Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Restaurant Rant

I love the restaurant industry, well most of it. I love going out to dinner. I really don't like the type of people who tend to work in the restaurant industry (drunks, criminals, drug addicts). Food tends to be my passion so a bad restaurant experience tends to leave a bad taste in my mouth (pun intended). A bad server, host, or bartender can ruin an experience.

But I've also encountered quite a few disgruntled customers in my day. You know, the ones who come in looking for a problem so they can get something free. As a restaurant employee, you're usually told to "leave your problems at the door", too bad the guests couldn't do the same. Here's some of my stories:

-Some regulars at the restaurant I work at came in over the weekend and ordered grey goose martinis. The bartender made multiple martinis with grey goose and each time they were sent back by the table, who said "she's not pouring grey goose". I don't know how many glasses of grey goose were wasted but I know it's not the cheapest vodka. The problem was finally resolved after a new bottle of grey goose was opened and poured tableside.

-A few weeks ago we were really busy- our wait was 2+ hours for a table. A woman came in and asked for a table for 4 and was told of our wait time. She immediately threw a fit "YOUR WEBSITE SAYS YOU DON'T REQUIRE RESERVATIONS... I CALLED AND WAS TOLD YOU DON'T NEED RESERVATIONS". This lady made a scene in front of our packed bar and walked away extremely angry. The maitre'd was able to get her to return and she showed us the print out of "our" website. I looked at in and almost laughed out loud. She was looking at dinesite.com. If you don't know it by now, you should never trust a website other than a restaurant's official website- and even then it can be sketchy. The maitre'd tried to make her happy by telling her a table would be leaving soon and he would bump her up to the front of the line (we had quite a few reservations waiting and about 8 people on our wait list) but that would not make her happy. She left while ranting that we need to change our website. HA! You need to learn how to use the internet.

-A man came in and immediately asked "is your valet allowed to block off both lots out front?". We have it in our lease that our valet gets both front lots to use. Then he asked "well where can i self park then?", we told him that he can park in the back or in the parking garage. "well that's not what your valet told me, he said i'd have to go over to XXXXX and park". I later found out that the valets tell guests this because there is the possibility of getting a ticket or towed when you park in the back or the garage when you don't sign in with security for the building. So we apologized for the man's inconvenience of having to pay $5 for valet parking. He then requests a table for 2. We let him know that the dining room will be opening in about a half hour but he can sit at a booth in the lounge until then and get drinks and possibly an appetizer (our lounge opens at 4 but the dining room doesn't open till 5 because the staff needs to set all the tables- this is fine dining we're talking about, not Burger King). The man exclaimed "I want a nice table in the dining room for my mother and I to enjoy our dinner at". We explained to him that we could get him a table in the dining room shortly. "I don't understand what the difference is if I sit here or over there". We told him the staff was not ready for tables in the dining room. "Unbelievable, you know if I owned a restaurant I would want to make sure that all my guests are happy" and then he walked off. We kinda stood there in shock for a few seconds. Why do some guests refuse to follow the rules? Are you really that impatient and important that you have to give us a hard time?

I could go on and on but those are a few of my most recent stories. I guess the moral of this post is just to remember that when you go out to eat, try to understand what is going on behind the scenes and be a little more understanding. It could be your server's first day. The kitchen may be short handed because someone had to leave for a family emergency. In a restaurant and in our everyday lives, we need to be careful with how quickly we respond to a situation because you never know what's going on in another person's life. Your server may be moving a little slowly today because it's their first shift back after their grandfather's death- so it makes them feel really good when you start yelling at them because you got a regular coke instead of a diet.

I'll end my post with one more tidbit. When it comes to tipping, remember your server is probably only making a few dollars an hour so be a bit generous. Anything below 18% means the service was not too good, 18-20% means the service was good, and about 20% means the service was really good. I hope this post made some of my fellow restaurant employee friends laugh and made everyone else learn a thing or 2 about what goes on inside our heads.