The Disadvantages of Set Schedules


As Close As You Can Get As A Server


Saturday night I spent some time on the patio with one of the newer servers at my restaurant.  He is low on seniority, but has spent more years serving than I have.  I estimate total the two of us have between three and four decades of serving experience.  I am pretty high on seniority at my restaurant, but nevertheless we were in neighboring sections on the patio on a reasonably busy Saturday night watching the rain.  After nearly four hours (five for him) we were sent home without receiving a table.

I work at a restaurant that has a set schedule.  They take it a step further by rotating sections by an established system.  This means that seniority and experience do not factor into what station I have on a given night.  I know in advance what station I will have, what sidework is mine, and how likely it is that my station will be cut.  This has both positive and negative impacts on how I view my job.  Today I will discuss the negatives and tomorrow I will address the benefits of having a set schedule.

Here are some of the drawbacks of set schedules:

Read the full post at Tips For Improving Your Tips

Dr Strange Salmon


An AquAdvantage Salmon and traditional salmon of the same age.

or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Genetically Modified Salmon

Earlier this week I posted a link to a story regarding the AquAdvantage genetically modified salmon.  In the days since, I have become fascinated by this concept.  I have consumed dozens of articles on the topic and several related topics.  I have also read the companies literature on the topic and reviewed the data they sent to the FDA.  I have come to a very specific conclusion on this issue.  Everyone needs to take a deep breathe and look at the big picture.

The AquAdvantage Salmon is for all intensive purposes an Atlantic Salmon.  As you might recall from a previous post on salmon, all commercial Atlantic Salmon is farm raised since it was fished to near extinction in the Atlantic.  The AquAdvatage Salmon has two major differences.  They introduced the growth hormone of the much larger Coho Salmon and a cool water tolerance gene found in the eelpout.  These modifications allow the salmon to grow to market size in half the time.

Read the full post at Foodie Knowledge

My Response: 25 Things Chefs Never Tell You


Like I would pass up an opportunity to post this picture

I am trying to fight through the worst bout of writer’s block I have had since I started writing this blog.  I started at least three different posts yesterday that ended up in the recycle bin.  In my last post I promised to get back to some server related posts, but my brain has forced me to break that promise.  In the meantime I have been holding this one back for just such an occasion.

An article recently came to my attention that I am surprised none of my fellow bloggers jumped on.  The Food Network recently did a survey of chefs around the country.  They wrote up the results in an article titled “25 Things Chefs Never Tell You.”  For the most part I think it was a balanced and informative article.  There are probably a number of points that most diners are not aware of.  I recommend the article for those of you who have not put in time working in a restaurant.

Read the full post at Restaurant Laughs

Weird Restaurant Stories 9/11


Welcome to a very special episode of Weird Restaurant Stories.  This does not mean that Arthur Carlson will try to take naked pictures of Gary Coleman while the girl from Striptease pops caffeine pills and Tom Hanks gets hammered on vanilla extract in Michael J Fox’s kitchen.  Nope, this one is even more special.  Today’s weird restaurant stories come with a theme.  Even though the economy is rough, restaurants open everyday.  Today I want to share my insight with restaurant owners on how to open a successful restaurant.

Read the full post at Restaurant Laughs

100th Post Extravaganza


Unfortunately did not make this cake to celebrate this occasion.

I try not to self-indulgently pat myself on the back too often, but damn it I have written 100 of these posts.  It is time for a little self-indulgent tripe.  I wanted to take this opportunity to make some announcements regarding this blog, thank some great people who have helped me along the way, and reflect on some of the posts of the past.  When I started this blog I had no idea where it would lead.  Along the way I have learned a lot about writing a blog and want to share a little bit of that knowledge with other bloggers out there as well.

First off let’s knock out the announcements:

Welcome to the new layout of the blog.  It took a great number of hours of deliberation to decide on this format.  I will miss the familiar blue look, but am excited about some of my new features.  The most exciting part is that at the top of the home page there are now tabs.  This works somewhat like the index did, but categorizes the information more succinctly by categories the reader will enjoy.  I have determined my readership is divided in four ways: servers, managers, foodies, and people who think I am occasionally chuckle worthy.  Now each has a category at the top to find just what they like.

I also have decided to leap into 2006 and start a twitter account.  You can follow my twitter feed at  I have to admit I know very little about twitter protocol and such.  I will just send a tweet when the blog is updated to give you a chance to catch up.  This may fail miserably, but it is worth a try.  Also if anyone wants to send me some twitter etiquette tips, feel free.  So go to the twitter page and become a follower if you want.

With this format redesign and some other new features they have introduced, I have decided to stay with wordpress as well.  They run great blogging software and make it very easy to get started.  The lack of ftp access and share options bothered me at first, but since they added them I think I will stick around.  The biggest announcement of all is related to that.  I was hoping to be able to make it today, but alas it is still a couple weeks off.  Stay tuned though, because it will mark a whole new chapter in this blog.

Now that we have that out of the way lets get to the topic at hand.  When I started this blog I made no secret of it.  I know most server bloggers keep their identity top secret.  I knew the story of CJ from Frothy Girlz who worked blocks away.  My decision was based on the idea that I have no problems answering for anything I write on here.  My name is David Hayden and I write this blog.  I keep my employer a secret at their request, but frankly I don’t think I have posted anything they would find too offensive.  I wanted to write a different type of server blog.  I have to say that at first I was a little under whelmed with the response from my coworkers.  Perhaps they thought it was going to be preachy pronouncements from me on how tables should be served.  Over time though I think those that read it have learned to appreciate it for what it is.

There was one point where the response was a bit overwhelming.  When I wrote about why not to date coworkers, plenty of them chimed in.  While I definitely do not want to reignite that debate ever again, I think it serves as a good learning tool to those starting a blog.  You will have to answer to your readers.  You can do so anonymously, but if you decide to be public about your writing you will have to do so in person too.

At the same time I could never have gotten this blog to the point it is without the help of my friends and coworkers.  So I am going to take a break from self indulgence to give some much deserved thank you s.

Thank you to:

Jessica and Michelle for referring the most people to the page at it’s inception.

Lisa, Heather, and Bobbie for sharing the heck out of my stories of facebook.

Becky, Yellowcat, Brenda, Jessi, and House for kicking in with comments and letting me know that someone is reading.

Scott for always keeping the debate lively whether he is on my side in it or not.

Paige for being my designated drinker.

Stefne and Eric for giving me reminders that I should have proofread again.

Pren for giving me countless ideas on how to structure a blog and for a very thoughtful introduction.

Candice and Julie for making me write my way through it.

The Chefs for constantly giving me ideas to write about.

Drew, Maggie, and Roman for kicking through with countless post topics.

Jenn Jones for being Jenn Jones.

The Burtons and The Hollmans for giving me the chance to get away from time to time.

Blitzel for not pointing out that I am still the second best waiter at my address.

Bramble for restaurant knowledge you cannot find online.  This guy is a restaurant genius.

Marcy for being my biggest cheerleader.

Jeff for enduring hundreds of hours of listening to me ramble about the blog and always having insight.

My Mom for being the person who has read every post.

My Dad for believing that this could be as big as I think it could.

And Ali for listening to me ramble about this thing more than anyone.  For being patient with me when I run late to finish a post and not getting mad when I check my stats 40 times a day.

Finally, I want to thank all of you who read this blog.  I cannot begin to express how much I appreciate each and every one of you.  This is the first step in a much larger dream of mine.  Each one of you has helped inspire me to keep at it and helped me to believe I can really achieve this.  From the bottom of my heart I truly do appreciate each and every one of you.

Tomorrow I will wrap up this extravaganza with recap of my first 100 posts.  A list of my 10 most popular posts.  The search engine terms that brought me the most traffic.  A special shout out to all the bloggers and blogs that referred me traffic.  There will probably also be thank yous for all the people I forgot to include on this list.  I know it doesn’t sound that exciting, but I think those of you who are regular readers will find in very interesting.  A special contest in the meantime:  Can you guess the most viewed post of all time on this blog?  Leave your answer in the comments.  The winner will receive a special mention in tomorrows post.

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.

Read the full story at Restaurant Laughs

Ranch Dressing and Why We Love It


Some people really love their ranch

When Escoffier defined his five mother sauces, he did so based on a proud culinary tradition that dated back to Careme and others.  These were flexible sauces that stood the test of time.  Fortunately, he could not predict how boring the average consumer would become.  In most modern chain restaurants the mother sauces would be redefined as marinara, alfredo, ketchup, gravy, and ranch.  It is said that if you stand perfectly still above Escoffier’s gravesite, you can actually feel him spinning.

Of these sauces the newest and most commonly used is ranch dressing.  It became America’s favorite salad dressing in 1992.  It has since only gained popularity as a dipping sauce and suspected beverage (“the lady at table 24 wants another side of ranch, what is she doing, drinking the stuff?”).  Ranch’s rise to the top is a modern day success story.  The reason behind it will change the way you look at food.

Read the full story at Foodie Knowledge

Awkward Moments


Hi, may I take your order?

Over the last 15 years I have spent in the service industry, I have had to change my approach.  15 years ago, I was a gangly 6-foot tall 125-pound server with a voice somewhere in the Justin Bieber range.  I looked only slightly older than him.  A head of grey hair has made me change my demeanor a bit.  Nowadays I can pull off the professional waiter role as well as most anyone.  The only thing I haven’t learned to control is the shade of red I turn when blushing at awkward situations.

In the past I have written about moments I have made awkward.  There are still the “foot in mouth” moments that cause me to be extremely embarrassed.  I have not learned to control the physiological response of turning red enough that if I was a lobster, someone would pull me out of the pot.  The thing that was left out of the previous post was the fact that I do not cause most of these situations.  While I do create awkward situations from time to time, most of the time the blame falls firmly on the guests.

Read the full post at Restaurant Laughs

How To Memorize Orders



I know that order is in here somewhere

(Note: In yesterdays post I discussed why I feel it is beneficial to memorize orders.  I will not recap to avoid redundancy, which itself if redundant in this post.)

I am terrible with names.  Not particularly good with faces either.  I will forget three things every time I take a trip.  I promise I will remember to bring that CD I was telling you about next time I see you.  I have left the house in my slippers.  This seems like a good chance to wish a happy belated birthday to everyone who had one before the days when Facebook reminded me.  There was a point to this paragraph, but I am not sure what it was.

If you ask most of my friends, they will gladly tell you how forgetful I am.  If you ask my guests, they will tell you I am some sort of memorization genius.  Memorizing orders is skill rather than a talent.  A talent is something you are born with.  A skill is something you get better at through technique and practice.  I am an absent minded person who has trained himself to be highly proficient at memorizing orders.

Read the full post at Tips For Improving Your Tips

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