Wednesday, May 30, 2007 by Ospite.
3 notations

I've been out of the Trattoria for 5 days. We spent the weekend running around Connecticut, singing for a friend's wedding...which was fabulous.

But the downside to time off is that it takes awhile for my head to get back in the game. I woke up with the alarm this morning, wandered over to the Mac to check my email, showered, and sat back down at the Mac to watch Entourage.

I rarely wake up with ample time to do other things besides shower and breakfast before work. Today was no exception.

I was trying to figure out why I was up so early after going to bed at 3am when it dawned on me, I went back to work today. I ran, got dressed, grabbed the keys and ran out the door. Normally I keep a couple ties and my apron in the car so I don't have to worry about them during my half-asleep morning routine. I have cleaned my car completely before the trip and there was nothing in the backseat. I also realized I was wearing my prescription sunglasses, having left my regular glasses on my desk.

I turned around halfway through the commute, retrieved the items and was almost there when I got the call from work: "We're out of milk, can you pick some up on your way in?"

They hadn't noticed I was late, nor did they seem to care. I immediately slowed down now that the mad dash to work was unnecessary. Milk procured, I wandered in still not quite awake. Thank God lunch was not a heavy rush. Now hopefully dinner will be slow too...
Tuesday, May 22, 2007 by Ospite.
7 notations

I can feel it...and I'm not the only one.

We started seeing the signs around Christmas. It's a dark cloud. An imminent dread. Our clientele is changing.

Dinner finds us with a whole new playing field. We're finding an influx of the 10% tippers, the ratio leaning towards their end...their numbers growing. Particularly on weekends. My favorite was the hick with no sleeves, a sunburn, Looney Toons tattoos, a wife with big hair, and a kid with sweatpants...and a 9% tip. That's right, we're starting to get the Olive Garden crowd.

What to do? The money's getting worse, but I get a flawless schedule. I'm a big fish in a small pond. And I'm only in town for a year. Grad school auditions are coming up, so I need pull in the scheduling department. It's like a slow but steady torture.

Wines sales are at an all time low, except our pathetic house wine. It used to be that people would ask me to try it, I'd pour a sample and they'd almost laugh and then order a nice DOCG Chianti. Now, people ask for a large glass of the house "red" (they don't even care what it is), and then rave about how wonderful it is. Seriously? The last place I had a decent house red was in Tuscany, at a tiny hole-in-the-wall trattoria where the owner cooked all the food. The last person that served me a decent white wine that I didn't have to ask about was this guy: Art House Spoleto.

Our lasagna tastes like Chef Boyardee and we've been selling it in record amounts. Our halibut has sat lonely in the walk-in, waiting for someone who cares. The amount of Beringer White Zin "on the rocks" that passes me everytime I near the bar is depressing.

What is happening to the world?
by Ospite.
0 notations

Since I'm in a linking groove, I've decided to branch out a bit. Readers are always asking me about me, and I've started a new project more for myself than anything else.

I've mentioned I'm a musician and this new blog might show another side to me. Don't expect the names to be real, or great details that will give away who I really am. But there will be tidbits from inside the the lives of performers, happenstances from on stage, and a lot of monotonous drivel about what I'm singing and why...often with translations. I'm using it for myself as a type of vocal diary. You'll find this here:
Monday, May 21, 2007 by Ospite.
3 notations

So on one of my other blogs I used to spotlight friends of mine or websites or something else when applicable. I don't really do it here because you're here to read my restaurant whims, but I found something notable today.

A friend of mine was telling me about some con artists far beyond the heft of the Crutchmaster that she encountered at her restaurant recently. Her blog isn't entirely food-service related, but it's still worth reading. She's been added to my links list to the right, but here is a link directly to her story:

Brooklyn Babe's Encounter with a Con
Thursday, May 17, 2007 by Ospite.
17 notations

I've always been on a kick about smokers being able to take breaks when no one else can, that's the only addiction that you can bring to the workplace and not be reprimanded. Several of us have considered taking up the habit just so we can walk off the floor more regularly without a care in the world, getting other people to watch our tables.

It was a particularly slow lunch shift when Candice and Page decided it was time for their nicotine fix. Each had two tables. Candice a 2top and a 3top, Page with a deuce and an 11top. Neither of them decided to tell anyone where they went, and just walked outside. The problem is that our weather has been stellar recently and it's been lending itself to long smoke breaks. In this case, a 17 minute smoke break.

Unless the pacing of your tables allows for absolutely no conversation, beverage refills, check closing, or anything else a customer can dig up, 8 minutes is the most you should go without checking on a table, whether or not you're actually speaking to them. Beyond that, the patrons seem to want to see you around...that is, unless you're in a fine dining establishment, which ours is not.

Again, in the case of Candice and Page, this was a lunch shift which means most of the diners are on a tight schedule and it's our job to aid that, not hinder it. That faster you can get a good lunch out and turn the table, the better your tip will be (save for long business meetings, but those are easy to read).

So I walked out of the kitchen and noticed the gentleman from Candice's deuce standing, cash in hand, next ot his booth with a scowl on his face. There wasn't even a check on his table yet. It was obvious he wanted to get out and fast.

I was right next to the door of the kitchen, clearly off the floor and I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around to find the head of Page's 11top which a worried look on his face.

"Hi. Um. We're kind of in a hurry and I can't find our waitress anywhere."
"How can I help you?"
"We need about 6 to-go boxes and the check."
"No problem, I speed things up for you."
"Thanks, I appreciate that a lot." ...he then handed me a $5 bill.

I ran, grabbed to-go boxes, and tried to hunt down Page and Candice. Normally I wouldn't help the people who are actually slacking's their tip, not mine, but we share responsibilities when we're weeded. And the $5 helped my motivation.

Our head chef went over to Lonnie, the service manager and said, "Hey, what's with the slackers in the back smoking away and ignoring tables?"

Lonnie immediately got their butts in gear, after which she came to me. "So what's going on on the floor." I gave her the scoop and the girls got a talking to. They also were put on silverware duty for the afternoon.

Page shot me an evil look.

"Why'd you tell on us?! That was mean."
"First, Lonnie asked me what was going on. Second, what is this? 3rd grade? If a manager at my job, my superior asks me something, I'm going to give a straight answer. And those customers are pissed."

For the next two days, I had to endure the whining and annoyed glances from the Duo, but sometimes it's funny how in customer service, the customer comes first. Weird.
Sunday, May 13, 2007 by Ospite.
11 notations

I'm getting quite sick of Mothers Day...from a server's perspective. Don't worry, concering my mom, it's still fine.

Mother's Day brings out the worst crowd. Call it white trash, call it uncultured swine, call it whatever you want, but nonetheless, it's still a horrible dining turnout.

These are the people who do not go out to eat unless they have coupons, or there's an all-you-can-eat special, or there's food advertised for under eight bucks. These are the people that don't understand that you shouldn't roll out of bed, throw on sweatpants and loafers, and take mom out for lunch. The ones that think 4 screaming children will shut up if you ignore them and just talk louder rather than parenting. The ones that think they can walk in, and seat themselves anywhere they feel like it without consulting one of the 3 hosts on duty.

That it's not cool to assume that because it's mom's special day that there will naturally be a table seating 9 just waiting for you immediately upon your arrival even though you never called for reservations and claim that you did. Taking reservations is what we do. We're good at it. We wouldn't pretend it's not there just to see the look on your face.

That just because you can't afford to go out regularly that it's understandable to tip 10%.

The dining crowd that turns out for holidays pisses me off because they feel the need to be treated with extra special care because there's something to celebrate and therefor are entitled to hassle the world, get their way no matter what, complaining like their world is crashing down if they don't get those wants to a T.

None of us enjoyed working Mothers Day today. Normally the sheer volume of customers makes up for the lack of quality tables, but such was not the case this year. Many reservations either didn't show or cancelled last minute, and the walk-in crowd was on the slow side. Due to rogue reservations, entire sections sat empty for 30 minutes at a time.

Management did keep us shy of insanity. When I arrived this morning there were danishes and gatorade and other assorted edibles in the back of the house. All day long, new things showed up for us. By the time shift change came, a stack of pizzas came in and we hit them like a school pf piranha. I think without it, we might have killed and eaten customers.

All in all, I hope that I won't be working another Mothers Day on the floor...not at my present location anyway.
Thursday, May 10, 2007 by Ospite.
2 notations

Alright, so this is VERY unlike me to do, but I have to give these guys props. I played the cello for awhile and attacked the flute briefly, but these guys are fabulous. And since this is my biggest voice to the world right now, I'm posting it up here:

Don't worry, more restaurant stuff tomorrow.


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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