Category Archives: restaurant managers

10 Things My Manager Never Told Me

RestaurantManager

restaurant manager

This summer has been a tough one for this old waiter. Lots of things went down, both planned and non-planned, that required me to take a lot of days off from the restaurant I work in. Luckily, I was able to get all of my shifts covered and life at the restaurant carried on as the well-oiled machine it is. (The lubrication that keeps it so well-oiled is a mix between I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, WD-40, sweat from Jose’s doo-rag and the leftover grease from the fryer.) At one point, I was out of work for almost three weeks, thanks to a planned vacation, a funeral and the restaurant being closed for a holiday. After my absence, I walked in with empty pockets and a desire to fill them. Being the only opener, there were no other servers to say hello to, but the kitchen staff greeted me warmly and welcomed me back. Five minutes later, my manager walked upstairs from the basement and laid eyes on me. ”

Hi!” I said. “How are are you?”

He replied with his monotone voice and looked at me with his despondent eyes. “Hi.”

He then walked away from me. I wasn’t expecting a parade when I returned. I wasn’t expecting a hug. What I was expecting was some kind of human connection that would prove to me that he is capable of something other than schedules, sidework charts and grimaces. After this very difficult summer, please allow me to write ten things my manager never told me:

  1. Thank god you’re back. No one has restocked the ketchup since you’ve been gone.
  2. Sorry to hear about the death of your mother-in-law. It’s hard for me to open up and be honest with my feelings, but for this I will make an exception. I know she was a part of your life for over twenty years and it must have been hard. My condolences to you and your husband.
  3. Thank god you’re back. No one has restocked the to-go containers since you’ve been gone.
  4. Hey, didn’t you go to Colorado for vacation? How was it? Last year when I went on a cruise with my family, you were so nice to ask about my trip when I got back. I told you every boring fucking detail about it. I told you about my wife who has been in here a million times and still acts like she doesn’t know who you are even though you have worked here for over two years and I told you everything my kid did on the trip too. I bored the fucking hair off your balls but you acted like you were interested and that was really nice of you.
  5. Thank god you’re back. No one has restocked the paper towels or the napkins since you’ve been gone.
  6. I’m sorry about your dog. It was always so cute how your husband would walk down here with him every Thursday night. He was a great dog. You must be really sad.
  7. Thank god you’re back. No one has restocked the candles since you’ve been gone.
  8. Thank you for being the only one who bothers to put all the tables in a perfectly straight line. None of the other servers give a shit about perfection, but I appreciate that you OCD and do that for me. Also, thank you for working here for so long and never once calling out or being late in two years and a half years. Well, you called once to tell me you were going to be about twenty minutes late, but you actually were only five minutes late which is pretty damn good. You’re really reliable.
  9. Thank god you’re back. No one has restocked the coffee or coffee filters since you’ve been gone.
  10. I fired your favorite person while you were gone because it was clear you two were having too much fun. You were always talking and laughing. Well, I didn’t really fire her, I just did what my passive aggressive ass always does when I want to get rid of someone; I cut their shifts and ice them out so they will eventually quit on their own so I don’t look like the bad guy. She talked too much to tables and laughed too often and even though this is a casual neighborhood restaurant, I decided that I would rather have my servers be soulless and cold just like like me and just like our menu.

Don’t restaurant managers realize that we need them to be human on occasion? We are all people who work together and even though they are our boss, it does not hurt to share an emotion now and then. Not all managers are like this, but so many of them are. Maybe when they got their degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management, there was no curriculum that taught basic human connection. When a doctor becomes a doctor, isn’t their some emphasis on bedside manner? Maybe restaurant managers should focus on their “bedside manner.” Over the years, my favorite bosses were the ones who took some time to get to know what my life outside the restaurant was like. Those are the ones that I want to work harder for and help them make the restaurant a success.

What are some things that your manager has never told you?

 

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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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The Mexican Rice Emergency

emergencia!

So how many times can I write about inept restaurant managers before I have told every store that needs to be told? Apparently, there is an never-ending supply of stupid ass restaurant managers so the stories are infinite. I was recently having a margarita in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park when I saw some total ineptitude happening right in my face. Thankfully, my face also had some salt on it from the rim of my glass so I was able to deal with what I witnessed. First off, I sat down at 3:45 and ordered my cocktail. Immediately afterwards, I saw the table tent that alerted me to the taco bar and drink special that started in a whopping fifteen minutes. At 4:00, margaritas would be two for one. Why oh why could I not have been told that had I waited a few minutes I could have double the pleasure of tequila? Whatever. I survived. I watched as the servers were setting up the buffet table with the big silver chafing dishes. And then the manager came out to make sure everything was going as planned. She just stood there with her hands on her hips scanning the action and struggling to look important. And then she uttered these immortal words of advice:

So if someone comes up to you and says something like, “uh, hey you’re outta rice”, then what you should do is…? Go tell someone that you need more rice. Okay?

Wow, someone needs to run out and get a stone tablet because it sounds like we now have eleven commandments.
We need a rewrite and reprint for the Bible.
Call Confucius and tell him he’s got a new saying for his next batch of fortune cookies.
Alert CNN that they have their latest news crawl for the bottom of the screen.
Send out a mass text.
Rosetta Stone is no longer the answer to the world of language.
Embroider that shit on a pillow.

Was she for real? Who the hell couldn’t figure that out on their own? I think if you threw an apron on a ten year old and told them to start waiting tables they would immediately start crying (that’s what I did on my first day of waiting tables) but they would know what to do if someone told them there was no more rice. But thank God Idiot Savant Manager was there that day. I can just imagine what could have happened if she had not passed on that vital piece of information.

Customer: Uh…hey you’re outta rice.

Waiter: What?

Customer: You’re outta rice, can you get some more?

Waiter: Gee, I dunno if I should. No one told me what to do if we ran out of rice. Maybe I should get more Jello.

Customer: But I want rice.

Waiter: Or pudding. Pudding’s good. Oh, or what if I got more hummus? Or french fries! Yeah, I’ll get more french fries, maybe. Oh God, I dunno what to do. Why didn’t someone train me for this situation?? This is horrible!

Customer: Maybe you can just go to the kitchen and get more rice?

Waiter: Lemme go ask my manager what to do. Hold on. (He goes to kitchen and then returns.) Okay, I’m back. She told me I should just go get more rice. So I’ll go get more rice.

Customer: Wow, that manager must really be a genius. She really averted a potential crisis.

Why must so many managers be oh so very very lame?