I’ve got 99 Problems…

…but an attitude ain’t one.

Listen, I can’t stand stupid people any more than the next guy.

But that includes people from both sides of the host stand.

Yes, I rant about people who come into restaurants and own the place, but the bottom line is that the customer is, indeed, always right.

I don’t care how much of a moron the person is– as a professional, you are not allowed to be snappy or equally stupid in return.

The following are a few traits I have observed first-hand (or heard of from friends) that I 100% condemn:

(1) Ignoring a table– This actually happened over the weekend. My mom and I went wedding dress shopping with my future sister-in-law at george’s on the Main Line (outside of Philadelphia). The place was very cute (and very new) and the hostess was ADORABLE. (Pretty sure it was her first week– I give her a month before that smile turns into a wolverine-esque snarl and a set of forehead wrinkles). Anyway, we sat down, the server took our order and…. we never saw him again. Like, literally. Not one more time. (Okay, that’s not true. I saw him hanging out by the bar.)

No joke, though, this other SUPER cheerful server helped us out (as he did the other 5 tables in the room that weren’t his) and the hostess and bartender got us carry-out boxes and our check when we’d been waiting at our table for nearly 30 minutes without having been able to summon anyone to come our way.

Needless to say, I persuaded my mother to tip the server who’d actually HELPED us, leaving “ours” the 10% he hardly deserved.

As I’ve said before, I am ALL for tipping on account of good service– and tipping generously. That said, a tip should reflect the service rendered. And this service was non-existent.

(2) Blatant annoyance– This happened to me at Boxcar Tavern in the heart of Eastern Market. The place itself is freaking adorable. Like, totally charming. I’d stumbled upon it while wandering around the Market on some idle Sunday before work. The hostess was super hospitable and even offered to take my cell number so she could call me when my table was ready (I give her 2 months before she wants to shoot everyone who asks her to do so). Anyway, when we were eventually seated, our server came out and seemed almost annoyed that we were there. And, having been there, I can understand this. What I canNOT understand is why someone who is working for tips exclusively would jeopardize her ‘paycheck’ by being visibly annoyed at a table. As in, we saw her like twice the entire time we were there, and when she did come by, she wouldn’t even look at us and seemed irritated that we were even sitting there (I think she was just jealous of my cute date, personally, but that’s another story) ;). And she didn’t even bring our food out (which is fine– but you HAVE to follow up and make sure everything came out okay. I mean, c’mon).

(3) Pressuring customers– This one was told to me by my brother’s fiancee. She said she was at Agora, an “adorable Greek restaurant” in her words. In fact, when she later Yelped about her experience, she said she wanted badly to give the restaurant 5 stars because of the delicious food and the mesmerizing atmosphere, but that she just couldn’t bring herself to do it– because of the hostesses.

Now listen up, hostesses of the world: YOU HAVE ONE JOB. While it entails a million micro-jobs, your job is to get people into the restaurant in some kind of a timely manner. That involves math, as I’ve stated before. Lots of math. And it involves a VERY strong will when you’re forced to take the criticism and insults of hungry patrons whom you’ve upset.

In this particular instance, my brother and 5 of his friends (and fiancee) had made reservations for 7pm at this restaurant. When they got there at 6:55pm, the three girls got out of the car so the boys could park.

**Point +1 for customers (arriving on time for their reservation)

When they told the hostesses that they were there for their 7pm reservation, the hostess told Steph (fiancee) that they couldn’t be seated until the entire party had arrived.

**Point -1 for staff (THEY HAD MADE A RESERVATION! THAT TABLE WAS RESERVED FOR THEM, REGARDLESS OF HOW MANY PEOPLE HAD SHOWN UP!!)

No lie, I don’t care if ONE person from a reservation has arrived– those people reserved that table, and YOU have placed it strategically into your plan for the night– so DON’T SCREW UP ALL THAT STRATEGIZING by denying them entrance!!

I digress.

The hostess told Steph and the girls that they could sit at the bar while my brother and the boys parked.

When the boys finally showed up, the hostesses told them (and I am NOT kidding you here) that “Because they had arrived late, they only had an hour to eat because we need that table for another party”.

**Point -1 for the staff (YOU NEVER TELL A PARTY THEY ARE ON A TIME BUDGET. Ever. Not even if they’re “camping” and you hate them. Not even if they’ve stayed past usual closing time. I don’t care HOW pissed you are at them. You. Do. Not. Do. That.!)

**Point -1 for the staff (If you had LET them in when they’d arrived, they’d have already ORDERED for everyone and you wouldn’t even BE in this situation!)

What’s more, the hostess came up IN THE MIDDLE OF THEIR MEAL and asked Steph if she had gotten drinks at the bar. [Duh. You SAW me drinking at the bar.] Steph answered ‘Yes’ and the hostess told her (again, IN THE MIDDLE OF HER MEAL) that she would need to pay for the drinks now because they couldn’t transfer them to the table.

**Point -1 for the staff (You NEVER interrupt a meal to deal with monetary issues. Ever. If you absolutely NEED to address the issue immediately, have the server do so. You are the hostess. You host. You do not ruin peoples’ experiences.)

Finally, when the Cinderella hour was up, the hostess had the audacity to point to my brother’s table and tell a waiting party, “Yeah, THAT’S your table over there– We’re just waiting for them to get up”.

Now, let me clarify. Many a times have I gone out to the lobby and told a waiting party that their table was clearing soon. I’ve even joked around with them about kicking the people sitting there out (This lessens the tension and makes the customers feels like you’re on their side– which you always should be). But I have NEVER done what happened next:

The hostess actually went to the table and told my brother & co. that she needed the table.

This girl should be fired.

From this and every job she ever applies to.

What. an. idiot.

 

When Steph told me that story, I was ashamed. Legitimately ashamed. I felt like everything I rant about on this blog had been for nothing.

So it’s important for me to clarify that while my rants are typically targeted at the average idiot diner, I do not discriminate. I am fully aware that workers themselves can be just as ignorant as the non-industry public. And these kinds of behaviors are inexcusable, too.

 

In closing, to all of my restaurant workers out there: Please make these rants worth the effort. Do not behave the same way so many of our customers do.

Just think of it this way: By treating the customer in the same manner they’ve been treating you, you are stooping to their level.

And Heaven knows we do NOT want to sink that low.

(For the record, this kind of thing is ALSO something I do not condone. C’mon people. We’re supposed to be taking the higher ground here.)

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7 thoughts on “I’ve got 99 Problems…

  1. One of my biggest pet peeves is when the waiter or waitress is not attentive, especially when you want the check so you can get along to your next engagement and free up the table for other guests. There have been a number of times when I have contemplated just walking out (I mean since they just seated me and ran off, maybe they wouldn’t even remember what I looked like :).

  2. What’s difficult about restaurant work is it has SO much to do with reading people. As a server, you might give a table space because they seem to be enjoying themselves and the conversation. However, the table might interpret that as inattentive-ness (not a real word, but you catch my drift).

    As for the anecdote at the Greek restaurant, the host was obviously in the wrong on a million levels. The only little bit of insight I can offer is that it’s not uncommon to wait to seat parties of a certain size until the whole party has arrived. It makes the work/preparation easier on both the front of house staff and the kitchen, which is supposed to translate to a better dining experience for the diners. Unfortunately, that’s not what always happens.

    • Oh totally re: the waiting to seat parties until they’re complete. One of my pet peeves is when someone tells me “There are two of us, and oh– yep– he’s walking in the door now” and I seat her and then “he” doesn’t show up for another 30 minutes. And this happens ALL THE TIME. People legit LIE to me. It’s crazy.

      HOWEVER. If someone has a reservation, I plan my floor layout AROUND them. So it’s better for me if I get at least some of them in rather than wait until they all get there. ‘Cause as I always tell them, “That table is YOURS. No matter how many people get there first”.

      That said, it’d obviously be rude as HELL if someone made a reservation, came, sat down, and then like 45 minutes later another half of their party showed up. At that point, you’re an asshole. But short of that, if someone’s parking the car or running from the metro, I’m gonna seat you. ‘Cause I’m certainly not screwing up my floor plan by seating someone ELSE at that table.

      🙂

  3. I cannot believe that your brother and sister-in-law got that treatment! I have been in a situation where the server has rushed us by bringing us the check before we finished eating the main course (without asking if we would like to try dessert). But, I have never seen a hostess try to get someone to leave just so that other people can eat. She should be fired. She should be fired and NEVER hired as hostess in any other restaurant again. (Is that mean?) Oh well…

  4. It’s amazing how much the staff at a restaurant can color your experience there. I had the completely opposite experience at little serow a while back and it made the experience so much more enjoyable. It was actually kind of strange to be in a restaurant where the entire staff seemed EXCITED to be there and super happy about it. Granted, it was like the 2nd week they were open…their feelings have probably changed. The hostess was so nice and offered to text us when our table was ready and suggested we get a drink at agora (where I’ve never had a bad experience like the one you described above, but I would certainly not go back if I had), and all the waitresses genuinely were excited about the food they werte serving us. it was amazing.

  5. is that another fake video? Just kidding. I got similarly bad treatment – well not that bad, and Yelped about it, and had friends yelp about it, and then the review was gone within days. I wonder how and why that happened. There is no recourse I think once a restaurant gets really popular. My question to you – is DC a place where you work for tips, or is it like CA, where you get a minimum wage and tips on top of minimum wage. I think that makes a big difference too.

  6. Pingback: Listen to yourself, man. | District RestauRANTS

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