Saturday, August 27, 2005

The NA Party Again...

Grr, I really wish we could tell these people what we really think of them! The NA party thinks that because they're always coming in and spending money and have lots of people that they own the place and know how to run it better.

It started with a call, thankfully, we've gotten them to a point where they will call ahead...sometimes. One of the other hostesses answered the phone and got the number of people they were bringing, but forgot to get a time. The number they gave her was 20 people (keep in mind that we are a small restuarant, no side dinningrooms, though people always ask), so I mentally added about 15 more to that number because they cannot count and never give us an accurate number. The head guy (the one who always calls) calls back five minutes later and I answer the phone. He says that he didn't give the other girl a time for when they would be arriving, so he tells me they'll be coming with 20 people at 10. It was 7:30 when he called! We don't do call aheads (which was what he thought he was doing) that far in advance unless the wait is that long and we weren't even on a wait! I tried to explaint that we don't do call-aheads that far in advance and he goes off on a tangent about how we're "always" telling them to call an hour in advance (when I put in that that's more than an hour in advance), how sometimes they call and we have it set up and sometimes we don't, and all this stuff blah-blah-blah. He doesn't even let me try to explain how CAS works, or that nothing is guaranteed, especially with a party that size, and that we don't hold or reserve tables. When he's done, he wants to know what servers are working, which means he wants to know if a specific server (one of a few that will willingly take care of this party) is working and I told him that she was. He wanted to talk to her! She was with other customers at the moment, so I grabbed a manager and asked him to please explain how CAS works to the NA party!

Now, this is Friday night and there is a pre-season Ravens game on almost all of our TVs, we were just a little busy. It was a typical summertime Friday night, except the bar was a little busier than usual. We went on a wait around 8 and didn't get off until a little before 9:30, so I didn't have time to think about when NA was going to be coming and to think about saving tables for them. When we're on a wait, I refuse to set five tables aside for a party that firstly, might be coming in and secondly, has never given us an accurate number of people in their party. There is no way I'm going to leave tables open and tell the people waiting that they can't sit there. Technically, we're not allowed to "hold" tables for people, but it happens, we all do it, but it's not often. There was no way that I was going to hold five tables for the NA party while we were on a wait and none of their party was even at the restaurant at the time to sit there even if I did. They didn't seem to understand this point when they arrived.

They came in around 9:30 (they had asked me if 9:30 would be better than 10 since it was more than an hour ahead, like a half hour is going to make a difference, that was still two hours after they called), and it was four of them. One guy (not the one who called) was really mad that we didn't have anything set up for them right as soon as they walked in the door. He was the type that assumes because you call ahead, you should have a table ready and waiting for you when you get there (like we're mind readers and know the exact second when you're coming in the door). He turned to the guy that did call and was like, "Yeah, they didn't do it" and I wanted to scream! I wanted to yell at them how call ahead seating works, nothing is EVER guaranteed especially with large parties, and I wasn't going to hold five tables all night for a party that I didn't know if they were even going to show up (they've done that before, not shown up when they called and said they would) and have never given me the correct number of people joining them. The guy who called, and who talked to the manager, said, "Yeah, I didn't get a straight answer until I talked to the manager and basically nothing is guaranteed...", thank you! I didn't appriciate the not getting a "straight answer" part because he didn't even let me try to explain and just went right into asking who was working, but at least one of their own was saying that nothing was guaranteed. They found an empty table at the bar and hung out there until we found a place for them in the dinningroom. The guy who called kept telling me "just fit us in where you can" and all that stuff, like he understood my position and what it's like to have my job.

I was about to offer a couple of booths that were fairly close together, when two tables got up that we could push together for them to start off with. At this point, they'd been waiting about 15 minutes (maybe 20) and there were still only about four or five people in their group, so I figured an 8-top for them to start off with would be a good thing. We pushed the tables together, told their server where they'd be (and told the server who's tables we took that it wasn't for her, she was happy!), and I told the party that they had two tables for now, and we'd play it by ear when/if anybody else came in and when the other 8-top (people who were watching the game) got up. The 8-top was perfect for them! Four people from their party apparently didn't want to wait and told one of the other hostesses that there were four and she sat them down in a booth close to where the rest of them would eventually sit. The rest of their party fit at the two tables we gave them, no more came in! At most, the number of people in their party was probably 12 or 13, not the 20 like they told us. For a small restaurant like we are, that is a huge difference!

The NA party has been to our restaurant enough to know that we are small, we don't usually handle that many people (unless they come in), we have no side dinningrooms, they shouldn't seat themselves, they shouldn't steal tables when more people come in than what they told us, they should know all of this, but they don't! They don't know this because we're not allowed to tell them! We can't tell them how it really is, that they need to work this stuff out better, or what I really want, that they should ever come back unless they are willing to do it properly and not get mad when they find out stuff is not guaranteed. They all think that we like having them, we want them to come in, we think their jokes are funny, and we want them to keep coming back (they probably would keep coming back even if we didn't want them to).

I know I'm being petty and these people have been through enough, way more than me, and I should just let it roll off my back or whatever. But just because you come in to the restaurant, I don't care who you are, does not give you the right to think you own the place and act however you want. Just because you're padding my paycheck does not mean that you can treat me and the other employees however you want. Actually, if you're going to bring up the "I'm paying your paycheck" and be mean and nasty to me, I'm just going to say "Keep it". If you're going to walk all over me and treat me like crap, I'd rather have nice people and do my job for cheaper.