Friday, April 29, 2011

Timing is Everything

Well...
Tomorrow I leave for three weeks of vacation! This week every shift felt like it dragged on...GET ME OUT OF HERE!

And then...like a miracle, I received a job offer for my first "Big Girl Job!"

It was a very bizarre feeling to walk into Bloggiano's last night, and submit my resignation.

Dear Managers,
I know I'm leaving for vacation in two days, but....uh...I'm not coming back.
Thanks for everything!
Sincerely,
Lindsay



Probably the saddest only sad part about quitting my restaurant life (hopefully for good) is that it must mean the end of Gratuity Not Included. Booooo! After enjoying writing this blog for 7 months, I'm very sad to give it up!

 This is not the end of my writing career. Shit. 
What the hell am I going to write about now?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

If you're not sure what that is...

...maybe you should just ask.

I don't get it. If you have a food aversion or allergy, shouldn't YOU be the one to double check the description of the menu item you're thinking of ordering?

The biggest culprit comes from our house salads, which have "prosciutto" listed as one of the ingredients. If you don't eat meat, or pork, and you aren't sure what "prosciutto" is....just ASK me. 
I promise I won't make fun of you.
In fact, I'm more likely to talk shit about you in the kitchen after I bring out the salad and you give me the "ew" face, telling me you thought maybe "prosciutto" was a kind of cheese.

Let me be clear. I don't eat pork. So I understand having to remove items. And that's why I totally understand a guest who asks me if our meat sauce, meatballs, or sausage are made with pork products...because I do it, too.

Another one of my favorite "we didn't know" is our dish called Chicken Saltimbocca. In the description, it says there is a layer of "prosciutto" on top of the chicken along with provolone. I can't tell you how many I've had to send back when the table cuts into the chicken and sees a bacon-like strip under the cheese.

"Well we didn't really read the description in the menu..."

No shit.

This little piggy is Italian.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Did I mention I got my Degree in Acting?

On the weekends, the managers make a big to-do of our shift meeting....remember The Nod?
On this particular night, one of the managers singled me out for a "WOW" comment written by one of my guests...
They said I was very enthusiastic and they could tell I REALLY loved my job.

Gulp.

My manager looks at me. "Lindsay, tell the group how you convey your enthusiasm to your guests to show them you love what you do."

Gulp.
Yes. I love my job so much. That's why I've been applying for other jobs the entire six months I've worked there. It's why I have to take deep breaths every time I leave a table because I'm afraid I might snap every single shift. Seriously? I'm an actress!


"Well, I really just love food and I'm enthusiastic when I talk about the menu with my guests. And I find that if I'm smiling and bubbly, they feed off my energy and find it hard to be mad at me!"

Our GM jumps in..."Haven't you guys noticed whenever you're talking to Lindsay you can't help but smile? That's why we hired her!"

Gulp.
I glanced over at Minnesota and she's dying of laughter. She knows I'm counting the hours until I leave for my  three week vacation to Maui and Australia...that I'm SO over work right now and wishing I didn't have to come back!

ACTING!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Not Lost in Translation

We get a lot of Israeli guests at Bloggiano's. And despite their stereotype for low tipping and being on the rude side, I always get a little excited to hear them speak Hebrew to each other.

Imagine my surprise when one of my four tables on Easter Sunday was a party of 8 Israelis. Throughout their time at my table, I heard them discussing the menu for their Family Style order in Hebrew and was tempted to wish them a Happy Passover, but didn't want to overstep my boundaries.

When it came time to box up the food, I heard the two mothers say they wanted to split it chetzi v' chetzi, and without thinking, I jumped into the conversation and told them I could split the food for them.

One of the fathers gave me a smile. "You understand us, don't you?"

Oops. Yes! Sorry for interrupting. I understand some Hebrew from living in Tel Aviv for awhile. 

Apparently one of the mothers had thought she saw me understanding them from the start, but they all laughed. In the end, I was able to wish them a Happy Passover like I wanted....and for the record, they left me 18% without me adding the gratuity.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Large Pizza, Extra Cheese, and Mushrooms

I walk up to Table 92...

Are you all ready to order?

"Yes. We'll have a large pizza, extra cheese, and mushrooms."

Umm. Yeah....we don't actually have pizza on our menu...
I mean, we have some appetizer flatbreads, but we don't have traditional pizza.

Oh. But it's baked in an oven with cheese, right? Not just bread?

Yeah..It's more like a thin, crispy pizza though. And we only have one size.

So, it's square?

Actually...it's a rectangle??

OH! Ok, we'll have that.


Maybe you should read the menu before ordering... I don't know. Just a thought.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A lesson on Broccolini

Imagine the grandma who drinks a champagne split to her face while waiting for her teenage grandkids to meet her for lunch.

I'll tell you this much: She's never had broccolini before.

Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present:

The Broccolini
I like to describe it to my guests as the lovechild of broccoli and asparagus.

This lady ordered it, despite her grandson suggesting she get asparagus instead. I do my checkback, only to find her pushing it around on the plate.
"Do you like the broccolini?"


"Well...I didn't realized it would be so....long-stemmed."


"Oh. That's pretty much the main difference between broccoli and broccolini."


"It kinda looks like a weed."


"....May I get you something else instead?"


"I'll take the asparagus."

You're right, lady. I'm sure you'll love the asparagus....the vegetable that is almost 100% stem!


Broccolini is a green vegetable similar to broccoli but with smaller florets and longer, thin stalks. Although often misidentified as young broccoli, it is a cross between broccoli and kai-lan, Chinese broccoli. A natural hybrid of the cabbage family Brassica oleracea italica x alboglabra, it was developed by the Sakata Seed Company of Yokohama, Japan with the name Chinese kale or gai lan. Broccolini's flavor is sweet, with notes of both broccoli and asparagus. -Thank you Wikipedia

I'M broccoli. Nice to meet you.

Monday, April 18, 2011

I'm serious about meatballs.

First of all....
Happy 100th Post to Gratuity Not Included!
I can't believe that I've:
a) been serving again for 7 months
b) gained so many wonderful readers in that time!
Thank you for your dedication!

On to the topic of this glorious 100th post: Meatballs!

We have a special I've nicknamed, "The meat-lover's dish" when describing it to my guests. It's a fettucini bolognese with VEAL meatballs. You know how I feel about veal. See below...
Mmmm Baby Cow!

Anyway, I was having a particularly good night, schmoozing with my guests, selling a ton of specials, and having zero problems...when I got a table of two young guys. I helped them out with the menu and one ended up going for my "meat-lover's dish!" Throughout their meal, I had time to chat with them and joke about the dish. As they slowed down on eating, all that was left on the plate was ONE last veal meatball. I came over and asked, "Are you really not going to eat that?!?" The other guy chimed in and said he saved it for him...I turned and said,
"I'll arm wrestle you for it."
I even went so far as to put my elbow onto their table.
They both laughed, and I could see in his face....he thought about it.
Then, he came back and said...."Nawww I can't arm wrestle a girl!!"


I'm 100% convinced he was afraid to lose to a girl.
I totally could have taken him.

The nod.

Is this a waitor? Or the Godfather?...The Nodfather!
God bless our managers. They are trying SO hard to make shift meetings interesting for us...

And yet, the topic last night was a selling technique we will call, "The Nod."
We sat around discussing how if you nod to your guests as you're describing a particular dish, they're more likely to bite. Apparently, this is real selling technique, but I couldn't help but laugh as I looked around the room and 15 servers and 3 managers were all "practicing" THE NOD!
We looked like a room full of bobbleheads.

To make it even more comical, the managers had us go around the room and individually practice selling our favorite item using the nod technique. Sooo creepy. 

But for the record, I was voted into the Top 3 to win free dinner for our nodding skills! YES! 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

I have to 'bus' my ass tonight!

The bussers are BUS-ted! 
Ok. I'm done with that joke, I swear.

On a typical night, the servers tip our bussers between 2-4% of our server sales.
If they bring bread and water to my tables, I give them 3%.
If they help me box food, 3.5%.
If they do all of the above and help clear plates on my tables, I give them 4%.

The managers aren't really allowed to tell us what to tip-out. Some weird corporate thing, I'm sure. Anyway, I'm not sure how they figured it out, but the managers realized on a night where the busser has 4 servers to take care of...if he knows two of them tip him higher than the other two, he'll neglect the two that tip lower. This means the servers tipping lower are wondering, "where is my busser?" all night!

To make things more "fair," the managers have told the bussers they are no longer permitted to get us water and bread for the tables, no longer allowed to help clear or box food. Their #1 priority is to keep the server stations around the restaurant stocked with full water pitchers, plates, and glasses.

PROS: 

  • I never go to grab a water pitcher and find that all 8 in my server station are empty
  • We're now told to only tip-out 2% for the busser....that could mean $20 instead of $40!
  • Running around because I have more work to do is good for my upcoming trip to Hawaii ;)
CONS:
  • When I get triple sat, it takes forever to get water and bread for all my tables. I get a lot of, "is the bread coming?" from the guests
  • I'm a girl. I feel my carpal tunnel getting worse with those heavy plates
  • I miss the extra help already :(
I mostly feel bad for the bussers. I think they SHOULD have a job like ours where the harder you work, the more money you make...


Don't let Grandpa tip!

You know I love making people feel special.
And I also love old people.

But, if you're out with your grandparents, and they're footing the bill....maybe you should double-check the tip.

I had a really nice table of two guys and their grandparents.
Grandma is vegan, so I went over the menu and helped her choose something she'd like. The guys were overwhelmingly thankful. They'd brought in a cake for one of the brothers' birthday. I made sure it was perfectly timed...you know, made it really special.

When I went to box up the rest of their cake, I decided I deserved a little piece for my hard work (they'd never notice) so I took the tiniest amount, and there was still a half a cake left. I brought it out, and had an "uh-oh" moment.
The grandkids are gone. 
Grandpa's treat. 

I wonder how they'd feel knowing Grandpa left me $11 on $93...that's an ALMOST 12% tip. Maybe that was a good tip back in his day...


I should have taken a bigger piece of cake.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Gender Bender

I am so embarrassed.

It was a busy Friday night, and Minnesota and I were sharing a section. We got double-sat so we decided who would take which table and headed over for the greet. I get to Table 20; it's a two-top.

I start pouring the oil and vinegar while they have their heads down at the menu.


"Hello, Gentlemen..............and LADY."

Oh shit.

Her head was down! She had a short Bieber-ish haircut and wore a blazer! I didn't even realize...
It's a girl!

They're a couple.
Eff me. 
She was too busy looking at the menu to notice, but the guy laughed. I quickly walked away after finishing the pour.

Minnesota, we need to switch tables.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Tow Truck

I know guests think they're SO funny when they say this, but guess what...
I hear it at least 3 times a night!

So how was everything folks? Can I get you anything else?

"Yeah. A tow truck to get us out of here!"

Ba-dum-ch.


"Mator D"
I can be funny, too.
Oh, I get it. It's funny because our portions are big.
And you ate a lot. That's a good one.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Damned if I do...

...damned if I don't.

I took a party of 15 for lunch. Technically, I shared it with another server, but we both got pretty busy...putting most of the weight on me. 10 of the 15 show up on time, but the host isn't there yet.

Hmm. Well, they have a set Family Style menu. Should I start the first course??

If I start it, she'll arrive, see the food, and say we didn't confirm the menu with her.

So I decide to wait. Let them eat bread and start on their drinks.

Then she arrives (15 minutes late) and freaks out:
"Where is the food??"

Great. I was probably going to lose no matter what I'd done. 
Needless to say, we got off on the wrong foot, and she was on top of me the rest of the time.

Still left me 18%. Thank goodness.

Happy Retirement?


I mean, I want to make your Retirement Party "special," but ummm...what do I write on your cookie plate?

Happy Retirement?


Congratulations?


Sorry, you got laid off?


Woooooooooooo!

Or, my personal fave:

I'm jealous.
Love,
Your Server

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Excuse me! My coffee!!

Apparently I have magical powers I'm unaware of. But my guests sure do believe in them!

The woman at Table 10 orders a decaf coffee while sharing her salad with her husband. I leave the table and go to take the order at Table 11 right after. Yes, Table 10 is directly next to Table 11. In fact, they are booths, so they are connected to each other. I'm at Table 10 for maybe a couple minutes, then start heading back towards the server alley to get Table 10's coffee.

As I'm walking past, the woman grabs my arm and says,
"Excuuuuuuse me! My COFFEE?!?"

Are you freaking kidding me, lady?? How the hell was I supposed to magically get your stupid decaf coffee when you clearly saw me at the table RIGHT next to you?!? Do I have a clone that's supposed to go get it? Can I magically make it appear? Do I have Stretch Armstrong arms that grab the coffee while I'm at my other table? And is this really a decaf coffee emergency? Wait your turn!!!Oh! And NEVER touch me again!

Deep breaths. Deep breaths.

Yes, I was actually just at the table over helping another guest, and now I'm going to get your coffee.
Fake smile. Walk away.

It took all of my strength not to make it a regular coffee....just for fun.

Oh, and that's not all.
Later, I brought the pot over to refill her coffee, and she asked me,
"Is this the same good coffee, or the other stuff?"

It's the other stuff. Just drink it. And leave. Thank you! Have a great day!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Black Shirt

You already know how I feel about our de-womanizing (yes, that's what I'm going to call it) uniforms.

As a cocktail server, we have a slightly different uniform...the shirt is black. Exactly the same....just black.
A few of the guys told me they think it looks a little bit better for the girls, but I have my doubts. Well, that is not the point of this entry.

This entry is about the hell I went through trying to find a plain, black button down shirt. Doesn't sound like it would be that difficult, but I almost gave up!

First, I tried Target:
1st location: 2 XL men's shirts
2nd location: 1 L men's shirt
3rd location: 0 black shirts

Then, I asked one of my co-workers...She suggested H&M. I decided to call first. The first location told me they were out. The 2nd location only had v-neck button downs.

I started to worry if I would find a shirt in time for my shift the next night! I called GAP. They have it, but it's $50! Yeah, I'm not doing that.

Final Stop: Kohl's!
Don't worry. I found a million different men's black button downs with stripes, ridges, designs, weird buttons and pockets, all before I found a PLAIN BLACK SHIRT!
They had 1 small....which is 15in, 32/33 aka still huge on me as a 5'3 girl, but I took it anyway. Hey, it says slim fit, right??

Moral of the story: 
I still look like a linebacker, but now I'm wearing black instead of white.
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