Thursday, June 02, 2005

Customers Do NOT Own The Restuarant

Just because you are paying for your food and paying a lot of the server's salary, does not mean that you own the restaurant; it does not mean that you can do whatever you want.

A Few Examples:

It'll Be 30 of Us, We Have Reservations
One night, a Saturday night, I was working the board, and we had only a few tables left open to seat, and a woman walks in.
"How many will it be tonight?" I ask, thinking it would only be a few.
"I'm not sure." She said.
That always worries me. I hate hearing, "I don't know" or "Oh, gee, I don't know, lemme count" or "We're about to find out" because it usually always means a large party who think that they own the restaurant and pay my salary.
"I think we have 30." She said. "We have reservations."
Now, we don't take reservations, with the exception of very large parties and managers take those reservations, not the hostesses.
"Let me grab a manager for you." I said and hurried off to hunt down a manager.
I soon found one and asked him if he knew anything about a party of 30. He didn't. Figures doesn't it? But, he went to go ask the other manager if he knew anything about that party of 30. I went back up to the front to tell the guy that seemed to be in charge that the manager was on his way up. The hostesses told me later that the guy had been yelling at them about not having something ready for his party.

I'm sorry, if you don't know how the restaurant is run, and who is privilege to what information, then you have no right to tell any employee in that restaurant how to do their job or how not to do their job. He had absolutely no right to be angry at the hostesses because it's not their fault that they didn't know about his party. It's not their fault that they didn't call ahead to make sure that we had a place set up for them, it's not their fault that whatever manager had taken their reservations neglected to tell anyone else about the party, and it's not their fault that the restaurant was busy and full on a Saturday night with no place to accomodate such a large party for a long while! Luckily, the manager was right behind me as I was coming up front, and took care of the situation before the guests got any worse. The bar was pretty dead that night, for some reason, and the party was contented (with some free appitizers provided by the manager as an apology) to sit and stay in there for the duration of their meal.

In this instance, it would have been better had the party called ahead, maybe an hour before arriving, to make sure that we had had set aside tables for them. Like I said before, we don't normally take reservations, so whatever normal process involved in checking reservations for the day is bypassed at our restaurant. I don't even know quite how regular reservations work exactly, the restaurant's side of it (I know how to make reservations, you just call and give your name, ETA and number of people in your party) anyway. I've never worked at a restaurant that took them.

A Party of 8, No 12, No 15, No 20...It'll Be 22...
It was a Sunday night, I went in to eat at the restaurant I work at, and I got mad at some customers that came in. From what I was told, the first couple of people that came in told the hostesses that it was going to be 8 people. That 8 soon turned into 12, that 12 then turned into 15 which turned into 20; the final count became 22 after they stopped straggling in. From where I was sitting, I watched as about 12 people walked passed the hostesses and sat themselves in a section of tables that was closed and had already been cleaned for the night. They didn't even wait for the hostess to give them menus or even for one of the tables to be cleaned off! They just walked over and sat wherever they felt like. And they do this every week! Over the next half an hour to forty-five minutes, more and more people just added themselves to the party, taking over any tables that they could to accomodate their large party. The hostesses were so entirely pissed with this party, I think had they not valued their jobs they would have told this party off!

Just because you bring in a couple hundred dollars to the restaurant every week, does not give you the right to just do as you choose and seat yourself where you wish. Like I said in a previous post, the hostesses are there for a reason and if you don't listen to them, if you seat yourself, you mess everything up and you piss people off. Another thing, if you've got a party, do the restaurant and the hostesses a favor, get the exact number of people in your party. If there is even the slightest possibility that someone else might come, count them when you're counting heads. The difference between a party of 8 and a party of 22 is quite a bit to smaller restaurants. While they don't want to loose the business of such large parties, it is very hard to accomodate them because of limited space. It is even harder when the party walks around and sits wherever they want, without even bothering to wait for the hostess to give them menus. When you go to a restaurant, just because you are spending money out of your pocket, does not mean that you've become an owner of that restaurant. If you did, you would be doing a lot more for that restaurant than just eating there, believe me. I'm not even a manager and I come in on my off days to fix things!

You are still out in public when you come to a restuarant, just think of it as eating at your friends house for dinner; behave in a restaurant as you would at a friend's or aquaintence's. You wouldn't let your kid throw handfulls of food on the floor of your friend's house, would you? I hope not. So don't let your kid do it at a restaurant. When you enter a restaurant, the only rights you have are to use the bathroom, order food, sit down, shut up and eat what you ordered how you ordered it, pay your bill, and leave. That's it. You don't have the right to make a mess in the bathroom and not clean up after yourself because after all, "They pay people to clean up after me". You don't have the right to sit wherever you frickin' want, you don't have any right or excuse to be rude to employees (unless they were rude first, but generally they aren't the ones who start it...), and you don't have the right to make it as hard as possible for the employees to please you.

Party of 40 at 6:00
Luckily, the managers remembered to let the hostesses (and other managers) know about this party. We had it planned down to a "t" where they were going to sit, there were even two extra spaces in one of the larger booths so they could spread out a little bit. The first guy came in around 5 and had a drink at the bar. When I had set up all the tables, I showed him which 8 booths were his (the party's) and how there were going to be two different servers, so it would be easier if they sat according to how they wanted the checks to come out. The rest of the party started arriving at 6, like they said they would, and everything seemed to be going well. Then, the other hostesses and I noticed something. Four members of the party had decided to sit at one of the adjacent booths, a booth that was not in their designated section of booths. No biggie right? It's just one extra table, that's no problem. Yeah, but not when two other members of the party hijack another booth, one big enough to fit six people and they are the only two sitting at it.

So they were taking up two extra tables when they could have been taking up only one extra table. On top of that, I did the math, for them to have two people at an extra six-top and four at an extra four-top, that is eight extra people. They had almost 50 people come in when they told us it was going to be 40. Unless there were tables with one extra seat that someone decided they didn't want to sit in so they hijack another table. The kids (it was a whole soccer team with parents) were always up and running around and the parents were mingling with each other at the different tables, it was hard to tell who went where. But still, even if there were tables with an extra seat or two, there were still more people there than they told us were coming, and with a party that size, that's not a very nice thing to do. You might think, "Oh, two extra tables, that's not a big deal", well, maybe not to you. But if you think about it, two servers are one table less than they were before, they aren't going to make as much money as they would have had that booth been open because, keep in mind, most people will ask for a booth if you give them a choice.

"It never ceases to amaze me how some people have a blinding sense of entitlement to the point they refuse to acknowledge anybody else!" Is a quote that I read on and I thought it was well worded. I just wish that less people were so wrapped up in themselves to stop and think about how their actions affect other people for once. Do you know how rare that is in the restaurant industry among our guests? I've been working in restaurants since I was sixteen (I'm nineteen now) and I don't see it much, usually only in other restaurant employees. Just please, when you go out in public and will be dealing with other people, be more considerate and try not to think just of yourself, you might find yourself a happier person.