Friday, January 18, 2008

How to ensure your co-workers won't key your car

And other helpful hints.

Nothing brings co-workers together like venting about the slacker. What I have found is that the slacker usually doesn't realize that they have been appointed resident scape goat. I have been there and it sucks. You leave work one day and all is fine, the next day you come in and no one will speak to you or look you in the eye.

Sometimes it is your fault...sometimes it is just your turn.

Here are some things you can do to keep your time in the corner from being too frequent or extended.

1) Do not be a slacker on the sidework.

This is the number one issue that many find unforgivable. The work has to get done and it will get done. The only thing is, if you aren't doing falls to your less than grateful team members. It is a form of theft. You are stealing someone else's time.

We all have emergencies that pull us out of work early, but if you have a gravely ill child/roommate/parent on a weekly basis or more than four dead grandparents... no one is buying it.

If you are assigned to roll 50 set ups, roll 75 so no one can say anything. If you are assigned to keep the drink station stocked, keep up with it all shift. Don't wait until all the straws, lemon, napkins, and ice are gone before you bring more. Me personally, I am constantly in motion with my sidework. When I am cut out of rotation, I usually only have 10-15 minutes of work and my paperwork. Some of my co-workers will lean on the bar when it is slow and gossip. They won't clean or stock anything. Once they are cut, they are stuck with an hour of sidework and I STILL get out before they do, even if I am a closer.

2) Don't be a tattler

This one is tough because there are times you really should go to management with concerns. I have found that management usually doesn't care who is gossiping about who. They don't care who is slacking off. They don't care if a server gives bad service or is rude to guests. I know this sounds cynical, but I have found that managers are usually overworked and snowed under with all the details involved in running a restaurant/bar/club. They don't care who didn't stock the bread baskets last Tuesday. When you should probably go to management is when theft or illegal activity is involved on restaurant property. Otherwise, just mind your own business and worry about your own yard. You will get a reputation as a whiner otherwise.

3) Gossip is a four letter word

About the biggest mistake we ALL make is getting involved (friends/romantically) with our co-workers. It is so easy though. We work the same hours, have the same gripes about the workplace, we have cash burning a hole in our pockets, we aren't ready to go to sleep yet, and the local bars offer shift drinks and late night meals. It is so much fun to go have some drinks and cut loose with our coworkers, but it can have some sobering repercussions.

a) Making buddies with your coworkers always brings personal drama into the workplace. No good ever comes of it.

b) It can fuel horrible gossip wildfires that nothing can put out...especially if someone tends to run their mouth when drinking. Having a couple of drinks with the team sounds fun until your judgment gets clouded and you tell your barback how no one likes him.

c) Two words.....Love Triangles.

As hard as it is, the best way to keep work as drama free as possible is to keep your worklife and personal life as separate as possible.

Also, regarding gossip. Don't respond to it, don't pass it on, and don't believe it. You will be thankful for it when it is your turn to be the "Treat of the week".

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Endear Yourself to Me!!

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With the Holidays already upon us, I am thinking about my wish list. Might I indulge in some fantasy with you all?

Now I realize that Guests are not there for our convenience. We are there for THEIR convenience. Their convenience pays our bills. I am keeping this in mind as I write the following. (So don't get all aggro on me)

Don't ask questions with subjective answers.

"Is the potato salad TOO mustardy"? What are we supposed to say? "Yes, we make it too mustardy on purpose so no one will like it"

"Is the sweet tea TOO sweet"? "Why yes ma'am. If the spoon does not stand straight up on its own, we just keep adding sugar until it does." Also, ordering half and half tea is lame. Either you want sweet tea or you don't. I will let you in on a secret. If someone orders half and half tea, I just give them unsweetened. It saves (me and them) a lot of aggravation. Sweetness is subjective anyway. I have never had a complaint serving unsweetened tea for half and half tea. I HAVE however, had half and half tea sent back for being "too sweet". Anyway, why haven't these people heard of Atkins? Diabetes? Splenda? Sugar is the new second hand smoke.

"Is the smoked chicken good"

"No, actually it is horrible but they keep it on the menu for some reason"

Don't Order "in between" temperatures

"I want my Steak between medium and medium rare" Ribeye cooked medium rare coming right up.

Make a commitment. This isn't a tattoo. Again, we are falling into subjective territory. My medium rare might be tartare to you. I am not trying to be difficult or Diva-like I promise. The fewer instructions I have to give the kitchen, the less chance of your order getting screwed up.

Restaurants are not the place to explore your culinary creativity.

If you want to anger the cooks, the owners, and management, I would say the best way would be to recreate a menu item so that it no longer resembles the menu. Now, asking them to add cheese or bacon to a sandwich is not a problem. Asking to leave off lettuce and problem. Here is an example of when it becomes a problem.

"Yes, I would like the cobb salad please. But instead of iceberg lettuce I want you to use romaine. Also, please leave off the egg, cheese, tomato, and avocado. Add some pine nuts and extra croutons...and mix up ranch and bleu cheese together...and serve it on the side."

Seriously folks, I have had the line cooks crumble up tickets and throw them in my face when putting in orders like that. It makes progress come to a screeching halt. The reason why this never works is that in chain restaurants, most of their food comes frozen, pre-packaged and pre-portioned. The "cooks" basically are microwaving, deep frying, and garnishing. Everything is already in the food.

In the family owned eateries, it is simply insulting and rude to ask them to completely alter a recipe because you "want it how you want it" On a nicer note...OPEN YOUR MIND. Try the recipe "as is". You might find you actually LIKE dried cranberries and oranges in your Asian chicken salad.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Putting on the Apron

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Do you have what it takes to be a Server Extraordinaire?

1) Are you able to work under intense, short term stress?

2) Can you multi task with the best of them?

3) Can you communicate effectively?

4) Are you able to "read people" to get an idea of what their needs are?

If you answered yes to these questions, you might be qualified to put the apron on.

Do not get into the Service industry if...

1) You think Serving is a nowhere job.

2) If you do not care about people

3) If your feelings are easily hurt

You absolutely SHOULD try Serving if

1) You think it easy

2) It pains you to leave more than a 10% tip, even for excellent service.

3) You think that servers could not find better jobs elsewhere.

Please, give it a try. We welcome fact, we fantasize about it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Why would anyone want to wait tables??

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I am sure some people wonder why ANYONE would choose to wait tables for a living as opposed to something more "respectable". You don't need a college degree to it. It SEEMS easy, right? You write down orders, bring out food, fill drinks, and collect money. Isn't it just glorified fast food work?

If you think that, then you have never worked for tips before.

Yes, it can be a thankless job. You walk up to a table and greet your guests only to have them barely nod at you. They send you back three times for drinks because each soda flavor tastes flat. (It doesn't matter that you told them before that they ALL will be flat because the carbonation comes from the same place.) They take plates out of your hands or grab things off your tray. They "one more thing" you to death (sending you on four trips what could have been taken care of in one) They sit and visit long after closing, making you miss valuable sleep, study, or family time. Then they leave you a tip that doesn't even make it worth it the time you lost. You never know if you are going to make 1000 dollars that week, or 300 dollars. Those are some of the downsides to waiting tables.

The upsides are numerous. You can make wonderful money in a short amount of time. Depending on the state you live in, you can make anywhere from $2.13 per hour or $8.00 per hour, depending on wage and labor laws. When you count tips, you can average about $20.00 per hour. YOU have some control over your income. You can work as many or as few hours as you choose. Most people do not mind tipping well for good service, so if you are a thorough conscientious server, you can make excellent tips. Some servers complain that they never have enough money to pay their bills, so they want to give it up and go get a "real job" with a real paycheck. Good luck with that. I used to think that I never made money as well until I started keeping track of my tips when I was buying my home. I was amazed at what I ended up making in a month. Keep a tip journal and be amazed. When I was working at a moderately busy family owned eatery, I was making an average of $700 per week. It simply did not seem possible. There were days I left work, having made only $50. I made the majority of my cash on the weekends. I averaged almost $400 on a good weekend. $100 per shift was the average weeknight dinner shift. I compared notes with some of my college friends who actually finished college and were embarking on wonderful careers...and I made more money than many of them. In addition to that, my work was enjoyable and I could leave it at work when it was time to go home. Any problems disappeared as soon as I clocked out.

Once, I got a good routine going that worked for me....the work became enjoyable and easy. It is perfect for a college student. You can make decent money in a short shift. (most serving shifts are 6 hours or less). It is cash in your pocket daily and you won't go hungry.

Of course it is not for everyone. If you think you are just going to write down orders, plop down plates of food, and walk home with pockets full of are sadly mistaken. Keep reading to see if you have what it takes.

Welcome to "Ask the Waitress"

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Welcome to my brain child!

I post on various message boards. They cover everything from religion and politics to family and hobbies. I have found one topic that always gets a lot of attention. DINING OUT.

Everyone dines out, works in a restaurant, or has, at one point in their lives, put on the apron. On these threads people will vent and rave about their dining out experiences. Servers will vent about rude guests and poor tippers. Guests vent about poor service or the unfairness of tips.

That is when it occurred to me to create a place on the web exclusively for talk of this sort.

What are my qualifications you ask?

Well, for starters I am a server/bartender. I work in a famous fine dining steak house. I also work in a family owned Bistro for lunch as well as pick up free lance bar tending work for private parties and catering. I can also speak with some authority as a guest/customer as well. In my 30 something years on this Earth, I have probably done more dining out than cooking. I know what is reasonable to expect from a dining experience.

Please feel free to comment on any of the topics. Feel free to disagree. Just as long as you realize I am always right, we will get along JUST fine.