“Happy Father’s Day! Here’s Some Spit in Your Burger”

Yet again, we have a story about a server who wrote something inappropriate on a receipt only to have the customer read that receipt and then run to the news media to get their fifteen minutes of fame. Such is the case with a customer named Curtis Mays who was celebrating Father’s Day last week at the Bohemian Beer Garden in Astoria, Queens.

There was some kind of mix up with his food, so he asked the waitress if he could see the receipt. On it, was his order: “burger, well done, cheddar, toast bread, please spit it in it too.” Yes, this silly waitress typed in a modifier to ask the kitchen to spit in the food. Of course, and rightfully so, Curtis spoke with the manager who fired the waitress and comped his meal. I have so many thoughts rolling through my tequila soaked brain right now.

  1. How did the customer get the kitchen receipt and not the regular receipt? Clearly, he has a copy of the expo ticket; the one that prints in the kitchen with all the specifics about an order. If he asked to see the receipt, why did the waitress give him that one? Doesn’t she know how to reprint a ticket?
  2. I don’t believe that the waitress typed “spit in it too” into for any other reason other than to make the kitchen laugh. It was Father’s Day and probably busy seeing that the place is a beer garden. Typing silly things for the expo to read is just one way to make your day a teeny tiny bit more fun. When I worked at Houlihan’s and knew that my friend Randie was expediting the food, I would type all kinds of things onto the ticket knowing that the only person who would read it would be her. I certainly didn’t type “that mouse by Table 61 is back again” just so the lady at Table 61 could read it.
  3. I also don’t believe that any cook would actually spit in the food just because a waitress asked them too. For anyone to sink so low that they are willing to add a shot of saliva to a burger, they have to have been personally wronged and willing to risk their job. A cook isn’t going to do that for someone else. Besides, most of the time you ask a cook to do something extra for an order, that requests goes unnoticed. If they aren’t gonna pay attention to “extra pickles” are they gonna notice to “spit in it” either?
  4. How did this story even make it to the news? Was ABC7 driving through Astoria searching for the next developing story or did Curtis Mays pull out his cell phone when he thought he could be on the TV for thirty seconds? Granted, the waitress crossed the line, but it must have been a slow fucking news day for something this inconsequential to make it to air.

BOTTOM LINE: don’t type stupid shit onto your receipts, servers, because if you do you can guarantee there will be someone who wants to be on the news badly enough to call their local TV station and you will need up on the unemployment line.

The New Olive Garden “Commercial” Taking Twitter by Storm

I do not know who Keaton Patti is on Twitter, but this Tweet gives me life. And Olive Garden should be sending this person a lifetime supply of breadsticks for all the free publicity.

Restaurant Offers Gluten-Lite Menu, Not Gluten-Free

I am writing this blog post from Texas, the land of Lone Star beer, kolaches, and scorching heat that seers your skin and melts your eyeballs as soon as you step out of the air-conditioned comfort of practically any building. I went to dinner last night in a town called Buda and while there I saw thee things I have never seen before. The first was my brother’s longtime girl, Karen. For years, we have been unable to meet because of differing schedules and my overall avoidance of the Lone Star State. (She’s lovely, by the way and my family was right right when they said we would totally get along.) The second thing that I had never come across was something called Lingerie Football which was playing on a huge TV screen at the restaurant. It’s an actual, real sport where women play tackle football while dressed in shoulder pads, bras and panties. I could not take my eyes off of it because of the ridiculousness of it. My brother could not take his eyes  off of it because bras and panties. The third, and most shocking thing, I saw was a tiny indicator on the menu that acknowledged certain items that were “gluten-lite.” Not gluten-free, mind you, but gluten-lite.

At last, we have a menu for those people who meander into a restaurant with some cursory knowledge of a food trend they heard they should try. “Oh my god, Becky, you should totally go gluten-free. I did it for like five days and I lost so much weight and now I have the beach body I have always wanted. And it’s so easy. Just go to any restaurant and tell the servants that you’re gluten-free and they will know what you can and can’t eat. It’s great!”

Ummm, no, Becky, that’s not how it works. You need to figure that shit our for yourself. And inevitably, Becky will say she can’t have gluten and she doesn’t want any croutons in her Caesar salad and she wants a hamburger but without the bun. Becky will begrudgingly eat the disappointing salad and hamburger, but when the dessert menu comes, she will skip right over the flourless chocolate cake and decide that “a little bit of gluten” is okay and order a piece of pie with extra crust and side of wheat. This is the restaurant for people like Becky because she can scroll the menu and choose from the gluten-lite items. That way, she can be kind of gluten-free but not totally gluten-free, because, you know, to like give up all gluten is, like, so hard, you know?

This menu also lets people easily decide from items that are vegan, pescatarian or ovo-lacto vegetarian, whatever the fuck that is. I mean, c’mon, people. If you are going to have a diet so specific that I have to Google it to know what it is, shouldn’t you be able to decipher what you can and can’t eat? Thankfully, this restaurant does all the work for you. Personally, I ordered a habanero grapefruit margarita, some crab cakes, spicy cole saw and spinach dip. I don’t know which category any of those items fall under except “things I want in my belly.”

I applaud this restaurant for doing all the work for those very specific customers, but mostly, I love that they don’t promise that anything is gluten-free. Basically, they’re like, “it probably doesn’t have any gluten in it, but it might have some, so yeah, whatever. Do you want it or not?” And nine times out of ten, Becky is going to decide that as long as it pretty much gluten-free, she’s good with it. And then she’s gonna order a fucking beer.

This Woman Wants Some Attention From Olive Garden for Her Birthday

We all know how very important birthdays are. In fact, as a server, I would say there is absolutely nothing more important to me than a customer who comes into my restaurant to celebrate their birthday. The days when I have to go though a whole shift without having the opportunity to wish a guest a happy birthday are the longest shifts of all. Every server feels this way, mark my words. That’s why I felt so awful when I saw this post by Rhonda on the Olive Garden Facebook page.

It seems that Rhonda joined some type of Olive Garden birthday club several years ago and to this day, she has received nothing from them! And now her birthday is just a few days away and she is fearful that yet another birthday will slip past her without receiving anything free from Olive Garden. When I read that, this was my reaction:

 

Rhonda, I am here for you. As a professional server and someone who truly cares that you are one of the 7.442 billion people who made their way out of a womb, I want to offer you something and hope you see it before your big day: happy birthday from the bottom of my non-slip shoes! (Also a very happy birthday to the other 17.7 million people around the world who are celebrating the same birthday as you and who probably didn’t get anything free from Olive Garden either.) Although I can’t supply you with a complimentary slice of Black Tie Mousse Cake or a pile of freshly fried Zeppoli, I hope my words fill your soul as the desserts would have filled your belly. Your birthday is important to me and even though Olive Garden doesn’t seem to care abut it, there are lots of others who do. That’s what I want to ask everyone reading this blog to please go to Rhonda’s Facebook post below and wish her a happy birthday. That way she will know that even though Olive Garden doesn’t give a rat’s ass about her big day, at least someone does,.

And even though I can’t sing happy birthday to you with a group of enthusiastic servers, bussers and hostesses who have nothing better to do than to sing to a complete stranger, I hope that this small bit of Internet attention will make up for that. Happy birthday, Rhonda. If Olive Garden comes through with some free shit, please let all of us know because we truly care and we won’t rest until we know that your birthday was something special. I realize that the only reason you joined the birthday club was because Olive Garden offered it you. They clearly dropped the ball, but I am here to pick it up and run with it. You’re welcome.

Happy birthday!!

Wage Theft In the Industry: What To Watch Out For & How To Fight Back

So many people want my opinion on what to do when a restaurant owner or manager is cheating on the payroll. Very often, I hear about shady tip pools or having to do hours of sidework while only being paid $2.13 an hour. Since I’m just a bitchy waiter and know more about complaining and tequila, I asked an actual attorney to answer a few very important questions. I hope you all find this helpful.  -BW

Dealing with annoying customers can be stressful enough, but when your boss tries to screw you over with wage theft or overtime violations, that stress can reach a whole new level. If you’ve been in the industry for a long time, you know that while there are plenty of decent restaurant owners out there, there are also plenty of scumbags.

If you suspect that your employer has paid you unfairly, you might be unsure of what to do next. It’s normal to be unaware of how the law could protect you until you’ve already been denied fair pay. Fortunately, the law regarding fair wages is pretty clear and workers who have had their rights violated often have legal recourse against their employers.

Common Wage Violations

Most restaurant owners are honest and pay their employees fairly, but dishonest business practices are common enough that anyone working in the service industry should be aware of their workers’ rights. Some restaurant owners may bank on an employee being unaware that they’re effectively being stolen from. Some common forms of wage violations in the industry include:

Underpaying Employees For Side Work

If you’re a server but you regularly perform side work (folding napkins, polishing silverware, etc.), your employer has an obligation to pay you minimum wage for that time. That doesn’t mean the standard $2.13/hr base pay rate, but the federal minimum wage of $7.25/hr. This applies to tipped workers who spend more than 20% of their work hours performing side work.

Tip-Pooling For Non-Tipped Employees

Illegally pooling tips is one of the scummiest things a restaurant owner can do. Pooling tips is technically legal if they’re split between only tipped workers, but some restaurant owners decide to pool tips with other workers, such as BOH employees or even management. Not only is this a terrible way to run your restaurant and treat your staff, it’s also a violation of federal law.

This is basically a way for dirtbag restaurant owners to illegally subsidize part of their untipped worker’s wages at the expense of tipped workers – instead of just paying them a fair wage.

Failure To Pay Overtime Wages

If you work over 40 hours per week, you’re likely entitled to overtime wages. Some restaurant owners may calculate this rate incorrectly, either through ignorance or intentionally as a form of wage theft.

According to a federal law called the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the overtime pay rate is 1.5x an employee’s regular pay rate. This is not based off of the minimum $2.13/hr rate for servers, but the state’s minimum wage rate. So if you’re a server working in NYC and the minimum wage there is $13/hr, your overtime pay rate would be $19.50/hr.

What Should I Do If I’ve Been The Victim of Wage Theft?

Restaurant employees are protected by the Fair Labor Standards Act. This law sets legal requirements for tracking worker hours, overtime wages, tipped worker wages, and more. If you think your boss has been paying you unfairly, there are ways to fight back and recover what’s owed to you.

Talk To Your Employer

Not every case of unpaid wages is a case of intentional wage theft – some employers and managers are just absent-minded and make mistakes. It’s probably worth talking with your employer about the issue to see if it can be fixed. They may realize their mistake and reimburse you for the wages you’re owed.

File A Report With The Department of Labor

If discussing the situation with your employer doesn’t help and it seems like they’re not willing to give you your fair wages, then it might be time to file a report with the Department of Labor. You can do this at either the state or federal level.

These reports are confidential, so your name and the details of your complaint will be kept secret. However, there may be an exception if it’s necessary to reveal your identity (with your permission) during the investigation.

If your employer has in fact denied you fair pay, then the government will supervise payment of your back wages.

Consider Talking To An Employment Lawyer

You also have the option to file a civil lawsuit instead of filing a government complaint. Most employment lawyers offer free consultations, so you can figure out if you really need a lawyer over the phone without wasting any money.

Author Bio: Tim Becker Partner at Minneapolis’ Johnson // Becker PLLC, and lead sponsor of WageAdvocates.com. He is committed to providing clients effective, aggressive legal representation, and has prosecuted numerous individual FLSA violation claims.

Calling a Church Out On Their “Jesus Saves” Cards (That is NOT a Tip)

Anyone who has worn an apron for a living knows how incredibly insulting it is to serve a table and then get stiffed. The only way it can be even more insulting is if the customer instead leaves a religious pamphlet or card stressing the importance of Jesus Christ. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against Jesus or Christians. What I am against is people who hide behind their religion in order to justify some type of inappropriate behavior.

A reader recently sent me a photograph of one of these cards that had been left for her as a tip. Well, the server also received thirty nine cents, but that’s not exactly going to pay a phone bill or anything. The front of the card thanked the waitress for her service and asked her to turn it over for something very special. One the other side, instead of anything remotely special, were a bunch of bible quotes about letting Jesus into one’s heart. Ummm, how about I let Jesus into my checking account? Also on the back of the card was the website, email and phone number of the church, Calvary Faith Baptist Church in Chatham County, North Carolina. So, what was I to do except to call them? And record it?

I did call them. Sadly, I got a voice mail, but that didn’t keep me from saying what I wanted to say. I let them know that if any of their flock is going to give those cards out to their servers, then the flock also needs to make sure that an actual tip is involved. I reminded them that servers in North Carolina only make $2.13 an hour. Don’t worry, I wasn’t rude to them. I just wanted to get my point across. The folks at Calvary Faith Baptist Church need to understand that if they are going to leave a server a card that has a phone number and email address on it, someone might use that phone number or email address to share an opinion with them.

I do not have an issue with Christians wanting to spread the word of God. I am just here to make sure that servers don’t get screwed over in the process. If you aren’t going to leave a tip, we don’t want anything sell instead. Keep your bible quotes, coupons, candy bars, lottery tickets and apologies. Tip your server with money. They earned it.