I realized today when I reread my post from yesterday along with many of the comments I received that perhaps it seems like I work in a horrible restaurant. In no way is that the case. In fact as far as fast-paced, slinging hash type restaurants go it’s the best I’ve ever worked in. It is in no way fine dining. We serve cheeseburgers and beer and the occasional steak. The reason I make money is because we are VERY busy. The reason we are so busy is because it’s located in the heart of Times Square. Which means 99% of our clientele are tourists. The other 1% doesn’t count and I won’t explain why.
Because we are in Times Square there is constant foot traffic and this translates into big business for us. We are in the middle of the slow season right now and there is still a million times more business than in any other restaurant I’ve ever worked in. This means that even during the slow season it’s still possible to make money and sometimes it’s even better money because the kitchen is less likely to crash and burn and the work is easier because you don’t have to run around like crazy.
And then there was last night…
I had a bad night. Of course I think that’s an understatement. I had an awful night. It started great. My first seven or eight tables tipped between 20 and 30 percent. I remember thinking to myself not to say anything about it because I would jinx how well the night was going. I must have done something because suddenly the tide turned. And for the rest of the evening the tips were around 10 percent on the high side and you guys have seen the low side. Unfortunately, what happens is that as the night progresses and the tips are bad, the service starts to suffer. It’s hard to be upbeat and happy to fetch things for people when the last four tables have stiffed you…and not in the good way. This is what happened last night. By 10:00 I could give a shit. I just wanted the shift to end and be over with so I could count my lack of money and go home. Needless to say the tips were worse from then on.
The other thing that I should explain is about tipping out. The reason that servers are expected to tip out on their sales and not their earnings is because a lot of waiters suck. There are people I work with who never make money. It’s because they don’t know the first thing about being personable or for that matter just getting the customer what they want and need. The other issue is that there is no way to track how much a waiter makes, so less than honest servers could lie and not tip as much as they are supposed to. Our sales are printed on computer printouts every night so it’s published information so if someone doubts you’ve tipped them enough they can always check. There is also the issue of why do I have to tip if I didn’t get that many drinks. Well you probably didn’t get that many drinks tonight. But I bet you did on Saturday night. Did you tip extra then? Probably not. For me there are nights where I server from 1,000 to 1,500 dollars just in liquor. That’s a lot of trips to the bar and lots of seven dollar beers. I’ll let you guys do the math. Because of the high total of my liquor sales and the total amount of business I do I feel like I should tip more than is required. So I actually tip out 1% more than I’m supposed to to the bartenders. This however, has worked to my advantage because I tip more than anyone else who works there. This makes the bartenders happy. And because they are happy I get my drinks first. They very often stop what they are doing, ask what I need and make it for me. That is if they haven’t already noticed my check and made it before I got there. This makes my customers happy because I get their drinks fast. This makes me happy because “most” of the time they tip better because of it. It’s only frustrating having to tip out the bar when so many tables stiff me and I’m not making any money.
And with all of this said. It’s still a great place to work. I make a ton of money. The work isn’t that hard. The managers love me. Most of my co-workers love me. And most of the time my customers love me. Unfortunately there is a truth that every night can’t be good. If I wanted that I could work at Red Lobster down the street where every table has 18% gratuity added to the check before it’s presented. But they do half the business we do and I would make a lot less money. I’m very grateful to have the job that I have.