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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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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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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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