Wednesday, March 22, 2006 by Ospite.

Italians have this thing with wine. Last time I was in Siena, I ate at a tiny little hole-in-the-wall type of trattoria. The best kind. They brought over a huge jug of their own home-made house red and set it on the table, allowing me to drink as I pleased and I simply needed to inform them as to how many glasses I had. It's an interesting idea. The Italians have a flare for honesty...well, more like they'll just tell you like it is. Americans, on the other hand, will attempt a scam whenever possible.

So when I found out that the restaurant I was now going to be working in has their own vineyard and a similar policy, I was interested to see how well it works with Americans. In-house wine production certainly keeps costs down, and the mark-up is, of course, ridiculous. But no matter, we place the wine on the table just the same if they request a house jug.

Several nights ago, one of my waitresses wanders over with a confused look on her face.

"What's the problem?"

"I think I got ripped off by the 3top at 17. I brought them their first bottle of house which had maybe two glasses left. When it was gone they requested another, so I brought it to them. When they asked for the check, I inquired as to how many they had had...they said '3.' Now I know for sure they had at least 5, but I can't exactly go over there and call them liars."

"No. Unfortunately, you have to kind of bit the bullet on this one. We have to take them at our word. But before you do, let's see what we can do about it."

From across the restaurant. I could see she had placed the bill on their table and it was sitting there as they chatted away over their desserts. She was bussing a table two spots away from theirs. Now this was getting relatively late and her section was empty save for theirs. I wandered over, leaned close to her and whispered "watch this" in her ear while making direct eye contact with the youngest one at the table, and then the elest man at the table.

Our dear friend Waiter has discussed the 1000 yard waiter stare and it's miraculous effects on bad customers, so I decided to give it a whirl.

The man is right. It's a fabulous tool. Mine needs a little work, but in this instance, it smoothed things over quite nicely. The looks on their faces was something along the lines of shame and dread mixed with a touch of drunkenness. I had the waitress go over and retrieve their check while I was standing two tables away.

"May I take this sir?"
"Yeah. We forgot...we each had two glasses of the wine, so it's 6 total....not 3."
"Alright. I'll adjust accordingly. Thank you."

She brought the check back, and left them to thier now complete lack of conversation. Their exit was almost in the style of emergency evacuation and their facial expressions were roughly the same as well. The waitress returned to the table and came back to me with the check.

"How's their tip?"


Thanks Waiter


Blogger espie joans said...

hahah, that's beautiful.

5:13 PM  
Anonymous Noizu said...


I usually try to push the bottled wine over the house wine. The house keeps a lower mark-up but my tickets ring higher.

5:59 PM  

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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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