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.

Read the full post at Restaurant Laughs

The Lost Art Of Suggestive Selling

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This will be relevant by the end of the post.

“Subtlety is the art of saying what you think and getting out of the way before it is understood.” –Anonymous

We as a society have really lost the power of subtlety.  It could be because we have lost the patience to unravel it.  We receive far more information on a daily basis than our ancestors a hundred years ago could even process.  Most of this information is not subtle.  It is blasted at us with bells and whistles to get our attention.  The news channels do not just report the news, they also tell us what to think about it.  Movies no longer imply that a couple is about to “make whoopee”, they show us the scenes in the trailer.  In a few generations we have gone from Marilyn Monroe standing over a vent to Britney Spears getting out of a limousine.

With all of these changes, we have forgotten what it means to be “suggestive.”  This is particularly true in restaurants.  A few decades ago, corporate restaurants determined that they wanted their servers to be sales people.  The also determined that they had no interest in paying for the training necessary to actually accomplish this.  Instead, they decided to teach their servers to use adjectives and “suggestive selling.”  One of the first posts on this blog was declaring my disdain for the overuse of adjectives.  I recently realized that I never discussed my equal dislike for the corporate restaurant incarnation of “suggestive selling.”

Read the full post at Tips For Improving Your Tips

Recommended Viewing 11/15

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For this week’s recommended reading post, I decided to try something a little different.  Normally on Mondays I post a series of articles that I found interesting over the last week.  This week, I decided to highlight some of the funniest videos on the internet about servers.  Most of us get to work with some incredibly talented people. Some of those talented people spend their time in side stations trying to come up with ideas to make us all laugh.  After spending a few hours looking up old favorites and finding some new ones, I wanted to share some of the best groups out there making funny videos about serving.

Read the full post at Restaurant Laughs

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

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

Aspirational Dining Defined

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Aspirational Dining

I am a Mac guy.  This means only the occasional interruption for updates from Microsoft.  These are most often for Word for Macs.  Yet in none of these updates have they added to my spell check dictionary words like “Barack Obama, Al Qaeda, or Facebook.”  If they do implement this change they can use this as my “Windows 27 was designed by me” testimonial. When they do develop this technology they should also add the word “aspirational” to my spell check.

The phrase “aspirational” has been used to describe many things you might find endorsed by Martha Stewart.  It is used to describe the desires of people to own, do, and consume things they view as entitlements of the rich.  Anything from a new luxury car to really expensive cheese can be labeled as “aspirational.”  They are the things we want even if we know they are not truly in our price range.  These are the adult versions of that cool bike you thought would bring you a lifetime of happiness as a kid.

Read the full post at The Manager’s Office

The Disadvantages of Set Schedules

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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

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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

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