Monthly Archives: October 2017

Restaurant Boss Stands Up For Staff and Shames Horrible Customer

All too often, we hear about a restaurant manager or owner who is more than ready to throw a server under the bus when a customer complains about something. How many times have we as servers tried to reinforce a restaurant policy only to have the customer demand to speak to a manager and then the manager caves in and lets the customer get away with exactly what we were trying to prevent? Well, such is not the case at Angelina’s Ristorante and Wine Bar in Ogunquit, Maine.

On October 29, a customer named Karen Bailey tried to finagle a free meal out of the restaurant. Although the details aren’t clear as to how she was doing it, according to Angelina’s Facebook post, she ate the meal and then made a scene, all the while treating the servers with disrespect. That’s when Dave appeared and took charge of the situation. He stood up for his server and called the cops who escorted Karen’s ass right out of the restaurant. Karen threatened to leave bad reviews on Yelp and Trip Advisor because of course she did. That’s Karen’s way. Apparently, Dave’s way is to take care of his employees and then shame the people who treat his staff like shit.

All bow down to Dave.

Others corroborated the story.

Says Dawn on Facebook:

We were there during the incident. The first thing that came to my mind was how impressive it was the way David had his server’s back and wasn’t taking this woman’s crap. He also made every attempt to move her from the dining room while she was being abusive so that she couldn’t disturb his other customers. It’s not that way everywhere and it’s so great to see a boss willing to go to the mat for his/her employees.

Says Kaity on Yelp:

While we were enjoying our dessert, there was an altercation between a customer and the staff. She was being extremely rude and disruptive, and extremely disrespectful to the staff. The staff were doing everything they could to try to appease her (while still being incredibly attentive to the rest of the patronage). It became clear that she was trying to get a free meal, and she was asked to leave by the owner, David. She refused and the police were called. It was nice to see that David had his employee’s back in this situation and didn’t put up with trying to be swindled.

Yes, Dave. YES! On behalf of every server who has a boss who doesn’t stand up for us in these kinds of situations, thank you.

Angelina’s Facebook page also says that a full video of the incident will soon follow and I am anxiously awaiting it. I have the popcorn popped, Dave. Bring it!

Corporate Restaurant Threatens Staff For Not Upselling

Anyone who works in a chain restaurant has had to face the challenge of “up-selling.” It’s a necessary evil in the world of corporate dining and most servers are used to it. As a customer, I hate it because if I want bottled water, I’ll ask for it. And just because my server suggests a Blue Ribbon Brownie isn’t going to make me want to eat one. However, if we choose to work in certain restaurants, that is the price we pay. It isn’t uncommon for managers to run incentive contests in an effort to boost sales. In fact, I appreciate those contests because if it means I am going to get to leave work without doing sidework, I will sell the hell out of some cheeseburger egg rolls.

What I don’t appreciate is this sign that pretty much threatens a server’s livelihood if they don’t sell certain items. I won’t say the name of the restaurant because I don’t want to trash this place anymore than I already have in the past, but you can probably deduce which one it is by some simple sleuthing. It seems that management is perfectly alright with taking a server off the schedule for a whole week if they don’t upsell and collect enough points. Anyone who doesn’t hit 150 points doesn’t get to make any money for seven days, but the person who gets the most points gets a $50 gift certificate. (At least I think that’s what it says. Part of the flyer is obscured.)

That’s some bullshit right there.

First off, only one person gets rewarded but an unlimited number of people can be punished? How is that okay? What if ten servers don’t collect enough points that week and are off the schedule? There won’t be enough servers to staff the floor and the remaining servers are going to be forced to pick up shifts and work doubles. Maybe those people, after busting their asses for seven days to add toppers to some fucking chicken fingers, want a day off. And let’s assume that someone is working six shifts a week and averaging $75 per shift. If they get removed from the schedule, they are out $450. However, the top seller is only going to be rewarded with fifty bucks? That server should be rewarded with $450! That’s a huge discrepancy.

Secondly, no server should lose $450 just because they couldn’t persuade ten customers to order a shrimp skewer. Maybe nobody wanted a fucking shrimp skewer. Maybe the server said to every person who sat in their section, “Can I offer you the Grilled Shrimp Skewer Salad today?” and every single customer replied with, “No, that salad tastes like ass.” Why should the server be taken off the schedule because that server’s customers wanted to make up their own minds as to what they wanted to eat?

Thirdly, that last line of the flyer really rubs me the wrong way: “Winner takes all- who is the top seller, not server?” Is this what kind of environment the manager wants to create for the guests who dine in their restaurant? Do they really want their customers to constantly be on the defensive with their server because of a constant need to push certain food items on them? I would expect that a good manager would want a staff who provides great service to customers and not punish a server who, although great, didn’t sell enough Reuinte Ritas, whatever the fuck those are.

Listen, Corporate Restaurant That Shall Not Be Named. It’s totally fine to reward your staff for doing a great job and selling bottled waters in an effort to increase check averages, but to threaten to take someone off the schedule for a week for not doing so is downright shitty of you. Again, I don’t want to say the name of the restaurant, but it’s just not cool. Show some respect to your staff and maybe they will show some to you in return. By forcing them to sell things that maybe some customers simply don’t want is only going to make the servers resent working for a company where it’s clear that money is more important than the employees.

Again, I won’t say the name of the restaurant.

Not gonna say it.

Nope.

Okay, click here if you want to know who it is.

Linda F. Gives Red Lobster 1 Star!

This week’s 1-star review comes from a woman who is very upset about the service she received when she and her husband went to dinner at a Red Lobster. According to Linda, she was mistreated by the hostess and the manager and hated the table she was forced to sit at because it was near the restroom. Because of this, she stiffed her server who she acknowledges did a very good job.

Hey, Linda, that ain’t cool. If your server did everything right but you were upset because of things that were out of her control, you should still tip her. Why should Missy be punished because of the actions of others? You say yourself that she always had plenty of Cheddar Bay biscuits for you and she was very sweet, but you can’t find it in your heart to leave her a tip? Granted, Amanda the hostess and Bobby the manager did seem rather rude, but I would hope that you could show your appreciation for the one person who was nice to you. You can’t be mad at her because the restaurant didn’t comp your food.

People need to understand that we servers always want the best for our customers because the happier the customer is, the more likely it is for us to get a decent tip. What Linda did is wrong and I am not just talking about her hair and makeup. Seriously, it looks like she did her hair by sticking her wet hand into a toaster and her make up looks like a melted candle, but I digress.

Linda says her husband is 7’ 9” tall and that’s why they didn’t want to sit in the booth. I get it, Linda. I am actually with you on that one. The hostess should recognize when someone is going to be uncomfortable and be willing to adjust the rotation for the sake of the customer’s experience. Amanda failed you on that one. And for Bobby to be visibly taken aback by the appearance of your husband is very, very unprofessional. We in the world of customer service should treat all customers the same, no matter what they look like. (Side note: if your husband’s skin is truly green, he might should see a doctor. That does not sound right at all.)

In this case, it sounds like all parties missed the boat. Amanda and Bobby treated a customer poorly, but then Linda and Frank turned around and mistreated their server. Everyone loses here: Missy lost a tip, Red Lobster lost a customer, Bobby and Amanda lost respect, and Linda lost her dignity by doing a Facebook live video looking like she had one foot in the grave.

A Horrible Little Girl Sat in My Section

One of my regulars who comes in about twice a month always sits at a booth alone and reads a book. She’s very nice and we have a good relationship. I can tell that she relishes her alone time on Thursday nights and she usually brings a book to keep herself company. This night, she shows up with her 10-year-old daughter and I know now why she always seems so happy to be with just herself.

That little girl is awful. She’s like a combination of Nellie Oleson and Veruca Salt with a dash of
Regina George. (And yes, I realize that two out of three of those references are for people over the age of 40.)

Mom still has her book. This time it’s The Book of Dust, which is a newly released fantasy novel that probably helps transport her to a time when she didn’t have a rude little parasite living off her. The little girl is wearing earbuds and watching a show on an iPhone. When their food arrives, Mom asks Girl to turn off the phone and remove the headphones. The daughter only does 50% of what was asked of her.

“Did you not hear me say to take out your earphones?“ asks Mom.

Begrudgingly, she does it and pouts her way through her mac and cheese. When I ask if they want dessert, the little girl is suddenly interested in something other than her darkened iPhone.

“Tonight we have a chocolate flourless cake with chocolate ice cream and chocolate sauce, a walnut and cranberry banana bread pudding served warm with vanilla ice cream and a pumpkin pie with graham cracker crust and a maple whipped cream.”

The girls eyes light up at the mention of pumpkin pie. “I want that!” she says.

“Mommy doesn’t like pumpkin pie.”

“Well, Sarah does, so too bad for you.”

This is where I do a double take. Did this little girl just talk back to her mother like that? I don’t have children (“No shit,” says everyone reading this blog.) but that would not fly with me.

Things I would have said if my 10-year old said that to me:

  • Well, we’re getting the chocolate cake and you don’t get any of it.
  • Don’t you use that tone with me, young lady.
  • That’s it. Give me your iPhone right now and you can have it back when you’re 13.
  • Then you need to get your ass out into the real world and get yourself a job so you can pay for your own freaking pumpkin pie.
  • Why did I ever think having a child would be a good idea? You make my life miserable.

But the mom chooses not to say any of those things. Instead, she heaves the heaviest sigh I have ever heard and says, “Okay, I guess pumpkin pie then.”

When I bring the dessert to the table, I place it in front of Sarah.

“Your mom is pretty cool for getting pumpkin pie for you guys when she doesn’t even like it, huh? You’re pretty lucky.”

She ignores me, because she is fixated on maple whipped cream which is obviously the next best thing to an iPhone.

“You have a good mom,” I continue.

“What do you have to say about that?” Mom asks her daughter.

Sarah, with a mouthful of pumpkin pie, shrugs her shoulders and says, “I like pumpkin pie, what can I say?”

Mom rolls her eyes and takes a bite of pumpkin pie, confirming that she doesn’t like it. “I just don’t get it,” she says. “It tastes like pumpkin. Bleh.”I agree with her assessment on pumpkin pie.

Moments later, Sarah is playing a game on her iPhone when her mother says it’s time to leave.

“But wait, I need to finish this game!”

“No, we’re gonna go, c’mon.”

“Wait! I’m not ready!”

“Sarah, we need to go. Put on your jacket.”

“No!”

Things I would have said if my 10-year old said that to me:

  • Fine, good bye. The locks will be changed by the time you get home.
  • Give me that fucking iPhone right this goddamn minute.
  • Your father was right. He should have worn a condom.
  • You’re the worst.

What the mother actually said:

  • Okay, I will be outside waiting for you.

And Mother left as Sarah sat in the booth for several more minutes to finish her game.

I’m pretty sure the next time the mother comes into the restaurant again, it will be just her and a book. And I promise you that I will give her the best possible service because now I understand how truly special her alone time is.

Can Christians Please Stop With The Religious Pamphlets For Tips?

Well, it happened to another server: instead of an actual tip that could be used to pay for rent and groceries, they received a religious pamphlet explaining the virtues of Christianity. We’ve all gotten them and we all hate them, especially if it’s the only tip on the table. A good soul might get you into heaven, but it won’t satisfy your landlord.

The server who received this “tip” sent it to me and the big surprise with this flyer is that it had the name and address of the church on the back of it. So I called them and recorded the conversation:

I won’t post the name and address of the church because I don’t want to be accused of harassment or cyber bullying again, but I did want them to know that they can spread the word of god all over the place and they can leave as many flyers as they want to, but servers need money too. It’s not okay to leave a piece of paper in lieu of a tip.

The inside was full of bible verses:

 

2 Corinthians 9:7
Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

In other words, the more you give, the more God will love you. So if you’re going to give your waiter some paper as a tip, make sure it has a picture of one of our forefathers on it, preferably Abraham Lincoln, Alexander Hamilton or Andrew Jackson. If you’re going to leave bills with George Washington on them, more is better than one.

Hebrews 13:2
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.

In other words, the person you are leaving a flyer for may already be a Christian or just straight up a better person than you, Christian or otherwise.

Proverbs 11:20
They that are of fraudulent heart are abomination to the Lord.

In other words, don’t leave the flyers that look like money, because that’s just rude and misleading.

I doubt my phone call will make any difference in the world, but it did feel good to let someone at the church know how servers feel when we get these as tips.

Restaurant Outed For Using Popeyes Chicken

 

Well, this is a different take on 1-star Yelp reviews: this one may actually be justified! Last week, Tyler H. went to have breakfast at Sweet Dixie Kitchen in Long Beach, California. While waiting to be seated, he noticed two boxes of Popeyes chicken being brought into the restaurant and assumed it was a snack for the staff. Or was it? He quickly donned his Jessica Fletcher Halloween costume and ordered the chicken and waffles so he could ascertain if the chicken served was indeed from a fast-food place.

“Very familiar and very suspicious,” he said as he took his first bite. “I need to investigate thoroughly!”

Rather than snoop his way into the kitchen and risk getting his costume all dirty, Tyler simply asked the server how they make their fried chicken and the server spilled the red beans and rice.

“It comes from Popeyes,” he answered.

Well, Tyler went directly to Yelp to share this info with the world (and give them one star, of course) and the owner of the restaurant replied.

“We PROUDLY SERVE Popeyes spicy tenders- the best fried chicken anywhere and from New Orleans- which are delivered twice a day,” said Kimberly S.

She goes on to explain that plenty of their other food items are outsourced, like a gumbo she buys from a friend at a farmers market and some jams that are locally made. She gets a bit snippy saying that neither do they grow their on vegetables or mill their own flour and they “always get by with a little help from our friends.”

Ummm, Kimberly. Popeyes ain’t your friend, girl. Popeyes is a major fast food corporation that does about $222 million in sales a year. Buying their food and reselling it as your own isn’t quite the same thing as taking a stroll to the farmers market on Saturday morning and buying a few quarts of gumbo from an independent contractor. And, while Popeyes is fine for fast food, I don’t know many people who would claim it to be the “best fried chicken anywhere.” Like, anywhere? In the world? I dunno about that. And I get that your restaurant can’t accommodate a frier for you to make your own fried chicken, but then maybe your menu should reflect the capabilities of your kitchen. What you’re doing is not how it works! If you want to keep on selling Popeyes fried chicken, maybe your menu should tell your customers where the chicken is coming from. That way, if they don’t feel like spending too much money at your restaurant, they can swing on over to Popeyes and pick up a chicken tenders combo meal and pair it with some Eggo waffles from Costco. And I don’t even want to know how you warmed up that boxed fried chicken before putting it on a plate and selling it for way more than you bought it.

I gotta give it up to Kimberly though for standing behind her decision. If she’s smart, she can capitalize on this blip of publicity and embrace that she loves her chicken from Popeyes. Slap a Popeyes sticker on your menu and hope you don’t hear from their lawyers. I bet you can get someone to dress up in a Popeye costume and pass out free samples in front of your store. (I can do that for you. I have experience. I was Popeye at Elitch gardens amusement park in Denver during the summer of 1987. That story will be featured in my second book about all the jobs I have ever had. Popeye was job #8 out of 106. You can buy my first book here.)

What have I learned here, people? Well, I have learned that sometimes a 1-star review on Yelp can actually mean something. I have also learned that if you want to run a restaurant, you can just buy your pre-cooked food from wherever the hell you want and call it your own. The last thing I have learned is that there is a Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen too close to my job and I will probably be having it for lunch on Saturday or Sunday.

Read Tyler H.‘s review of Sweet Dixie Kitchen on Yelp