Yearly Archives: 2013

Applebee’s Plan To Do Away With Servers

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Who needs servers?

Sound the death knell for waiters at Applebee’s because the chain announced on Tuesday that they will be installing a tablet on every table at all 1,860 stores in the U.S. These tablets will let customers order food, play video games and pay their checks because, really, in this day and age, do we even need human interaction at all anymore?

Of course the restaurant chain is saying that staffing levels will not change but who believes that? If a customer can look at a picture of a three-cheese chicken penne and then touch the screen and have that food arrive at their table ten minutes later, what the hell is the waiter for? Are we supposed to believe that Applebee’s is going to keep servers on the payroll just out of the goodness of their hearts? And customers aren’t going to be tipping computers so unless Applebee’s is going to increase the server pay rate to $17 an hour, I think servers will soon be a thing of the past at Applebee’s just like the Crispy Orange Chicken and Stuffed Ravioli with Chicken and Spinach that were recently removed from the menu much to the chagrin of many customers according to Applebee’s Facebook page.

The company says that they have found using tablets cuts wait times and encourages people to spend more on appetizers. Well, of course it cuts wait times, because there is no silly server wasting precious time saying things like, ‘How are you tonight?” and “Thank you for coming in.” And is it any surprise that people spend more money when they can just touch a picture of food that they like? Good luck to the kitchen on preparing food that looks just like the photograph that was taken in a professional studio with lighting and a dozen food stylists on hand. I’m sure that Jose will give just as much attention to his version of the Savory Cedar Salmon. Applebee’s also says that they have found that people leave bigger tips when ordering off a tablet. Yeah, right. Sure they do. On the plus side, customers can no longer blame their server when the food comes out wrong. They can blame their own greasy little fingers for touching the wrong picture of dessert.

“Excuse me, we didn’t order this Triple Chocolate Meltdown, we ordered the Blue Ribbon Brownie!”

“Well, bitch according to your browser history, you ordered the Triple Chocolate Meltdown, so shut the fuck up and enjoy. it.”

And can we talk about the actuality of having these tablets on the table? How disgusting will they become and who’s sidework is it going to be to swab them down with antibacterial wipes? If gaming is allowed on them, I can only imagine how many children are going to be running their snotty little hands all over them. And if there is only one tablet on the table and there are three kids, what will the other two be doing while one of them is playing Candy Crush. My guess is that the other two will be crying about how it’s their turn to play. I also have some concern for those folks who are technologically challenged. If someone can’t figure out how to answer the other line of their cell phone without hanging up on the other person, how in the hell are they ever going to learn how to order a Fiesta Chicken Chopped Salad with no red peppers but extra onions with the black bean corn salsa on the side?

Who knows? Maybe this is the direction that restaurants are going. Will we soon be put out to pasture grazing among other notable has-beens like cassette tapes, rotary phones and Joyce Dewitt? Is it only a matter of time before waiters and waitresses are ancient relics? (Hold up, I think I am an ancient relic…) Only time will tell, but in the meantime, Applebee’s will be rolling out their new plan in 2014. Tell me your thoughts and also, why not head over to Applebee’s Facebook page and tell them your thoughts too? If you go there, make sure you tell them that the Bitchy Waiter sent you.

A Waiter’s Revenge

fellowes_34360_paper_largeRecently, a fellow by the name of “Mike Hunt” sent me an email sharing a story. It was a wonderful tale of assholery and revenge. I have decided to take his story and make it even more dramatic. Can you tell how much is true and how much is enhanced?

It is a dark and stormy night in the restaurant at the Hotel California. The place empty with the exception of a few stragglers who are avoiding going back up to their room to fight with the bed bugs for a nice night’s sleep. As the clock ticks closer to closing time, Mike sees four women ambling towards the entrance. He sees them look at their watches and decide that five minutes before closing is the perfect time for them to come inside and sit in his station. Mike switches into waiter mode and walks to their table with four menus.

“Hello, ladies, how are you to-”

“We’re thirsty. We need drinks,” one of them interrupts. She is wearing a tight silver sequined top and Mike can’t help but notice that she resembles a Butterball turkey wrapped in foil. Her three friends are also wearing various shades of tacky.

“What can I get for you to drink?” asks Mike.

“Well, we just got here, can you give us a few minutes??” bawks one of the women who happens to be wearing feathers on her collar. “Gawd!”

Mike retreats to the side stand to begin his sidework. The restaurant is now officially closed but he knows he is there for a good while to come. A clap of thunder echoes through the mostly empty restaurant, making the woman in feathers let out a squawk of surprise. Mike wonders if perhaps she just produced an egg. A few minutes later, he approaches the table once more to see if they are ready to order.

Silver Sequin lady orders a Long Island Iced Tea and Bird Lady asks for Moscato. The other two women, one with too much makeup and the other with too much cleavage, order a shot of Patron and a frozen daiquiri. “God, the bartender’s gonna hate me,” he thinks. He notices that the lady with too much cleavage is adjusting her bra by putting her hand down her shirt.

“I’ll get your drinks to you shortly, ladies. Would anyone like to order any food yet?”

“I’m not hungry,” says Makeup Lady as she reapplies her lipstick which is a color somewhere between Fire Engine Red and Cadaver Claret.

“Me either,” says Cleavage Lady who seems content with a chicken cutlet peeking out from underneath her bra.

When he returns with the cocktails, they are still not ready to order because, hey, why the fuck would they be, right? They ask him far too many questions, most of which they could answer themselves if they would just read the menu.

“What kind of soup do you have?”
“What do you got for appetizers?”
“What’s the burger come with?”
“Do these pants make my ass look big?”

“Clam chowder, all the appetizers are on the front page of the menu, french fries and yes, your ass looks huge but don’t blame the pants.”

They eventually decide on two orders of wings and one order of nachos which Mike puts a rush on. Not like he has to tell the kitchen to hurry up at this point in the night but he is ready to see these ladies leave. Their food comes up in record time and when he goes to the table, he sees that Bird Lady has fallen asleep. Her head is resting on the table right where he needs to place the wings. One of her friends pokes her and she awakes with a start. There is a sleep line across her forehead and feather stuck to her cheek.

“Gawd! I fell asleep, I can’t believe it. I don’t want these anymore,” she says pointing at the wings with her wings. “I’m too sleepy to eat, gawd!”

Mike removes the wings from the table and from their check. They assure him they don’t need anything else and he watches them peck at the nachos and remaining wings as Bird Lady struggles to stay awake, Makeup Lady smears her lipstick, Sequin Lady finishes her drink as well as the Moscato and Cleavage Lady finally gives up and puts her chicken cutlets in her purse. Mike checks on them three more times to make sure they don’t need anything and once they are finished, he gives them their check. It is now 50 minutes after closing time and their bill is $70.

Sequin Lady gives him a credit card, he runs it and returns with their voucher to sign. They wake up Bird Lady and the four of them stumble off into the lobby of the hotel.

As Mike approaches the table to pick up the receipt, another clap of thunder rattles the room. Written on the tip line is a zero. No tip. None at all. He crams the voucher into his apron and begins to buss the table. He bends down to pick up a napkin that is smeared with lip stick when he notices a drivers license sitting on the chair. It belongs to Sequin Lady. He drops it into his apron and finishes clearing the table and doing his sidework.

What happens next is a little fuzzy for Mike. He remembers making his drop with his manager and he remembers saying good night to the dishwasher, but what he doesn’t remember is how that drivers license somehow ended up in the paper shredder, gone forever.

By the time Mike leaves, the storm has subsided. He made good money this night with the four women being the only ones who disappointed him tip-wise. He doesn’t mind. He knows that Sequin Lady will be paying that tip in other ways, namely by a replacement fee, paper work and a long line at the DMV.

Spending Thanksgiving in a Restaurant? Read This First:

Gobble, gobble, gobble.

Gobble, gobble, gobble.

Thursday is the day in the United States where everyone is grateful for about thirty seconds before cramming buckets and buckets of carbs into their faces. It’s Thanksgiving, y’all! For most folks, this is the day to spend with the family and watch the dysfunction make its presence known somewhere between the second and third courses. Some people are going to spend their Thanksgiving in a restaurant. Some of those people are doing it by choice and some are doing it because they lost the scheduling lottery at their job. It is more and more common to leave the cooking to someone else, but here are some things to remember for those folks who are going to be in a restaurant on Thanksgiving:

  • Show up on time for your reservation. Chances are, you aren’t the only people planning on dining there that day and being timely is only going to make it better for everyone. Also realize that someone else is waiting for that table when you are done with it, so when you’re finished eating, please wait until your ass is home to unbutton your pants, stick your hand down your underwear and fall asleep while watching a football game.
  • Accept that what is on the menu is what you are eating today. If you had your heart set on some giblet gravy and an English Pea salad and the restaurant doesn’t have it, then maybe you should have stayed at home. Today is not the day to ask for substitutions just because you “don’t like green beans.” Look at the menu and order from it.
  • Don’t fight with your family. You’re in public, for crying out loud. Save that shit for the privacy of your car on the way home. No one wants to see you turn into a tornado of anger when your Mom asks you for the 1000th time if you have a boyfriend yet or if you have figured out what you’re doing with your life. If you can feel the resentment building, just remember that you don’t have to wash dishes when you’re done and that should put you in a better mood.
  • It’s going to be crowded and loud. If you wanted a nice private dinner without screaming kids, drunk people and elbows jabbing you in the ribs, then maybe you should just skip Thanksgiving altogether. Whether you are having it at home or in public, it is what it is.
  • Be nice to your server. Remember that he or she is doing all the work so you don’t have to. You know how your job gave you Thanksgiving day off and you probably don’t have to go on Friday either and then your weekend is here? Your server doesn’t have any of that. He is working on Thanksgiving and will probably have to be back at work the next day and then work the weekend just like he always does.
  • Tip extra. Yes, maybe the gratuity is already included, but is it going to kill you if you throw in five extra dollars? The server is working on a holiday and I doubt he is getting paid time and half. If you’re in Texas, the server is getting $2.13 an hour which is the exact same thing he was making when he worked on Thanksgiving in 1991.
  • Use your manners. When you are rolling your butter-coated ass out of the restaurant, make sure you let everyone who is working know how much you appreciate them being there. In between your pumpkin pie belches, say thank you to the hostess, the bus boy, the food runner, the manager, the coffee girl, the kitchen crew and whomever else you see who is giving up Thanksgiving with their family so they can spend it with yours instead.

Happy Thanksgiving. I hope you will share this so everyone will know how to act when they show up in your section tomorrow.

 

edit: This post has stirred up some unhappiness for a few people and I really did not expect any backlash from this particular post. If you don’t like what I wrote, you can simply delete it from your email, newsfeed or Twitter. Or you can print it out, shred it into some cornbread and shove it up a turkey’s ass.

Every Cloud Has a Jose Cuervo Silver Lining

Silver lining.

Silver lining.

Can I be honest? (“Please, bitch, when aren’t you honest?” says everyone who has read this blog more than once.) Almost every day, I get the requisite email that says something akin to the following:

If you don’t like your job, then why don’t you quit bitching and do something else? p.s. I love your hair.

Yes, I bitch about waiting tables and it has basically become one of my jobs to continue to do so. Being the Bitchy Waiter is a job within itself. I have been waiting tables since the early 90’s and we all know that if anyone really hated something that much, they certainly would not keep doing it for over twenty years. The truth is, I don’t hate my job. There, I said it. I may deny it tomorrow but at this very second, it is the truth. Though it may seem as if this blog is fraught with negativity and full of bitterness, the truth is that we all have to find some kind of joy in whatever it is we are doing because this is the only life we get, right? This is very clear to me this week after hearing of my husband’s friend who died yesterday. Last week he was diagnosed with a brain tumor and six days later, he died. He was 36.

Boom. Done. Game over.

Why does it take something so drastic to remind us how lucky we are to be alive? No matter how bad things may seem, there is always (a Jose Cuervo) silver lining. I don’t want to go to work but at least I have a job. Silver lining! Yesterday the 7 train smelled like a fucking fish taco that had been in the sun for five hours, but at least it didn’t smell like one that had been in the sun for six hours. Silver lining! It really sucked last week when a customer knocked my tray and made me spill half a martini onto my uniform, but on the bright side, I was able to take my shirt into the restroom, wring it out into a rocks glass and have a mid-shift cocktail. Silver lining!

Sometimes on my way to work, I play a game with my iPod. I think of something and then I put my music on shuffle and I try to figure out how each song that plays can relate to what I have decided to focus on. Today, my thoughts were about living my life to the fullest and trying to appreciate each and every moment I am given. I hit shuffle and the first song that came on was one called “Stand Up” by Jessie J. The opening lyrics are:

If you surround yourself with negative people
You’ll never feel settled in or become equal, no
They’ll suppress you of your spirit and rinse you dry of smiles
So reach deep and release your inner child. Yeah, Yeah!

‘Cause you’re as old as you feel you are
And if you don’t reach for the moon you can’t fall on the stars
So I live my life like every day is the last, last, last.

Okay, it’s not going to get any better than that, so I listened to the song four times in a row and then turned off my iPod before some depressing Morrissey song came on.

I don’t hate my job. There are times it can be frustrating and maddening and annoying but there are also times it can be quite rewarding. If I can tell that someone had a great night in my section and I know that part of it was because of me, I can’t help but find some tiny sense of pride in that. Nowadays when a customer grates on my nerves like fingernails on a chalkboard, all I do is reach into my apron and take a few notes about them so I can turn them into a blog post. Silver lining!

This posting is short and sweet, much like Herve Villechaize dipped in powdered sugar. It’s Thanksgiving week and it should be easy for all of us to find something to be grateful for. If you can’t find anything, you’re not looking hard enough. For me to be reminded of how lucky I am to be alive, it took the untimely death of someone I have never met. Maybe for you, all it will take is a blog post from the Bitchy Waiter.

Have a good day.

Waitress Fired For Dine and Dash? Hell, No!

We're not gonna take it anymore.

We’re not gonna take it anymore.

Let’s talk about one of the shittiest things known to servers, the dine and dash. A dine and dash is when the lowest form of pond scum comes into a restaurant, orders a shit ton of food and then leaves without paying. It’s stealing. No two ways about it, it is stealing and too many times the server is the one who has to pay the price, quite literally. In many circumstances, a restaurant will make the server cough up the cost of the check because god forbid the restaurant takes any responsibility for the profit and loss of running a business. Earlier this week, a waitress in New York City was the victim of a dine and dash and when her boss told her that she would need to cover the $96 check, she pulled a Norma Rae on his ass, climbed up on a soap box and decided to fight the good fight. According to Gothamist, Suzanne Parratt, was fired from New York City’s Pig N Whistle on Tuesday night when three guests left without paying. Well, I spoke with Suzanne Parratt and got the story straight from her because I wanted to know what went down.

Suzanne has been in the business for 17 years doing everything from waiting tables to expediting food to managing fine dining. She knows the ropes and she also knows that it is illegal to make a server pay for a walked check. She has since obtained legal counsel, so she is unable to go into a lot of details, but she still had plenty of words for me.

She tells me that the Pig N Whistle is a pooled house so she was helping to take care of a co-worker’s table while he was on a break. She was no further than six or seven feet away and “within earshot” of the assholes’ table when all of a sudden they were gone. Their check had not even been printed yet. She knew that it was going to be an issue and when she asked her boss what they were going to do about the check he told her, ‘If that check is not covered, this will be your last night in the building.” It was her last night in the building. When she told him, “I am not paying this, it is not my responsibility,” she was fired.

“We (servers) are hard working people but we’re exploited. We are intimidated. That money would have come out of my budget for groceries or a Metro Card,” she told me. Suzanne posted her issue on Reddit the night she was fired and the next thing she knew Gothamist was calling to hear her story.

In addition to having a lawyer, Suzanne has contacted the Division of Labor Services in New York City where she has filed a complaint. She assures me she is not doing this for the money and she most certainly does not want her old job back. She is doing it because she is tired of seeing hardworking servers being taken advantage of. She wants other severs to know that it is illegal to be fired for this. Of course, we all know how that goes:

“Oh, we’re not firing you because that table walked out on their check, we’re firing you because you broke a coffee cup three weeks ago. Ummm, yeah, that’s the reason, uh huh.”

We have all had to deal with a walkout. Sometimes you have an understanding manager who will void the check because he knows that some people suck. But how many of us have reached into our aprons and paid for the walkout? I’ve done it. We all have because it’s easier to pay it then get fired and spend the next three weeks trying to find another job. It’s not fair and we should not fucking take it anymore. If I had to pay for a $96 check, that might be more than I would have made that night to begin with. And we all know that if a customer complained enough about a phantom hair in the food or that they didn’t like their steak, the manager would just void off $96 without even thinking about it, but when it comes to a walk-out, it’s suddenly our responsibility?

We have to share this article. We have to let restaurant managers and owners know that we know it is not legal for them to make us pay when some slimy piece of shit walks out on their check when we are busy running food, making coffee, boxing up leftovers, taking orders, seating customers, answering the phone, rolling silverware, setting tables and whatever else the fuck we are doing when we are at work. We are not fucking babysitters and we should not have to assume that every table is going to leave without paying and hover six inches away from every customer.

“I will not be on the streets,” Suzanne assures me. She will find another job and I know she will find one that will treat her with the respect and dignity that all servers deserve. She already has some leads and will be back in her apron in no time.

If you are being taken advantage of at your workplace, contact your local Division of Labor Services. They will help you. We cannot let this bullshit continue. When a customer walks out on their check it is the restaurant’s responsibility to cover that check, not the server. Fuck that. And fuck the Pig N Whistle too.