A Thank You To Servers For All You Did in 2020

If there’s anything the year 2020 taught those of us in the restaurant industry, it’s that most people think we’re unimportant. Well, 2020 didn’t necessarily teach us that because we’ve known it all along. It’s been a difficult year to be a server. (Hell, it’s been a difficult year to be a human being.) Most of us have had to endure restaurant closures or working fewer shifts in less than ideal circumstance. And then there are some of us who continuously wore the apron throughout the pandemic dealing with whatever consequences came with it, be it fewer customers, getting sick or at the very least being worried about getting sick. My guess is that some of you never heard a thank you from either your bosses or your customers, so please allow me.

Thank you for your willingness to do whatever was asked of you this year to keep your restaurant running. Wear a mask for hours on end while at work? Done. Wash your hands so many times they feel as dry as a well done burger? Done. Deal with outdoor dining during rain, heatwaves and blizzards? Done. You did that because your bosses asked you to. So, thank you.

Thank you for your resiliency. Some of you were laid off from your job and then asked to come back only to be laid off again. But you did it. You bounced back because you knew you had to in order to make some money to pay for frivolous things like rent and car payments. You persevered even though you didn’t know if it was the right decision or not. So, thank you.

Thank you for doing your best to make your customers feel welcome at your restaurants. As they sat in your section laughing, talking, and eating, you diligently wore your mask and served them so they could have just a brief respite back to something normal while your life was anything but that. I bet a lot of you were smiling underneath your mask even though no one could see it. Your customers might not have said thank you enough, so I will: thank you.

Thank you for all the hours you spent on the unemployment website or on the phone with someone trying to understand what benefits you were eligible for. It’s navigational nightmare trying to decipher what you have to do to receive some financial help while our livelihood is dying, but you did it. You spent hours figuring it out because no one else was going to help you understand it and you needed that money. Your family needed it for groceries. And after you fell into that black hole of an unemployment website and wasted so much time, you immediately had to do something else like cook dinner for your kids. Thank you.

Thank you for being a good parent and learning what remote learning is making sure your kids are okay. They’re struggling just like we are and you were there for them every step of the way. You swallowed your stress so they’d have less of it. Thank you.

2020 has taken a lot out of us, but it didn’t take away our hope. Every year, we step into January 1st full of hope for a better year to come. This year is no different. Servers are innately optimistic, because every time we approach a new customer we don’t know what to expect, but we always hope for the best- a big tip, a kind customer, or an experience that will remind us that waiting tables can sometime be very fulfilling. That’s the last thing I want to thank you all for: your hopefulness. Don’t let it go. You hold onto that hope tighter than you hold onto a credit card receipt on a windy patio. Your hope is what’s going to get us through 2021.

Thank you.

Mike Pence Is (most likely) a Lousy Tipper

Before I move forward with this post about Vice President Mike Pence possibly leaving a less than generous tip to his server, I need to make two things clear:

  1. We do not know for certain that this receipt is actual. I’ve done some digging and it seems very likely, but I have not been able to confirm. More on that later.
  2. This is not a post meant to slam Vice President Mike Pence simply because of who he is. This post has all to do with the fact that a very famous man who has plenty of money apparently left a bad tip to his server and I slam anyone who leaves shitty tips.

Moving on…there is a photo of a receipt going viral on Twitter that alleges Mike Pence went to eat in a restaurant and left a $5.00 tip on a $44.25 check. The Tweet is from a “friend of a friend” so it’s ripe for hoaxes, but a lot of it checks out.

The receipt is from a restaurant called Coyote Cafe and dated 12/29/20. There is a Coyote Cafe in Beaver Creek, Colorado and their online menu shows the exact same sandwich on the receipt, a chipotle chicken sandwich. Mike Pence was in Vail, Colorado this week and Beaver Creek happens to be a quick 18 minute drive from Vail. The signature on the receipt looks very similar to Mike Pence’s real signature with the same swoopy-loopy “M” and the open “P.” Finally, doesn’t Mike Pence and his wife seem like they would be the kind of people who order two hot chocolates and a ginger ale for lunch? I did reach out to the Coyote Cafe for a confirmation, but have not heard back from them yet.

Now, let’s move on to the amount that Pence ALLEGEDLY left his server. The bill was $44.25 and he left $5.00. That is an 11.29% tip. So, maybe he doesn’t tip on the tax, right? Okay, that would make the bill $42.38 and the tip balloons to 11.79%. Giving Pence the benefit of the doubt, let’s say he also ignored the B.C. Assessment (B.C. Assessment is “Beaver Creek Assessment.” Every business in Beaver Creek Resort pays this % for upkeep of the resort) and tipped only on the food and beverage itself which was a total of $40.23. That means he left a 12.42% tip. Any way you look at it, it’s a crap tip. Servers in Colorado make $8.98 an hour while minimum wage in that state is $11.10. Granted, while servers in Beaver Creek aren’t making the pittance of $2.13 an hour, they probably still expect at least a 15% tip, especially from someone who has enough money to spend their Christmas vacation skiing in Vail. The annual salary for vice president is $235,000 so I’m pretty sure he could have reached deep down into his Dockers and found another few bucks.

Alright, so maybe Pence and Mother received awful service and that’s why he left such a grinchy ass tip. But here’s the thing: it doesn’t matter! When you’re as famous and wealthy as someone like Mike Pence, you have to know that leaving a bad tip is going to leak out all over social media just like Rudy Giuliani’s hair dye. It would just make more sense to squeeze out an additional $3.85 to leave an even 20% tip. That way, the server might be disappointed for not getting more from a rich person, but couldn’t really complain either because 20% is what we all strive for.

Again, I have not been able to clarify that this is an actual receipt. All signs point to yes, but if the restaurant reaches out to me with more info, I will let you know. However, I don’t expect that to happen. They probably want the story to go away. Mike Pence probably wants the story to go away. And the server who got the bad tip is probably looking for a new job since posting a photo of a tip is probably against the rules of working in a restaurant that caters to the rich and famous. (If you’re the server this happened to, PLEASE reach out to me!)

4 Ways to Actually Help Your Local Struggling Restaurant

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to decimate our country, small businesses and restaurants are taking the brunt of the devastation. Well, other than the 300,000 lives lost to the virus. Over 110,000 restaurants have closed either permanently or long-term since the health crisis began and with indoor dining shutting down in more and more states and the weather making outdoor dining less of an option, it’s only going to get worse. Since it seems that our government isn’t ready to step up and help the restaurant industry, it’s up to customers to do it for them, but how? If you have a favorite neighborhood restaurant and you are wondering if they are struggling or not, wonder no more: they are. The restaurant owner can use your help and so can the few employees who are still working there and here’s how to do it:


Did a Customer Actually Leave This Note For Their Server?

First off, thank you to everyone who has sent this image to me. Second off, what the actual fuck? It appears that a customer left a note for their server that said: “I do have Covid-19 so clean this table effectively!  Thanks.”

I don’t know if the photo is real or if it’s a joke, but maybe by posting it we can soon find out. If you are the person who took this photo, please share with us the full story. In the mean time, I want to discuss the various options for its validity.

  1. A COVID positive customer actually left this for their server. What kind of human being is okay with knowing they have a contagious illness that can possibly infect others and lead to prolonged sickness or even death and still go out to eat at a restaurant? (The answer: an asshole.) My first thought is that no one can ever be that inconsiderate, but then I remember picking up a dirty diaper left on a restaurant table so I do know for a fact that people can truly be that awful. Still though, it’s shocking to see that level of utter assholery right there in front of us. If this person is reading this blog post, please do kindly fuck right off.
  2. A customer left this on their table as a joke. It’s not funny, okay? Over 3,000 people dying every day isn’t really a solid base for making a joke about having COVID, so please do kindly fuck right off. (Kudos to you for knowing the correct use of “effectively.”)
  3. A server wrote this note themself and posted it on social media to get attention. This scenario is also very, very possible. We’ve all seen it before: a gay server writes something onto a credit card receipt about not tipping fags, takes a photo of the doctored receipt to post on social media, the photo goes viral, and they earn thousands of dollars in a GoFundMe campaign. The only difference here is that if a server did post this on their own accord, what’s the point? There is no attached link to donate to them or to gain any sympathy, so why? Maybe just the fact that it got attention was enough for this person.

How will we ever know what the truth is unless we track down the person who snapped this photo? If you are that person, reach out to me. The world needs to know the story behind this photo! (Or at least, I want to know.) Whichever scenario is the truth, NONE OF THEM ARE OKAY.

This Blog is 12 Years Old Today, So a Moment of Gratitude

Twelve years ago, after a very frustrating shift at a restaurant called VYNL on the Upper East Side, I came home from work and started a blog to express my exasperation with a woman from California who wanted me to turn off the television because she didn’t allow her daughter to watch TV while eating dinner. My very first blog post! That annoying little girl from 2008 is old enough to drink now and is probably doing so very heavily due to the fact that her mother is an absolute terror. I never stopped writing and this post that you’re reading right now is my 1,902nd one.

This blog has given me the opportunity to write a book and it’s gotten me on television more times than I can count. It’s allowed me to create and perform a one-man show here in New York City and around the country which is ironic because when I first moved here in 1993, it was to be an actor. I got a job a job as a waiter to allow me time to audition and it turned out that waiting tables is what let me be on the stage. Full circle moment right there, y’all.

I chose the name “Bitchy Waiter”on a whim with no thought about the future. I never expected anyone other than the people I worked with at VYNL to even read the damn blog, so there wasn’t much reflection about it. Had I put some thought into it, I probably would not have used the word “bitchy” since its been that very word that has been the most difficult to navigate over the years. It kept my book from being sold in Urban Outfitters. It’s kept me from being able to say the name of my blog on various TV appearances. Most surprisingly, in real life, I’m hardly a bitch at all, but “Bitchy Waiter” has evolved into a character that says and does all the things every server wishes they could say and do without fear of getting fired.

Today, at the risk of being not bitchy, I want to say how grateful I am for what this blog has turned into. I have really tried to evolve into a mouthpiece for the service industry, always standing up for the rights of servers while trying to also be funny. Sometimes I fail at both of those, but over twelve years, I do feel like my track record is pretty good.

During this pandemic, it’s become increasingly more difficult to write blog posts or create memes and videos. I mean, so many of us don’t even have jobs right now, so it seems inappropriate to complain about making hot tea. Today, I offer a moment of gratitude.

Last Thursday at the restaurant, two regulars come in. Well, she’s a regular and he’s her date or boyfriend who I’ve only seen one other time. On that visit, he left me a very generous tip which I didn’t notice until after they had left, so I didn’t get a chance to thank him. This time, I am ready to show my appreciation. I take them to the same table they had the last time and offer her her regular drink of choice, a glass of Prosecco. I am there for everything they possibly need, clearing dishes within seconds of them finishing, refilling their waters and ready to bring another round of drinks at any second. These people need to know I am earning that tip they gave me last time.

Tonight their bill is $116. I wish I could comp something for them, but I just don’t have that kind of power. The man hands me cash and tells me to keep the change. It’s not until I get behind the bar that I see he has given me two hundred-dollar bills.

“Keep the change?” I ask him, slightly astounded. “Are you sure?”

“Yeah,” he tells me. “These are difficult times.” I see him look around at the mostly empty restaurant. “We all gotta do what we can to help.”

Behind my mask, I can feel my lips trembling. I know my eyes are welling up with tears of appreciation. This couple is single-handedly making my night at work worth it.

“Thank you,” I tell him. “That is incredibly generous and I just can’t thank you enough.” With my hand over my heart, I thank him a few more times.

When they get up to leave, they both dutifully put their face masks back on and walk past the bar I am standing behind.

“Thank you again,” I say. “So much.”

She waves goodbye and he gives me a fist bump.

“Have a good night. Stay safe,” he says.

Thank you to him. And thank you to all of you who have been reading this blog for twelve years.

The Argument For Servers To Get the Vaccine First

With the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines both awaiting emergency use approval from the Food and Drug Administration to fight the spread of COVID-19, it seems there is a very small light at the end of a very long tunnel. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) met last week to decide who would be the first to receive the vaccines once they are available and they have recommended that health care workers and nursing home residents should be the priority. That makes sense. But who should be next?

I say put restaurant workers on the top of that list and hear me out. Throughout this pandemic, restaurants have been in the news constantly because of state and local government’s insistence to shut them down or reduce their occupancy level. “Going out to bars and restaurants is dangerous,” they say. “It’s not safe for the employees or the customers,” they tell us. Restaurants have stayed open in some form for the last several months while restaurant workers and owners have struggled to make enough to pay their bills. If the government feels like restaurants and bars are such a hub for the virus, why not simply shut them all down completely and then pay those workers to stay home? Oh, right, that won’t happen because they already gave us a $1200 stimulus check back in April and that five dollars a day for the last eight months is totally enough to live on. Some workers received an additional $600 a week in unemployment benefits for a while, but a lot of people didn’t even get that, so off to work they went risking life and limb to get shitty tips from ungrateful customers.

And speaking of customers, how many of them complained about restaurants not being open enough or bitched about not being able to sit inside with a large party or whined that the menu was too small? Plenty of them did. They didn’t want their constitutional right to order guacamole and margaritas stomped on so they demanded that restaurants stay open.

“Okay, we’ll stay open for you, but you’ll have to wear a mask to enter,” said the restaurants.

“You can’t tell me what to do with my body,” they screamed. “Now bring me my Diet Coke!”

Fine then. If the government doesn’t want to do anything to financially help those of us who are literally and figuratively dying in the restaurant industry and if customers are so hell-bent on having a server deliver them a plate of four cheese mac & cheese with honey pepper tenders, then why not move restaurant and bar employees to the top of the list for the vaccine?

That makes more sense than bank tellers being next in line. Seriously, the American Bankers Association has asked the CDC to designate some of the financial-services industry as essential workers and prioritize them for the vaccine. Ummm, bank tellers wear masks and work behind bullet proof glass while dealing with customers who are also wearing masks. Servers are forced to stand inches away from unmasked customers. Maybe there’s a piece of plexiglass between the booths, but that doesn’t do anything for the one who’s wearing an apron. Besides that, customers can do their banking online. There is no ATM for a burger and fries.

Anyone who has the option to work from home should also fall down a notch or two on the list of vaccine prioritization. Yeah, I’m sure office workers are exhausted with virtual Zoom meetings with their boss, but they can stay at home and still work. A bartender doesn’t have that option. Teachers have been working from home, but let’s go ahead and move them up the list too. Kids need to be in classrooms, not just to learn reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic, but to also master social interactions and how to be little human beings away from their parents.

These vaccines could eventually lead us back to a life of normalcy, although what is normal now? Wearing masks will never seem weird again. We’ll probably always be aware of washing our hands more often and social distancing will forever be in the back of our minds. But the one thing that that people most often say they miss about pre-COVID days is going out to eat with friends and/or socializing at bars. So, let’s make sure that those of us in the service industry can help bring back that little slice of normal and be safe while doing it. Most of us who work in restaurants do it because we love it, but that doesn’t mean we want to get a case of the ‘rona while getting customers a side of Ranch dressing. Allowing restaurant and bar employees to get the vaccine as soon as possible will get the entire service industry back on its feet and finally allow us to feel safe while serving.

The service industry deserves and needs this vaccine as soon as possible. Period.