Thursday, November 26, 2009

Party Night

The night before Thanksgiving. One of the biggest bar nights of the year. I had the pleasure of waitressing on this night.
It was busy. It was so busy I could barely get to my tables on the other side of the bar. There were people standing everywhere. About 2/3 of the group were friends with the bartender so they chose to go straight to the bar for their drinks. I understand that and didn't mind; I had other tables. Unfortunately, the other tables were paying cash so they felt no obligation to wait for me. It turns out even the people who had tabs with me didn't feel any obligation to wait for me either, even though I had their credit cards. They began going to the bar. They told the bartenders that they had a tab, thinking that it made no difference if their tab was with me or the bar.

I wish I could give every table a few pointers to the bar experience. Opening a tab with the waitress is not the same as opening a tab with the bar. Who you open the tab with holds you card and has to claim the sale. It does matter. I am fortunate enough to work at a place where I can transfer tabs to other people (i.e. the bar), but not all places are like this. If you open a tab with the server, that's who you should be ordering from. If you move from your table and it's crowded, you should let the server know. We may not be able to use our superhuman powers to find you in a crowd.

If you tip the bartender per round, tip the waitress the same. Usually the waitress is navigating through crowds to get your order, then back to the POS computer, then to the bar, then back to your table with a tray of drinks/food. The bartender only needs to reach in a cooler to grab your beer and does not have to fight the crowds. Who do you think is working harder?

If you stop ordering from the waitress when she is busy and prefer to go to the bar on your own, and she checks on you for over an hour without you ordering one drink from her, do not expect her to continue to come back. She has other tables that are actually ordering and tipping her. Do not flag her over after 3 hours of going to the bar yourself to tell her you need something. Every time you go to the bar, she loses money to another employee who is already making more per sale than she is. Some waitresses will not, but many will ignore you. I personally might check on you if I am nearby, but I will not make a special trip through the crowd, getting stepped and spilled on, just to see if you need anything. You are a lost cause to me and taking up space in my section. Get your own drinks if I'm not around. It's what you've been doing all along anyway when I was around.

I realize this post sounds very cynical. I am not always so critical of customers and their actions. That being said, when the bar is backed up three deep and the waitress is standing around bored, there is a problem. This is a common problem at my bar; tables bypassing the waitress and going to the bar. Some bartenders tell people there is a waitress, most do not. I went in to work expecting to make money last night, needing to make money. Instead, I stood around watching others make money and having to fight through crowds to serve the few tables that were allowing me the pleasure of waiting on them. I went home smelling like brewery from being spilled on so much with 1/4 of the money the bartender made...and there were two of them so they split tips.

1 comment:

Waiter Extraordinaire said...

Good post. Often overlooked is the bar waitress struggle all night wading through crowds on a busy night.