Tuesday, January 31, 2006 by Ospite.

The line went out the door. The wait quote was 30 minutes for a 2-4top, and 60 minutes for anything larger. We had two parties of 12 and a birthday crew with reservations for 8. Anyone who know restaurants is familiar with the fact that a party larger than six can be a nightmare for running the floor. Multiple tables have to be pushed together killing someone's section, particularly because parties spend twice as long in a restaurant as average diners. A restaurant makes its money when table turnover rate is speedy. The other night was a particularly bad night to have parties on the floor. At 7pm, it was announced I had to stop seating tables...our dishwasher had broken.

Our three most experienced wait staff came over hurredly.

1. B - "Listen, we have to turn people away! There are no dishes, we can't serve food!"
2. S - "Seriously, stop seating...the restaurant is crashing."
3. L - "I think we're going to have to close."

Rob, the gen. manager skampers over: "OK, we can't shut down because I WILL NOT shut down my restaurant. These people still need to be sat...Figure something out."

Lovely. Granted, I know that these situations are exactly why I was hired, but I figured I wouldn't be tossed into such a predicament within my first week. Somehow I was supposed appease a crowd of 45 people, keep them from leaving, maintain order, and make sure the trattoria was not going to lose money. Alright, maybe I took that last one upon myself.

Then the service manager Tina sidled up, leaned over and stated: "Our biggest investor is coming in on Thursday. We can't lose ANY money tonight."

At least my food-service instincts were honed in good time.

A well dressed gentleman and his wife wandered in, fighting their way to the front.
"How long is the wait for two?"
"I'm sorry sir, but we're looking at about 40 minutes."
"That's ridiculous!"
"Normally I would agree with you, sir. But tonight I beg to differ...our dishwasher broke. So our bus staff is washing dishes, and our wait staff/host staff, such as myself, is bussing tables. Everything has slowed to a crawl. BUT, I would still like to seat you in due time should you stay with us this evening."

A smile crept over his face and he suppressed a laugh. "I accept. Thank you for your honesty."

Each party was informed in turn as to the present situation and I was pleased to see only 10% leave. Our regulars were happy to stick it out. The managers and I proceeded to wander the floor and appease the already-sat customers. This of course required a few comped desserts and several raucous songs in Italian. Finally things settled out and we found our groove again, sans the crash. I have to admit, I enjoyed every minute of it.


Blogger Arhyarion said...

what is the significance of "top" after the number in a group?

4:17 AM  

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At your service, Ospite

I am not in the restaurant business, I am in the people business. I use every opportunity to people watch, because to me, even the most mundane is fascinating.

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