Saturday, November 29, 2008

Slapping the Hand that Tips

Yesterday was terribly slow. I made one third of my normal Friday amount. I was lucky enough to have a few tables of very nice, very well tipping families. Today it's bartending til 6 and serving til 2am. A part of me hopes it will be busy, but I am working with the manager that doesn't help out at all and is oblivious to what is going on (see my post on falling during a shift).
I am trying a new approach on fighting fatigue during my long shifts. It worked beautifully yesterday. Instead of hitting the coffee pot like a fiend all day I drank water. I also stayed away from the fried food we serve and opted for peanut butter and cashews most of the day. My energy level was high and I was able to sleep well, unlike when I use coffee to stay awake.
Other than staying awake I have another issue to deal with. There is a regular at the Sports Bar that has been making little comments and making gestures (some very obscene) at me since I started there. It has recently crossed a line. Yesterday when I took a break and left the bar the customer told another customer I had left to "take care of business" because I don't have a boyfriend. When I heard this I was shocked. On another occasion this same customer passed behind me and grabbed me by the waist, holding on to me. I was so shocked at the touch I didn't say anything at the time.
Saturdays this customer and I are alone in the bar for about 45 minutes before anyone else shows up. I know I have to do something today, but I have to be very careful. He is a customer and very friendly with the owners. Why can't some guys just take a hint? He's in his 50's, married and has children. I have heard that the other girls at work have had similar problems with him but they solved it by fighting with him. I don't want to go that route.

Friday, November 28, 2008

No holiday for the server

Sports Bar is closed on Thanksgiving so I had the day off yesterday. Lucky me, that translates into two 15 hour doubles over the next 48. Actually, 39 hours.
I have a problem saying no. A few weeks ago the Saturday night server asked if I would work for her this weekend. I knew that the Saturday bartending shifts were close to being mine, but I said yes anyway. Why did I do that? I don't want to work two doubles in a row,let alone a Saturday karaoke night. I said yes because I feel guilty if I say no. In the restaurant industry we get no paid holidays or vacation days and only having 3 servers makes the shifts hard to cover. I have this strange idea that if I don't have plans, I should be working. Great for making money, but not so good for my health sometimes, and certainly not for my social life.
Some people call this a good work ethic; being on time, covering shifts, not calling in sick. I call it a problem. The root of the problem I do not know. One thing I do know is I need to start saying no to picking up shifts. I already work 7 shifts a week, 6 days. Its reasonable not to want to work extras after all that.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Check it out!

I hope you all have checked out Banquet Manager's blog. If not, today is a good day to start! (I am a guest blogger)
All of the blogs I have listed on my page I read as often as possible. I thoroughly enjoy their posts. Highly recommended.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Sunday Fun

It seems as though everything will work out. One of the night servers wants my day shifts so we just need to hire a part timer for her Monday and Tuesday nights.
This week has been rough on me between work and school. I worked on Sunday last weekend and am working Saturday this weekend so it will be a 7 day week for me.
Sunday I encountered a common problem in the sports bar industry. There was a Bears game on and I had several tables seated to watch it. One table consisted of two guys,one of which asked for a draft which we have on special, the other for water. I gave them a menu as they said they would order later. After 5 glasses of water for the one and 2 drafts for the other I asked if they would be ordering anything off the menu. They said no. I regretfully informed the water guy that he would have to order something, anything, as my manager would not allow me to continue to serve him only water. I suggested a soda, a bottle of water, a draft, or simply an appetizer. He raised a huge stink and could not understand why a business would insist that he pay for a $2.00 item while sitting there for 3 hours.
Water guy had no money apparently, and his friend said to order something and he would cover it. Water guy proceeded to order 6 drafts. The two guys were by far the most difficult customers I had during the game. When one was down to a few gulps of his beer I would stop by and offer another. Every time I was told "Maybe in a minute." I continued to care for my other tables and was flagged down minutes later by the guys looking for another beer. They would then have to wait for me to finish with the table I was serving at the moment and get the draft from the bar. Annoying as it was, I was still a good little server and never even rolled my eyes. I was, of course, rewared for this at the end of the game with a $2 tip for 4 hours of work on a $24 tab.
After the game my bartender left and I took over the bar. I was blessed with a table of 8 celebrating a birthday an hour before close. One of the women at the table asked what stouts we had. After listing the 3 we carry she informed me that those were not stouts. OK....she then asked about wheat beers and selected one from the list. Of course we were out of the one she wanted, but no one had informed me of this. I sold her something else and went back to tend bar.
At the bar I had two men from out of the country. Their initial order was easy, two drafts. After that they began asking what the strongest American beer on tap was, what bottled beer we had, and where each was bottled. As I'm tryingto answer their questions,a table walks in for dinner. My kitchen is closing in 5 minutes so I let them know they will need to place their order soon. While taking their drink order they want to know what beer we have from the South Pacific. What?
Sundays are usually an adventure. I'm wondering if Saturdays are going to be similar...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I feel like I'm on a swing...

Hooray for meeting goals! I have officially been offered the position of bartender on Saturdays at the Bar. I, of course, accepted. The manager that spoke with me yesterday about it agreed that I can cut down on my serving shifts during the week so I have more time for school and am not working 7 shifts each week. Today I spoke to another of the three managers and told him the same thing; I wanted to give up my Monday through Wednesday lunch shifts. This manager was less agreeable. He told me that just because they wanted me to work Saturdays didn't mean they wanted to lose me during the week. After I made a few good points about the number of shifts I pick up per month already, the number of shifts the night girls want to take off, and how working less during the week opens me up to be more "on call", he agreed to ask the third manager about it. I also made it clear that I could still work all 7 shifts until the end of the year, giving them over a month to find a new girl and allow me to train her to perfection.
Part of me thought I should wait a bit before bringing the issue up to the most high strung of the managers, but being honest and up front has worked so far with them so I decided to continue down that path. I hope I haven't screwed myself.
If they're smart they will see that this is a good move all around. Hiring a fourth server means having a fourth person to pick up shifts. As it is it's difficult to get anything covered because one of the other two girls either already worked that day or is at school or with kids. Out of the three of us there is one mother and two full time students. It can't hurt to have another server. Also, when I was part time at the Bar, when I first started, I rarely said no to covering a shift. I wasn't working alot, needed the money, and had the time. Getting me back to that place can only help them out.
So the waiting continues. Two steps forward, one step back.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

In the Running

One of the servers at the Bar had a death in the family this week. I offered to work for her on Saturday night, but she really needed Sunday for the wake. She spoke to the manager on duty about it and he approached me about the shift. I had plans Sunday, but after telling him this I felt bad. This girl lost a family member. How selfish am I? I can reschedule my plans, so I did.
As a result, my boss has promised me next Saturday's bartending shift, the head bartender has announced that she will back me for permanently covering the shift, and several regulars have made it clear to management they are very excited I will be bartending.
I think I'm getting closer.
On another note...I would love to be writing more but business has been so slow nothing is going on! I guess the economy is keeping out the odd ducks.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Help me Up

Ironically, yesterday the bartender that works Saturday afternoon, and has been at the Bar for 10 years, quit. A shift is open. I have to fight for this, but seniority is not on my side. I feel that I have earned the opprotunity to take a bartending shift through a year of hard work and going above and beyond for the Bar.
Every morning I arrive at work 20 minutes early. I finish the sidework that has been left by the night server and turn on the heat. Then I go to the office and print the specials for the day if they were not done the night before. I am the only employee that picks up this task. The others wait for the manager to do it when he gets there. Waiting for the manager means that the specials are being inserted into the menus while customers are there. By doing it before we open I am able to complete the task before any customers arrive.
After doing the specials I move on to the bar. I take the fruit out of the cooler or cut fruit as needed, turn on the bar TVs and speakers, pull the covers off the liquor, fill the sinks, and prepare the bar rags. By this time a customer has arrived and is sitting at the bar. I serve the customer(s) until the bartender arrives. She is always 15 to 30 minutes late for work. When she does arrive I receive no compensation for taking care of her first customers. During the next 3 hours I watch as the bar fills up and the bartender gets busy while I care for the 5 to 7 tables I will get for the day.
When I have been allowed to cover bartending shifts I always receive positive comments from the customers. They say I am fast and attentive. They also compair me to the other bartenders. The comparisons I am uncomfortable with because they usually say things about the faults of the other bartenders. It is also frustrating to hear that I am great at a job that I can not have.
So today and over the next few days I will be fighting for this shift. It is more than just being able to bartend. It is that I feel I have earned the opprotunity.
A little more than that, I have been trying to figure out a way that I can work less days and make the same amount of money. Being that I live in an apartment with no roommate I can't afford a cut in pay, but my full time work schedule is overloading me. I do not want to compromise school, just to work less days. If I got this bartending shift I could afford to work 3 days a week instead of 5 and have more freedom in choosing classes.
Wish me luck and I'd love to hear any advice anyone has!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Server vs Bartender

I made the mistake of accepting fill-in bartending shifts at the Sports Bar. Why is this a mistake you ask? True, bartenders make two to three times as much as servers per shift. Their tips average higher per tab and they usually get tips immediately when people pay by cash per round. This was a mistake because it made me realize just how much waitresses get screwed.
The first bartending shift I covered at the Sports Bar was spur of the moment. My bartender came into work feeling dizzy. She made it through lunch but it was clear she needed to leave. After my tables had cleared out she was approved to go and I took over the bar as well as continuing to take the few tables that walked in. Most of them ended up sitting at the high top tables in the bar area where I could keep an eye on them. When they initially sat I came from behind the bar and approached their tables. Upon greeting them I politely told them that there was no server and that I was bartending but would be more than happy to get them anything they needed. After delivering their drinks I went back behind the bar and continued to serve the customers seated there. After several minutes a man from one of the tables walked up to the bar and asked me if there was a server. Uh…no. I thought we had covered that already. He proceeded to ask me for two menus. I collected two menus from the other side of the bar and turned to give them to the man but he had returned to his table. Sighing, I walked out to the table to deliver the menus.
Please don’t misunderstand, I don’t mind multitasking and doing the job of both waitress and bartender. It keeps me busy and the tips are usually phenomenal when people see that you are doing both. What I don’t like is the attitude that some people have regarding the service industry. The Sports Bar is a very low key and laid back place. While I pride myself on giving great service to customers I, in my disillusioned way, expect to be treated with respect by the customer as well. He had already walked up to the bar, what is the harm in waiting to take the menus back with him?
Now I am allowed to cover bartending shifts when no one else wants them or the Sunday bartender asks for the day off. We have had an agreement for the past 8 months that if she asks I will say yes. It is the only shift that is “mine” to pick up. Being that I work 6 shifts there a week and go to school in the evenings I am not available for the others that may open up for the night (on the off chance that the other bartenders don’t want to pick it up). This week the Sunday bartender injured herself and needed the weekend off. Since it was a game day, another bartender snatched up the shift before I could say anything. I worked all the slow summer Sundays and the bye week and my reward is having seniority pulled on me and losing out on a $500 plus shift.
Seniority should only count to a certain point. I understand the concept, but being that the turnover is low among the bartenders no one has the change to move up the seniority ladder. I will always be the last for opportunity even though I am the lowest tipped employee there due to my regular shifts being lunches.
My mother did teach me that life is not fair but that’s not going to stop me from saying that the Sunday situation was not. Being that most places make an employee work up to the position of bartender I am better off where I’m at than starting over somewhere new. In the meantime my frustration will continue until I am kindly thrown a bone by one of the superior bartenders.

Friday, November 7, 2008

I can count on it

One thing I always liked about waiting tables was the randomness, the aspect of daily change. You saw different people every day, you were an anonymous server. I don't have that at my current job. I can see almost exactly how today will play out. During the lunch shift I will see the same people; the guy who has one Honeyweiss and then water, the guy that always orders wings and never requires me to even check back, the two ladies with iced teas that always order a dinner special for lunch and then sit for 2 hours talking. After 4 there will be the usual after work guys, the MDG 64 in a bucket to keep it cold, two Coors bottles at a time because he drinks so fast, and the couple that will drink a pitcher, then order their dinner and another pitcher. At night I will have some dinner tables and my group of 25 at 10:30. When they leave I will have nothing for the remainder of the night and will probably get off work at last call.
There is no change, no anonymous serving. I miss this. It becomes tedious and boring when there is no change in the daily schedule. Maybe if I started working somewhere else I would miss the structure and reliability of the Bar, but today I miss randomness and change.