Dining Out 101

More tips to make everyone’s dining experience more enjoyable.  And by everyone I mean the waiter.

A waiter deals in real estate.  Just like my landlord who has 25 apartments in my building and collects rent on all of them.  He is happy when the rent is paid in full and is on time.  He gets a little snippy if the rent is paid late.  He gets even more snippy if it’s not paid in full.  And there nothing worse than a tenant who refuses to pay at all.

Such is the life of a waiter.

A typical waiter gets anywhere from three to four tables in their section.  This varies from restaurant to restaurant.  Corporate restaurants are more strict about this.  Mom and pop places will sometimes give the waiter seven or eight tables.  Fine dining restaurants often give you more because there are 75 people waiting on the table.  In my world I either get four tables or three tables and a bar rail with ten chairs.  The ten chairs can be sat in any configuration from one party of 10.  Five parties of 2.  Ten parties of 1  etc.  etc.  And the faster I get people in get them waited on, and get them out the door the more money that I will make.

I work in a restaurant that is considered “slinging hash.”  It means it’s far from fine dining.  It’s the equivalence of Bennigan’s or Applebee’s.  We do what we call turn and burn.  Our goal is to get people in and out in 45 minutes or less.  60 minutes is pushing it.  Any thing over 75 minutes is not good.  You are right.  No one wants to be rushed out the door.  But think about it.  When was the last time you went to Applebees and wanted to sit there and enjoy the atmosphere.  If you said every time you go, you really need to re-evaluate your dining experiences.

And this is where today’s lesson comes in.

As I have said my tables are real estate.  The minute I stop selling food or alcohol I stop making money for myself.  So when a table stops ordering, or begins to do what we in the business call “camping” then  I stop making money.  For example here’s what happened tonight.

A party of two were sat at table 71.  They were very nice Midwesterners.  The gentleman was actually quite cute which is why I picked him to sit in my section to begin with.  I got them their orders.  Which was two waters and two Cobb salads.  There entire check maybe came to 28.00.   After I had cleared the table I offered them dessert and they declined.  And so I dropped the check.  And they continued to sit there.  And sit there.  And sit there.  45 minutes later they were still sitting there.  The bussers had cleared everything off the table.  Finally they paid their check.  And tipped a very generous 20%.  And then they continued to sit.  And sit.  And sit.  In all they were at my table for almost two and a half hours.  Which is the equivalence of 2+ turns of the table.  And they left me 6 bucks.  Yes it was 20%.

But it was not enough.

The minute you decide to camp, you need to realize that the waiter is not making money.  And therefore you need to tip extra.  And if you really want to be nice.  Leave the tip before you leave the table.  It cuts down on the stress of the waiter.  For more than 60 minutes I was completely annoyed by table 71.  I was anxious they would never leave.  I was anxious they would ask for more water.  I was just anxious.

I can’t tell you how much extra to leave.  I really think it depends on the restaurant and how long you sit.  I’ve been known to throw the waiter an extra 20 bucks because we took the up the table for a long time.  I was also nice enough to tell them they were getting extra up front.  Just imagine if someone came to your place of business and completely occupied your time and because of that you didn’t get paid.  You’d completely understand what I’m talking about.

And NO restaurant will allow you to ask them to leave.  You must wait till they are ready to go.  The worst case of this I experienced was years ago. A table of four was sat right at the beginning of my shift.  At closing they were asked to leave.  I didn’t get any extra money and they cost me a lot of money.

So enough lecturing.

I will end with this.  I think the minute you leave junior high school you are too old to make out in public.  Especially in a family restaurant.  No one wants to see you tonguing your girl friend.  No one wants to see you groping her.  No one wants to see you lying on top of each other.  I’m happy that you are in love.  I’m happy that you are going to get laid tonight.  But please, please wait till you get home to start the foreplay.  You will make everyone around you happy.  Including me.


2 thoughts on “Dining Out 101

  1. Lemuel March 10, 2008 / 05:09

    I am wondering if your experiences with Europeans lends you to think that they linger longer than Americans. Thirty or so years ago I understood that Germans were like this. Go to a Ratskeller and camp all night. It was expected – a long leisurely meal and conversation around the table following. Just wondering if it is still true.

    I want to get my food and get out. The noise in some of these places (e.g., Applebees, etc.) drives me nuts.

    And as for making out, yes! yes! Take it home! If you are that horny, go someplace – private – where you can do something about it.

  2. Donnie March 10, 2008 / 16:07

    I’m never one to tie up a table in a restaurant. I’m sure the staff have plenty to do without me hanging around their neck like an albatross.

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