost a week passed by and I had figured that my dreams of working at Wild Child Wings were never going to be more than dreams. Then, yesterday I get a call. It’s Gus.

“Jill? You wanna come in tonight?”

No second interview, no background check, no come down for an orientation and to fill out some paper work. Apparently, I’m on the schedule now.

“We’ll need you at 5:30.” Click. It was already 4:45. I rushed down to the secret Eden of Pioneer Square getting there just in time. When I opened the door Gus was on a ladder fixing one of the ceiling’s hanging fan/lamps.

“Finally, you’re here. Go get changed and I’ll show you the ins and outs real quick.” Changed? He didn’t say anything about a uniform. Maybe there were shirts in the back. I took off my leather jacket throwing it on a nearby bar stool. Doing so revealed my naked arms as I was only wearing a tank top. I was about to head to the back when Gus exclaimed, “Great, you’re changed!” He scuttled down the ladder and led me around the bar top.  “Wells are down here, top shelf up here, everything in between is everywhere in between.”

He squatted down and unlocked the coolers. “Domestic beers and white wine are in these low boys. European and Russian beers are in the far one. Ciders, sparkling water, and non-alcoholic beer are in the behind the breakage bucket.” He pointed to a bright red bucket.

As I tried to quickly develop a mnemonic device, he sprung up and continued his rapid fire explanation of locations. Simple syrup here, fresh mint there, old mint for mojitos in the grocery bag, lemons, cherries, olive juice, etc… “You’re familiar with Aloha, right?” he said pointing to the touch screen computer. “Umm…” I started to reply. But then he cut me off, “It’s pretty much like any other computer system. Just don’t run anyone’s debit card twice by accident. We open in 10, but it won’t get busy for another hour or so. I’ll be in the back fixing an air duct. Training number is 123, if you wanna practice ringing stuff in.” He picked up and collapsed the ladder. “Oh one last thing. The owner might stop in tonight.” He smiled, gave me a playful salute, then was gone.

The owner? Fuck.

From this…

I pulled out my iPhone and downloaded a cocktail mixing app and tested making a few drinks. People steadily started to come in one by one. Luckily they mostly wanted the beers on tap. Then just as it started to get busy this one guy came in. He was an oaf of a man. Could easily play the disgruntled neighbor on any 90’s sitcom. He elbowed his way into a bar stool and snapped at me. I was worried he might be the mysterious owner.

to this.

Even though I was pouring three beers, he snapped three or four more times for me. “Honey, I’ll have a Negroni on the rocks. And make it strong.” If he was the owner I didn’t want him to see me cheat on my iPhone and I was pretty sure I had made one earlier. I figured I’d fish for some information.

“What whiskey do you want?”

To which he replied, “Whiskey? Really? Does Mike know he’s employing bimbos who don’t know their drinks?” I didn’t know how to reply. My heart was beating like crazy. He wasn’t the owner, but I was sure he’d be telling him. Before I could calm myself down he snapped again, “I asked you a question, tuts!”

More and more people were coming in and crowding around the bar. I couldn’t remember which beer I had poured in which glass before the oaf started talking me. I couldn’t remember whose debit card I had just taken or if I’d even run it already. Hell, I couldn’t even remember my code to enter drinks on the computer. It was my worse than my worst waitmare.

“I’m sorry. What tequila did you want?” I guessed again.

He leaned back slapping both hands on the bar. “Wow, who’d you blow to get this job?” The world around me started to go silent. I could hardly breath. The oaf continued to lambaste me. “You know how long I’ve known Mike? I helped him build this place. When he hears that flat chested stoner chicks are running this place into the ground–”

Suddenly just before I was about to collapse, a soft spoken phrase from a bar fly on the 3 stools down cut through all the clamor and ravings of the busy bar silencing the asshole oaf’s rant.

The Stranger I would come to know as Marty.

“I think you mean Mitch. Not Mike. And he didn’t build this place. He bought. And just because the guy comped you a plate of wings opening weekend doesn’t mean you’re friends.  Now stop trying to scare the girl into giving you a free drink, let her get back to work.”

The man was soft spoken, late 40s or early 50s. He wore a light brown trench coat, glasses, and had long-ish white hair. Like how Jack’s hair is. He had a calm and confident ease and a troubled smile. And bore a slight resemblance to the actor Bruce Davison.

At this point, Gus had returned and noticed something was amiss. “Is there a problem here?” he inquired. The oaf starred locking eyes with the stranger. Then the oaf glanced at me and finally turned to Gus. “Yea, this yutz in bartender’s clothing–” but the stranger wouldn’t let him finish.

“Ralph’s had a few too many again. He’s bothering me and he’s kept this lovely creature from making drinks for anyone else.”

The oaf, Ralph, started to defend him self, “Where the hell do you get off? You think you’re so much better than the rest of us?” But Gus put his hand on Ralph’s shoulder. “Is this going to be a repeat of Cinco de Mayo?” At that, Ralph finally relented. “You know, this place has gone to hell since you took over, Gus.”  He got off this bar stool and headed out with Gus following him out.

“It’s okay. Take a breath. It’ll all come back.”

He was right. I remembered which beer was which, and served them. I went back to the computer to find a credit card receipt printed ready to be torn off and delivered. The rush died down and everything calmed.

“Sweet vermouth, Campari, and gin.”

“Huh?”

“A Negroni is equal parts sweet vermouth, Campari, gin. And an orange slice. But even if you’d have known that, Ralph’d still have told you, you made it wrong. He does that to all the new bartenders. Then he trumpets he knows the owner. Word of advice. If anyone says they know Mike or Mitch, they’re full of it. Mitch’s friends call him The Pearl.”

“Thanks for your help back there. How about a Negroni? On me of course. You can tell me if I make it right.”

“Thanks, but no thanks. Just a half dozen of the hot buffalo wings. Less cooked. I don’t like them crispy. And a club soda with lime.”

“You sure?”

“Absolutely.”

“What’s your name stranger?”

“People call me Marty.”

“Well Marty, Jill. Pleased to meet you. Maybe I can get you a couple of extra wings.”

—And that’s how we got the term Marty’s Half Dozen.

 
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Posted by on October 27, 2012 in By Jill, Marty's Half Dozen, Restaurants

 

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Wild Child Wings. — By Jill

It just doesn’t make sense.

There are essentially two places where the douche bags of Seattle hang out on Friday/Saturday nights. Belltown and Pioneer Square. Neither one under normal circumstance would I consider taking a job in. Except it’s not normal circumstances. My father wakes me up in the morning declaring “daylight’s a-burning, Jilly.” My mother enters my room randomly to find old dresses that she has decided now live in my closet.  And if I come home later than 10:30, the dog, Mordecai barks upon my entrance, waking the both parents up. I need to move out. And in order to do that, I need a job.

And that, my friends, is why I found myself standing outside Wild Child’s Wings in Pioneer Square. Mere blocks away from hobo-tent-ville on one side and the International District on the other (at least Pink Gorilla isn’t far.) I arrived for the job interview to see cops breaking up a knife fight. I figured I wouldn’t get the job. I don’t know how to bar tend. I lied on the Craigslist response.

Despite the rustic and dilapidated surroundings, the interior was surprisingly large well maintained. I expected a dive-y sports bar. The type with one pool table that either wasn’t level or the felt had been scratched to shit. Perhaps a jukebox that only played Johnny Cash next to the Deer Hunter Arcade game and a touch-screen gambling machine featuring black jack/bejewled knock offs at the far end of the bar top. But no. Wild Child Wings felt like a cross between a quaint English pub an Italian stone garden. On one floor it had leather couches, book shelves, and wooden barrels. Then in the basement cobblestones floor, a water fountain, and (fake) torch lighting. I simply couldn’t believe it. What a terrible name for such a beautiful awesome place!

The email instructions told me I’d be meeting Gus. I had expected a man in a wife beater with a hairy stomach sticking out, his remaining hair combed over his massive bald spot to await me. (Basically Mr. Panucci on Futurama.)

Who I expected Gus to be.

But Gus was actually a bearded, glasses wearing, matured hippy. Think, a tall lanky Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting. In some job interviews, they person gives you the feeling they’re testing you and if you say the wrong thing, BUZZ, wrong! and you’re done. Others follow some script handed down to them by their corporate overlords. You say anything that deviates from a Hallmark dictated professional answer and it’s over. But every once in a while you meet someone who makes you feel at home, like their friend. It’s not about answering right or even proving anything. They genuinely are interested in the experiences you’ve had and what they as a person might bring to the table. They don’t judge (or they do a great job of making you feel like they don’t.) They just share and ask you to, too.

I honestly couldn’t tell you the beginning, middle, and end of the interview. Before I knew it, Gus shook my hand, thanked me. I was leaving the incongruous heaven that was Wild Child Wings and I no idea how or why I had lied to him about 2 years of bar tending experience. I just knew I wanted the job.

 
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Posted by on October 16, 2012 in By Jill, Marty's Half Dozen, Restaurants

 

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Starting over again. — By Jill

Here we go again.

Since moving back to Seattle quite a few things have changed. Plastic bags are banned in grocery stores while paper bags are 5 cents each (no handles either!) They sell liquor everywhere but it’s taxed like 30%. Something about the state not losing revenue. There’s a Ferris wheel and a Target downtown. A lot of my old friends have either moved way out to either Everett, Federal Way, or even Portland. Oh and one other small little thing. There are like no FUCKING jobs anywhere!

You’d think having New York restaurant experience would get me somewhere. But no. No Craigslist postings for servers. They want line cooks, bartenders, and managers. And I will NOT go restaurant manager.

They become restaurant managers.

I’ve seen the coolest, smartest, and most capable people wither into mindless hopeless shadows of their former selves when they became restaurant managers. Not for me. 😦

The best response I’ve gotten so far was a job interview at a ramen place in Northgate. The manager was this creepy old man named Tadashi who punctuated each sentence with a disapproving “hmmm.” The minute I met him I could tell he didn’t like I wasn’t Japanese. He had me go through each restaurant I worked at describing each dish in detail. Then he demanded to know why I left. As if quitting a job for any other reason short of physical injury was akin to treason. He ended the interview with “I’ll let you know Monday. Hmmm. I have to hire someone I can trust. Hmmm.”

Finally I sent a resume to a bar tending job at some buffalo wings place in Pioneer Square. They want me to come in for an interview. I’ve never lied on a resume before. But how hard could bar tending be?

Could be worse. I could be this guy.

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2012 in By Jill, Restaurants

 

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Ira Glass, why do you hurt me so?! — By Jill

One of the magical and awesome things about living in New York is that you’re going to run across celebrities. And when you work in a restaurant of good reputation, there’s a decent chance you’re going to be waiting on them.  In my short year here I’ve run into or seen/served at the restaurant; Steve Martin, John Goodman, Bono, Scott Adsit, Anthony Michael Hall, Daniel Day-Lewis (three times, the last of which he was dining with Steven Spielberg,) Michael Emerson (Ben Linus from LOST and Person of Interest,) and Sharon Stone (not as high maintenance as you’d think.)

And the novelty was nice, but I honestly got sick of it pretty fast. Great, there’s a big shot who doesn’t want to be bothered in the first place, why should I piss myself with excitement? I don’t want to wait on them because of all the extra attention I’m going have to give to make sure everything’s perfect. And I can’t blow them off like I would another high maintenance customer. Actually the very idea of celebrity kinda pisses me off.  So when one of the other servers run up, squeeling with joy, exclaiming “OMG! so-and-so celebrity is on table 42! ” I just role my eyes and continue getting my drinks for the guests I do care about. It’s even worse when another guest recognizes the celebrity and then starts probing me with questions about them. “No, I don’t know what they’re eating.” “No, they don’t come in at a usual time on a usual day.” “For fuck’s sake, I don’t have time to take your picture and angle it so they’re in the back ground.”

So imagine my surprise when this man tapped me on the shoulder asking for the bathroom…

Now most of you probably won’t recognize a radio celebrity. Especially not a National Public Radio one.  But this is Ira Glass host of my favorite thing ever This American Life. At least I was pretty sure it was Ira Glass. I’m used to seeing pictures of him looking like this…

…clean shaven, scrawny, short Jewish man. The man who had tapped me on the shoulder was tall, at least like 6 feet, and he had a beard (like the top pic.) Also my associations with him aren’t visual, they’re from his distinguished voice. Oh and he’s one of my personal heroes. If you’re not familiar with This American Life. Scroll up and click on the link and start listening to it right now. There. I made another link so you don’t even have to scroll up. It’s a documentary style NPR show about very personal stories of Americans (and sometimes not Americans) and their lives. It  has stories of love, living during a recession, there was one about a teenager that hit accidentally a girl with his car (but she might have committed suicide) and all the guilt he has to carry with his life. The episode “The Giant Pool of Money” explains how the housing crisis happened but in a very accessible and entertaining way. And they did it in May of ’08. That’s MONTHS before the recession happened.  If you can’t stand radio, there’s a Showtime version of if they did 2 seasons of. The show has changed my life.  The point is I was pretty sure it was him, but not 100%. And while all this is hitting me and I’m still trying to figure out if it’s him or not, he’s waiting for me to tell him where the restroom is.

Finally I snap out of my trance and tell him to follow me (I never do that, I usually say, “It’s down the hall and to the right.”) I immediately run to my friend Alice who I got addicted to TAL, and I can barely speak. “What the fuck is wrong with you, Jill?” And I’m all like, “I think Ira Glass is here.” To which she shrugs and says, “Oh. Cool.” Blasphemy. I hope she moves away to Los Angeles.

I spent the next hour or so  periodically walking by the table intently listening to his voice trying to make 90% surety, 100%. TAL is Chicago public radio. Why would he be in New York? On vacation? But last weeks episode was new. And so is this week’s. Maybe TAL is done from New York after all.  I begged the server to let me clear his table when they were done.  Finally when the check was down. The credit card would tell all. When Tony snatchs up the check, I was right behind him. And there it was in embossed silver. IRA GLASS.

Now restaurant policy is that you never approach celebrities in any personal capacity. I feel it appropriate. But to just go up to the guy and say. “Sir, you do amazing work and it has changed my life. Thank you and don’t stop.” What would be the harm in that? But at the same time, he’s with his kids and his wife, and he’s probably pretty busy. He doesn’t need some nutty girl badgering him. Fuck it. I decide this is probably the only time I will ever see him. He’s not just some celebrity…he’s created something that touches me on a personal level and he does it every week.

The plan. Wait for him to get up from the table, as he exits say “Have a good day.” He will look up and say “Thank you.” As he smiles and waves, I’ll say “Excuse me, Mr. Glass…” and the rest will follow. Short, sweet, done.

But then Alice flags me down. She’s got this 7 top that ordered a bunch of cocktails (at lunch there’s no bartender, so we have to make them ourselves) and they are demanding to order food despite the fact that she’s making the drinks they just ordered. “But Alice…Ira!” Then I shut up and go to the table. I look over my shoulder. Ira’s still sitting. I’ve got time. The 7 top starts asking me all these stupid questions. “What type of rice is in the risotto?” “Where’s the salmon from?” “Can I substitute the spinach for a side of pasta?” “What’s your favorite thing on the menu?” Ira’s getting up.  Fuck. I start bullshitting the table. Making up answers left and right. Finally they actually start ordering. I get it and Ira’s behind me on his iPhone.

I spin around and blurt out a “Have a nice day.”

He doesn’t even look up from his iPhone.

My heart is beating like crazy.

I take a few steps parallel to him and try again. ” I hope you enjoyed everything…”

Nothing. My hero walks out the door.

I go over to Alice. “Here’s the order. Position 3 has a gluten allergy.”

 
 

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Restaurant Etiquette — By Jill

If you’ve never worked as a server, there’s probably a good chance you might be doing things that piss the wait staff off. His is a general list of faux pas;

I”ll get the big one out of they way. We’re hoping for 20% and that includes alcohol. Why wouldn’t it? I got you the bottle, the glasses, kept your glasses full while you drank it. 15% is still acceptable but unless I fucked up on your table, c’mon don’t be stingy. What you may not realize is that I actually have to tip out the support staff from my tips. That means the bussers, runners, bartenders, coffee person, host, and wine sommelier are getting a chunk of my tips. One place I worked based that number on my sales. So if your check was 100 bucks, regardless of what you tipped me 5-7 bucks was getting tipped out. So $20 yea! $10, crap, I’m only walking with 3-5 bucks. Don’t give me the “verbal tip” by telling me I was the best server you’ve ever had then leaving me 12% and don’t tell me I was so good I deserve a raise, that’s what the tips for. Also, tell the manager, not me. I know I’m good. The managers don’t always. You might get me in a better section tomorrow night or out of the dog house if one of the managers don’t like me.  Generally, tips don’t get to me. I usually get good tips and if I do get a shitty tip, it balances with really good one. So let’s move on to…

“One Timing.” One timing is the process of sending me to get your table something on multiple trips almost immediately. Remember I have 3-6 other tables I’m waiting on. I have a laundry list of things I need to get done with dozens of obstacles in the way. Multi-tasking and consolidating my steps is essential to my success. So when I bring you your refill of diet coke, then you ask me for some more dressing, I go and get it. Then your friend decided she wants extra dressing too, I go and get it. Now your boy friend wants a cup of ice to put in his Cab (I don’t know why, but someone did ask me for that this week,) you’ve just sent me one 4 trips when I could have done it in one, and now I am behind with all my tables. Oh and adding when you get a chance! doesn’t help. It doesn’t let me know “you’re on my side and that you understand.” If I got you the extra parmesan “when I had the chance” your salad would be done, you’d have finished that 1/2 portion of chicken you’re sharing with your girlfriend, and you’d be drinking your skim milk cappuccino. And for fuck’s sake don’t ask me to take your picture! It’s one thing if you see me calmly walking around or chatting with my other servers. No problem. But if you see me clearing tables or with a tray full of drinks or perhaps you notice that all the tables around you are getting sat with customers at the exact same moment, this is not the time for you to ask me to drop everything and shove a digital camera in my face. Then don’t give me 2 or 3 other fucking cameras. We live in the digital age. Email it while I get that cappuccino “when I have the chance.” Lastly, don’t tell me “it’s the button on the right.” I know how to work a fucking camera.

Cash and split the rest on the cards. You got the bill, you give me some cash and two credit cards. You want me to keep the cash and put the remaining amount on the cards. This in and of itself isn’t a problem. Here’s what is: $200 check. You’ve given me $100 bucks cash and two credit cards. I give you back to credit cards with $50 bucks on each one. You then leave $10  for each card. You and your buddies just left me a 10 percent tip. No customer ever seems to get this concept. Just because you left me cash for half the bill doesn’t make the tip go away. Or rather, I guess it does.  The only thing you could do to piss me off more is take both copies of the receipt. When you do that we get nothing. And in the case of the restaurant where we tip out based on sales, I just lost money taking your table. Thanks!

Here’s the next one. It’s 11:55 pm. You’re hungry and for some damn reason you don’t go to a bar that’s open till 4 am. No, let’s go to this restaurant that is almost completely empty and closes in 5 minutes! Now because of your hungry drunk ass; a server (or all closing servers,) 2-3 bussers, at least one cook, a bartender, a dessert guy, and a manager wait for you to get your appetizer, entree, dessert, coffee while you admire how beautiful a night it is!

Two women sat in my section last night for 5 hours. They were my first table and my last one. Here’s something to be aware of, by sitting at a table for a prolonged period of time, you’re stopping me from getting another table. So if you order another drink or two, that’s nice, but in your place, I could get a 4 top that is ordering appetizers and entrees and possibly a bottle of wine. For the most part I don’t really care that much. For some servers, money is their primary goal. Sell you the most expensive items, get you out, get the next table. For me, I genuinely do care about your experience. I want you to leave happy. So if you’re sitting there talking to your buddy, I can focus on my other tables and give them that experience.

However, I want to get the fuck out of there. Servers don’t have a time we get off. Based on how busy the restaurant is, a manager will look around the restaurant and decide if they need all the servers currently staffed. Once they feel business has died down, they will “make cuts.” Certain servers will be told they are “cut,” meaning that any new tables sat in their section will go to other servers and they just need to wait till their current customers have paid out. Let me say that again, I stay until you have paid your check. So if you find yourself in a restaurant, it’s pretty late, and you maybe notice that your server is not talking to any surrounding tables and every 10 minutes or so is asking if you need anything (or perhaps glaring at your from down the hall) there’s a good chance you are keeping them from going home. You don’t need to leave, you can keep chatting away with your friend, just ask for the check, pay, and sign the damn thing.  Those two ladies I mentioned earlier, they sat with their check for 30+ minutes. When I came to take the payment, their reply was “hahaha, we haven’t even looked at it.” They came in, ordered their drinks at 6:05 pm, I gave them their check at 10:47 pm. Even after I ran the card they took 10 minutes to sign.  I finished my paper work, changed and they were still sitting there as I left. Oh and for 5 hours + at my table they only left me 15%.

—Doesn’t believe how oblivious some people are.

 
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Posted by on January 3, 2012 in By Jill, Restaurants

 

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Why you gotta hate? – by Jill & Mack

The restaurant was frickin’ pretty crazy last night (as is the case on Saturdays.) I got a nine top and as I approached the table two more tables got sat. So starting out I was already in the weeds. I start taking drink orders. One women asks me a million wine questions. She wants a Barolo but doesn’t want to pay 100 bucks for one. Well that’s how much they cost! Meanwhile this dude from across the table starts gesturing me emphatically about something. He tells me he has “spliffs” waiting for the table. What the fuck is a spliff? Were they smoking? Anyway, I go back to the bar the apparently the guy ordered 6 half bottles of fucking Champagne. Really? He couldn’t have ordered 2 conventional bottles or even a magnum? I gotta open  6 little bottles at the table?

I get that underway while and take the order of another table at the same time.  I return to the 9 top and return to the woman who needs a Wine for Dummies to decide what she wants. Finally, I get her to make her choice (the cheap Barolo.) I go back to the bar, and one of the bussers comes up to me saying that table wants to order. “No shit they wanna order.” I get back with the bottles of wine in my hand and one of the women says, “We want to order, we’ve asked for you 3 times.”

“You see those six bottles of Champagne and these two bottles of wine. I had to get those. I had to back and forth to the front of the restaurant to get those. Plus your friend over there needed a Kettle One and soda right away. Now, I would be more than happy to put these down and take your order.” I’m not sure she knew how to react. The night was pretty much like that. Everyone had a birthday party, and everyone needed their check split multiple ways. That nine top split it seven ways to be exact.

And as the new girl I had to close which takes FOREVER. We got out around 1:30 am and one of our bartenders was having a birthday part next door.  I walk in and instantly some douche bags at the table behind me yells, “Hey bitch, we’re trying to watch the game. MOVE.”

What a fuckin’ night?

-Jillbot

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I get cut from work. I’m so glad I don’t have to close on Saturdays. I go  across to Woody’s  for Javier’s birthday drinks. Man, everybody’s there. That guy knows how to party. As I’m about to sit down, the chick from the table across from us says, “Hey, want a tequila shot?” What a way to start the night, right? Then she starts playing with my necklace. But she’s got a wedding ring, so I go chat with the rest of my group.

An hour or so later, the closers finally make it out of the restaurant. The new girl Jill, starts bitching about something. And I’m all like ,”Why you gotta hate?”
“Because that table is full of a bunch of dickwads!”
“That table over there?”
“Yea!”
“Na, they’re cool, gave me a shot when I walked in.”
“Well then why don’t you go sit with them?”

I get the details about them being assholes and I figure it’s just misunderstanding. I figure, I’ll go over to the table, chat with them, make a joke or two, tell them she was offended and then they’ll apologize.

I go over.
“Hey guys, thanks for that shot earlier–”
One guy: “Yea why don’t you buy us shots?”
I realize this wasn’t such a good idea. I make a few jokes that don’t go over too well. At that point, I probably should have just left.
“Look, my friend took offense and that wasn’t cool.”
One of the guys gets out of his chair and squares up to me.
“Yea well she needed to fuckin’ move.”
I don’t back down. His friends get out of their chairs. At this point I don’t realize how over my head I’m getting.

But what I also didn’t realize was that Javier and ALL his friends were squaring up behind me. And we probably outnumbered them 3 to 1. The owner comes over and breaks it up before it gets too hot.  I sit back down but I can feel the eyes of all those guys glaring into my back. But Javier and all his crew congratulate me for sticking up for the new girl.

Meanwhile Jill is hella embarrassed.  At first she’s mad at me for making a scene. Guess she doesn’t like attention. But we end up talking over a couple of drinks. Apparently she almost never drinks.  Been doing something called Moderation Management. Also she’s looking for an apartment. I think I just figured out our roommate situation.

-Big Mack Attack

 
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Posted by on November 20, 2011 in By Jill, By Mack, Restaurants

 

Cater Monkey – by Mack

Worked a cater out last night. Cater outs take everything I love about waiting tables and throws them in the garbage disposal. You set up heavy crap.  The management doesn’t know what they want. Tells you to move a bunch of stuff and in the middle of moving it, they rush over and tell you to wipe down other crap. Then the guests arrive and you’re a silent smiling monkey for the rest of the night.

Right as the party got started one of the managers told me to go buy some oven mitts. Really??? You didn’t think of that yesterday? Whatever. Gets me out of monkey mode. I used my awesome HTC Evo to find a Walgreens and walked 8 blocks. I could be in a commercial.  About 10 minutes after getting back, the manager tells me they’ve run out of skewers for the flank steak kabobs. Back to my Evo to find a grocery store. It was right next to the Walgreens. This time I take the subway. I get back and she says skewers are too big. Fuck. Turns out there is a small deli right next door to the event that sells exactly what she’s looking for.  Whoops.

Normally, I like serving people. Making jokes, telling them about the food. You know, doing shit. But when you’re a cater monkey, you aren’t even supposed to tell people to move when you’ve got arms full if their discarded half drunk cran & vodkas. I swear these rich fucks take one sip and just leave it there.

Then when the fuckers finally leave you gotta break crap down and clean. And there was sooo much booze. Good shit too. Dewards 12 year. Bombay Sapphire, Grey Goose and Grey Goose lime (really??? you need lime flavoring in your over priced vodka.) I managed to get a few shots of the 12 year.  Made the night go smoother.

I entertained myself by watching the stiff shirts go from uptight to drunk stupid. So many spills I had to clean up. To entertain myself, I’d watch the triangles people make with conversation. You really can’t have a gathering of more than 3 people. Sometimes 4, but that last person really isn’t part of what’s going on. Even with 3 the third is going to be left out somewhat. I like to watch when that left out person tries to get back into the conversation. But this one chick I couldn’t stop looking at. She was wearing pants, a sky blue blouse

like this—>         in this color –>    

but she was wearing one of those arm scarfs, like she was a queen.

 Whatever those things are called.  Anyway, she looked even more pretentious.

I got done around 1am and headed to Ellen’s birthday party. Got pretty wasted, I don’t remember much after that. But when I woke up I had a text from Kelly. “We need to talk.”  That can’t be good.

–Big Mack Attack

 

 

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2011 in By Mack, Restaurants