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.

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A World Without Tips

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A world without tips

I am still incredibly grateful for my recent guest post on tipping.  It inspired my response that discussed the economics of tipping.  It also raised a few other interesting points that I am now learning are common misconceptions about restaurants.  For people who have never worked in a restaurant, these misconceptions can easily be mistaken as facts.  Upon further consideration they may not be wise to pursue.  One interesting idea that she raised in the post was raising the wages paid to server by restaurants to replace tipping.  While on the surface it seems quite logical, it would have a disastrous impact on the industry.

Restaurants are operated on incredibly thin profit margins.  As discussed in a previous post, large corporate restaurant chains are extremely susceptible to anything that affects their stock prices. With a huge spike in the cost of labor, restaurant stock prices would crumble.  Independent restaurant owners struggling to stay afloat would shutter.  Consumers would lose choices.  A vast majority of restaurants would survive this initial wave, but be forced into the next step.

The remaining restaurants would set a wage for servers considerably lower than what the servers make now.  Professional servers with years of experience would have to settle for the new rate or venture into a new career field.  Between servers quitting and terminations, restaurants would reduce the size of their server staff by about a third.  Servers who worked four table sections before would now be required to work six tables for less money.  This would reduce the damage to the restaurant’s bottom line, but also drastically reduce the quality of service that was provided to guests.

Read the full post at Tips For Improving Your Tips

The Economics of Tipping

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A reminder for all of us.

I still occasionally get the guest who will say, “I can buy this wine for half this price at the store.”  Which is true, but it doesn’t come with a staff to serve it and a crew of chefs ready to cook you an incredible meal from a fully stocked kitchen.  I wonder if the same people have ever priced grapes at the grocery store.  If they want to get really serious about cutting out the mark up, that would be an even cheaper place to start.  Better yet, if they buy seeded grapes they could plant the seeds and never have to pay for a bottle of wine again.

Most of you understand the absurdity of this logic.  Those who do not understand have already stopped reading to go buy grapes.  At each step along the process of making the bottle of wine the cost of goods and service, along with a healthy profit margin, are passed along to the next stage.  From grape to cellar, farmers, vintners, bottlers, distributors, and restaurants all add to the price of the bottle in advance.  There is one exception to this rule.  The person who opens the bottle and pours it actually makes that wine less expensive.  At the most basic level, the person who serves the wine pays for part of the bottle for you.

Read the full post at Tips For Improving Your Tips

Restaurant Etiquette: Pop Quiz

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Restaurants truly want you to feel comfortable in their establishments.  It is the hospitality industry.  We want you to feel like guests in our home when you eat at our restaurants.  At the same time certain societal norms need to be upheld.  Just as you wouldn’t put your muddy shoes on a host’s coffee table, certain rules of etiquette apply at restaurant.  Due to the fact that these are all too frequently ignored, it might be time for a pop quiz as a friendly reminder of proper restaurant manners.

Feel free to jot down your responses, a link to the answers will be provided at the bottom.

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Restaurant Etiquette: Quiz Answers

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If you missed the quiz portion, go back and check it out.  If you are coming from the quiz, welcome.  Please pass your tests to the left to grade.  We are working on the honor system here folks.  No cheating.

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Making a Difference

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Hey guys could we get some saucers?

The weekend is upon us.  Friday and Saturday nights get busy and take a lot out of us.  The pace is faster, the side stations are more crowded, and all of the saucers in the restaurant seem to hide.  The guests do not seem to understand any of this and have far less patience.  This leads to frustration on our part and the feeling of  a battle.  A normally nice restaurant turns into a fortress.  The staff fortifies as an army defending against the invading hordes.  Trying to get them fed so they will retreat.  The evening ends with the restaurant looking like a battlefield.  We gather our wounded at the end of the night and plan our invasion of someplace that stays open later than our restaurant does.

Friday and Saturday nights are called “amateur hour” because the guests are less restaurant savvy.  They are not as aware of the burdens they place on us by all deciding to come out to eat on the same night.  They are less patient, less informed, and less generous.  We wish for one moment they could step in our shoes and know our struggles.  Yet, how often do we extend them the same courtesy?  Take a couple minutes to watch this video before answering.

Read the full post at Tips For Improving Your Tips

On A Good Night

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On the great nights

(Note: I am enjoying the final day of my mini vacation.  Having a great trip.  Met my favorite musician and a personal hero yesterday.  Today I will be taking the scenic drive through the Ozark hills of Central Missouri.  This is a post I wrote a couple months ago.  Not my standard fare, but I hope you all enjoy it.)

Some nights I just love waiting tables.  They are the nights where everything goes right.  The guests are congenial and friendly.  You make connections with your tables and they are happy.  They take your recommendations and commend you on them afterwards.  It almost doesn’t seem like work.

Read the full post at Tips For Improving Your Tips

The Greatest Customer Complaint Response Ever

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Meet Chef Jonathan Justus, your new restaurant hero

I had lunch today with my friends Emma and Senor Esparza.  They ate at Justus Drugstore last night.  Justus is on the outermost outskirts of what could be considered Kansas City.  In the few years that it has been open it has developed a reputation of being well worth the drive.  I personally have never dined there.  A little to pricey for my blood, but after reading what I am about to share you will see why I have never felt a restaurant owner was more deserving of my hard earned tips.

They were telling me about how incredible the food and wine was and how the chef joined them for a glass.  Then Emma full of glee interjected with a story.  She said she had read an incredibly negative review.  As we waited in line at Oklahoma Joe’s for America’s best meal served inside a gas station, she conveyed the details of this complaint.  After coming home and reading it, I can say she did not do it justice (HA! Get it a complaint about Justus Drugstore).  Enough of my puns, here is the review from Yelp!:

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Resumes For Servers

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What I meant by "Head Trainer" was "Head Trainer of Dishwashers."

“You should never write your own resume, personal ad, or obituary.  In all three cases it is better to show your humility by letting someone else lie for you.”

-David Hayden

Every since picking up a copy of Peter’s Quotations in high school it has been a personal goal of mine to quote myself in something I wrote.  I can now check that one of the bucket list.  Contrary to the impression I give writing this blog, I am actually a pretty humble guy.  I consider humility an attribute.  In most cases it serves a person well.  Writing a resume is not one of those cases.

Writing a successful resume requires the writer to place the most positive spin on their achievements possible.  This does not mean lying, but rather fully accentuating the positive.  There is no room for humility in resume writing.  It is assumed by the reader that a resume contains a fair amount of exaggeration.  If you do not include that exaggeration, your humility will be mistaken for it.

I recently was asked by a friend to take a look at her resume.  She had a big interview coming up and wanted to have a fresh set of eyes to take a look over it.  I determined at this point there are two types of people in this world: those who edit and those who write.  I write, but am not so strong on the editing side (as many of you who read regularly have gathered).  I returned to her what I consider a very strong server resume.  She gave me permission to share parts of it with you and I think it can provide some inspiration for anyone writing their own.

Read the full post at Tips For Improving Your Tips

Top Five Posts You Probably Missed

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R. Charles Pennington IV is best known for his role as the Zoloft rock, but also was the lesser known character Ronnie the Roll

Being less than a week away from my 100th post has left me some time to think about how I want to recognize that milestone.  I thought about a grand countdown.  I thought  about an retrospective on all of the changes I have seen in the restaurant business in my years.  I had an idea sent to me for a very controversial point/counterpoint.  I even considered just waxing poetic on the business as a whole in a pretentious and self absorbed way.  I decided to skip that last one so as not to steal a certain someone’s shtick.

Instead I decided it was okay for me to phone a couple of these in.  100 posts in under 5 months is a pretty feverish pace for a blogger considering the size of most of my posts.  Posts that require research have hours poured into them to try and produce something worth reading.  Occasionally, I get really excited about the result.  In my opinion yesterday’s post about ranch dressing might be my favorite.  However after I finish this one, it may take that title.  My favorite generally is the one I just wrote.

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