Saturday, August 29, 2009

Tipping Habits

Friday at the bar was so slow. I worked open to close and had about a dozen tables all day. By 11 pm I had $60 in my pocket for the day.

Stacy started talking about wanting to leave at 9 pm. By 11, she was holding her stomach and saying she didn't know what was wrong with her, but she felt like shit. Manager G thought she was faking. I didn't care. Fifteen minutes before this, I had a group get drinks from the bar and walk out to the patio. Yes, the patio. It was around 50 degrees. I knew they would be staying until close, so to avoid serving them I offered to let Stacy go home. She was out the door less than 10 minutes later.

I ended up making $80 in that last 2 1/2 hours behind the bar. It was still ridiculously slow, but people tip bartenders more at a sports bar.

Earlier in the night I served a family from Austria. Their English was poor, so it took a while to take their order, but they were very nice! I thought that they were from Germany because one of the adults kept saying "Danke" every time I gave her something. At the end of their meal, after picking up the check, I said "you're welcome" in German. It was an attempt at being polite/clever. When they all looked at me with blank or confused faces I asked if they were from Germany. When they informed me they were from Austria they did not seem at all offended, but I was slightly embarrassed. I recovered quickly with "Oh, well it was my pleasure, really. Have a wonderful night." I guess "Thank you" is the same in Austria and Germany, but not "You're welcome." Who knew? They left me $5 on $78 leaving me to wonder what the tipping habits are in Austria.

Friday, August 28, 2009


Two typical lunch customers, ladies, sit at the first booth in the dining room. I serve them two sodas and give them a minute to peruse the menu. When I return to take their order I realize they are high maintenance.
Lady one asks for the second special of the day. Straight forward, great. The second lady asks what Spinach Pie is. I explain to her that it is feta and spinach wrapped in a flakey crust, a Greek dish. She takes another full minute to look at the menu as I am standing there. She finally decides on the Greek chicken. When I ask her what side she’d like I am opening a can of worms.

“Do you have Greek potatoes?”

“Not as a side option, no.”

“No Greek potatoes?”

“No, I’m sorry. All our sides are listed at the top of the page. We have fries, potato salad, chips…” I trail off and let her read the rest.

“I’ll have a salad. Do you have garlic dressing?”

“Yes, we do. Just to let you know, the salad will be an additional charge of a dollar.”

“Oh, it’s not a side?”

“It is, but there is a slight charge for the salad.”

“And you don’t have Greek potatoes?”

“No Ma’am. Not as a side option. Sorry.”

“I’ll just have special one.”

Special one happens to come with Vesuvio potatoes (which are not Greek potatoes), as stated in the menu. When I deliver the food she makes a comment to her dining partner loud enough for me to hear. I let it roll off my shoulders.

When they are finished eating I drop their check and take an order from another table. As I am walking past the ladies to enter the new order in the POS, I am called to quite rudely.

“Miss!! Ex-cuse me! Miss!”

I turn and smile. “Yes ma’am.”

“I need change for this, now.”


I walk to the POS and enter my order in before getting her change. This takes all of maybe one full minute. When I return with the change, the other woman shoves the presentation book at me. “You can take this now.”

Several minutes later, the ladies are all closed out and ready to go. I am getting drinks for another table, my back to them as they get up.

“Have a great day!” they call to me.

I turn and smile. “You too!” I call.

Later, when I retrieve the payment booklet, I see that they have given me a $2.00 tip on a $19.85 check.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

The King Regular

One of my regulars, others teasingly call him "the boss", is trying to get me fired, I believe.

A little background on him, other than my posts: he shows up 15 minutes before we open Saturday, Sunday, and every holiday or day he has off work. He spends his vacation time at the bar. The owner's father buys him his first beer every day he is there. He is friends with the owners and frequently goes to sports games with them and invites them to his home. OK, now we can continue.

He hasn't spoken a word to me in about three weeks now, and refuses to make eye contact. When I have a conversation with someone he is sitting near and he wants to jump in, he acts like it is a conversation between just him and the other person, like I am not even there. While it doesn't bother me that he isn't speaking to me, the stories I have heard on the matter do bother me.

He told Chris, the weekday bartender, that I saw him standing outside and intentionally made him wait before I unlocked the doors for him.

He told another regular that I saw him and made him wait 15 minutes before letting him in.

Yet another regular was told that I saw him and did not let him in, so the owner's father had to unlock to door for him. Then the owner's father proceeded to yell at me, asking "Don't you know who this is? You let him in right away!"

At least one of my managers knows about this; the one that believes all this man's stories. Fortunately, I have several regulars sticking up for me, saying that I would never do something like that, that they were there that morning, etc. When the story was told that I got yelled at, this manager was standing there. I laughed and said "If your dad had to yell at me, don't you think you would have heard about it, [Manager G]?"

Stuff like this makes me dread going to work. I am currently thinking of ways I can avoid being near the front door so I can truly and intentionally not let him in this weekend.

Changes Part 2

It seems this was all planned. About 2 weeks ago an old employee was rehired to serve two shifts a week. The same two shifts that the bartender that is quitting works. The new/old employee, May, was a bartender and waitress that was let go for an attitude problem right as I began working at the bar almost two years ago. Now, after two weeks of being back, they are having her replace the bartender that is leaving. Seems pretty planned, right?

Although I like May, I feel a bit slighted by the situation. Everyone who works at a bar knows that being a bartender is a promotion. You make more money for less work, plain and simple. After being fired for having an attitude problem with customers, May is being "promoted" after two weeks back. It is what it is though. At least the newbies have shifts now!


Management has hired three new girls for three shifts. Manager G wants to give each two shifts a week to work. Obviously math wasn't his strong subject in school.

One of the three girls they aren't expecting to make it through training. That leaves two girls for three shifts. Still doesn't add up. After asking me if I wanted to give up a shift, I reminded Manager G that if I did that I would need t pick up another shift and he would still be one short. It is beyond me how owners and managers of restaurants do not understand the concept of working for tips. If you schedule an extra server, I lose income. If you take a shift away, I lose income.

Several days ago I found out that one of the bartenders has submitted her two-week notice. This leaves two bar shifts open. I have no idea what management plans on doing with these shifts. Most likely the other bartenders with seniority will grab them up, especially since one of the shifts is Sunday and football season is upon us. One possible solution I can see is giving two of my lunch shifts to these new girls, making a total of five shifts for two girls (a much better equation), and me taking the two bar shifts. Financially, I could give up both lunch shifts and only take one of the bar shifts and still be ahead.

I work today so I may ask the manager if they have the situation handled yet. If not, I'll offer my solution.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


I had a trainee yesterday. She reminds me of a waitress we had almost two years ago, only not as ditzy. She's very nice and so eager to learn. It was surprisingly OK training her, and I really dislike training. Manager T hired her the night before and asked her to come in for the lunch shift the following day. Manager G told me that they specifically wanted her trained with me the first day because I am the best trainer they have. A compliment from Manager T?

I thought it would be busy, so the plan was to have her seat people and get their drinks, and then run food when she had time. Having this be the first day of training allows someone to get accustomed to the table numbers and drinks without getting overly stressed. This is not how it worked out. It was so slow that, while she ended up seating and getting drinks for several tables, it was not enough to fill her time. We ended up doing the classic trainee-follows-the-trainer training. After the lunch "rush" ended I suggested she leave and come back at 5 since it would be busier then. She agreed (eagerly) and left for a few hours.

When she returned it was indeed busier. I had three tables in the bar area. It was a great chance to show her how to cocktail. I did my best at explaining how to take the tax off the checks containing only alcohol before cashing them out, how the bar must close checks if a manager can not be found, how backups work, and to just call for the bartender to let them know of any special mods to the drinks. All in all it went well, although I know she was a bit confused at the end of the night. Less so than I would have expected though.

We had four tables for dinner, all at the same time. We got a bit jammed up so I did a few things on my own without showing her to catch up. One table gave her their food order when she was dropping off their drinks. She took the order, only forgetting to get the burger temp, very well. I sent her back to get the missing information, which I think will help her remember in the future.

With no serving experience at all, I was pleasantly surprised with how well she was doing by the end of the night. She picked up quickly on the little personalities we have to show the customers as waitstaff, she is quickly learning the POS system, and her enthusiasm is not failing yet.

She is due back for training tonight with the last girl I trained, Nina, (just a few months ago). She starts at 6, which is when I am due off, so I will stick around if they need me to. It should be interesting; tonight is karaoke. Karaoke is a whole different type of serving. The hope is that she will be ready to be on her own Tuesday. If I were training her tonight I could assure that. I haven't worked with Nina since her training was completed. I know she's a good waitress, but I'm not sure how her training skills are.

Keep your fingers crossed for my newbie, Ally.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Now Hiring


The Sports Bar is now hiring. We don't know what shifts we are hiring for. That depends on if we like the other girls we have just hired. More shifts may be available soon!
Please stop in to apply so we can make notes on your application and ask our regulars what they think of your physical appearance. No need to apply of you are over the age of 35, have hair shorter than your shoulders, are slightly overweight, or are not "pretty".
No experience is required. Apply today!

Yes, I know it is not a new concept, hiring pretty girls. It just seems that this practice is a bit exaggerated where I work. I have seen numerous experienced waitresses apply over the last two weeks. I have seen their applications ignored by management because of reasons I can only speculate (and have above), or because they were not around to see the person applying. Hello! That's what interviews are for. Call the person and have them come in, talk to them! Applications do not contain enough information to determine if a person will be a good hire.

I am so frustrated. So, so frustrated.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Who raised these people?

Friday night I was told there would be a softball tournament that weekend. Knowing this allowed me to prepare before the multiple teams entered the bar. The field is nearby so when the teams are in between games, they come in to the bar to grab lunch and beer before playing their next game. Teams always want water, pitchers and pitchers of water. Saturdays I am waitress and bartender.

I get to work 20 minutes early Saturday morning. As soon as I enter the building, before even setting up the bar, I fill 7 pitchers of water three quarters full so I can add ice to them when it is time to serve them. Pitchers of water take a while to fill with a bar gun, so this should save me precious time later.

By noon the bar is filling quickly. Two teams have already walked in the door, three tables are seated in the restaurant for lunch, and a man is sitting by himself at a table, but he is wearing a team uniform so I know more will join him soon. As I am rushing to get beer and sodas for the teams I am thankful I had the foresight to prepare water. I have already gone through three of the seven. Manager J is working today so I know I will be fine. The teams walk to the bar to order (thank you) and all is going well. As soon as the orders have been entered, the lunch tables’ orders are up and ready to be taken out. As I am running these, two more teams walk in the door. With Manager J’s help everything is running smooth. I am having a great time being so busy, although it feels like a continuation of the previous night.

The last team to order approaches the bar. I am still busy and feel hurried to take their order so my cook can get it started. He is quite busy in the kitchen as he is alone as well. The first man to order compliments my tattoos before giving me his order. I thank him and am ready to move on to the next person when his voice interrupts their order.

“What are they, the tattoos?” He is referring to the ones he already complimented me on. Funny that someone should like something without knowing what it is. I could understand him saying he liked the colour or the style without knowing, but this particular line of questioning has always struck me as odd. I know what is to come and have my canned answer designed to cut the questions short.

“Japanese symbols,” I begin.

“What do they mean?”

“Honestly, they have a very personal meaning that would be hard for me to explain to someone that doesn’t know me, but thanks for the compliment.” Usually this stops the questions.

“Do they mean love?”

“No,” I reply as I turn to his team mate and ask what he would like to order.

“Well what do they mean? Tell me anyway.” At this point, his friends are making quiet comments to him to cut it out and just let me take their orders.

“Like I said, it really won’t make sense if you don’t know me.” I again turn to his friend.

“Are they your favorite sexual positions?”

OK, that’s it. I can humor questions and comments about personal things, things that strangers should not ask someone they don’t know. I can handle rudeness, demands, and even the occasional drunk trying to pet my arm. I refuse to be spoken to in this manner. Who raised this man, who is old enough to be my father, to think that asking someone a question like this is OK?

“No. Honestly hun, I’m by myself today. I don’t have a waitress, and I’m a little busy. I appreciate your compliment on my tattoos, but I don’t really have time to discuss them right now.” I say, looking him square in the eye. His friends, to my surprise, back me up and I hear several voices restating what I just said; “she’s busy man”, “leave her alone”, “I’m hungry.”

After the teams leave I have two people at the bar. It doesn’t pick up again until 30 minutes before I am scheduled to leave. My relief is 30 minutes late, but I don’t care because she called to let me know. I am working again tomorrow, so I just want to get off my aching feet and watch TV. Tomorrow will be a long day. I am bartending from 11 until whenever it is slow enough to close. Ugh.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Hell of a Day

“Excuse me! Excuse me!!”

I am taking an order from a neighboring table when I hear the woman from 33 calling. I ignore her desperate cries and ask the gentleman from 34 what side he prefers with his burger. As soon as I have the entire order from 34 I turn to the woman.

“Yes, what can I do for you?” This said in my firm server tone meant to convey my feelings of annoyance without crossing the friendly customer service line.

“Is this Diet? It tastes like diet.”

“No, its regular just as you asked for. If you don’t like it I can get you something else. “This woman and her male dining partner have been at their table for an hour and a half during prime lunch hours. Not usually an issue, since there are no sections, no servers waiting to turn a table. Today, though, they were seated on the patio which only holds 9 tables and the restaurant had three tables waiting for patio seating.

“It’s terrible. Are you sure it’s not Diet?”

“I poured it myself. As I said, I can get you something else if you don’t like it.” The two of them come in for lunch at least twice a week. They are always equally demanding; saying they are ready and then making up their minds as I stand before them, server pad in hand, yelling “miss!” across the restaurant to get my attention when I am clearly walking in their direction already.

“I had regular yesterday and it didn’t taste like this.”

I fought the urge to argue with her. I served her yesterday and she did not order a nonalcoholic drink of any kind. “Would you like something else?”

Finally she decided on a different drink.

This was not the first round of desperate “Excuse me!”’s from table 33. In fact, it was about the fourth time they had interrupted me while providing service for another table. Finally they are ready to leave and although I am on my way to table 31, I pause to hold the door open for the couple. As I turn to table 31 I hear “Excuse me! Miss! Miss!!”

Apparently table 31 has learned that this is appropriate behavior. Thanks 33.

Eventually, lunch is over. Several hours later, dinner service begins as well as the after work drinking crowd. It starts with a group of 4 getting their own drinks from the bartender. I continue to check on them regardless. Another table migrates from the bar to a table. They also seem to want to get their own drinks. Within a half an hour of these two tables, a third sits in the bar area; regulars who insist on being served by the waitress. I get them a round.

On the restaurant side, I have been sat a two top on the patio, a group of four in a booth, and two at a table. Orders have been entered for two of the three tables, and the last is on no hurry. I make another sweep of the bar area where I get a round for the one table allowing me to serve them. Everything seems to be going well. Then it happens. A group of four seats themselves in the restaurant, a three top seats themselves on the patio, and a man requisitions three tables for the party of ten he is expecting. I rush to get drinks for the self-seaters while running food for the others. Another group walks in and sits in the bar area. I swing by and grab their drink order, then rush food out to the couple at table 6. They have a coupon that states “Dine in only” but have ordered two steak dinners and a pizza in a to-go box. When I deliver the dinners the woman tries to hand me the pizza server saying they are already getting full. I politely tell her that the coupon they are using states dine in only. She looks at me in shock and says “But you don’t really care. I mean, you don’t need to say anything.” Awed by this, I tell her that the owner is here and he knows what they’ve ordered. While we don’t mind people taking home leftovers, ordering to-go voids the coupon.

While handling this, I receive another table on the patio; a team, 20 people. Now I am slammed. I quickly grab their drink order and ask Manager G to get three pitchers of water. I power walk to the bar and deliver drinks to the table in the bar area, making one more sweep of the tables there before rushing to get the rest of the drinks for the team. Food is up in the window so, drinks half filled, I run the food lest it get cold. After all drinks are delivered I grab the food order from the team. As I am entering it, Manager G comes up to me and says one of the tables in the bar area is looking for me. It happens to be one of the tables that have been ordering from the bar. I tell manager G this and say I’ll go over in a second. As I finish entering the order, the phone rings. It is another table, regulars, asking for their waitress. I guess this is the final straw for Manager G because he tells me I need to stop ignoring the bar tables and serve them. He is fairly angry, but I tell him that they have all been going to the bar, save one table, and I don’t understand why they feel I am ignoring them. Since Manager G said one table wanted a round, I enter it in the POS only to find that they have asked the bar for it. Great. I scramble to catch up. Since Manager T is now here, and it is his custom to give away the house, rounds are bought for many tables, the team is given 98% off their bill (This does not have to do with the service they received), and I am even picked up off the ground by a drunk man very happy to have received a round on the house. Manager T walks around with a tray of shots, giving them to every customer at the bar and surrounding tables. Drunk man leaves me less than 10%, and the team only gives me $30 after paying $5 for their (way) over $100 bill.

When everyone closes out, no new tables replace the ones that leave. I have the same two tables from 10 until last call at 1:30. I am happy to leave.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The beer thief returned last night

He ended up sitting on the patio and surrounding him was a small group of regulars. I was running 6 separate tabs between the two tables. Anyone who cocktails knows how much of a pain this is. If your POS system is set up where you can type in a name or number to label the tab it is much easier. My POS system is not set up this way. In order to start a tab I must enter a table number. Say I have three tabs at table 12. I would enter them as tables 12, 112, and 122. Only three numbers are allowed, so having more than three tabs per table makes it a bit more complicated. When the Beer Thief started his tab I had to enter an obscure table number.

I am a fairly organized person at work. When I am holding a credit card for a tab I make sure to wrap a copy of the tab around the card so there is no mistaking which table the card belongs to. Since I also had a table inside that had three separate tabs, I began a list for quick reference. While still irritating, it made the multiple tab situation much easier to handle.

The Beer Thief and his friends sat outside for several hours. When it began to rain, slightly harder than a drizzle but not enough soak through the umbrellas on the patio, I figured they would head in. I was wrong. I served them for another two hours in the aggressive drizzle. One regular made it a point of coming in and complaining to the bartender about my lack of attention to her water glass.

Typically when it rains, the patio is closed. I have to work outside when it is 60 degrees and people still want to sit outside. I have to work outside when it is 90 degrees and people still want to sit outside. I do not think it is unreasonable of me to not feel I should have to work outside in the rain, light drizzle or downpour. I did not completely ignore the group. There is a small awning over the doorway outside and I was regularly stepping out under it and calling over (only about 6 or 7 feet) to ask if anyone needed anything. I decided this was my best option when I was caught in a conversation with one of the people at the table while I was being rained on. Eventually they came in and sat at the bar when it didn’t stop raining.

Please keep in mind that these are regulars. By regulars, I mean people who spend upwards of 4 days a week at the Bar. They know how things work, and they know the bartender doesn’t share tips with the server. Several of them refused to close out their tabs with me, insisting that they would tip both the bartender and me individually. At the end of the night, the bartender was given the payment and tip. She split it herself and gave me my share. I’m not sure I trust the split. In this case, she said she split it 50/50. Not exactly fair when they sat outside in the rain and had my services for 4 hours and hers for 2.

I was entering an order for another table when manager T came up to me and said “If you have a tab with [beer thief] you’d better give it to him. He’s leaving.” I pulled the tab from my book and asked manager T if he would stop him for me and give him the tab since I was caring for another table. Manager T agreed and went to stop the man. I was getting drinks for my table when he came up to me with a daunted look on his face. “[Beer thief] didn’t leave you a tip.”

I gave him a blank look and said “That stinks, but it happens.” In my head I was livid. The bartender came up and asked manager T what was wrong. He told her and she grabbed money off the bar. “He left this on the bar.” Handing it to me “Take it.” It was better than nothing.

About an hour later, beer thief’s friend came in and asked the bartender where the money he had left on the bar was. She told the friend that it was only about $12 and she had given it to me because he didn’t tip me. The friend didn’t press, but didn’t seem happy that I had received the money. I would have felt bad, but it was left on the bar when the man left, and was not asked about for an hour. If it had not ended up in my pocket, it would have been in the bartender’s tip jar.