Memorizing Orders

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When I started my first serving job years ago I worked for a company I will affectionately refer to as “Five Four.”  That isn’t what it says on the signs out front, but it what we all called it.  My first day a manager who introduced himself as “CSV” told me that if I couldn’t figure out how to carry three plates at once by the end of the shift, I was fired.  I wasn’t sure if he was telling the truth, but I learned to carry three plates.  A couple days later I was training with a guy named “Timmy” who never wrote down his orders.  I asked him why and he said, “Only rookies write down orders.”

There are any number of managers who would read that last sentence and be horrified.  The thought of not writing down orders puts fear in the heart of managers who are responsible for the rise in food costs related to misrung food.  A former boss once put it this way; “I would rather have a stubby pencil than a sharp mind.”  The debate on whether or not to write down orders has pretty much been won by the side of managers who want to eliminate mistakes.  I do not disagree with them, but I also do not write down orders.

Read the full post at Tips For Improving Your Tips

Weird Restaurant Stories 8/21

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For a while now I have tried to come up with a weekend concept for this blog.  Traffic is down on the weekends and I wanted to come up with something lighthearted for everyone to enjoy.  Last week’s point/counterpoint on why it is a good or bad idea to date coworkers didn’t work out that way.  Turns out several of my dating coworkers did not see the humor in the post.  So much for the point/counterpoint idea.

Instead today I am going to try something a little different.  We all know truly strange things happen in restaurants all the time.  Sometimes they are even newsworthy.  So this Saturday in an effort to make everyone’s restaurant seem just a bit more normal I dug up some of these stories from around the world.  All of these were reported in just the last week.

Read the rest of the post at Restaurant Laughs

Cost vs Profit

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In a previous post about why restaurants charge for different extras, I discussed the difference between the guest’s perception of profits and reality.  It is not uncommon to hear a guest say, “I can buy this for half as much at the grocery store.”  The problem is that food in a restaurant carries far more costs than the price of the food on a plate.  I thought of a number of different ways to address this.  The easiest way to explain a complex topic is in relatable terms.  For this reason I have decided to look at the topic by addressing the most common item on restaurant menus: The Cheeseburger.

A friend in the business was able to supply me with the actual numbers from a Midwestern restaurant that is part of a far larger national chain.  These are the actual costs broken down to their individual components on a hamburger.  I won’t name the chain for obvious reasons, but it is fair to say that their volume allows them to buy these items for less than their independent counterparts.  Here is how the actual cost of a half-pound cheeseburger and fries break down.

Read the full post at The Manager’s Office

The Upside of Dating Co-Workers

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(Note: This is part two of the point/counter-point of dating co-workers.  In part one I recalled the painful situations I have seen and experienced over the years.  Taking the side of dating co-workers is our resident Spanish language adviser and PhD candidate Senor Esparza.  He takes the position that it is in fact beneficial to date co-workers.  Obviously there is a middle ground we would both advocate.  No amount of logic or reason is going to prevent or cause anyone to enter into a workplace relationship.  This series if for entertainment value only.  If you are not reading it with a smile, you might be missing the joke.)

Soundtrack inserted by yours truly.


I will not attempt to refute the points that our favorite restaurant blogger has made.  Much of the rationale behind his screed warning people off of dating co-workers is grounded both his experience and the experience of many others.   This being said, I am going to frame the issue a little bit differently.  I would argue that not only is dating a co-worker natural consequence explainable by proximity empiricism, but in many cases can be preferable to dating people that you have not gotten to know through the course of working with them.

Read the full post at Restaurant Laughs

Why Not To Date Co-Workers

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On the downside, you work a double with them tomorrow

It is that time of year.  Love or at least heavy lust is in the air.   That means just one thing in the restaurant business.  It is too hot to sit on the patio.  Well that and co-workers are starting the annual mating ritual.  At the most recent count, there are six confirmed couples at my restaurant.  I was discussing this with some co-workers when someone said, “hey, you should write a blog about that.”  I had pondered it before, but never thought there was much to cover.  My opinion is simple and based on a great deal of experience.  Dating co-workers is a horrible idea.  My friend disagreed and offered to write the counter-point.  So today we kick off a two part series on dating co-workers.

I am a child of the 80s and was raised on John Hughes movies.  The hopeless romantic streak runs strong in me.  I have been in this business for 15 years and of course I have dated co-workers.  I have seen 15 years worth of work couples and even been in a few of their weddings.  I have seen co-workers have babies.  I have seen co-workers divorce. My opinion is still clear though, don’t date your co-workers.

Read the full post at Restaurant Laughs

Extras and Upcharges

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upcharge

Upcharges come in a variety of shapes and sizes

I received a message the other day from a friend and reader of the blog who is not in the business. She recounted going out to eat and asking for a few extras. When the bill came it was filled with minor charges for each of the items she requested. Her concern was not that the charges were there, but that they weren’t mentioned in advance. She wondered what I thought the protocol was here.

The answer is not really a simple one. There are no hard and fast rules because there is a fundamental lack misunderstanding between restaurant owners and guests that servers are forced into the middle of. Restaurant owners feel that they have priced meals for value and if you ask for something extra, the costs should be passed along. Guests believe that they can make the same item for less at home so owner’s profit margins are sufficient enough to give away the extras. Servers are forced to defend both sides while staying loyal both to the owners that gave them a job and the guests who pay them.

Read the full post at The Manager’s Office

The Evolution of Free Bread

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Lamberts

Home of the Throwed Rolls

In the far corner of Southeast Missouri is a town called Sikeston.  If you have heard of Sikeston, MO it is probably because of a restaurant called Lambert’s Café.  I’ve eaten at Lambert’s a number of times over the years, but don’t recall what I had.  I always remember the food being good, but nothing amazing.  The menu isn’t what made Lambert’s famous though.  Lambert’s is known around the world as “The Home of the Throwed Rolls.

If you are unfamiliar with Lambert’s, the atmosphere is best conveyed on video.  You almost have to be on guard at all times while eating there because any stray glance could result in a roll being unintentionally thrown at your head.  The rolls aren’t the only thing they give away. Fried potatoes with onions, macaroni with tomatoes, black-eyed peas, fried okra, and sorghum are all handed out free of charge around the dining room.  At first glance it makes no sense to give away so much food.  Yet this small town restaurant is thriving and has spawned three other locations.

In contrast, several years ago an girlfriend at the time worked for O’Charley’s when they released this video on their website.  I immediately declared it the single stupidest marketing move I had ever seen a restaurant make. Why would they spend money to advertise something they are giving away that directly trades off with the things they are trying to sell?  It is at exactly 1:53 in that video where they completely missed the point.  After relaxing with a couple rolls while considering the menu guests face a decision: buy an appetizer or eat more of these delicious free rolls.  Anyone who has ever waited tables can tell you how that decision ends.  At the end of the meal, guests ate too many rolls to buy a dessert, but one more roll sounds good.

Read the full post at The Manager’s Office

Foil To Go: The Shark

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It’s “Shark Week” from all indications. The time when a certain television network rolls out a weeks worth of shark related shows that everyone feels the need to watch and discuss over dinner at my restaurant.  Personally I would love to see the same principle used on “National Debt Week” or “Health Insurance Reform Week” or “We Are Still Fighting Two Wars Week.”  But I digress.  I guess sharks are more interesting.  Which is why this post is on foil sharks rather than foil preexisting conditions.

My post on the foil swan received a great deal of comments from people I have met that read the blog.  It is by no means the only foil animal I have done over the years.  Swans are pretty easy to make though.  I intended to make it a recurring feature of the blog.  Then my roommate used the last of the foil for cooking or something completely unimportant like that.  Well, a new roll has been procured and today I give you the foil shark.

Read the full post at Tips For Improving Your Tips

The Index

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This index was created in order to make this blog easier to navigate and allow you to get the most out of the information contained within.  Several of these topics overlap.  If you were sent here by a search engine or from another post and have not been able to find the information you were looking for please leave a comment.  I am always looking for new topics and want to make this as comprehensive a source as possible.

The best way to keep up with this blog is to subscribe on the homepage or join the Facebook Fan Page to receive noticed when it is updated.

Section One: The Rules Of Serving

The Rules: Rules 1-10

The Rules of Serving: Rules One and Two

The Rules of Serving: Rule Three

The Rules of Serving: Rule Four

The Rules of Serving: Rule Five

The Rules of Serving: Rule Six

Section Two: Selling As A Server

I Make A Mean Cherry Limeade

Using Words That Sell

The Most Important Phrase You Are Not Using

Selling Away and Selling Up

How To Sell More Desserts

In Defense of Selling as a Server (Part One)

In Defense of Selling as a Server (Part Two)

In Defense of Selling as a Server (Part Three)

Wine Descriptions That Sell

Selling, Upselling, and Integrity

How To Sell The Bottle

Section Three: Skills Of A Server

Three Ways to Describe Dishes

Budgeting for Servers

Foil To-Go: The Swan

Foil To Go: The Shark

Learning Restaurant Spanish (Nouns)

Five Simple Tricks

Five More Simple Tricks

Fruit Flies

How To Serve A Bottle Of Wine

Job Hunting: The Do’s and Don’ts

Spotting The Complaint

The Mistake and The Letter

Coupons, Discounts, and How to Deal

Making Tips on To-Go Orders

Extras and Upcharges

Memorizing Orders

How To Memorize Orders

Resumes For Servers

Making a Difference

What I Use

Server Safety Tips

Section Four: Food and Wine

Foodie Friday: Beef Made Easy (Part One)

Foodie Friday: Beef Made Easy (Part Two)

Foodie Friday: Beef Made Easy (Part Three)

Foodie Friday: Types of Crab

Foodie Friday: Salmon Basics

Foodie Fridays: Salmon Species

Foodie Friday: Health and Environmental Impacts of Farm Raised Salmon

Foodie Friday: Fact or Fiction

Pasta Name Origins

Cherry Limeade Recipe

Five Great Food Stories

Understanding French Sauces (Part One)

Understanding French Sauces (Part Two)

Espresso Drinks

How Wild Fish Is Caught

Introducing: The Designated Drinker

Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar

Fun Crab Facts and Jokes

Supply, Demand, and Chicken Wings

Cost vs Profit

Seafood During Pregnancy

Regional Barbeque Styles

Designated Drinker: Harry’s Bar Bellini

Wine Apps for your Phone

A Food Critic Intervention

Ranch Dressing and Why We Love It

Dr Strange Salmon

Searches Answered

Lobster Facts and Trivia

The Stumpers

Prosciutto, Pancetta, and Serrano

Section Five: Motivating and Leading Servers

The Epiphany

Why Contests Don’t Work

How Money Motivates

What Motivates Servers: Autonomy

What Motivates Servers: Mastery

What Motivates Servers: Purpose

Sergeants and Generals

Ways To Motivate Servers

Management Mentality Mistakes

Love and Greed

Set Schedules As A Manager

Making a Difference

The Keys To Leadership

Leadership: Creating A Shared Goal

Leadership: Empowering Others

Leadership: Leading by Example

Leadership: Improving Others


Section Six: The Other Perspectives

Understanding Restaurants: The Other Perspectives

Understanding Restaurants: The Manager’s Perspective

Understanding Restaurants: The Guest Perspective

Understanding Restaurants: The Owner’s Perspective

Cost vs Profit

Independent vs Corporate Restaurant Priorities

Section Seven: A Bit Of Humor

Servers Vs Dentists

How To Flirt With Your Server

I Make Mistakes Too

Top Ten Songs About Waitresses

Retiring Jokes

The Evolution of Free Bread

The Card

Why Not To Date Co-Workers

The Upside of Dating Co-Workers

Awkward Moments

Story Time: Injuries

My Response: 25 Things Chefs Never Tell You

The Greatest Customer Complaint Response Ever

Aspirational Dining Defined

Aspirational Dining in a Recession

On A Good Night

Top 10 Songs About Dancing

Restaurant Etiquette: Pop Quiz

Restaurant Etiquette: Quiz Answers

David Goes To Dentist

Section Eight: Weird Restaurant Stories

Weird Restaurant Stories 8/21

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

Weird Restaurant Stories 10/9

Weird Restaurant Stories 10/16

Weird Restaurant Stories 10/23

Weird Restaurant Stories 10/30

Weird Restaurant Stories 11/6

Section Nine: Server Issues

Fighting For The Server Wage

Refuting Emmer’s Myths

A Few More Thoughts On Emmer

Remembering Labor on Labor Day

Monday Morning Recap

The Disadvantages of Set Schedules

The Advantages of Set Schedules

Set Schedules As A Manager

Five Stories Worth Reading

10 Reasons Why Serving Is Not Like Your Job

Serving Sober

Tipping On To Go Orders

Hot Schedules Reviewed: Part One

Hot Schedules Reviewed: Part Two

Recommended Reading 11/1

Section Ten: About This Blog

By Way Of Introduction

Top Five Posts You Probably Missed

A Bit of Publicity and the Response

Clip Show: Starting a Blog

It’s A Brave New World

100th Post Extravaganza

First 100 Posts Recap

Best of KC 2010

Plaza Art Fair

Calling All Experts

Thank You!

October Review

Management Mentality Mistakes

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Motivating servers is a tricky business.  Without question servers crave autonomy and tend to resist being told what to do.  At the same time, managers in general are given very little guidance on what is perhaps the most important part of their jobs.  Two similar restaurants in the same company with the same menu and with the same amount of sales can produce radically different results.  The difference generally boils down to leadership.

Restaurants go to tremendous lengths to train managers on how to control costs, increase profits, and manage the balance sheets.  Very little time is spent on developing skills for leading a staff.    Recruiters look for management skills, but seldom can assess accurately the leadership traits that are effective in a restaurant.  To make matters worse, a manager starting out with the best attitude can lose it after months of the daily rigors of the job wearing them down.   To prevent this it is vital to keep a continuous focus on training for leadership and monitoring the methods a manager is using.

Read the full post at The Manager’s Office

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