UnderCover Waitress: July 2011

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Restaurant Manager Convicted Murdering Waitress

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Hard to know what to say about this one.

Southern California restaurant manager has been convicted of slaying a waitress in what is believed to have been a sexually motivated assault.

He is scheduled to be sentenced September 12, 2011.

Justice does take time. The woman was murdered in 2009. Will be watching to see if any more details become available and what the sentence will be.

Manager Convicted

Friday, July 29, 2011

Modern Art Sculpture

I am not usually one to make fun of art, but today it is hard to resist...

On a recent foray to a Museum of Modern Art, discovered this treasure on the fourth floor. My apologies to the artist for failing to take a snapshot of the information blurb that went with the sculptures. Was touring on childrens' schedules and wanted to see as much as I could before the young ones burned out.

For those of you who never leave your home ;-), these are mussel shells. Some consider the tender meat of the mussel to be a delicacy, others consider them tref. Every night at the restaurant, diners greedily suck the meat, garlic and tomato in wine broth out of these shells and toss empty shells, licked clean, into a bowl. (I thank them to slurp quietly.)

I have come to understand that these bowls of empty shells represent art. And every night, we throw away bowl after bowl after bowl... we are plebeian ingrates who wouldn't recognize sculpture if it crashed onto our rooftops.

For shame, restaurant industry. For shame.

The Museum of Modern Art in New York is a must-see for anyone lucky enough to visit Manhattan. While the sculptures and architectural artistic endeavors on the lower floors are interesting, don't miss the fifth floor. This is where paintings by Matisse, early Picasso, and Monet are housed. Not to mention Van Gogh, whose Starry Night enjoys a central spot. After touring museums for days, my mother humorously wondered how much Van Gogh is housed in his museum in Amsterdam; there is so much Van Gough in New York.

Have a great weekend, everyone! 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Service With A Shrug

I like checking in with the Eatrocracy blog on CNN. "Service With A Shrug" made some salient points. Not that I haven't argued in the past, and will continue to argue, that poor service deserves a smaller tip than good service.

Aren't you done yet?
Somebody comes in later on a slow night. Instead of offering a second glass of wine (which would have been accepted) and giving pleasant, professional service, the wait staff seem to have taken the attitude that they would rather this couple simply go home. A good way to ensure that all of your nights are quiet is to treat customers in this fashion. People talk.

Another thing about slow nights: waitresses and waiters have nothing better to do than give good service. The battle cry of the overworked, poorly tipped waitress is that she got to her many tables as quickly as she possibly could, and couldn't the customers see how hard she was working? On a slow night, there is absolutely no excuse for not getting back to a table to see how everything is, or to offer additional items. And good customer service means staying open. 

The art of giving good table service is full of subtle details that people either blow off as unimportant or simply don't think about at all. If more waiters and waitresses thought about the subtle cues they send customers, they would make bigger tips.

Kindle Edition:

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Live Music and Wine

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Had a rare and much appreciated opportunity to spend an evening out with my husband and nobody else. I love my children dearly, but my other half and I rarely get to "go out on a date," so it was grand fun.

It is hot and humid and muggy in the NE this time of year. (I know, I am actually in the Bermuda Triangle, but let's pretend.) Living in an area in which winter is harsh and hazardous, summer heat brings people out in droves for fun and socialization.

So, hubby and I found ourselves during the latter part of the evening at a lovely (air-conditioned) little tapas bar; I sipping cold, white wine and the two of us perched at a high table. For an additional treat, there was live music. Excellent.

David and Dennis. Nice guys; Dennis hails from France and had never been to the states (oops -- I mean the triangle) before. So far, he is impressed. They have gigs around the area every night for a number of weeks.

David and another of his musical companions has a beautiful, large accordian that is silver in color. It was played by a woman whom I did not have the pleasure of meeting. David said that during his travels he was stopped once by a rather curious sort who asked if David was a writer. At little taken aback, David wondered why this person thought so. It was because of the "beautiful typewriter" that David travels with.
Mama's got a squeeze box,
Daddy never sleeps at night!

There was one "rock" well, more like "soft rock" maybe piece in which the lead vocalist repeated the chorus, "We made love." I am quite honest about the fact that I am a prude, and it was interesting to be aware of my own mild discomfort with this discussion of carnal impulses. I finally turned to my husband and said, "I thought you weren't supposed to kiss and tell."

Yes, I am a prude, and the repetition of such lyrics does make me uncomfortable. And I try not to show it 'cuz I know that everybody else doesn't have the same delicate sensibilities and I don't want to come off as a dweeb. So I make jokes. Humor is a wonderful tool to ease tension and to deal with the discomfort of almost any situation while making it better. Some people say we either laugh or cry. I appreciate the honesty in humor.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Restaurant Etiquette and Server Introductions

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Having developed rather strong opinions (I know, you couldn't tell) about restaurant protocols and dining room etiquette, one comment on You Don't Need to Know My Name gave me pause.

Servers complain of being treated as objects yet when clients try to treat you as a human being and identify this is the type of response they can get?

While I continue to feel the same way as I did before, I also understand where the anonymous commenter is coming from. There is conflicting information on the internet, in foodie magazines, and etiquette books telling people what to expect in a restaurant and how to behave. I wonder how many people stay home for fear of upsetting restaurant staff.

Woe is the waitress who works in a restaurant serving the unwashed masses because she cannot truly express how she feels nor even politely explain the rules. Passive aggression abounds in environments in which employees must pretend to be happy, regardless. When a diner hears a cheerful "you're welcome" when he has not said "thank you," the real message is "f*** you for being rude and not saying thank you."

Because this dilemma is exactly what "The Managed Heart" is all about, I am plugging it again right here. (I love this book.)
We have a sign asking guests to please wait to be seated by a hostess. It happens, on occasion, that people waltz in and either seat themselves or, even worse, march around the restaurant, pick out their table and inform us where they will sit. The first type are oblivious, the second type are entitled, spoiled brats who are overly impressed with their own importance.

The oblivious type most likely are used to eating in casual little diners in which people are supposed to seat themselves. Still, there is no excuse for not reading the sign if you are capable of reading the menu. My son and I walked into a little diner recently. We stood there for a few minutes; nobody came to greet us. The cook, who was wiping his nose on the back of his hand while flipping pancakes, saw us and seemed to be laughing about the fact that we were standing there. His runny nose is reason enough to leave, which we did, but I mention it here because the expectations were probably not what I was used to. Perhaps we were supposed to sit and get comfortable. That being said, I have no idea where the waitress was. I have had the experience of having diner staff seem put upon because I did not know to seat myself; I feel put upon when people walk past the sign and seat themselves.

So, if expectations can be different regarding whether to sit or wait to be seated, what about whether servers should introduce ourselves? A few quick internet searches reveal that confusion abounds, and strong opinions exist on both sides.

One of the funniest posts I found was an amateur (i.e., honest) restaurant review in which the writer expressed confusion that the server who introduced himself to the table never returned, and the server who took the order, etc., never introduced himself. I wonder what these poor people were expected to do with the name of the absent server? Summon his spirit with a Ouija board for more water?

I did find in my keyword searches a consistency that the finest restaurants are less likely to encourage any sort of getting personal. For example, this slideshow has quite a few points, some redundant, but never mentions the server introducing himself or getting chatty:
Waiter's Etiquette
View more presentations from Bhavana Agarwal

I call your attention back to #19: Never get familiar with the guest.

However, go to WikiHow and suddenly telling guests at every table your name becomes a main point of good service, right up there with refilling empty water glasses.

I think this is because many "family friendly" corporate chains require Miss Perky and Mr. Fun Dude to bounce over to the table, introduce himself, touch patrons on the shoulder, ask how "we" are doing this evening and make other mindless chit-chat, find something to laugh about, squat at the table like he is about to poop on a camping trip, and use the dining table as his personal writing desk while taking an order.

It may be getting worse. On Yahoo Answers, I found this resolved  question:

Should a waiter be allowed to do this, introduce himself as your waiter then say he is gay?

Barring the possibility of a troll, I refer you all back to #19.

And in closing, you don't need to know my sexual preferences nor my name.

Monday, July 25, 2011

McDonald's or Tilted Kilt

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I wonder how managers and franchise owners of Tilted Kilt would respond if they knew their business has been compared to McDonald's? Check it out:

If you go to McDonald’s and order a Big Mac, whether in San Diego or Boston, you expect to get the exact same sandwich. Tilted Kilt fully understands this consistency concept and implements it very well with their franchisees. I have personally toured their Tempe based franchise training facility and was HIGHLY impressed. The training really covers the gamut of their concept.

I am not quite sure which is funnier: the fact that the two have been put together in the same sentence, or the fact that the author thinks he or she was giving a compliment. Also, would love to have some CEO of McDonald's respond by attempting to distance McDonald's from Tilted Kilt on the basis that all employees of McDonald's are required to be fully clothed, not nearly naked. Which brings me to the last sentence in the above quote. Not sure I understand it as I thought Tilted Kilt's concept has absolutely nothing to do with food.

The Tilted Kilt is all about chick fights, cage matches, and stabbings.

And speaking of bad franchise food, have you read Fast Food Nation yet? 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Inspiration and the Objectification of Women

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Was deeply saddened by the Hooter's blog post in which the author describes being intimidated by being around a lot of beautiful women, and inspired because they were nice to her.

The inspiration also came from a top ten finalist who had recovered from an automobile accident in which she stopped looking where she was going and ran into a tree. First, her life was in the balance. Then, her doctors were unsure whether this dedicated dancer would keep her foot; now she is walking on the Hooter's Beauty Pageant runway.

Make no mistake, I am glad the woman kept her foot and is now walking. What saddens me is how women in America still buy into the idea that it is a good idea to strip damn-near naked, pose on stage, and hope to be the one winner in a million. A bit like playing the lottery but with a much larger time investment, and you are not going to win either one.

I doubt Sauce would have been inspired by such a story if the woman had found Sauce ugly and treated her poorly. Sauce writes that she was "relieved" that her body was similar to the bodies of the pageant contestants and for the same reasons: she works out a lot and denies herself any carbohydrates, subsisting instead upon "rabbit food and protein."

Her musings make me wonder how Sauce treats ugly women and fat women.

So, the moral of the story is that the pageant contestant feels "blessed" to have survived and healed and live to get to wear an extremely skimpy bikini and show off her knock-out body in front of horny men, impressionable teenage girls and cameras. Wow, isn't life worth living?

Tenille, who is mentioned in another post, probably envies Crystal and women like her. So might another regular, similar to Tenille in appearance but not as nouveau riche. This regular is getting on in years but continues to dye her hair black. Black hair dye is obvious and easy to spot. She is also uncomfortably skinny and stiff; the botox treatments and face lifts make her attempts at facial expression comical.

These are just some of the prices women pay for society's high value placed on beauty. The eternal quest for youth causes women to undergo painful plastic surgeries and waxings. The need to be skinny causes the massive rise of fatal eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia.

Imagine if the tables were turned. How many men would line up to:
  • subject themselves to painful body waxing in order to look hairless and, therefore, pre-pubescent? 
  • be willing to work all day in a small speedo and a pair of dansko clogs? 
  • allow women to openly stare at and admire the shape and size of their testicles? 
  • get silicone implants in their scrotums so women would find them more attractive? 
  • literally starve themselves to get positive reinforcement? 
  • use the above tactics as a method of making money?
  • tell everyone they choose to live this way and enjoy it so knock off the "masculism?" (Trying to come up with a word to take the place of "feminism.")

Because I have a daughter. That is why I care. I don't want her to find blessings and inspiration in Barbie doll beauty and an unwinnable quest for youthful appearance. 

I want my child to find inspiration in art, poetry, and music. I want her to find inspiration in philosophical writings as well as scientific study. I want her to be physically fit as the result of participating in activities from which she gains joy, exercise, and fresh air -- not just because she wants a tight butt. I want her to be healthy because she eats a well-rounded diet that includes carbohydrates and the occasional treat. I want her to be inspired by traveling around the world and meeting people of different cultures, I want her to taste and eat their food (including carbohydrates) and I want her to enjoy living her life to the fullest. 

I want my daughter to feel blessed because she was able to earn a good education and find ways to be useful to humankind and the earth. And I want her to do it fully clothed.       

Friday, July 22, 2011

You Don't Need To Know My Name

Under Cover Waitress FB Fan Page: 

I couldn't agree more with the following:

The perceptive and competent service in the small town and New York City is the exception in this crazy world. Most restaurants in this country are suburban chains, companies that have decided their key to success is training their waitrons to grovel, pester, interrupt, introduce, be clever, sell desserts, and generally make a nuisance of themselves... Corporate headquarters has mandated that they use catch phrases like, "how are we all doing here?" at least once every five minutes. Corporate headquarters never tells the servers that it is rude to interrupt a conversation... 

Which is only one of the reasons why I detest eating at chains. (Well, okay, that and the food.) Have had interesting conversations with those who believe that it is good manners for waiters and waitresses to introduce themselves by name; I think it is a waste of time and completely irrelevant. Knowing my first name doesn't get you good service; letting me do my job does.

Some people are so used to the happy, bouncy servers described in the article that they feel something is missing if I behave in a professional manner. Have had people at tables say, "I didn't catch your name...?" I don't play games. I respond directly:

"That's because I didn't tell you." Wait a beat. Then, in order to still get tipped, I add "My name is Under." Now that they have the unnecessary information, I wonder what they plan to do with it -- call out my name across the restaurant instead of catch my eye?

The best, however, was the table that not only required knowing my name, but then felt it was necessary to introduce themselves. They wasted my time giving me four pieces of useless information that I promptly forgot, while keeping me chained to their one table during a busy shift. Gee, thanks for introducing yourselves.

Big City and Small Town Restaurant Service


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Nouveau Riche

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I despise the nouveau riche. Let's be clear: nouveau riche ("NV") is not an amount of money. It is an attitude. There are plenty of rich people who are not NV. The stereotype is that poor people who are able to make money and become rich are NV. They have money, but no class.

The United States of America is not a classless country; elementary school teachers are simply wrong about this. We have rejected a monarchy (but our media can't get enough of an English wedding, WTF?) but we still have class based upon money, education, type of work and sometimes even religion and race. Please don't think I am saying that this is good; I am saying that we think or pretend we don't have a class structure when we actually do.

So, what is class? I know people of modest means with what I call "class." I see it as a way of behaving and interacting with the world. Polite = class. Considerate of the feelings of others = class. True class is less likely to make a scene, but will work within the system for the best results. True class is not ostentatious. True class has at least a modicum of intelligence.

The NV think that class is all about money. NV have an attitude that having money makes a person superior. The NV have a specific value system that favors ostentatiousness and wants to show off their material wealth. NV lacks personal class.

We have a regular couple that are NV. I'll call them The Captain and Tenille, not there is any resemblance to the musical duo. Any time they are to grace us with their royal presence, they make a reservation and the best table in the restaurant is reserved. We set up The Captain's favorite wine on the table, and make sure there is plenty of back-up. Nothing wrong with this so far.

However, they waltz in as if they own the place, moving slowly enough as to call attention to themselves as they look around the restaurant and parade to their specially prepared table.

Tenille seems to have eating disorder issues. She is pencil thin and will order the same salad and cup of soup each and every time. She may not even finish it. Her hair is dyed and frames her bony face in a dry, limp, unhealthy mop. The botox and face lifts limit her ability to make facial expressions. She teeters in on four inch heels; she is so skinny that on those heels she reminds me of acrobats who walk on extremely tall stilts, but with Tenille the acrobat is missing and all I see are the stilts.

They love wasting food. They'll do things like order dishes for the table, eat half of everything, and not want to take the other half home. Remember, these are locals; they have a refrigerator at home. They just want us to know that they are so rich they can afford to throw food away. I think wasting food is a sin and it disgusts me.

They always request specific waitresses, and their favorites tend to hate them. When they come to dine, the favored one is stuck in their section. (It is, however, a good section.) They will take up the table all night long. While they tip 20%, the value of that table plummets if they are expected.

They are also notorious for showing up later than they said, further tying up the table. I think they assume that if they are coming in at all, they own the table all night. We are just the hired help.

I had the honor of waiting on them one night not too long ago. They were a party of four; they brought a younger couple in with them after a day of shopping. None of the bags were left in the car, which says to me they wanted to show everybody that they had been spending money all day.

The young man, their guest, was grandiose and spread his large body out. While I don't fault somebody for being big and wanting to be comfortable, I did resent the fact that he stuck his massive foot up on his knee so that the dirty sole of his shoe blocked my entrance to the table. I am short, which is beside the point, but that shoe made it impossible for me to place dishes on the table without wiping his dirt on the front of my apron.

I gave him a look to quietly and politely indicate the situation, and he moved his foot for me. Seemingly no problem, but the Captain gave me a haughty, offended look and young man stuck his boot right back where it was. I am the hired help, they are the royalty. See, this is what lacking class is. They are immune to needs of anybody else. Ain't emotional labor fun?

When it came time to clear all of the uneaten food, the Captain and Tenille made a point of letting me know that they did not want to bring food home, but checked with their guests to see if they would like to bring leftovers home. Of course, I got to throw all of the leftover food away.

Entitled, obnoxious, ostentatious, inconsiderate and self-important people are NV.


Anybody who performs service must read this book about emotional labor:

Also, as much as I despise the NV, Anorexia and it's ilk are not jokes. Further reading if you are interested:

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Vegetarians Bring Lawsuit Against Restaurant

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Appelate judges in New Jersey have ruled that a group of vegetarians may sue a restaurant for serving them meat.

From the reporting in the Gothamist, it does not sound like a simple error. The group of sixteen Hindus ordered vegetarian samosas. Samosas are Indian morsels often served as appetizers; they may be filled with vegetables or meat combinations, folded into triangles, fried and served hot.

While eating the samosas, the group became concerned and asked a second time if their food was vegetarian. The group remained concerned and checked with the restaurant staff at least four times before they were told the truth: their vegetarian samosas had been accidentally switched with meat samosas intended for a different party.

According to the Gothamist, the menu only listed vegetarian samosas, which seems odd. Maybe the other group made a special request for meat samosas?

To complicate matters, the practicing Hindus have been spiritually injured. In order to heal, they must travel to India and cleanse themselves in the Ganges River. They are suing the restaurant for the costs associated with making the trip. Remember, the restaurant seems to have lied to their customers. At best, they were careless and not attentive enough to do a good job; the restaurant is at fault.

The allegations against the restaurant include:
  • negligence
  • negligent infliction of emotional distress
  • consumer fraud
  • products liability, and 
  • breach of express warranty. 
Let this being a warning to restaurant workers: respect a person's dietary needs and preferences. You cannot simply lie to people about what you are feeding them.

I have had plenty of people come in and communicate their dietary needs, just like the sixteen Hindus. I have been tipped handsomely by people who were appreciative of my care and service. (One table with one vegan diner tipped me more than 100% of their bill, I kid you not.)

Other people choose to keep allergies and preferences a secret. To this day, I cannot fathom how my knowing that somebody has a raspberry allergy is a violation of their privacy, but then I never underestimate the stupidity of restaurant patrons. (Oops, did I just say that?)

When people keep secrets from the waitress and assume that a menu that states "it is impossible to list every ingredient. Please inform your server of any food allergies" actually lists every ingredient, their dietary needs are their problem and not my responsibility. Tell me you are a vegan? Then it is my job make sure your food is vegan. Lie to me about being a vegan? F*** you.

All that being said, I remember a couple of young ladies who ordered sweetbreads for an appetizer to share before their meal. Sweetbreads, remember, are the thymus glands of young cows or sheep. They are considered a delicacy.

I served the dish and came back a moment later to see how they were enjoying them. They thought the sweetbreads tasted good, but were confused by the texture. It soon came out they were vegetarians and had never heard of sweetbreads. While they had not told me they were vegetarian, I still jumped out of my skin. I offered to remove the dish right away and not charge them. They were actually very nice to me about it, and I apologized to be nice (remember, they didn't tell me = not my fault.) They hadn't asked me for an explanation of what the sweetbreads were, but they were excited to try new things, which is a good thing...

It ended well.

Later, however, one of the cooks asked me what I did with the sweetbreads from that table. I told him the truth: I threw them away. (The ladies had eaten off of the plate.) The cook said he would have finished them. Okay, that's just gross.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Newest Breastaurant is Named Double-D Ranch

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Would have passed over this latest insult to the dignity of young women if it weren't for the absolutely hilarious comment by VLFD:

New restuarant coming to town! Located at the entrance to Caldwell Zoo! Called Peckers and BallsMen must be willing to wait tables with only a white bib around his neck! Family friendly place! Come eat with us! Veal and Sausage on the menu!

Thank you for that, VLFD. Also, if you ever want to open "Peckers and Balls" please do contact me. Just go to the Contact Me page to the left. :-) I would happily get involved in such an endeavor simply to force people to deal with the blatant sexism involved.

Tilted Kilt likes to brag that their male bartenders also wear kilts. So, what? They wear shirts that cover their torsos and kilts that go down to the knees. That is to say, unlike their female colleagues the male employees of Tilted Kilt are fully clothed.

Thanks most likely to a failed economy, people are getting desperate and more predators and pimps are using scantily clad young women in order to get people to come in and spend money on food who cares what?

And if you still think I am over reacting, please check out the slide show at Business Insider:
Breastaurants Taking Over the Restaurant Industry. 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Don't Start at the Bottom

Went on an adventure with my eldest child. We picked up some beautiful fabrics for projects we are working on this summer. We had a successful expedition and it was past lunchtime, so instead of driving home and arriving ravenous, I whispered in his ear, "Name of Restaurant?"

It's a family-friendly joint on the highway near the fabric place. Wouldn't go out of my way to eat there, but I knew my child would be pleased.

We get to sit in a comfy booth and the waitress, a seemingly nice girl, said hello and took our drink order. Lucky for her, I only wanted water. As she was delivering our beverages, she accidentally tipped her tray and the water glass slid into her chest and spilled over and onto the table.
It Happens To Us All

I'm nice, and I know that accidents happen. As she apologizes I am helping wipe up the mess with extra paper napkins and tell her not to worry. To my surprise, she sets down the water glass and says she needs to get us different straws. I almost said, "What about a different glass?" but I didn't.

My son asked me if I had ever done that. I told him the truth, "Yes, but I didn't serve the drink. I got a fresh glass for the customer."

Now, it may seem picky to some that I find it disgusting to serve a glass that has just been against the server's chest and clothing. In my restaurant, that is considered unsanitary (and yes, we all know I am a germ-a-phobe.)

But it got me thinking. I remember a waitress awhile back who didn't last with us very long. My colleague and I watched in horror as she squatted at a table. She also had a bad habit of using the table as a writing surface. She joined us from a different restaurant where she had learned these techniques. My colleague and I gave her a "heads-up" about how to behave in our place, but she still didn't last long.

Am thinking it is better to apply for a position where you want to work, and not settle for the dive place any longer than you absolutely have to. It is easier for management to train a green worker than to break a worker's bad habits. We all develop habits wherever we work, and what is acceptable (or even encouraged, such as squatting) in one place may not be in another. Bad habits are hard to break.

The kids in our dish room are told not to hold piles of clean dishes against their chests for sanitation reasons. If a waitress served a glass that had rested on her chest and spilled, she wouldn't last very long with us, either.

Get a good job: How to Get a Job ... by Me, the Boss:

More insider tales from a fine dining waitress:
Eavesdropping secrets of a 4 star waitress. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Please Don't Insult the Waitress

Okay, okay, its a small thing, but its the type of small thing that I notice.

I kept waiting tables. I was working at Carmelo's in St. Paul and decided I didn't want to be just a waitress my whole life.

Now, I am happy for Heather Ward. She is a successful eatery owner and is profiled in the below article. Mazel tov!  :-)

"Just a waitress." Please, please, don't insult waitresses and waiters. Some people are career wait staff, and I prefer to work with and be waited on by them rather than somebody who is distracted or embarrassed to be "just a waitress." I wonder how many "just a waitresses" work for Ms. Ward? "Just a waitress" does not do her job well because she would rather be doing something else. "Just a waitress" at Acme Deli certainly knows that she is looked down upon by the owner, and it certainly effects her job performance and loyalty.

Of course, this may simply be a small slip, and Ms. Ward may be a great person to work for. Sometimes former waitresses make the best restaurant bosses because they have a clue. (Sometimes.)

Our society looks down on people who hold jobs, honest employment, because the job isn't good enough. Then society expects the "just a worker" type employees to do a great job for the rest of us while being devalued. If "just a janitor" left things dirty, things would get really gross.  How about "just a grocery clerk?" Better check your receipt carefully. If "just a teacher" stopped caring -- well, yeah.

No wonder people don't want to take jobs that are, well, beneath them.

Faces: Q&A with Heather Ward, owner of Acme Deli in St. Paul - TwinCities.com

Let your child show his or her pride that you are a not "just a waitress," but the greatest waitress:

Toddler T-shirt: My Mom is the World's Greatest Waitress
Wear with pride. ;-)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Dining With Children

Under Cover Waitress FB: 

Saw this 5 Tips for Eating Out With Kids  and was amused. The article is good and includes excellent advice about dining with children in restaurants. For example:
  •  Schedule things so that young children do not arrive at a restaurant exhausted. 
  • Adults may take turns holding the baby or taking a walk (outside, if possible) with a toddler. 
  • Bring activities for the children while waiting for dinner to arrive. 
But the one part in this article when the author suggests rehearsing a restaurant meal at home, complete with menus and somebody playing waiter, tickled my funny bone.

In fact, try having a family “restaurant” night where everyone is on their best behavior. Dress up and have someone play waiter, print menus and let everyone vote on a name.

Lol. Sounds like fun, but does any family do this?

Am the youngest of a large brood. My mother has always been proud of how her progeny behave at the table. On a family vacation when I was only 3 or 4 years of age, she still recalls hearing waitresses in a restaurant we frequented during our stay arguing when we arrived. They all wanted to serve us.

We sat in our seats and ate. This was never questioned. It was required at all meals, even every family dinner during which we convened at a round table in the breakfast nook, every night of my years growing up. Every night. Sit together and eat. When the behavior is normal, it happens in public, too.

Of course, I continue this tradition of coming together for dinner with my own children.

Went out to brunch with my own brood just this past weekend. Got a lovely, outdoor table. The table next to ours had four adults seated and in the middle of their meal. Wish I'd had a camera to take pictures of the absolute dread on their faces when they saw two children being seated near them. Why do people always assume the worst? One bad apple and you'd think the whole basket was bad.

My children ordered politely, as they have been taught to do, and we entertained ourselves with a guessing game until our meal arrived.

Children are people, too.

Because I believe children should be included as members of society, I was distressed to see this headline: Restaurant Bans Kids Under 6. McDain's in Pennsylvania is implementing this new rule with no exceptions. While it is not legally defined as discrimination to refuse service to groups with young children, it does feel like discrimination.

Law and Daily Life sums it up thus:

There aren't laws that prohibit business owners from making a "no kids" ban. Under federal law, places of public accommodation, including places of food, lodging, entertainment or gasoline, cannot discriminate against customers on the basis of race, color, religion or natural origin. 

Where do "babies" and "kids under 6" fit into this scheme? They actually don't. There is no federal law being violated under Vuick's new restaurant policy. 

However, senior citizens are a protected class under the law, reports WTAE-TV. As a result, having a "no senior citizens" rule would have pushed Vuick over into breaking the law.

I am not immune to being around people who let their kids run roughshod around the restaurant. I have dealt with slobs who let their kids make a massive mess and leave it for "the help" to clean up. And nobody wants to sit next to a screaming child and not be able to do anything about it because the adults in the party choose not to take the child outside and comfort him.

It is sad when those with no manners nor etiquette spoil everything for the rest of us. I don't think that provocative signs warning parents that their children will not be tolerated is the answer, either. There are nicer ways of doing things if necessary, for example: "Please allow crying children a breath of fresh air."

We had a couple in the restaurant one night who asked to move when a perfectly nice family was sat next to them. I had to bite my tongue when she said, "We don't think children should be allowed in restaurants." I almost said, "I don't think *you* should be allowed in public, period." Fortunately, they were not my table. Every person who did anything for them that night, however, was a highly offended mother.

In the short run, this banning of children may bring in like-minded adults and boost business. In the long run, however, we are a society that continues to show children how little they matter. We don't make it easy for parents to stay home with little ones, but we don't want to pay for quality day care or early education services. We don't want to put our resources into our failing public school system. Children in many states continue to go without adequate medical and dental care. Now, we are banning them from restaurants? What is next?

I am certain that this generation of children will throw us away when they reach adulthood, because if they are anything like their role models, they won't want to pay for services for the elderly. And it will serve us right.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Sexpresso is the Busted Breastaurant Trend

The latest trend for predatory restaurants is "sexpresso." Espresso joints in the state of Washington  are requiring female baristas to wear bikinis or even to go completely topless. It has gotten bad enough that officials want to classify these coffee shops as "adult entertainment." This classification would require that only patrons 18 years of age and older could visit the coffee shops.

It seems as if they are taking over the area. Five new sexpresso shops in the same area in the same year is quite a statistic for the restaurant industry.

It is no wonder that area residents are upset. In the Seattle area, "Java Jugs" manager and employees have been arrested for permitting prostitution and prostitution. Slip a barista an extra $10 or $20, and she would let you see her boobs and allegedly her crotch.

None of this surprises me. It's like a slippery slope. Starts with requiring less and less clothing of female employees. Once your operating under near nudity, you know people aren't coming in for the food. More skin = more money. And if they don't get caught, turning tricks is next.

I'm going to get slammed for bringing Hooters into this, but it goes with the slippery slope argument and is highly relevant. Hooters is not "wholesome." The very fact that they tell you they are wholesome is evidence that they know they are not. ("I think she doth protest too much.") My boss doesn't have to tell everybody his restaurant is "wholesome." It just is. Appropriate clothing and demeanor are required at all times.

Breastaurants and sexpresso shops are havens for predatory behavior. Hooters claims to be wholesome but the "girls" know darn well what they are being paid for -- sexuality. Tilted Kilt says its all about comfort, but the uniforms don't look that comfortable. I wonder if all of the young waitresses working at the Honey Shack are aware what the "honey" refers to.

I hope the town officials succeed in getting sexpresso shops classified as adult entertainment (or better yet, simply shut down.) At least then, people would stop pretending its about good coffee.

Stay home and make your own coffee!        

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

What is a Tip Credit?

Very few states pay wait staff minimum wage. Most of us waitresses make less than
our state's minimum wage because our employers expect us to earn enough tips to ensure we go home with more than minimum wage.

Federal law requires (as do some states) that the employer figure a "tip credit" for tipped employees. For example, if minimum wage is $5.00 per hour and a waitress is earning $3.00 per hour, then the tip credit equals $2.00 per hour.

Okay, so why does this even matter? Let's say its an extremely slow night. Maybe there was an unexpected snowstorm... You get one table all night. He orders a couple of appetizers and a glass of wine, totaling about $30. He is a a good guy, however, and tips you $6. Problem: you were there for four hours, so without even considering tip outs, you have not made minimum wage. In this situation, the employer is required to pay you extra so that your take home pay equals minimum wage.

Not that it always happens this way. My least lucrative night was actually funny. Had a snowstorm but the owner was nervous about closing "just in case." It looked bleak; I asked my colleague if she wanted to pool our tips for the evening and she agreed. She helped out in the kitchen and I took the one table that evening. Similar to the above example, the lady spent $30 and tipped $6. So, the other waitress and I each went home with $3 for the evening. Truth be told, I don't think I inspected my pay stub to see if I was bumped up to meet minimum wage, but I rather doubt it.

Incidentally, California is one state in which waitresses make full minimum wage, so the concept of a tip credit in California is moot.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Executive Pay, Trickle Down Theory, and Waitress Tips

Next time you run yourself ragged all night long and then, at the end of the evening, discover that you have brought in ten to fifteen percent before tipping out, read this article:

Executive Pay at Big Companies Rose 23 Percent.

Ain't capitalism great? If this isn't proof that "trickle down economics" is a crock, then there is no hope.

Despite the soft economy, weak home prices and persistently high unemployment, some top executives are already making more than they were before the economy soured.


Most ordinary Americans aren’t getting raises anywhere close to those of these chief executives. Many aren’t getting raises at all — or even regular paychecks. Unemployment is still stuck at more than 9 percent.

Trickle down economics is the theory that rich people create jobs when they are flush. Any business owner knows this is a fallacy. Business owners create jobs when there is a demand for their business products or services. They create jobs to meet this demand. When there is little demand, they have to lay people off because without customers spending money, business owners cannot afford to pay employees. Think about it. Who pays employees to sit around picking lint out of their navels just because, "Well, I'm rich enough to afford paying people to do nothing, so that is what I'll do." Yeah, right.

If companies like Mobil and other big companies spread their profits to their employees, then more people would have money to buy goods and services. For example, the employees might be able to not only afford a house payment, but a new roof. Suddenly, roofers have work. You see, the employees are not just paying roofers to do nothing because, after all, the employees are flush. They are paying roofers to give them a new roof.

This is not "trickle down." In trickle down, the company gives the profits to the top people and assumes everyone else will get rich while the top few spend money; it does not work this way because the very rich are too few to fund the entire economy. Let's continue with the story that Mobil spread its profits among the workers via decent salaries:

So, the roofing company hires a couple of new people to meet the demand for new roofs. And they all go out to dinner to celebrate a job well done. The waitress is thrilled to get a table that is spending money;  she gives them great service and earns a twenty percent tip. The restaurant has to hire another waitress to meet the demand.

DogWalkBlog posted a great explanation of this just this past weekend. In addition to being intelligently written, Rufus is always an entertaining read. I do hope Eric Cantor is a dog lover and, therefore, reads Rufus' blog. The best is the last paragraph which I won't quote; hit the link and read the whole thing, it's worth it!

Or, we can do what we are currently doing: let the top men keep all the profits while the rest of us simply scrape by.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Traffic Faker ?!?

I have so much to say, and seem to almost always have a couple of weeks worth of posts waiting in the queu. On top of that, juicy news stories pop up often. So, instead of a Monday thru Friday schedule, will post Sunday thru Friday, six posts per week.

Looking at my sources of traffic, guess what I found? Traffic and Referral Faker. WTF?

So, now some idiot who wants to sell advertising space but doesn't get real traffic because he either can't write or is as boring as f*** can lie to some unsuspecting advertiser and pretend people go read his stuff from my blog.

Word to advertisers: you can't trust sites that want you to pay them to advertise for you. You will just need to check them out for yourself the old fashioned and time consuming way.

Heck, maybe I should sell advertising space to sellers of restaurant-type products. 
Forget about Adsense and affiliate links. 

Am rather annoyed about this:

Friday, July 8, 2011

Allergies, Restaurants and Lawsuits, Oh, My!

I get really hot under the collar when people with allergies keep them a secret. Drives me nuts, no pun intended.

When a customer has an allergy, we immediately alert the kitchen. If a customer asks about an ingredient, we ask the kitchen. Cutting corners risks lives.

Many in the restaurant industry are upset about this lawsuit. A Melfort restaurant fed a man allergic to nuts a cheesecake that had walnuts in it. He managed to survive, so the damages are going to him and not to his beneficiaries.

I, however, am happy about the verdict and glad the man won the lawsuit. Here is why:
  • He told the waitress he was allergic to nuts
  • He asked if there were nuts in the cheesecake before ordering and eating
  • Waitress was too lazy to check with the kitchen. 
There have been comments around the internet on this news story to the tune that people with allergies should "just stay home." I think our society used to feel that way about the disabled. Today, we build ramps. 

The waitress did not do her job. While it is beside the point, her job would have been quite easy. The cheesecake was not even home made; it came out of a box (yuck.) She could have read the damn label. (Why anybody would pay restaurant prices for boxed cheesecake is beyond me; but again, its beside the point.)

Here is another article on the incident that ends thus:

"You can't possibly put your life in the hands of people who are serving a table," she said.

It is unfortunate that the person quoted is correct. We would most likely work in a more respected profession if we were diligent and careful in the service we provide.

Let this be a warning to lazy restauranteurs that customer service includes service to people who tell you they have allergies. 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Restaurant Customer is Spawn of Satan

I first "met" Springs1 a couple of years ago while writing for a "we are not a content mill" under one of my many pen names. She left some extremely juicy comments and got the conversation and controversy going.  She is also every waitress's worst nightmare.

I recently discovered that she is spreading her excuses to not tip servers on the blogosphere. At great risk of giving her too much attention, she has twelve blogs (so far) that are each nothing more than a rant about poor service. Oftentimes, the service wasn't bad at all, but the customer is a temper-tantrum waiting to happen and, as I said, she is looking for excuses not to tip.
Table for one
and get it right
or I won't tip.

I maintained her use of caps and bold. Okay, here goes:

When taking the order always WRITE THE ORDER DOWN no matter HOW SIMPLE, because it's easy to forget.

Funny, stupid people assume the rest of us are stupid. We don't write the order down when we don't need to. I say this not only as a waitress, but as a diner who has been waited on by many intelligent people with working memories who did not need to write my table's order.

Always ASK the customer if they want another refill...

This is hysterical. Of her thousand pet peeves, this one is about restaurant employees refilling water glasses. Most people see *not* refilling the glass as a way to save money on tip. Springs1, however, enjoys putting us in the Catch 22 position, and withholds tip if we don't ask before refilling her water glass. And if she wants water, she withholds tip because we didn't refill fast enough. Basically, this woman does not tip.

I’ve had a couple of servers assumed I wanted “2 sides of bbq sauce” for ribs, that meant to them I wanted “2 bbq sauce’s on the SIDE”, but I NEVER said that.

Yeah, I don't understand that one, either.

Don’t ASSUME something like this: “Do you want another margarita”, if the person has ordered their first drink a margarita, because maybe the customer wants something else, so the customer has to say “NO”, which if the server would just say “Would you like anything else”, it would save time and wouldn’t be PUSHING a SPECIFIC TYPE of item on someone. WHY NOT just ask if they want another DRINK instead of being that specific? I’ve gotten margarita for the first drink, then a white russian or a long island iced tea for my second drink LOTS and LOTS of times.

Is this woman for real or a troll? Does anybody feel like they are walking on eggshells? We don't get tipped because we worded a simple question incorrectly? WTF? This paragraph reads as if she wrote it after a margarita and a long island iced tea. Springs1, somebody needs to cut you off.

One more:

When a server is pushy to get you out of there, it's IRRITATING. One time my husband and I were asked TWICE BEFORE I was finished eating if we wanted a dessert. Let customers FINISH eating first,...

Okay, actually, I have to agree on this one. Can't stand servers who just want to turn the table. Restaurants that operate that way need to go out of business yesterday.

That being said, Springs1 should learn to cook so she can stay home.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Sexy Cafes Under Fire

The sexy Vietnamese cafes in Los Angeles that I mentioned in Twin Peaks Must Be White are under fire. The chief of police is cracking down, saying they must clean up their act by changing four things:
  1. Cafes must comply with no smoking laws.
  2. Cafes must not have tinted windows (tinted windows make it difficult to see what is going on inside from the street.) 
  3. Cafes must comply with no gambling laws. Arcade games in the cafes have been rigged for illegal gambling. 
  4. Waitresses may not show any breast below the areola. Article mentions no nudity. 
My first impression about this situation was that the police were cracking down on the cafes because they were non-white. Police agenda this morning: close down the nasty asian establishments with nearly-nude, yellow skinned waitresses. Meet you at Hooters for lunch where we will stare at nearly-nude, mostly white waitresses. Or better yet, let's go to Tilted Kilt where we can look at bare, white midriffs and watch white breasts falling out of push-up bras. Just so long as they don't show any breast below the areola. That is against the law.

As much as I enjoy the irony, methinks VQT411's comment on this latest article probably got it right:

This isn't about the skimpy outfit or the smoking. It's about untaxed revenue from illegal gambling that the city can't get their hands on. Period. Ever wonder why business with those stickers outside their windows showing their support (legal contributions) to their police, fire, etc tends to stay in business longer.

Good point. Personally, I'd be fine with the police requiring waitresses wear clothing as long as it was across the board. 

Police chief: Sexy cafes must clean up by Friday | cafes, ordinance, machines - News - The Orange County Register

Here is an update from the Associated Press: New Rules Target Vietnamese Cafes in Calif.  Got some real gems in this article.

"When you're running illegal gaming and further complicating the issue by having a quasi-strip bar ... you're attracting a different crowd than guys just going in there to have a cup of coffee,"

I just love it when people state the obvious. Actually, many of the cafe's regulars live closer to Starbuck's than to the Vietnamese cafes.

It's a stimulating environment," said Nguyen, of nearby Irvine. "Starbucks is boring."  

Intellectually stimulating conversation with one's buddies?

What began more than a decade ago with waitresses in skimpy outfits morphed into nudity.

My mistake -- something else is being stimulated. I'll bet, however, that nudity is an exaggeration. Never been to one of these cafes, myself.

We just serve coffee, wear bikinis, like Hooters," Tran said.

Told you Hooter's is no better re: nudity! Actually, a bikini is closer to Tilted Kilt.

"Now it is a little boring to just come and drink coffee and read the paper," she said.
Yup, and Starbuck's is closer to home.

I used to feel bad for these guys because I thought they were being discriminated against. Now, I am not so sure what to think. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

What Traditions Do You Keep? #letsblogoff

This is my first #letsblogoff post. I found this group of bloggers on twitter; they agree to blog on a specific subject on the same day. Thought this was a very cool idea.

One tradition that is important to me that is very hard to keep as a waitress is Shabbat. Friday night at sundown marks the beginning of the Jewish sabbath day of rest. It lasts until Saturday night at sundown.

As a rather liberal Jew, I don't have too much trouble working on Saturday night even though it requires arriving before sundown. Friday night, however, has always held special meaning for me, and it has been nice to work at a restaurant that was relatively understanding. There are occasional Friday nights I am required to work, but I do have most of them off.

On Friday nights we light sabbath candles and say blessings over them. My young daughter gets excited when she realizes it must be Friday night and mommy is getting candles ready. We say blessings over wine and grape juice, then over special bread called challah. Challah is made with eggs and is braided before baking. Sometimes we add raisins to make it sweet.

Friday night is a time to rest and enjoy each other's company. No television, no computer, no gadgets. Just each other. Sometimes there are services, but most Friday nights we celebrate at home. A nice dinner, hanging out together and reading to the kids makes a typical Friday night. Saturday morning, there is always lots of challah to nosh on! 

Friday, July 1, 2011

LolCatz in the Restaurant

I am a cat lover. I cannot thank Dolbie and I Can Haz Cheezburger enough for supplying the html to simply publish this here. This has got to be the funniest LolCatz caption ever.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

stoopid waitress nevr refil mah drink!