Where I write

Where I write

October 2, 2014

Resturant as A Second Language

    At work the other night I told the young server assistant that a coworker was "in the weeds." The server assistant looked at me with a blank expression. He's a sweet young college kid. He hasn't worked in the restaurant business for the past 40 years as I have. Gasp. Rather not admit that, and I don't to my coworkers or the might start calling me grandma.

     I explained that the term "in the weeds" meant that the server had too many tables and was going to need help. My server assistant might have thought I was referring to marijuana because when I googled the word weed I got mostly photos of that green, leafy stuff that gives you the munchies. Not that I know about such a thing first hand. I can hear my friends laughing now.

     I started to think about restaurant verbiage. I'm not sure of the origin. I just know certain ones have been around forever. Whether working in a diner or a fancy restaurant, they are used.
       To 86 an item on the menu means the restaurant has no more to sell. This means someone screwed up, and didn't order enough of that item, though you'd be hard pressed to get a chef to admit that. They never overcook a steak, or put in too much seasoning in the sauce, or forget to leave out the mushrooms in the pasta even though you explained the customer is allergic.  In case you didn't know, chefs are perfect. Now you can hear me laughing.

     Besides 86 meaning a restaurant is out of the pork chops, to 86 a person means to kick them out of the restaurant usually because they are drunk. The term "cut him/her off" also means to no longer serve that person any more alcohol because they have been "over served." Over serving is a very bad thing, but it still happens all the time. Speaking of getting drunk, another term repeated to servers by management is upsell.

     Instead of just ordering a plain old beer or glass of house wine, servers want to sell you something that will increase the price of your check. So they will push, upsell, the more expensive liquor, the better wine, and so on. I don't begrudge a business to make money, but I will tell you a secret. Don't bother to pay for the more expensive vodka or gin in a mixed drink. Ask for the house liqour...the cheaper stuff.

    You really can't tell the difference in a mixed drink.. Trust me. As I said, I've been doing this a long time. Marketing people might have convinced you differently, and if you like to spend money, well then go ahead and order Chopin Vodka with tonic. But don't say I didn't tell you. However, if you are having a drink that is just alcohol, minus a mixer, and up, without ice, or on the rocks (ice), than it's okay to splurge and buy the higher shelf (more expensive) brand of alcohol. The headache is the same in the morning, either way.

      Also, if you ask servers what is the best thing on the menu, they aren't going to direct you to the grilled cheese for $6.99, but to the steak for $26.99.  But you knew that. You are being upselled.
      When a server tells a chef, or cook, to "fire something" that means he or she may start to prepare the food. There is even a  "fire line" on the computer and when we press the button, the message to fire, to begin to cook, is sent to the kitchen. Only then should the food be prepared. In a perfect restaurant world. Sometimes the kitchen decides to start making the food any old time and then you have entrees coming out before people are done with appetizers. Let the drama begin as servers will groan and complain about their tip being messed up by their kitchen coworkers who just doesn't care and on and on and on.

     We have in the business what we call a "verbal tip". This is when the people you have been waiting on say, "you are the most amazing server in the whole wide world". Something like that. Servers cringe knowing they are getting the verbal tip. I'd rather have people not say one nice thing about me and leave a twenty percent tip. No need to shower me with empty compliments. Usually when people are effusive with their praise, they are cheap with their wallets.

Another kiss of death for a decent tip is when someone says, "I'm a great tipper." That's like when someone has told you they are great a great lover. People that are, don't talk about it.

      Finally, there has been some new verbiage introduced into the restaurant world. One is sequence of service. Corporations print thick manuals, using up our forests, outlining what is meant by sequence of service. I've read the manuals, and I can summarize sequence of service.

      Go to table. Smile and be nice. Describe menu items and answer questions while smiling and being nice. Push the more expensive stuff. Upsell nicely. Take drink and food order. Come back often to table for any needs and requests. Smile. Offer desert nicely. Smile and hand over check.

      In other words waitressing. That's the same sequence it's been for decades, whether it was a winsome wench serving a Cornish hen in a roadhouse in 1882 or a good looking man serving in a fine dining establishment in 2014. Servers provide food and drink to patrons, and the order remains the same.

1 comment:

SunsetCindi said...

Aw, brings back memories of my old days in the biz, tho I don't remember the phrase, "in the weeds". Of course, that was in the 70's so who remembers those days!