Monday, October 31, 2011

Expense Account ©2011 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     I had something kind of fucked up happen a couple of months ago. I've been wanting to tell y'all about it, but not until it got resolved. Well, it got resolved, making it a rarity for my life. Now the only problem is putting the story into words and I haven't been able to do that yet. Look for it on here in about ten days or so. Meanwhile, here's a couple of things to think about.
     You've probably waited on people who are going to be reimbursed by their company for dining expenses. A lot of times you'll get a tip of around 15% on the credit card and a few extra dollars in cash. I'm guessing that these clients are only allowed to tip a certain amount and they add a little out of their own pocket. Some of them are probably former servers, and some of them are just nice people.
     I've gotten a lot of those over the years and you probably have too. Every once in awhile, you'll get somebody who's obviously not on an expense account do that, add a little cash on top of a credit card that's already got an acceptable tip on it. Not complaining, but what's up with that?
     The other night I waited on some guys who were on an expense account from Office Depot®. I know because they told me. They were in the mood for some alcohol and I set them up. We have a secret Sunday Happy Hour that you don't get unless you ask for it. These guys didn't know about it, so they didn't ask, but I set them up anyway. They totally cleaned their plates, so obviously they enjoyed their steaks, then they camped for an extra 45 minutes. They were the last clients in the building that night. I wound up getting only ten bucks on a tab that was just under $70. That's not horrible, but considering that they got a deal on alcohol and camped out, kind of shitty. I know where I won't be buying my inkpens and writing paper from any time soon.

     Congratulations to the 2011 World Champion Saint Louis Cardinals and have a happy Halloween everybody!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Guest Impoorment Program ©2011 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     Like that title? I thought it was kind of funny. I was trying to think of a negative-sounding word to put in there so the acronym would be GIP and I just made up "impoorment." The real name of the new bovine cabins at work is, like, Guest Experience Enhancement Program or something equally lame, I honestly don't remember the exact moniker.
     When I first started at my current PM gig back in July, we had both a buser and a food runner scheduled every shift. We tipped out 1.5% of our food sales to them and it was well worth it. Toward the end of the night they'd be pulled from their assigned duties so the buser could proof bread and the food runner could tray up our butter pats. Sometimes the loss of these server assistants would cause things to get kind of hairy for the closers and last cuts, but oh well.
     Throughout most of August, rumors were heard and spoken about the impending implementation of the Guest Impoorment Program, or whatever it's called, but no one knew much about it. Then in early September a mandatory all-store meeting was announced. A little of the session was devoted to some upcoming menu changes but most of it was about the Guest Impoorment Program.
     The crux of the program was to get rid of the busers and food runners. The hosting professionals would now be busing tables, but the servers would have to step up their busing, which we were already doing a lot of anyway. And the waitstaff would have to run a lot more (of each other's) food.
     I've noticed a disturbing trend the past couple of years of restaurants not having an expo and instead having a manager doing the expediting. This is going on at both of my jobs. A lot of the time of course they'll have to leave the passway in order to go do something managerial. It was really great to have a food runner there to pick up most of that slack, and now those days are over.
     During the meeting, our GM assured us that tip-outs weren't going to increase. That's great! I'm going to have to work harder, have less help and you're not going to charge me more for it? Thanks, A-holes! The door whores took a cut in their hourly pay rate and now recieve our 1.5%. They tell me that they're making just a little bit more now than they were previously.
     The whole ordeal really sucks my ass. I don't like that this blatant cost-cutting was given a name, full of corporate weasel-words like "program" and "guest." I'm amazed that they neglected to throw "excellence" and "synergy" into the mix. The seating co√∂rdinators started off horribly as busers, but I've got to admit that they're getting better. If present trends continue, they'll be almost decent by Thanksgiving.
     And now all the servers except the closers have to each make two trays of butter before we can check out. The hostesses used to roll most of our silverware, and they still do some, but with the greeting crew's added duties of proofing bread and busing tables, the servers are having to roll a lot more silver than we used to. If the store could have just one person there most nights who'd run some of the food and bus some of the tables, that'd be great. Personally, I think I'd be OK with tipping out a little more if we could have that.
     During the aforementioned meeting, when our GM was discussing tip-outs, he named some competing restaurants and what tip-outs were at them. He dropped the name of the company I work for during the day. He averred that I was tipping out 3% there, which was news to me; they actually only have us tip out 1.25%!
As for our erstwhile busers and food runners? They don't work here anymore. They've just...disappeared.

     How are tip-outs handled where you work? I'd love to hear from ya about it, either in my comments section or in your restaurant-centric internet column, if you've got one. Have a good one everybody, especially the allmighty Saint Louis Cardinals and excluding the bitch-ass Arlington, Texass Rump Rangers! Cards in five (or four)!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Eagle's Claw ©2011 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     Back in April, work sent me to help train the Front Of House staff at a store in West Virginia that was being reopened. I tried to do a good job and I guess some of the employees benefitted at least a little from my tutelage, but really, I'm not sure the other trainers and I were very effective.
     I'm a pretty nice guy and I don't ride their ass or go off on them, no matter how bad they suck. I'm basically not inclined that way and besides, it's my job to coach and teach, not harangue and punish. We had this one guy, Bama, who's the worst restaurant employee I've ever seen in my life. Allison wasn't as bad as Bama, but she was pretty lame.
     Her appearance put me in mind of a model for drunken, dead Franco-Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920), and that's not a compliment. She's very plain-looking, to put it kindly. But her looks were a lot better than her serving skills.
     I had a buttload of opportunities to suggest ways she could improve, but I only remember one of them. I walked past a table she was serving beverages to. She eagle-clawed every one of those drinks. In case you skipped class that day in server school or you're an art history major who Googled drunk-ass, dead Franco- Italian artists, eagle-clawing is when you grab a glass from above by its rim instead of from the side near its base.
     ANYWAY, first chance I had, I spoke to Allison about her bevie-serving technique. I was real nice. I started by fabricating a couple of positive things to say about her job performance. Then I patiently explained how bad eagle-clawing looks, how it's against Health Department regulations and how she probably wouldn't like getting a Mountain Dew® served to her like that.
     She nodded in apparent comprehension. She'd gotten the message. She wouldn't be eagle-clawing her glasses anymore. Cool. I felt good that I'd actually gotten through to her about something. Until not five minutes later I saw her serving drinks to another table, and every one of those drinks got clutched by ... The Eagle's Claw!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

A Slippery Slope ©2011 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     I did something tonight I'm pretty sure I've never done before in all my years waiting tables. I accidentally dropped a piece of cutlery into the trash back by the dish hole and instead of at least trying to fish it out, just said, "Fuck it."
     I was pretty busy when it happened and it didn't help that a cook had just gotten all smartass when I asked for something it's his job to provide. I was still a little angry about that. Plus I'd taken a nap between shifts—something I do fairly regularly, usually without ill effects—and awoke with a groggy feeling I couldn't shake; in fact it's still with me even as I'm composing the drivel you see before you now. The fucktarded way they have the trashcans back there is real conducive to letting shit like that slide too.
     You might not believe it, but I've always striven to be a conscientious employee and I kind of surprised myself by how I dealt with that fork. There probably have been times over the years when I've chucked utensils without noticing, although I'm sure it hasn't happened often. There may have been occasions when I noticed I'd tossed a piece of silverware and tried to retrieve it unsuccessfully, but I honestly don't remember that ever happening.
     One good thing about tonight was that my "zone buddy" was my new all-time favorite co-worker Brianna, whose beauty is only surpassed by her kind heart and winning personality. I know that statement must read like sarcasm, even to me, but I assure you it isn't. She and I commiserated as we detailed our stations after we'd been cut. Her day was worse than mine. At least I'd been at a different shitty job in the morning, and gotten a nice break in between. I don't know why I didn't tell her about the squandered utensil. Maybe saying it aloud would make it seem less like an abberation and more like the first step down a slippery slope. If I had of told her, she'd probably have giggled and said, "Don't worry about it Joe. I do that all the time!"
      ANYWAY, one of my tables tonight had used a three dollars-off coupon that you get if you attend a football game at the stadium where I'm a part-time beer vendor (Yo, Beer Man" January, 2011). I was pleasantly surprised that I only had to deal with one of those tonight. When I was getting everything together so I could do a checkout, I had the ticket with that coupon stapled to it on top of my paperwork. A co-worker named Dontrelle walked by and saw the coupon.
     "You got that at the game, didn't ya?" he grinned. He goes to a lot of those games, inclucing the one this past weekend. "Every time I go I scoop up as many of those as I can. I know you get a lot of 'em, walking around there with that big ol' beer tub all day!"
     I guess I'm kind of naive, and I didn't know what he was talking about. "What do ya mean?" I asked.
     "Dude," he replied, "use one of those about once a day on a cash ticket. Don't do it much more than that so the office don't get suspicious. It about pays for that nice-ass cell phone I got!"
     I chuckled a little, said, "Whatever, dude," and bade him goodnight as he walked out the door. Dontrelle doesn't seem like the shady type, but ya never know. He also doesn't seem like the dumb type who'd voluntarily divulge something like that to someone, me, he doesn't know real well. Who knows? Maybe it's a sneaky set-up and Dontrelle is a member of the company's loss prevention team. Or maybe he's just a snitch-bitch on a fishing expedition. But I very seriously doubt either proposition. I know I don't feel so bad about that fork anymore though.