Weird Restaurant Stories: Best of 2010

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Welcome to the 2010 Weird Restaurant Stories finale.  After eighteen weeks and two hundred and twenty two stories, it all comes down to the final 12.  Sorting through all of these stories was much like a walk down memory lane.  I had a chance to see the evolution of this column and remember some of the crazier characters we met along the way.  Rather than trying to retell each story, I will give them to you as I did when they were first introduced.  I know from time to time a story might make it into the weekly countdown that might not merit a read.  This is a dud free list, only the best of 2010.

So without further ado, here are the weirdest restaurant stories of 2010:

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Weird Restaurant Stories 12/18

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Welcome to the final weekly installment of Weird Restaurant Stories for 2010.  I have once again scoured the internet for the oddest, strangest, and weirdest stories to happen in restaurants this week.  Next week I will be posting the weird restaurant stories year in review.  I will dig through each weeks stories and find the dozen best of 2010.  These stories will score double points for their region and we will know once and for all what region is the weirdest.
Before we get there, here is one more weeks worth of truly bizarre stories.
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Introducing Restaurant Laughs

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Introducing Restaurant Laughs

(Note: This wraps up the new site intro week on this blog. Check out the new site to find a funny post on the games servers play to pass the time. I think you will find it entertaining and might give you some ideas to make your next shift more amusing. Tomorrow you will also find the final weird restaurant stories post of the year at restaurant laughs.)

The Hospitality Formula Network is home to a wealth of knowledge about the restaurant industry. The information contained in it will allow you to become a better server, manager, or guest. The three sites I have introduced this week really make up the heart of the network. Still it seems that something would be missing without a final site. After reading all of that information, a laugh is probably in order.

That is where Restaurant Laughs comes in. This site is the home of humor on The Hospitality Formula Network. When you need a laugh or two at the end of a long shift, I hope this is where you can find one. This is a place for restaurant people to come together and share their stories. Restaurant Laughs provides you with the observations that let you know you are not the only one that notices all the strange things that happen in restaurants.

Restaurant Laughs is also the new home of Weird Restaurant Stories. My weekly recaps of the most interesting stories to occur in a restaurant will continue in the New Year. I also am very aware that humor is not always my strong suit. That is why a few contributors have been enlisted to share the heavy lifting on this site. In the coming weeks I hope to introduce you to some of the funniest people I know in the restaurant business. I am also open to anyone who wants to share a good tale with the group. Restaurant Laughs is the place to unwind after a long shift and share your stories.

In addition to a new story about the games servers play to amuse themselves during a shift, here is a peak at what you can find at the new site:

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Restaurant Humor

How To Flirt With Your Server

Top Ten Songs About Waitresses

The Card

Awkward Moments

My Response: 25 Things Chefs Never Tell You

The Greatest Customer Complaint Response Ever

Top 10 Songs About Dancing

Restaurant Etiquette: Quiz Answers

Restaurant Etiquette: Pop Quiz

Recommended Viewing 11/15

You Can Get Anything You Want At Alice’s Restaurant (Including Trophies)

The Server’s Court

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Server Humor

Servers Vs Dentists

I Make Mistakes Too

Retiring Jokes

Why Not To Date Co-Workers

The Upside of Dating Co-Workers

Story Time: Injuries

Monday Morning Recap

Five Stories Worth Reading

David Goes To Dentist

Don’t Be “That Guy” (Part One)

Don’t Be “That Guy” (Part Two)

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Blogging Humor

Clip Show: Starting a Blog

Top Five Posts You Probably Missed

Thank You!

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Weird Restaurant Stories

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Weird Restaurant Stories 8/28

Weird Restaurant Stories 9/4

Weird Restaurant Stories 9/11

Weird Restaurant Stories 9/18

Weird Restaurant Stories 9/25

Weird Restaurant Stories 10/2

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Weird Restaurant Stories 10/23

Weird Restaurant Stories 10/30

Weird Restaurant Stories 11/6

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Weird Restaurant Stories 11/20

Weird Restaurant Stories 11/27

Weird Restaurant Stories 12/11

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Another week has come and gone.  That means it is Saturday and time to count down this week’s strangest restaurant stories.  This week is a little more special than most because I am writing up this list 35 years to the day after my Mother struggled through giving birth to me.  I was already pretty unappreciative then.  I mean I got to lay around naked and warm all day while someone fed me.  Little did I know that 35 years later I would be writing about restaurant robberies and indecent exposure.

Read the full post at Restaurant Laughs

Don’t Be “That Guy” (Part Two)

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The Evil Monkey can spot "that guy" from a mile away

Friday I began a countdown of the top ten things rookies should avoid saying to not be labeled “that guy.”  It is never easy to be a rookie.  It is also not easy to deal with a rookie who always seems to be in your way as a veteran.  These are the mistakes every rookie should make an effort to avoid in order to prolong the patience of the veterans on the staff.  This is a list of very easily dodged potential landmines in a new working environment.

The first items on this list were more related to things “that guy” does to annoy his coworkers.  This section of the list represents the things that are done to offend your coworkers.  Being annoying is significantly more forgivable than being offensive.  The first six items on this list could be considered minor infractions.  The top four features ways to permanently annoy your coworkers.  Any of these violations could result in you being labeled “that guy” forever.

Here are the top four infractions that could make you “that guy.

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Weird Restaurant Stories 12/4

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I will be honest.  Last week’s batch of restaurant stories was pretty lame.  Apparently everyone took a week off of doing really stupid things in restaurants.  No need to worry though because this week people nationwide made up for their restraint last week.  I am willing to go so far as to say that this may be one of the best installments of this series yet.  Enough of me yappin, here is what I mean.

Before we get started, here are a couple of updates on stories featured in previous weeks.  The discrimination lawsuit against McFadden’s that I have been discussing over the last month has been settled out of court.  The General Manager who (allegedly) sent the text, “We don’t want black people we are a white bar!” has been fired. Also Omaha is the newest city to be warning of fake health inspectors.  Has anyone googled, “scam ideas that are more obvious than an email from Nigeria” to see if any information on this pops up?

Now onto this week’s stories.  Chad and Steve wanted to have a nice meal for Steve’s birthday.  Which obviously means ordering snails.  When Steve went to put his fork into a snail it… let me use Steve’s words, “We had no reason to expect that when we put the fork into the escargot, it would explode — literally jump 2 to 3 inches off the plate.”  Apparently snails are capable of jumping, but only after they are dead, cooked in butter, and stabbed with a fork.  Either that or someone needs to explain to Steve what “literally” means.  (San Rafael, CA)

I am an anti-patio guy.  I do not like sitting outside to eat.  I have seen several meals ruined by bird droppings.  I have yet to see one ruined by birds dropping.  Apparently the 50 or so dead birds that fell on this restaurant were a better alternative than a little bird poop.  Might want to rethink the poison game plan here.  (Venice, FL)

I love sticking it to celebrity chefs.  Gordon Ramsey usually gets a pass because I am actually a fan.  It has been a bad week for the Chef as he made the news twice.  First his New York restaurant fails to pay its trash bills.  Then the winner of this year’s Hell’s Kitchen does not actually get to work at the Savoy Hotel in London.  On a related note, Escoffier has stopped spinning in his grave.  (New York, NY)

While Ramsey’s trash might be sitting for a while, others have taken it upon themselves to remove any number of items from restaurants.  These include meat (Labelle, FL) grease (Springfield, MO), and even an industrial dishwasher (Susquehanna Township, PA).  You know cash spends really easily.  Most everyone takes it.  I am not sure that WalMart accepts payment in used fryer grease.  Maybe next time look for some of that green paper lying around.  I don’t think even Kaiser Soze has a fence for this kind of stuff.

An exception to that last rule can be made for the next thief.  I am not sure thief is even the right word.  We wandered into a restaurant with no money and instantly started scaring off patrons.  It was the fourth time in a week this offender had done it.  The frustrated owner did what all owners secretly want to do and fatally shot him.  I am pretty sure they are rethinking their weekly special of “lovely picanic baskets.”  (Tahoe City, CA)

Other restaurants seem to be getting in trouble for their deliveries.  Selling something as “made in house” or “locally sourced” is a great marketing technique.  It also is a great way to save some money on food costs.  This however does not apply to marketing liquor.  This story would have been infinitely cooler if the moonshiner was named Beau, Luke, or Uncle Jesse.  (Sebring, FL)

The title, “Owner of restaurant set on fire believes he’s victim of hate crime” caught my eye.  The fact that someone wrote, “Get out of our country” on the door of his restaurant before it was set on fire leads me to agree.  I think I speak for a vast majority of Americans when I say that “our country” does not believe in arson as a proper expression of backward ass xenophobia and racism.  This restaurateur has only lived in our country for 8 years, but already has a much better idea of what it means to be an American than the redneck who did this.  (Louisville, KY)

For seemingly the hundredth time on this blog I am pointing out that a night manager’s nametag is not some sort of spanish fly for young girls.  I will stop pointing it out as soon as stories like this stop happening.  There were actually a couple stories this week on this topic, but honestly we all know that there are some real dirtbags in the world.  I don’t like reminding everyone each week.  This one made the list because of the last line in the story.  If I gave an award for the most obvious fact to point out in a story, this one would win.  (Grayslake, IL)

Speaking of awards it is time to present the Chef Justus Award for the restaurant hero to Texas Roadhouse.  When one of their managers died they donated 10% of the sales from 23 of their restaurants to a fund for his children.  Doing it at one store is attempting to do the right thing.  Doing it at 23 stores shows a commitment that I think should be an example to other restaurant companies.  My sympathy and condolences go out to Suzanne Scull and her family.  (Royersford, NJ)

The soon to be renamed (assuming the Saratoga Springs PD can get off their butts and catch the guy) award for the restaurant jerk goes to the Leominster, MA Police Department.  They recently busted a robbery suspect by arresting him at a busy restaurant.  They did so with guns drawn which predictably unnerved the patrons.  They also in their words, “assisted Mr. Manuel Ingrassia to the ground (prone position).”  Could that $300 he stole not have warranted arresting him outside the restaurant?  I’m not trying to pick on the police here, but this seems pretty darn lazy to me.  (Leominster, PA)

Time for the scoreboard:

Scoreboard 12/4

It was a strong week for the Mid Atlantic region.  Florida single handledly carried the South Atlantic region into second this week.  At this point the South Atlantic region’s lead seems pretty insurmountable.  It is not over yet, next week I will announce a special Christmas version of weird restaurant stories that will definitely be a game changer.

This week the United States got credit for the follies of Gordon Ramsey.  It is only fair that Justin Bieber return the favor to London.  While the constant facebook postings about “Bieber Fever” from my female friends in their 30s lead me to believe they have forgotten he is a kid, he did a good job of reminding his server.  No matter where in the world you go, teenagers can be a pain to wait on.  While the owner did not fatally shoot him, I am still giving the points to the world.  USA: 8 World: 7.

That is all for this week.  Monday I will be coming back with the final part of the “don’t be that guy” countdown.  I will also be posting rule seven of the rules of serving and the final installment of the leadership series.  For those who cannot get enough of me, I will also be on The Dave Scott Show this Friday to discuss the restaurant business.  I will also be revealing a very important announcement about the future of this blog this week. Need more reason to come back to this blog?  It is one week til my birthday and anyone who visits everyday gets off the hook for buying me a present.  Don’t think I won’t come find you.

Don’t Be “That Guy” (Part One)

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Nobody wants to work with "that guy."

We were all rookies at one time.  We walked in confident the first day at a new restaurant only to end up with a deer-in-the-headlights look by the first rush.  I’ve worked at plenty of restaurants over the years and know the feeling all to well.  I have most certainly been “that guy” as well.  There is something unnerving about being a rookie at a new restaurant.

I have also been the veteran at several restaurants.  I have been around long enough to see countless rookies come through my restaurant and make the same mistakes.  Most of them are incredibly well meaning.  I try to be patient with all of them.  Sometimes I even bother to learn their names after a couple of months.

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The Server’s Court

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This is a place for justice to be dispensed

It was a most magnificent dream.  Perhaps the most magnificent dream not featuring Alyssa Milano that I have ever had.  I snuck back to the private dining room between shifts for a little piece and quiet.  I must have dozed off for a second because I found myself in a judge’s robe behind the bench.  As the defendant approached a catchy little theme song played.  Then a voice came from the sky and I realized what was going on.

“In restaurants around the country rude and obnoxious guests grate on the nerves of servers.  The worst offenders are sent here for justice.  The defendants have all plead guilty and are appearing here for sentencing.  Judge Dave delivers his own brand of justice here on The Server’s Court”

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Weird Restaurant Stories 11/27

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Honestly, I don’t have a witty introduction for you this week.  The upside is that they generally aren’t that good to begin with.  I’m not going to even fake it.  Let’s talk about some stories.

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You Can Get Anything You Want At Alice’s Restaurant (Including Trophies)

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Yes, I do have it on vinyl. Hipster Rating +1

Happy Thanksgiving.  Long time readers might recall me mentioning long ago a particular affection for Woody Guthrie.  What you don’t know, unless you have known me for twenty years, is that it began with his son Arlo.  Today, I wanted to tell you the story.  Then I want to follow up the story with the best version of Alice’s Restaurant complete with the Richard Nixon story ending.  Before I get there though I would ask that for proper understanding of this story you all remember the simple meandering guitar while reading the rest of this post.

You see it all started about 20 Thanksgiving ago, that is 20 years ago Thanksgiving, when myself, my buddy Glen, and our debate coach Ron had an idea.  This was not just any idea.  They had an idea to make a skinny debater into an actor.  I real live bonafide cry on demand actor.  The only problem is that I am not an actor.  Their solution was that I wasn’t going to act.

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