Sunday, April 29, 2007 by Ospite.
2 notations

Every shift there is a table that all the other waiters are envious of. Whether it be their demeanor, their excessive wine count, whatever. The make-up of this table is all relative. My turn was with 5 ladies ranging from 35-45 years old. And it was a birthday. And they started drinking at the bar already. This is my kind of table.

Most waitresses hone the flirting skill to use at tables with men who are hoping for a little extra service along with their food. The good ones can get a table of guys wrapped around their little finger.

Waiters have a different approach...the cute, loveable, mildly flirty, exceptionally polite, witty, and chivalrous man gets the best tip. It's even better when it's a birthday celebration. It means I get to sing.

Women get a certain way when they're sung to...I'll leave it at that.

So this smashing gaggle of girls was a complete riot. There's always one that takes the lead, is the primary talker and the decision maker. In this particular case, she was 38, blonde, dressed very nicely and bearing a remarkably bright rock on her left hand, and noteably beautiful. She was also the most flirtatious.

Prima Signora: "Ok, so who's drinking what here? I'm going with white, you two always do red, and you two always get what I get. Should we grab glasses or a bottle?"

Me: "Well, with a bottle you average about 4 full glasses. You want a bottle of each?"

Seconda: "Ha! I'm keeping my eye on're good. Up-sell, up-sell, up-sell." which she followed with a wink.

Me: "You kidding? 5 fabulous ladies out for a night on the town? You better believe I'm getting you as much alcohol as possible."

Prima: "Oooh. I like you. And I like the way you think. Give us a sauvignon blanc...this one here, and a DOCG Chianti."

Me: "Well, I certainly like you and the way you think. I'll be right back."

The wines flowed freely and the conversation grew to deafening volumes. I was fine with this, the Trattoria was particularly loud already, and it kept me informed as to their enjoyment level. Finally the birthday cake presentation was underway, I sang, they melted, and eventually I dropped the bill.

Prima: "Ok, let's close this up so we can go over ot the bar."

Me: "Oh no you don't. If you're staying in this restaurant, there's no way I'm letting you leave this table."

Prima: "Aren't we holding you up? Slowing your turnover?"

Me: "Of course. But I get a kick out of you ladies. You're my table of sanctuary. My other tables are stuffy and uptight and clearly not having any fun. So I come over here as a relief. In fact, I may keep you here until we close."

Prima: "You see this? This is my phone number."

..she wrote it on some paper in front of her...

Seconda: "He's married remember? He's not going to cheat on his wife with you."

Prima: "Hey, married people don't cheat. They have affairs."

Seconda: "Not gonna happen." She snatched up the piece of paper.

Me (trying not to laugh uncontrollably): "now that we know who's really running our lives, shall we drink?"

Prima: "Of course. Grey Goose and tonic...heavy on the goose, and two limes."

The rest ordered dessert and drinks and they remained for almost another hour. What I had said to them was not a lie. Certain tables you find relaxing to be around and it's a pleasure to have them there. Sometimes the sanity is worth slowing the turnover. And sometimes if you're lucky enough, the tip ends up more than what two tables would have been. They ended up literally being my last table of the night. I added up my checks and went to cash out. Their tip made up 1/3 of my earnings for the night. You can be sure I'm keeping an eye out for them again.
by Ospite.
2 notations

Normally it takes something pretty significant to for the management to up and actually fire an employee where I work. We haven't figured out why exactly, but it seems that when it's time for someone to go, they simply are no longer scheduled to work rather than there being a comfrontation. Personally I think it shows a certain amount spinelessness in the management. There are some people that just need to be fired.

The Jackal flat out hated working at the Trattoria, but we're not entirely sure why. Had her level of professionalism been higher, her shifts would have been better, her money would have been better. It was clear she wanted to do as little work as possible, pulling no weight at all. Her status in the restaurant was voluntary.

Then came the No-Call/No-Shows. This is not a good move for any server, but for some reason, the members of our staff that are the least important seem to get away with it, as if it is almost expected of them. This is frankly pathetic. The moment that Dre or I, or someone else on the training team pulled something like that, we'd never hear the end of it. But when the Jackal does it, she squeakes by with barely a reprimand.

That is until the NC/NS became routine with her. Several shifts went by and finally she was called in for a meeting. She was put on suspension and not allowed to work for a week. How she was making her bill payments, I'm not entirely sure. So if work didn't matter in the first place and she skipped 3 straight days, I'm going to guess that a 7 day suspension would feel like a vacation.

On day 6 of her scheduled absence, she came in to meet with one of the managers. They had quite the intense conversation in the back of the restaurant (though still on the floor) during the dead hours. She seemed upset that she was making no money and she needed to work. Said manager claimed she would receive another fresh start but had to go above and beyond her normal efforts in order to regain the good graces of the big wigs. They returned her to the schedule.

Her first shift back she was "sick" for and had to call in. The second one was another NC/NS. It was not until then that she was called and relieved of employment over the phone. Her shifts were given away and she will get no further chances. We have not heard from her since.

Next up: Pornstache. The man who, though in his forties, married with several children and a foster child, constantly made creepy comments to the younger male bussers and dishboys. His nickname is derived from, well, his vintage-style "pornstache" mustache. He had a rumored reputation of being a thief, was generally disliked by customers, and often was hopelessly ridiculed by the rest of the wait staff due to his ridiculous behavior. He was the only waiter I ever had a customer say they didn't want waiting on them.

His tableside manner was all money-oriented. His annoying habits were looked past because his sales were the highest in the Trattoria. His policy was to push each table along as fast as possible to create ideal turnover, whether or not he felt it would effect his tip. He became rude and had previously been demoted from the training team based on customer complaints.

Finally enough was enough. He had a record amount of complaints. This particular customer made brutal conversation with the top of our food chain, commenting on his attempted dissuading of the patrons order particular dishes, heavily pushing wine on them, and because flustered when they would not order dessert. He too received the Phone Call.

The news was not spread until the following evening. Dre was given the task of leaking the information to the waitstaff. Like wildfire, word was out that He was gone. On a note that was both sad and humorous, I have never seen the mood of a staff become so jovial so fast...and this simply from the canning of one particularly unmissed employee.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007 by Ospite.
8 notations

The plan was to bring 6 roses in 6 installments, paced and separated by 6 cards throughout the couple's meal.

The same-siders were giddily enjoying their evening despite the gentleman's visible nervousness. Mark was trying to give them their space while allowing for proper service all at once. She seemed happy, yet not entirely playing along.

It came to the end of the meal which drew out the remaining 6 roses, bringing closure to the dozen, and as Mark cleared some dishes and left, The Proposer prepared. Eavesdroppers were perched nearby.

With the best of intentions, and the cheesiest follow-through, he popped the question...only to be met by the subtle sidestepping of a women not entirely sold on the idea. She bobbed and weaved in search for a way out, keeping composure but obviously not having the guts to shoot him down in a public place. Perhaps that was why he chose our trattoria.

Finally she caved. She agreed and the dessert followed.

At the end of the meal, The Proposer handed Mark his tip...nearly the equivalent of Mark's entire earnings for the evening prior to this table. Virtually a 100% tip.

Some time has passed since this event and the hubbub has died down. Or did until...

The woman returned to the restaurant during a shift I was not working due to my injury. Rumor has it, she was in with yet another gentleman...again sitting on the same side of the booth with this one. Heavy flirting was witnessed. It is alleged that her finger bore no ring.
Sunday, April 22, 2007 by Ospite.
3 notations

...I hurt my hand Friday night and typing is a grand annoyance. Hold tight while I wade through the pain. The Proposal: Part II will come soon enough.
Thursday, April 19, 2007 by Ospite.
6 notations

He came in about 90 minutes from close, a stack of cards and a dozen roses.

He made a reservation for two and arrived 30 minutes prior to drop off said items. The date was waiting to be picked up but he wanted all details perfect and clear with the waiter. Mark set up the table away from the rest of the dining room, since this guy planned on popping the question.

There was an air or mild humor and suspence with a dash of nervousness thrown in. Mark particularly didn't want to screw anything up, seeing that this was a bit of a big deal.

Then they walked in...and we all looked at each other, a bit confused.

We'd never seen the guy before, but the woman was a regular. A regular who's never in with the same guy. She tends to dress with a bit of promiscuity, sits on the same side of booths with her comanion, gets a little "handsy" from time to time. And this was our first time ever seeing the Proposer...
Monday, April 09, 2007 by Ospite.
9 notations

We trekked to Buffalo for Easter Sunday this year. The In-Laws live there, and seeing that it had been awhile since we'd visited, they found us at their dining room table for a nice meal of steak and potatoes. Not your normal Easter dinner, but they did have a butter lamb on the table, which my brother-in-law happily decapitated. While warmly digesting in the living room, we enjoyed the Master's and some of the most off-balance greens work I've seen in a long time. Not to mention Tiger's almost-crying losing face. Sprawled out on a comfy leather couch, my mobile rang. My good friend, and tax-accountant, whom we've nicknamed Winkle. It was time for chicken wings.

For those of you uneducated in Buffalo Wings, let me link you to the Anchor Bar. Buffalo's oldest wing joint with the best sauces sits right on Main St. near downtown. Now, I'm not a fan of Buffalo. It's a sad little city that I can't spend more than a day in without feeling mildly depressed...not to mention the annual snowfall is ridiculous. My apologies to readers who might live there. BUT the wings are fabulous.

So the wife stayed behind to help plan her sister's wedding while I took to the streets with Winkle.

We pulled in to the Anchor Bar and saw 3 cars at 850pm. Not a good sign. We walked in, finding the bartender and one other customer, so we hit the bar.

"Hi guys. Listen, we already did last call, so no alcohol, but I can get you wings."
"I called earlier, the guy said you closed at midnight..."
"Yeah, sorry about that, he was misinformed. But you want wings?"

So we ordered 30 wings and some ginger ale, caught up on goings on, and watched Family Guy (say "cool." now say "whip." now say "coolwhip."). As soon as we were her last open check and the last customers in the place, we closed out our bill while she refilled our ginger ale. She was kind enough to let us hang out till she was ready to lock up, which was exceptional. I hate being That Guy who shows up as the kitchen closes.

Here's how this is supposed to go. When you walk in somewhere right before close, remember that they aren't obligated to serve you after closing hours. So if they close at 9pm and you came in at 850, technically they have every right to kick out. Be nice to them, because you've ruined their night. So when Family Guy was over, I left $10 on our $25 bill and we made our way out the door. Waiters, you of all people should know how to play the game.
Thursday, April 05, 2007 by Ospite.
3 notations

With a stretch of good weather, we've enjoyed a pick-up in the pace of the Trattoria. Spirits have been up and we've brought some newbies onto the floor. It's always a positive experience to bring on the fresh meat when the energy is good.

Lunch today was normal Thursday fare, a solid mix of business and casual diners. I must admit, it came as a surprise, due to the splendid weather fleeing from our presence. I expected a dead calm with the icy winds blowing what I swore was snow sideways across the doorway. The only effect it had on the lunch crowd was that they were running, rather than walking, in the door. And coffee sales were high. Beauty of a day for our Cap machine to cease functioning.

I stood next to said farce of a cappuccino machine talking to Lynn when i saw myself sat...4top. At least things were staarting to move now. Bread, and other sundries in hand, I approached the table which was on the far side of a small wall. As I rounded the corner, I saw a 3top at the far end of my section, out of view from the rest of the dining room. How had I missed seeing them sat? Since I had already opened my mouth to greet the 4top, I couldn't exactly skip over them. As I placed the bread on the table, the 3 women in suits shot me a hideous look. I was screwed. It was early enough in the shift we were obviously not slammed. There were no other assumptions to be made besides that I had been ignoring them.

The greet at the 4top was smooth, they were regulars, knew what they wanted and ordered their main course with their drinks. I tried not to sprint across the dining room for more bread for the 3top, pretending they had been sat second. Bread, greet, orders...the whole process was awkward as if they were holding a dreadful secret against me, waiting for me to slip up. I could tell they had a speech prepared. Their eye contact amongst each other was far from subtle. Thankfully, the meal was swift, and the speech came in the form of a 10% tip. For once, it was my fault

"Hey, how long was 72 sitting there before you sat the 4top?"
"You mean the 3 business women?"
"I don't know...about 5 or so minutes."

At lunch, that's an eternity that they clearly held against me. In the back of my mind, I was thrown off, just a bit. The image of a cartoon Central American emperor dancing around and bumping into a little old guy crept into my mind.

"You threw off my groove!"
"I'm sorry, but you've thrown off the emperor's groove." I sighed and continued the shift.

I had a couple hours between shifts so I decided to go home and clean so the wife wouldn't have to when she got home. Her Med School friends and she were planning a Scrabble extravaganza. I was glad to be working...Scrabble's not my game.

My guitars and sound equiptment back in their rightful homes, I set off back for the dinner shift.

As clearly expected, there was a large list of un-sat waiters standing around praying for their first table. I had some time before I was to be sat. I was silently thankful my section was different from that of the lunch shift.

We waited. And waited still longer. It was not at all what you'd consider a rush. My first table had a very upset young boy who had just awoken from a nap and seemed pissed about it. My second table took 7 years to order their drinks. Then the entire restaurant just sat. This is when our groove is the worst. We lose track of time, and the sense that we're actually waiting on people. Finally table three for the evening decided to order wine.

The bartender was busy retrieving things for her bar customers and I reached up on the rack to grab two wine glasses. One stem was pulled tight against my finger, slipped quickly and the alternate motion sent it sailing off the rack, bouncing off the head of the bartender, skipping into the shelf of well drinks, and shattering on the floor. It was almost impressive. And it was also right then, that all 3 tables needed something. I was destined to be out of whack all night long.

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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