Category Archives: we are closed

It’s Closing Time So Go Home

Is there anything more irritating than that customer who comes in minutes before closing? “Are you still open?” they ask, all hopeful and eager. “Yes, we are open for 15 more minutes,” we respond, all bitter and discouraging. “Oh, good, we just made it!” they say, all relived and happy. Such was the case last week.

I get it. If the restaurant is open, then you absolutely have the right to come in and eat. But since this is my fucking blog, I absolutely have the right to bitch about it to my heart’s content. This couple came in after 10:30 fully aware that we would be closing in less than half an hour. When some people find out the restaurant closes soon, they make an effort to decide on their meal a little quicker and pay their bill in a timely manner. Other people take it as an opportunity to have the whole restaurant to themselves and use it for their own personal living room, just sitting and chatting away completely oblivious to the busser sweeping around them and the candles that are slowing burning out on surrounding tables.

I put on my big fake ass smile and asked them what they wanted to drink. “Hmm, I think we’ll have a bottle of wine.” Really a bottle of wine? No one drinks a bottle of wine in 15 minutes so I know now that they are in for the long haul. I practically ran to the bar in order to get them drinking it as soon as possible. Then they ordered their two entrees. Thank God they didn’t want an appetizer. The kitchen banged that catfish special out so quick that the fish was practically flip-flopping around on the plate when I served it. The man ate it very quickly because he could probably sense that the bartender and I had nothing to do except blow out a few candles and clear their table before we were free to go. The woman on the other hand ate that catfish like it was an instant replay in super slo-mo. Was she savoring every delicate bite or was she just doing it to piss me off? I don’t know for sure, but I go with the latter. I timed her between bites and when she didn’t pick up her fork for 4 minutes and 47 seconds, I assumed she was done. “May I take that out of your way?” I asked? “Oh, I’m really slow. I’m still picking on it.” The only picking I wanted to see at that moment involved an ice pick and her eyeballs. By this point, we were very closed. After the food sat on her plate for a few more minutes, the man finally finished it for her and I whisked the plate away.

With their check in my apron and my eye on the clock, I went back to the table. “Do you guys need anything else tonight or can I just get your check for you?”

The woman put her right elbow on the table and rested her chin on her palm. “What do you have for dessert?” she wanted to know. It was 13 minutes past closing time and they still had a third of a bottle of wine.

What I thought: Oh my God, are you serious?? I didn’t have a customer for the last 80 minutes and now you’re gonna keep me here this late just so you can eat a fucking dessert? Go to the deli across the street and get a goddamn pint of Ben and Jerry’s or go home and eat some Rice fucking Crispies. I don’t wanna be here anymore and you alone are the reason I am still here now. Don’t you see the lights are turned off in the back and everyone is sitting around twiddling their thumbs? Did you not see the dishwasher walk by a few minutes ago with bags of trash? We are closed! Get out! Now!

What I said: We have apple cobbler with vanilla ice cream, vanilla bean creme brulee and profiteroles with chocolate sauce.

Oooh, we’ll have the creme brulee!” Of course you will. It’s the one that takes the longest to prepare.

When I served the dessert, the man told me, “You can go ahead and bring the check. We don’t wanna keep you here any longer than you need to be.” Too late, sir. I gave them the check and they let it sit on the table for 11 more minutes before he gave me his credit card. I ran the card and returned it to him in about two seconds and then he let it sit there for another five minutes before he signed it and then they sat there for another 7 minutes after they were done with the dessert. Perhaps some Crazy Glue had been applied to their pants before they sat down at booth 7 but more than likely, they had no sense of time and didn’t give a shit that I had already been at work for eight hours and just wanted to get he fuck out.

They left 40 minutes after closing. Not horrible but all the worse because of how slow it had been for the hour before they came in. Their bill was $89 and they left an $18 tip. That was $9 for me and $9 for the bartender. A good tip but as far as I was concerned, I would have rather left 5o minutes earlier with $9 less in my pocket. But I’m lazy like that.

People if the world: know what time the restaurant closes and when that time comes, do your best to get the fuck out of it. Thanks.

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Big Ben, Where Are You?

My heart sank a few night ago when I saw one of our regulars lumbering into the restaurant an hour and fifteen minutes before we closed. He’s notorious for staying way past his welcome and the very sight of him made me realize that an early night was now out of the question. He plopped his gloobber globber ass onto the bar stool and ordered his first drink of the night. When he came in, the restaurant only had a couple of people in it, so chances were good that sidework could begin and we could waltz out of there within minutes after closing time. With this guy at the bar, it was unheard of. He runs his mouth to anyone who will listen and our manager/owner encourages it by actually asking him open-ended questions like “What’s new?” and “How are you?” This is not the kind of person you ask any question to unless the answer is yes or no. Thankfully, I don’t have to deal with him since he only sits at the bar, but I still feel the consequences since he won’t close his check until long after closing time. I don’t comprehend a few things in this situation. It truly baffles me that he has no issue nursing his drink for an hour after we close as we servers stand around with our arms crossed with nothing to do. What confuses me even more is why the manager/owner allows him to continue ordering drinks thirty of forty minutes after we close. “Well, we have to take care of our regulars,” he tells me. I get that, Mr. Owner, but I don’t own this restaurant, you do. You are the one who has chosen to be at the restaurant six days a week from 10:30 AM until midnight. You have no life. Well, except for your wife and kids who I guess don’t even know you. I, however, do have a life and it does not revolve around your restaurant. I work there part-time and can’t wait to get the fuck out. If you want to take care of your regulars, do it, but I don’t see why I have to stay at work for an hour after my last table has left and my sidework is done just so you can “take care” of this piece of shit.

Piece of Shit continued rambling on about nothing important. The bartender begrudgingly listened to him because he was simply trapped behind the bar. Piece of Shit takes that as interest when we all know it’s obligation. He then began talking about his trip to London that I don’t think anyone asked about. He was one step away from pulling out a projector and giving us a freaking slide show. All I could think of was I wish that Big Ben was there and ring out that it was time for him to go the fuck home. I have never been to London, so I can’t judge what he was saying, so I put it to you, readers. Piece of Shit said that London is the coldest place he has ever been. He said that the damp air seeps into your bones and the chill is impossible to get rid of. In fact, he told us that this is where the phrase “bone cold” came from. Really? Londoners, is this true? Do tell. He also said that every house in London is always cold, because none of then have good heating systems. I guess he went to every fucking house and checked this factoid out himself. He went on to say that the only place that is ever warm are the pubs and that is why people are always there. Really? I had no idea that when I go to London, I will be perpetually cold unless I am sitting in a pub. “Oh yes, I could not shake the chill. It was in my bones.” I looked at his 350 pound frame and wondered when was the last time his bones felt anything at all other than excruciating exhaustion.

At 11:56 PM, almost an hour after we had closed, he finally paid his check. At last, we could run our paperwork and I could get out of there. He left a $12 tip, so after we pooled and divided it up, four dollars of that was all mine. The bartender was stuck, but I wasn’t. Piece of Shit said goodbye to me as I left and I mumbled out a fond fuckwad farewell to his fat ass. Who knows how much longer he stayed. Last week he stayed until 12:45 AM, almost two hours after we closed. Manager/owner really needs to grow a pair and tell him he doesn’t have to go home, but he can’t stay there. Do people have no concept of anyone but themselves? I really don’t get it. And I really hate this guy.

So tell, me Brits: are you cold?

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We Are Closed, So Get Out

I almost committed murder last night. Or manslaughter. Assault maybe? What would the charge be if I violently attacked a man with a ladle because he wouldn’t shut up and get the hell out of the restaurant 45 minutes after we closed? Could I claim self defense? Or a kamikaze mission if I killed him and myself in order to save the lives of my co-workers? It didn’t matter anyway, because I suffered through this horrible event and today I am a stronger waiter because of it. Bitchier, but stronger.

The place I work has lots of regulars who sit at the bar and talk. And talk. And talk. Some of them have a serious case of diarrhea of the mouth and I would give anything to offer them a bottle of Pepto Bismol. And I don’t require that the bottle have any medicine in it. I just want to cram the bottle down their throat until they can no longer utilize their vocal chords. Is that so wrong? Last night at work was pretty busy, but it died down at just the right time. Fifteen minutes before closing, there was only one table left who was paying their check and they left at exactly closing time. The only people remaining were two regulars sitting at the bar talking about mundane crap that nobody cares about. They don’t even listen to each other; they each wait until there is a pause in conversation so they can take the opportunity to speak endlessly about whatever is floating through their brain at the moment. My sidework was done at five minutes after closing time. I was ready to go, but couldn’t because these two yappity yaps had not paid their bills and the bartender couldn’t close his checks so I could do the paperwork. My blood pressure was climbing as they continued on with their talk, completely unaware that the only reason we were there was because they felt the need to discuss very important things.

“You know what show I liked? What was it called? It had a female comedian in it. It was really good.”
“Margaret Cho?”
“No. I don’t remember what it was called. Good Grace or Grace Under Pressure?… I loved it.”

Tell me they were not talking about Grace Under Fire which was canceled in 1998. Am I really sitting here twenty minutes after we close so he can try to remember Grace Under fucking Fire that hasn’t even been on television for eighteen fucking years?

Grace Under Fire, that’s it! What was that woman’s name? Grace something? No, it was a man’s name. Erin? She was really funny.”

I wanted to scream out “Brett Butler, now get the fuck out!” I couldn’t do that though because the owner/manager was there and he seems to be fine with just patiently waiting to go home. The two guys did a Google search to discover her name and then they moved on to their next topic.

“Did you ever see Samantha Who? It had Christina Applegate in it.”
“Really? It was great. It had that lady from Designing Women on it? What was her name? The Southern one? She played Christina Applegate’s mom. You never saw that?”
“It was really funny. It was about…”

He went on to give the entire plot line of a sitcom that was canceled in 2009 as I slowly became covered in cobwebs and my bones turned to dust. I kept looking at them with disbelief. My mind was racing. Are they really that unaware that the only reason we are still here is because of them? Do they know we closed thirty minutes ago? Why won’t the owner kick their asses to the curb? If I puncture my own throat with a pen will I die immediately?

After an explanation of why one of them does not like to listen to Broadway musicals out of context (his favorite is Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, in case you were wondering)  they finally decided to say good bye. We had been closed for 45 minutes. I raced through the paperwork and punched out. As I walked home, I saw one of the guys ahead of me walking slower than a doped up sloth who just woke up from a nap. Urgency was not a priority for this guy. I passed him on the sidewalk and made my way home. He didn’t notice me as I passed him. He was surely lost in his thoughts about why News Radio wasn’t still on the air and trying to come up with a better ending for Hill Street Blues.

On the off chance that you are the ones I am writing about: No disrespect but please leave after we are closed and by all means please understand that no one gives a shit about Grace Under Fire. Thanks.

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It’s Closing Time

It’s ten minutes before closing time and most of the sidework is done.The only thing left is to blow out the candles and put plastic wrap on the ramekins of ketchup. The second hand moves in slow motion as you eagerly wait to run to the front door and lock it barring any more hungry customers from coming in. Only seven more minutes, so you go to the tray of ketchups and wrap it in the plastic and head to the walk-in. That’s when it happens. Someone pokes their head in the door and says, “Are y’all still open?” Goddamnit!

My brother told me a story last week about how he went to a restaurant with his wife and kids and their friend with his kid. They weren’t sure if the place was open so Little Bro went inside and asked. The bartender said yes, so he went out to get the brood. Once inside, he realized that they were closing in ten minutes. “Oh, I’m sorry. Are you sure it’s alright?” The hostess answered like this: “No, it’s okay…I mean you can stay…if you want to..I mean we are closing in a few minutes but if you really wanna stay I guess you can.” My brother is cool and went elsewhere. He knew that no waiter wants to be stuck at work after close serving three kids. Who the hell wants to eat in a restaurant being the only ones there while knowing that the whole crew is waiting for you to eat and get the fuck out? Turns out, plenty of people. I get it. If we close at 10:00 then it shout be perfectly alright if someone wants to come in at 9:59, but it sucks. No other job is like that. If you are a secretary (sorry, administrative assistant) who gets off work at 5:00, you leave at 5:00, right? What happens if the phone rings at 4:58 and they need you to look up the minutes for a meeting that happened in 1998 and they need copies of it in triplicate? You say, “I will take care of that first thing in the morning” and punch your ass out at 5:00. But in a restaurant, that same secretary can show up at 9:58 and order a well done steak after two apps and keep me at work for an extra hour and half.

Many years ago, while in Las Vegas with friends, we needed a place to eat. We saw a restaurant that looked cool but it was about ten minutes until 11:00 and we didn’t know how late they were serving. My friend David ran up to the hostess and asked if they were open. She gave the obligatory “We’ll, we are open until 11:00, so…” David turned to us with a big thumbs up and yelled, “Come on! They’re still open!” The three of us walked into the restaurant and I asked the hostess how late they were open. She looked at her watch and said, “For about 8 more minutes.” Oh, hell no! I dragged us outta there right then and there. David was like, “But they’re open!” David, honey-pie, sweetie-lump, sugar-bear. No. No no no. Not only does it suck for the server, it will suck for us. Our apps would come out in two minutes and then our entree is going to show up one minute after that and God forbid we order dessert. It might come with a side of hot fudge and a hair ball. And as we sit and eat dinner, we are going to watch the busser mop the floor around every table except ours. Not worth it.

Never go into a restaurant if they are closing within twenty minutes. It is just better for all of us. Servers and diners alike. Trust me.

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