Tuesday, March 14, 2006 by Ospite.

There are three primary reasons for a restaurant to crash: Host/Front End staff set a bad pace. Wait staff is weak. Kitchen is pathetic. Combine any of those and disaster tends to ensue. As I've mentioned, I was brought on board to deal with the first one. We are almost done. After removing two members from their place and hiring two new and training them adequately, we are well on our way to successfully preparing a floor for a solid meal. The wait staff still needs a little work. So does the kitchen.

I've made a habit of walking to the line and discussing the kitchen pace with the culinary manager so as to better guage the influx of customers on any given night. If I seat the floor too hastily, or bog down certain waitpeople the kitchen will collapse from a business perspective. If the floor lacks a groove and instead feels the jarring thumbs-out, kicking motion of an Elaine dance move, the kitchen falls to pieces. When this happens, it is required that I creatively hold back the droves.

There are few things as humiliating as open tables that cannot be sat because our kitchen cannot contain the load of a 70%-full dining room.

"Good evening. There will be a 15 minute wait for a table of two tonight. Your name please?"

"Can we simply go to the bar and order food from the bartender?"

"I apologize, but the food service itself has nothing to do with the floorplan tonight, nor which waiters are where. Our kitchen has run into some trying times and thus I must hold briefly at the door."


At least honesty works with most people. I have moved past making excuses and have settled on just telling it like it is. I have found only 1 in 10 gives me a hassle. When they do, and if they leave, I am not hurt. They are the type that finds some tiny insignificant thing to complain about so as to either feel superior or get things free. They are the patrons whose business I would gladly lose. They end up costing us money. No matter what the circumstances at the front door, I will give the patron my best answer.

Sunday evening was running smoothly. The groove was good, the floor was full. The wait was only 5-15 minutes depending on party size, and the turnover rate was wonderful. In walks the 27year old queen of the world. I could tell upon her entrance that I was supposed to bow. Clearly I should have received that memo. Eye contact shocked me. Meaning that she made any with the Help. I swear I saw a leash on the puppy of a boyfriend, but when I blinked it was gone.

"2. Table for 2."

"I have the perfect table for you. The two occupying it now are leaving as we speak. It shall be bussed and I will take you to it. I suspect a 5 minute wait at most as the other party departs."

"I don't want to wait. If I can't be sat immediately we're not eating here."

"I'm sorry for the inconvenience."

She stormed out to her car: 1.5 minutes. I assume the following they did as well... Drove to a nearby restaurant of similar menu: 2.5 minutes. Walked from car to door: 1.5 minutes. Demanded to be sat immediately: 1 minute. If they were in fact sat immediately: 45 seconds to walk to the table and sit. Total: 7.25 minutes. It is times like these I wish the waitstaff could see what I really do for them each and every night.


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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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