Applebee’s Customers Need To Calm Down

The world is a glorified shit show right now with the entire global population struggling to protect themselves from Covid-19 and figure out how they’re going to pay their bills since basically everyone is unemployed right now. Be that as it may, there are still customers out there who are going to the Applebee’s Facebook page and complaining about their experiences and then complaining some more when they don’t hear back right away. Since the Applebee’s corporation is no doubt up to their ears in spinach and artichoke dip and a myriad of other issues, I thought I’d do them a favor and respond to some of their customer complaints on their behalf. You’re welcome, Applebee’s.

First we have Ann:

Ann, I’d like to remind you that there is a global pandemic happening right now. I’m sure that whatever occurred at your local Applebee’s was tragic for you, but there are bigger fish to fry right now and I’m not talking about their double crunch shrimp or blackened tilapia. That you haven’t heard back from Applebee’s yet about your overcooked burger or a overcharge on your credit card is not surprising since Applebee’s is trying to figure out how to take care of their employees and keep their business afloat in this unprecedented time. Maybe they just haven’t had a chance to reply to your email yet because they have been going through thousands and thousand of enquiries from people asking how to file for unemployment insurance. Perhaps you can just climb off of your high horse for a couple of weeks and realize that the world does not revolve around you. Calm down, Ann. Give Applebee’s a chance to prioritize their emails and I’m sure yours will eventually float to the top like a wet turd in a dirty toilet.

Now allow me to move on to Jen:

Jen is very upset that the 25¢ buffalo wing promotion is not valid for takeout and delivery. Jen. Girl. That promotion is clearly to get customers into the restaurant so they can order beers and cocktails and other food. It’s not so that you can drive up and buy 100 wings for $25 and then feed your quarantined family for five days. Maybe the TV commercial didn’t specifically mention that, but it’s probably because they assume people have half a brain in their skull. And maybe they haven’t had a chance to reshoot the TV commercial to make it more clear because they’ve been busy dealing with laying off thousands and thousands of employees. Jen, rather then using your precious time to complain about the lack of cheap 25¢ food, why not use the time to wash your hands and stock up on pasta, dried beans and toilet paper. News flash: there’s a global health emergency and no one cares about your need for buffalo wings.

This concludes my customer service interactions on behalf of Applebee’s. In this crazy time, we all need to figure out what we can do to help one another and I figure I can help Applebee’s by explaining to some of their customers that their problems just aren’t as big as they think they are.

Stay safe, everyone.

F*ck The Airline Industry. What About the Service Industry?

I don’t care about the airline industry right now. I know they employ thousands of people, but how come it’s okay for them to ask the federal government for a $50 billion bailout while my restaurant is struggling to stay open by offering takeout and delivery? If my boss shuts down and can’t pay his mortgage, can he ask the government for a few thousand dollars to get out of the hole? No, he can’t. The airlines are not the most important industry in our country.

United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz made over $10 million last year in salary and bonuses. In October 2019, the Chicago Tribune reported that cheaper jet fuel and slightly higher fares helped United Airlines boost third-quarter profit 23% to $1 billion. A billion dollars! Why is that we regular Americans are always told to have enough money in our savings account to get through few months in case we lose our jobs, but the fucking airline industry has one bad week and they suddenly need another goddamn bailout?

Every time I’m on Twitter or other social media, I’m seeing lots of pleas for signatures on petitions that ask the government for help with small businesses and the service industry. But why do we have to create all these petitions and then beg our friends to sign them just so the government might see them? Shouldn’t the restaurant industry be automatically part of the conversation? Every time our president is talking about how to help the country, he’s worried about big businesses, like airlines and cruises and banks, but when will he pull his head out of his orange ass and realize that there are little people suffering too? It seems to me that when the government starts considering bailouts for big companies, they should also be thinking about the small ones. Every restaurant worker I know is currently either out of work or has seen drastically reduced hours and they’re worried about how to pay their bills. Ironically, it’s the small business owners with the least amount of money to spare that seem to care the most about their employees. Huge companies like McDonald’s and Pizza Hut don’t give a rat’s ass about paid sick leave and they have way more money in their bank accounts than the owner of a small neighborhood restaurant.

Mayors and governors are like, “Hey, let’s shut down all the bars and restaurants to slow the spread of the coronavirus.” Yes, this is a great idea and I know it needs to happen. It would just be nice if one of them would also say, “we realize how many people this will hurt financially, so we will also be suspending student loans payments, forgoing late fees on credit cards and offer a rent abatement.” Or something.

I’m no financial expert. All I know is I’m sick and tired of hearing about how much the government will do to help out the fucking airline industry. If the airlines can make literally billions of dollars in a year, they should learn how to be better at saving some of it. If every restaurant owner in this country was making millions of dollars a year in profit, they would be saving it. They’re used to saving money because they know the service industry is a fickle business and if there are three weeks of bad weather, they need to be prepared for it. Maybe the CEO’s of the airline industry should try that for a change instead of asking for anther handout every time our economy tanks. Sure, lots of people fly in airplanes, but you know what? Way more people go out to eat at restaurants and when the coronavirus dust settles, you know what people are going to want to do? They’re going to want to be social again at bars and restaurants. I guarantee that after this nationwide lockdown is lifted, way more people are going to go out to eat than book a fucking vacation.

That being said, there is one petition I have decided to support. Some of the nation’s top chefs are behind it and they know that if we ever want to have an industry to go back to, we’re gonna need some help. I hope you’ll sign it.

Bottom line: Everyone is suffering, from airline pilots to bus boys to retail workers. I just wish that small businesses and restaurants seemed as important to the economy as the airline industry. We are all important and we all deserve help. And before anyone jumps on me for only stating the plight of the restaurant industry, please remember that this page is called “The Bitchy Waiter.” It’s what I do.

A Server’s Thoughts on the Coronavirus

Has there ever been a moment in the history of serving when every single waiter and waitress across the world was feeling exactly the same way? Maybe on Cinco de Mayo all the servers in Mexican restaurants do or servers in a sports bar all share an emotion on Super Bowl Sunday, but right now, thanks to the coronavirus, every single server in the world is scared.

Restaurants across the country have shut down or had their hours drastically reduced. Here in New York City, restaurants can stay open for takeout and delivery, but that could change at any second. My restaurant will be open, but only needs one person to take the orders and bag things up, so I acquiesced and offered that position to the bartender. I did that for two reasons: Jonathan works there full time and it’s his only source of income and he might need those hours more than I do. Also, I’m lazy.

Severs, bussers, bartenders, hosts, managers and back of house are all looking at unemployment and it’s a scary and unprecedented time. As someone who has spent the last decade blogging and creating server-related content, I am now struggling to figure out what this blog and my Facebook page should be doing. While I want to continue being the voice of servers and shining a humorous light on our job, I also want to be mindful of our situation. Sharing a “Karen” meme or making a video about an old lady who wants a hot tea just don’t seem right. over the last few days, I have been bombarded with requests to share petitions for a government restaurant bailout and GoFundMe pages and foundations, but I haven’t shared anything yet. This isn’t because I don’t care. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. I care so much that I desperately do not want to share bad information and it’s going to take time to figure out what course to take. And by the time something is figured out, the whole world has changed again.

In the mean time, I want to say this: our country will get through this. China has seen a leveling off of new cases, but they are several weeks ahead of us and they also took drastic measures that we in the United States are only just beginning to take, but we will eventually get through it. Until then, we are going to have to depend on one another to help. Just yesterday, my friend Kendall who works at bakery gave us loaves of bread that were not being sold. I met a friend on the street to give her a 500-piece jigsaw puzzle we had already put together once. Reach out to your friends and see what you can do for them to help. Ask your elderly neighbors if they need anything. Send a text to your friends who live alone and don’t have the luxury of being able to talk about what’s going on in the world. If you’re stuck at home, do some spring cleaning, start a blog or take those naps we never have time for. As for income, I just don’t know. None of us do. I worry about people having to choose between paying rent or their student loan and I hope that our government recognizes this dire situation and relaxes deadlines or maybe even forgives some debt.

Just know that I will still be here doing my best to entertain and inform while thinking of all of you who are struggling through this. The only comfort we can take is that we are not alone. Maybe after all of this is said and done, we will realize that our world is a lot smaller than we thought and we’ll be able to appreciate life in a different way. Once the world has the coronavirus under control, our restaurants and bars will roar back to life with a ferocity we have not known. Glasses will be clinking, tables will be turning and everyone will once again relish the opportunity to be social. Until then, be strong, love your friends and wash your hands.

One Time at Bennigan’s…

I love my Mammaw Lillian. I don’t necessarily love being 22-years old and living with her in a suburb of Houston, but this is the path I am on. In an effort to save money so I can move to New York City, I’m living in my grandfather’s former bedroom and blasting Madonna and Broadway musicals in an effort to pretend I’m in my own studio apartment. Soon, I will start my new job. After a few years of working in restaurants as either a busser, food runner or four unfortunate weeks as a dishwasher in high school, I am now taking the extraordinary step of wearing an apron for a living with my first ever serving job at a chain restaurant across the street from the mall. Bennigan’s has some serious expectations when it comes to menu preparedness and I must take three tests before I am allowed on the floor. Every night for two weeks, I sit on Mammaw’s couch and she quizzes me with a set of flash cards that have every single ingredient for every single dish on their extensive menu. By the time I take the test, she knows it better than I do.

“Mammaw,” I yell as I run into the house after acing it. “I passed! I got 95%!”

“Oh, baby, I knew you could do it. I’m so proud of you!”

She pats both of my cheeks with her hands, slightly harder than is comfortable and gives me a hug as if I had just passed the bar exam.

“You can do anything you set your mind to,” she tells me. “Want me to make a chocolate pie to celebrate?”

She doesn’t wait for me to respond because the answer to that question is always yes. She heads to the kitchen and gets out her rolling pin and creates the most amazing dessert without looking at a recipe. It’s about a thousand times better than the brownie bottom pie from work that I know all the ingredients to.

At the restaurant, we are encouraged to have “flair” so that we can express our individuality. Flair can be anything from a bandanna to a button to a pair of suspenders, but one night, when I see Mammaw sitting at her sewing machine, I have an idea.

“Can you help me make an apron for work?” I ask her.

“Of course. I have big ol’ bag of fabric in that closet right there. You wanna get it down for me?”

Inside the bag are dozens and dozens of scraps that maybe someday will be part of a quilt. I find a piece that speaks to me and we spread it out on the dining room table. It’s floral with hints of pink and purple which would be awful as part of a quilt, but will be perfect as an apron that will set me apart from all the other servers at work.

“Now, go get me your apron so we can use it as a pattern. This’ll be easy.”

Watching her with my apron and then cutting the floral fabric, I flash back to when I used to stay with Mammaw as a kid for a couple of weeks at a time in the summer. That’s when she first taught me how to sew. On one visit in about 1978, we made Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls together. Andy was never quite finished and he spent the rest of his doll life only semi-clothed. He now lives in a box in my parent’s attic, still half naked and his face not fully embroidered, but we worked on our dolls for a good two weeks.

“Honey, can you thread this needle for me?” she’d ask. “I can’t see it.”

My eleven-year old eyes and nimble fingers deftly threaded the needle and I couldn’t understand why she wasn’t able to do it herself. Mom and Dad would come to drive me back to Victoria at the end of my visits. I always hated saying goodbye. I’d sit in the backseat and cry because I was so scared it would be the last time I would see her. She was my world when I was a kid and now over twenty years later, I’m here again sitting at her sewing machine. The two of us examine the apron and within twenty minutes, I have the best possible piece of flair for my new job.

“Everyone is going to be so jealous of my apron,” I tell her as I tie it around my waist, so happy to finally be a waiter.

A few days later, I’m at work when Mammaw and her church friend Irene show up for lunch and sit in my section.

“You see that apron?” Mammaw says to Irene. “He made it all by himself.”

“Well, we made it together,” I add. “And a couple of other people want one too, so I told them I’d make them one.”

“Oh, it sounds like you can start your own business. I’m so proud of you.”

Mammaw is always proud of me. The two of them look over the menu, but I notice that Mammaw’s look is purely cursory, seeing that she knows it just as well as I do.

“I think I want the Oriental Chicken Salad,” says Irene.

“That does sound good,” Mammaw tells her, “but I don’t think I’d like the crunchy fried onions.”

“Oh, are there crunchy fried onions on it?” Irene asks me.

“There are,” Mammaw answers for me. “And mixed greens, red cabbage, scallions, mandarin oranges, tomatoes, fried chicken and a peanut dressing.”

Irene looks at me for confirmation and I nod my head. Mammaw Lillian knows her shit. They eventually decide on the Oriental Chicken Salad for Irene while Mammaw orders the Monte Christo, which we both always thought sounded so delicious when we studied the menu together. The tip they leave me is by far the best one of the day. It’s almost as much as I made on my first day on the floor when I walked with sixteen dollars.

When I get home, I go through the bag of fabric to decide what to use for my first custom apron orders. “No two will be alike,” I had told my coworkers. Deciding against any of the floral pattern that my own apron is made from, I come across a small snippet of red and white gingham that I hadn’t seen since 1978 when Raggedy Ann and Andy were at the sewing machine. I decide that every apron I make will have at least one piece of this fabric, an homage to Mammaw and her sewing skills and also that she is the one who drilled this restaurant’s menu into my brain. Periodically, she checks on my work, approving each cut and stitch and by the end of the night I have two aprons that will soon be considered the most awesome of flair.

The next morning, Pamela and Tim are thrilled with my work. They each pay me five dollars and for the rest of the day, whenever I look at their aprons and catch a glimpse of that red and white gingham, my heart swells with love for Mammaw.

Living with her is only temporary and there are times I can’t wait to be out from under the watchful eye of my grandmother, but I hope the six months I plan to spend with her will permanently imprint all of my memories about her. I never want to forget her laugh or how she talks on the telephone or how she always balances her checkbook with a calculator and then does it again manually just to make sure the calculator was right. As an adult, I know I’ll never have it as good as I do with her, living with someone who truly enjoys caring for me. When I get my own apartment, there won’t be anyone there to make a chocolate pie or to lovingly pat my cheeks to the point of slight discomfort. And when I get another restaurant job, there will not be anyone as good as Mammaw Lillian is when it comes to using flashcards to memorize a new menu.

This story is part of what I hope will become my second book.

An Open Letter to the Girls Who Can’t Tip

Dear Grace, Sophie and Sophia,

I am writing this letter on behalf of your awesome waiter (Rachel). You remember Rachel, don’t you? She’s the one who served you guys and then in return you left her a little note and an origami lotus flower. The reason I am writing this instead of her is because Rachel’s job probably prohibits her from discussing on social media about what goes on at her restaurant. Or maybe Rachel is simply a mature human being who doesn’t bother sinking to your depths. Lucky for you, I am not prohibited from speaking about it and I am also 100% immature.

Allow me to refresh your memory as to what you wrote in your note:

Dear Awesome Waiter, (Rachel!)

We couldn’t leave a good tip because we don’t have enough money. Please except (sic) this origami lotus as our condolences.

♥️, Grace, Sophie, Sophia

I will ignore the fact that you don’t know the difference between “accept and “except” and just chalk that up to good ol’ fashioned stupidity. I also question your use of the word “condolences.” I don’t think it means exactly what you think it does. In addition, I would like to point out that you added the word “good” to your note when describing the tip which clearly implies that you know a folded up piece of paper with a tiny heart drawn on top of it is anything but a good tip.

Girls, what the hell was the note and origami for? You know it isn’t going to help Rachel pay a bill and she certainly isn’t going to be able to tip out a portion of it to her busser. The only reason you left the note was to make yourselves feel better about stiffing a server who you claimed was “awesome.” Rachel doesn’t want your note. In fact, I venture to say that 99.9% of servers don’t want it.

Here is what we do want: a tip. Something that spends. And if you go into a restaurant knowing you don’t have enough money to leave a tip, then please do your server a favor as soon as you sit down. Tell your server you don’t plan on tipping. I know, I know, it takes a lot of courage to be this open and honest with your server, but isn’t it more fair? Maybe Rachel could have spent her time getting more lemon wedges for another table instead of for your cheap asses. Servers live on tips and if you’re not going to leave one, we should have the option to ignore the hell out of you. Sure, we’ll still bring your food and fill your water (one time) and bring the check, but we’d rather do that for someone who might appreciate the service. Leaving an apologetic note at the end of your meal is cowardly and you know it, girls.

Grace, Sophie and Sophia, I hope you see this. And I hope that someone you know sees it too so they can tell all of your friends how cheap you are. No amount of folder paper flowers or little drawn hearts is going to change the fact that the three of you are exactly the kind of customer that so many servers dislike. Grow up and tip. Or at least be honest with your server. We don’t have time for this bullshit.

Mustard and mayo,

The Bitchy Waiter

What’s Your Worst Server Nightmare?

It’s been a minute since I have written about the one thing all servers share, no matter what kind of restaurant they work in or how long they’ve been wearing an apron: server nightmares. Once you work in a restaurant, you can be certain that server dreams will forever be a part of your life, just like herpes or glitter after a very unfortunate crafting accident.

Last week, I had the privilege of meeting the new girlfriend of my brother. As we were getting to know one another and I shamelessly plugged my own blog, she informed me that she too had been a server years earlier. She wore the apron for over a decade, so waiting tables was still in her blood and subconscious. I didn’t get close enough to know for sure, but I can only hope that the smell of waiting tables had long since been washed off her skin and out of her hair. The topic of server nightmares soon came up and she informed me of the worst one she has ever had. Unlike mine, where the restaurant is as big as the eye can see and the kitchen is like a mirage that’s always out of reach, her’s involved a menu that was written in Sanskrit.

“Damn, this girl’s smart,” I instantly thought. “My brain isn’t complicated enough to create a menu out of Sanskrit.”

“And the menu had sixteen different sizes of orange juice,” she said.

My blood turned cold at the very thought of people pointing to a menu that was written in a forgotten language and then having to decipher which size orange juice they wanted. “How would you memorize all those sizes?” I wondered. And where or where do you store all of the the glasses for that? Think about what your sidework would be like if it was your job to stock the sixteen different kinds of orange juice glasses. It makes me shudder.

The topic of conversation turned to other things, but I eventually steered it back to the sixteen sizes of orange juice and we began to come up with what the sizes would be called. We got through about five sizes, but then that night, as I laid in bed unable to fall asleep, I began to come up with the remaining eleven sizes of this nightmare orange juice scenario:

  1. Micro mini
  2. Teeny Tiny
  3. Venti
  4. Kinda small
  5. Teacup
  6. Medium-ish
  7. Mid-Range
  8. Toddler
  9. Orange
  10. 6-9 Months
  11. 7 3/4
  12. Life Size
  13. Regular
  14. 36 x 30
  15. Double D
  16. Todd

Surprisingly, I did not have a server dream that night. Maybe by actively embracing the horror of sixteen different sizes of orange juice and keeping it solidly in my consciousness, I kept it from seeping into my subconscious that night. Besides that, a Sanskrit menu and sixteen sizes of orange juice is Betsy’s horror show, not mine. The next time I have a sever nightmare, it will be my  familiar mile-long dining room with a kitchen I can never reach. That’s my own personal nightmare and I’ll let Betsy keep hers.

What about you? What’s your server nightmare?