Category Archives: Houlihan’s

Restaurant Managers Say the Darndest Things

Restaurant managers are a curious breed. Do you think any of them grew up wanting to be a restaurant manager or is it something that just happened? I was looking through an old journal last night and out of it fell a bev nap that was covered in writing. It was dated December 1, 1994 and written while working at Houlihan’s in Times Square. It was mostly about my frustration with that particular job and the managers in particular:

“Is it the right thing to do when I get up every day and come to this dung heap of a restaurant? And looking at the various managers flit-floating around reminds me that the life of a restaurant manager is empty. As empty as my pockets are after a typical shift at this joke of a job.”

I remember that we had a regional manger in the restaurant that day so everything had to be ship shape.

“And isn’t it funny how they think that I care if his silverware is extra clean? Owners and area managers see their restaurants through a cloud of smoke. So sad for them to think that everyone’s silver is as clean as theirs. Or that everyone’s food comes out that fast. Idiots! All of them.”*

I recall ringing in an order for the area manager and having to type in that it was a VIP so the kitchen would know to make it first and to make sure it was perfect. Meanwhile, the secretary at table 72 who comes in every other day has to wait for her salad longer than usual and no one will go through it to make sure that every piece of lettuce is pristine.

“But back to the ridiculousness of the restaurant business: it sucks. But the people you work with usually are very nice. However, the people you work for usually are very stupid. Power breeds stupidity.”

The words on that bev nap were written almost twenty years ago and it tells me three things; Number one: things never change. Number two: I have been a bitchy waiter for a long fucking time. Number three: my handwriting is immaculate.

At a recent “mandatory meeting” at work. I listen to the owner saying things that I could have written down on that same bev nap back in 1994. The corporate-speak and general bullshit that spews from his mouth is making me sick to my stomach and I find it hard it believe that he really thinks that what he says is inspiring to us.

“We all have to be on the same team, because if we’re not on the same team, it means we are fighting against each other. Our cart has to be going in the same direction. If my wheels are going one way and your wheels are going another, how will we ever get anywhere?”

Really? That is supposed to make me want to work harder for you? There must be a high school guidance counselor somewhere who is pissed off because he is missing the inspirational poster from his wall. It sounds like it came from the same people who gave us the image of the kitten hanging from a tree limb with the words “Hang in there!” Managers could do a lot better if they would just talk to us like we are people and not cogs in their food service machinery. We are not stupid. We want the same things they want: plenty of customers, an enjoyable place to work and money. Inspirational quotes are not going to inspire us.

“My number one priority is you guys. I want you to be happy and I want you to make a lot of money,” he says. Don’t lie to us. I would respect you so much more (no, I wouldn’t) if you could be honest and say that your number one priority is that the restaurant makes a lot of money and you hope that trickles down to us. Don’t blow smoke directly up my ass by saying you care about me when every time I make a suggestion you just dismiss it with “it sounds like you need more training” or “well, we have to keep doing it this way in order for us to grow.” Just be honest and say, “It’s my way or the highway.” At least then, I will know that you’re an asshole instead of you trying to conceal it with the touchy-freely crap you wrap up your ego with.

Bitter, me? Sure, I am, because I know that so many other servers have to deal with restaurant managers who are exactly the same as mine. Yes, my job knows I write a blog. Does the owner read it? I don’t know, I doubt it. And if he does, I can’t imagine that he made it all the way to the end of this post. Besides, the beauty part of me having three jobs is that I can always say it wasn’t about them, it was about my other boss. But my friends who I work with who read this will know exactly who I am referring to.

My apologies to the good restaurant mangers out there. I know you exist. It’s just that you are an endangered species.

*Even back in 1994, I was quoting musical theater. “Idiots! All of them,” is from The Threepenny Opera.

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It’s St. Patrick’s Day: Get Trashed

I hope you started your day with some pink hearts, yellow moons, orange stars and green clovers because today is St. Patrick’s Day. Yes, I am talking about Lucky Charms, nature’s perfect breakfast food other than Cap’n Crunch or Honeycombs. If you needed to have a warm breakfast, then perhaps you settled for a bowl of McCann’s Irish Oatmeal and if you are a big ol’ lush, maybe you just sucked down a Guinness. If that is the case, do not feel bad about it, for today is St. Patrick’s Day and heavy drinking is not only expected, it is encouraged. Does anyone even really know what St. Patrick did? He’s a Catholic something or other and the only hard-core Catholic I know that would be able to give me the lowdown on the guy is probably on her fourth or fifth beer by now. (Marlene, call me. It’s been a while.) Did he chase the rats out of Ireland or see the image of the Virgin Mary on a piece of Irish soda bread toast? I have no idea. Maybe he turned water into green beer? Regardless, today is the day that we all wear green and some people pull out their stupid ass “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” buttons and we go around pinching people who forgot to wear the color of the day. We go to McDonald’s for a shamrock shake and then we head over to Bennigan’s, Houlihan’s, or Maggie Mae’s Irish Pub to get as trashed as we possibly can because that is what St. Patrick and the Catholic church would want. We must honor that tradition, y’all. Get trashed. And don’t worry if you forgot to wear green. If you drink enough pints, your face will soon be the right shade.

When I worked at Houlihan’s, we had a big ass countdown clock one year counting down to the minute that people felt it was acceptable to order beer at 11:00 AM. Why people thought Houlihan’s was a traditional Irish establishment, I’ll never know. Are nachos and chicken fingers Irish? Now that I think about it, I do recall hearing a story about how St. Patrick needed to feed a hundred billion people one time but all he had was one block of Velveeta cheese and a lone bag of Doritos. But miracle of miracles, he fed those multitudes nachos until they were satisfied. That is the power of St. Patty!

I will keep this post brief because I know you are probably already drunk by now (Marlene, call me) and you are ready to go put on your leprechaun costume and run around looking for a pot of gold. I will be at work tonight serving all the drunk bitches in green but I will do it with a smile on my face. For that is what St. Patrick, the patron saint of nachos, would want. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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So Many Liars

I was sitting on the sidewalk in Times Square yesterday at 6:50 AM because I was waiting in line for an audition. Sure I was watching men pile crap into a garbage truck, I could smell the stench of someone who was probably sleeping in that exact spot a few hours before and the air was a little chilly, but it was all better than being at work. I was just two short blocks away from The Houlihan’s that I spent so many happy hours at so I want to tell a story of those days.

We used to have this bartender named Evy. She was grumpy, mean, a habitual liar and not a very nice person. I always managed to stay on her good side because if you didn’t, she would flat out refuse to make your drinks. You could be so in the weeds and then you finally run over to the bar to pick up your ten million pina coladas and they wouldn’t be there. And Evy would say something like, “Oh I must have been changing the printer paper when you placed your order. Sorry.” Yeah, she was that kind of person. I quickly learned to kiss her ass in order to make my life easier. We worked together for a long time and after a while all of her wild and fanciful stories seemed to be a little too wild and fanciful. It took me and the rest of my co-workers a long time to realize that she was making up shit left and right. One day she came into work with her head half shaved in this kind of mid-90’s asymmetrical bob deal. It was not like her to have a hair cut like that so we all asked her what made her decide to go so radically different. She had an answer:

Well, I went to Las Vegas this weekend just because I thought it would be fun. So I was there with a friend of mine and we were at a bar. The bartender was totally ignoring us and I really wanted a drink so I told him that I was getting mad and I went off in him. The man next to us, turned to me and said, “You are the meanest most horrible vile person I have ever seen in my entire life. And I want you to be in my movie. So he cast me as a gang member with a bad attitude and he wanted me to cut my hair this way. So I did. Because I’m gonna be in a movie. Me! And I’m not even an actor! Isn’t that crazy?

It was at this point that we all started to realize that Evy might have a wee case of the pathological liar syndrome. Of course the movie deal fell through. Because it never happened to begin with. Her stories were always big. Like the time she went to a Knicks game and ended up in the VIP seats “just because” or when she was going to go to Paris next week “for the fun of it” but then it didn’t happen because something else came up. If she was a Facebook friend, her status would always be like, “OMG, just because I turned down Prince William’s proposal now he’s gonna marry that skank Kate Middleton” or “I ♥ scratch off lottery tickets. Just one $500! Again.”

I don’t know whatever happened to Evy. I can”t even remember if she left Houlihan’s first or if I did. It was impossible to be her friend because you never knew what her real story was. All I knew to do was listen to her tales and nod enthusiastically so that when I needed something from the bar, she would just make it. Life was simple then. Good luck, Evy, wherever you are. To hear her tell it, she probably had plastic surgery, changed her name and got racial reassignment and is now living in the White House as our first African-American first lady.

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What I Did For Ricki Lake

I have been called a fame whore. If that is what I am because I crave attention, fame, the spotlight, and more attention, then so be it. Have I always been this way? Yes. Yes, I have. Most actors are like that whether they will admit to it or not. Over the years, there have been many ways that I have tried to get my mug on the television, from submitting to reality shows (I was a semi-finalist for the very first Survivor, but they chose Richard Hatch instead) to writing to the ladies at The View and asking if the next time they do a dentistry makeover show, can I please come on and get some new choppers. But the first time I tried one of these methods was way back in the early 90’s when I tried to get on The Ricki Lake Show with my friend Corinne.

At Houlihan’s Corinne and I used to watch television and share breakfast together before the shift started. Egg and cheese on a roll from the deli downstairs. The same deli where I met Carol Channing. We saw that the talk show was looking for guests for a “My Co-worker Needs a Makeover” episode. Corinna and I hatched up a plan. We would submit her for a makeover because she wanted new clothes and I wanted to be on television. I called the show and left our story on their answering machine:

Ricki, my friend Corinne needs a makeover so bad. She always wears the same thing and she never wears make up or brushes her hair. She’s a pretty girl, but she needs help. Ricki, whenever we go out after work, she wears her uniform and it’s all covered with food and stains but she doesn’t care. Ricki, my friend needs a makeover. Help!

We hung up and thought “whatever.” A few days later a producer called us. This was in the days before cell phones so I dunno how they got in touch with me. I had an answering service back then or maybe a pager. It was so long ago they might have sent the message via Pony Express. But they wanted to meet us! That day. Could they come to the restaurant right then and interview us? Oh shit! I ran over to Corinne and told her that the Ricki Lake people were on the way and we needed her to look like she needed a makeover stat. Truth be told, Corinne is a very pretty girl. In no way did she need a makeover and she would never have gone out after work wearing her uniform, but this was The Ricki Lake Show. If the truth had to be bent a little, then we would bend it. We forgo seeing to our customers as we set out to get prepared for our interview. Corinne wiped off her makeup and wrinkled her uniform. She put her hair up in some ratty ass pile on top of her head and I think we put some honey mustard and other condiments on her clothes. They showed up about twenty minutes later. The producer was some chick who was about 25 years old and she had a big old Polaroid camera hanging around her neck. She interviewed us for about ten minutes as we continued to ignore the customers who were dying of thirst and starvation in our stations. This was television. Priorities, people. They snapped a picture of Corinne and said they would be getting back to us.

They never did. It must have been crystal clear that Corinne just wanted a new outfit from Chico’s or TJ Max and I just wanted to be on television. She probably saw right away that Corinne didn’t need a makeover and they moved on to the next batch of potential guests. We were crushed. As the week ended and we realized that our dream of meeting Ricki Lake was not going to happen, our lives slowly went back to normal. We kept watching The Ricki Lake Show each morning and sharing our egg and cheese on a roll, but it never quite tasted the same as it did before Ricki Lake reached out and dangled a brighter future in front of us. It’s okay. Corinne and I will always have Houlihan’s.

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Thank You For Being a Friend

One of the best things about working in a restaurant is usually the people you work with. Granted there are always a few folks who you could do without, but for the most part the co-workers are one of the things that makes waiting tables tolerable. (The tips that allow you to pay your mortgage and buy food goes without saying.) How many of us have stayed at a job way longer than we should have just because all of of our friends worked there? I worked at Houlihan’s for two and a half years or so. About eighteen months of that was just because I had so much fun with friends like Jane, Randie, Corinne and Kim. (Hello ladies, if you’re reading this.) The thing is, I have not worked at Huli’s for over ten years and I am still friends with the people I met there. That says a lot about co-workers, right? On the other hand, sometimes it’s the c0-workers who drive you away from a place.

I worked at a restaurant called Josie’s once for about two weeks. I dunno what it was with all the women who worked there, but most of them were totally rude to me. They weren’t helpful and they acted like they didn’t have room for another bitch on staff so they wanted me out. When I start a job, I am nothing but nice. I am quiet, never curse, never complain and friendly to everyone. In fact, after I have worked someplace a for a few months someone always tells me, “Oh my God, you are so different than I thought you were when you first started.” In other words, they thought I was sweet, but they figured out I’m a bitch. Anyhoo, there was this one chick at Josie’s (let’s call her Evilene) who was so mean. On my first day there, I was wandering around downstairs trying to find the locker room to put my stuff in. I saw a door that was cracked open and poked my head in to see if it was the right place. Evilene was there putting her shirt on. “Oh, I’m sorry,” I said. All she was doing was buttoning up her shirt but she acted like I just walked in on her while she was taking a dump or changing her tampon. “Excuse me, there is someone in here! I don’t know where you grew up, but when you see a door closed, you knock on it first!” I apologized again and kinda laughed. “I wasn’t even sure if this was the locker room and since the door was cracked open…” She interrupted me. “Well, here we knock first, okay? Got it?” What a bitch. It was a fucking communal locker/store room. It was my first day. Get over yourself. Like I really wanted to see her in her bra and panties. When I quit two week later, I told the manager that one of the reasons I hated it there was because Evilene was such a bitch.

At Houlihan’s we changed clothes in the middle of the fucking dining room as we ate breakfast. We liked each other. We made each other laugh. It was what kept us all there. We were a family like a giant tree branching out towards the sky. We are a family like a giant tree, growing stronger, growing wiser. We are growing free. We are a family. The point is that no matter how crappy your job is, you can usually find something good about it and nine times out of ten, it’s the people you work with. Okay, all together now: awwwwww.

(Bonus points to anyone who can name the two musicals referenced in this post.)

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Scamming for Free Food


I am on vacation so you are forced to read this old tired summer rerun of a post. If I can pull myself away from the cocktails, I will write something new. In the meantime, this is all there is. My apologies.

xo,
The Bitchy Waiter

Someone posted something the other day (shout out to Rebecca) that made me remember an event that happened years ago. She was mentioning that age old custom of giving your tables a survey or comment card to fill out to ensure that they had wonderful service and enjoyed their crappy pre-cooked food. Most of the time, people will only bother filling out a form when they want to complain about something. No one ever takes the time to really compliment you on these things except on very rare occasions. The little forms suck, but there is a way you can make them work for you rather than against you. It just takes some effort. And stamps.

When I was working at the now defunct Houlihan’s in lovely Times Square, we were always busy with tons of tourists who came into the restaurant because of its familiarity. Don’t ask me why anyone would get into an airplane and travel hundreds or thousands of miles and then end up eating dinner at a place that is also in their local mall. But people did. I guess once you’re in New York you get so homesick that you need nachos and Sysco food products. Now we didn’t have comment cards or surveys there but plenty of times people would ask to speak to a manager in order to complain about the quality of food or their service. It was always surprising to me when people thought their steak or salmon tasted less than ideal or that they thought the service was sub-par. C’mon. It’s Houlihan’s. In Times Square, for fuck’s sake. Of course everything there will suck ass. Eventually I had had enough of people dissing my service. Granted, my service sucked, but I was sick of bitches telling my manager about it. I devised a plan. A very special Bitchy Waiter plan.

One night I typed a letter from a “customer” that praised my serving skills. I went on an and on about how I went above and beyond their expectations. How I recommended what they would like the most on the menu and then how delicious the food was. I even wrote some fake ass bullshit about how good I was with their children and how I made them laugh and finish their veggies. I also wrote that I suggested which Broadway shows they would enjoy. Basically, I said that I was an angel sent from Heaven so that I could serve at Houlihan’s. I then put that letter into an envelope, stamped it and addressed it to Houlihan’s. Then I put that envelope into another envelope and sent it to my friend who lived in Georgia and mailed it to him. When Ron got the letter, all he had to do was drop it back into a mailbox so it would be postmarked Georgia and no one would ever suspect that I wrote it about myself.

A few days later, the letter appeared. My manager was elated. She was so proud of me that she stapled the letter to the bulletin board so everyone could see what high standards they needed to live up to. I was the superstar waiter of Houlihan’s Times Square. Only a couple of people knew that I wrote that shit myself while most people just couldn’t believe that someone would write that about me. But there it was in black and white and hanging in the kitchen. And it was postmarked from Georgia so it must be true. The letter stayed there for a few weeks. Best of all, my manager rewarded me with a $50 gift card for TGIFridays. Yep. And all it cost me was about ten minutes of time and two stamps. It really is one of my proudest moments. My manager would be so disappointed if she knew the truth. There was no family in Athens, Georgia who loved me. I’m sorry, Gladys. But thanks for the free food.

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