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September 17, 2010

22 Sep

Ladies and Gentleman, here is the story of Restaurant 1945 and its owner Mr. Fancy-Pants.

I show up at the restaurant at 6 to find three other wait staff there, equally as in the dark as I am about what we are supposed to do. Within the first couple of ours of working there, we are shocked at the lack of planning and managing that went into this place. They literally put together a menu, placed eight tables in a room, hired wait staff, and called it a day. Let the list of complaints begin: no aprons, no pens, no trays, no bus tub, no rags, no steaming pitcher for expresso drinks, no tamp, no knock bucket, tables not numbered, no training, the kitchen was on the other side of the building with no way of knowing when food was ready, white everything that quickly got irreparably stained, no sense of who is going to bus, who is going to wait tables, who is going to get drinks, no one knew where the napkins were. We were told that there were no modifications or side orders on the menu, which obviously enraged a lot of people. We weren’t allowed to seat more than three people at a table, because it didn’t “fit the aesthetics.” So when a group of four came in, we had to kindly tell them that one of them would have to sit somewhere else. IT WAS CHAOS. My thoughts throughout the day were of just walking out, but first telling the managers that they were idiots.

I am a graduate of what we call “Blue Dog Bootcamp.” Working at the Blue Dog Coffeehouse/Kitchen was not always the easiest experience, but we were tough there. We knew what had to be done, and we did it. So within the hour, with everyone still running around like waiters with their heads cut off, I took charge and became the defacto leader, making decisions and assigning people tasks to just get the job done. Regardless, someone quit within the first hour, due to the disorganization. At one point, we had five orders for cappuccinos come in. Of course, I am the only one in the whole place with ANY coffee experience. So I turn to the cheap, piece-of-crap, probably bought at Target, espresso machine and sigh. As I contemplate how I am going to make this work, I hear someone behind me “Ahem.” I turn to see a hipster doofus, lounging at one of the tables. I had seen him in the back, so I knew he was an employee of some sense. He was wearing all black, with Italian leather boots, long hair, and a beard.

“So, ladies, have you tried the coffee, yet?” he says in a smug way. The other waitresses and I practically ignore him, since, you know, we actually had customers to take care of. But he went on.
“It’s from a company called La Colooooombe. They brew based on ancient Italian traditions. You see, with coffee, Americans only care about caffeine. Europeans put more of an emphasis on the balance of flavors.”
I turn and give him a death glare. All I could think was, “Who the hell is this yahoo, and doesn’t he see we have two tables to bus, cappuccinos to make. Why doesn’t he help us?”

About an hour later, I run into Brett in a back hallway. He asks me how it is going. I tell him the honest truth. That it is chaos. That there is no system anywhere, and tables are getting missed or over-attended to, because no one has any idea what they should be doing. Mr. Fancy-Pants-Italian-Boots-Colooooombe happens to be walking by.
“Aren’t you supposed to just do your job and take care of it?” he asks me.
“I’m sorry. What exactly are you supposed to be doing?” I ask him curtly.
“I’m the owner,” he slithers back at me with a pomposity that is supposed to make me apologetic or humble or something. But, my first thought is “So you’re the MORON that had no foresight to plan this out.”
“Well I’m trying to do my job, but you need to have some sort of organization out there. You find me one job in this world where someone is just thrown out there without any training, explanation, or the needed supplies. It’s a shit-show out there,” I tell him. He looks shocked at my outburst and just turns and walks away.

An hour later, I realize that we have a full-house, and that no one’s food has come out. I run back into the kitchen to see Mr. Fancy-Pants, the chef, and two blondes with big boobs sitting around enjoying their own private breakfast.
“Uh, we have customers waiting for their food.”
Mr. Fancy-Pants doesn’t even turn to look at me, “We’ll get to it.”

I left that day, not wanting to come back. I had recently read Anthony Bourdain’s memoirs, “Kitchen Confidential” where he warns about rich snobs who think all it takes to open a restaurant is a lot of money and a couple of good things on the menu. Anyone who has spent anytime in the food industry knows it takes a lot more than that to run a successful restaurant. It takes business sense, it takes a dedication to the customers, it takes a hard-working and machine-like group of employees that know what to do, it takes an immense amount of organization to make sure you cover all your bases, that you aren’t wasting.

Later that night over some pizza, Travis and I talk it over. I had repeatedly told him that I didn’t want to go back the next day, that it was just to horrible, the owner was just too big of an asshole. He talked me out of it. Money was money, and I was lucky to find a job so quickly. I should stick it out for as long as I could. I agreed, but very very reluctantly.

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2 Responses to “September 17, 2010”

  1. Anna September 22, 2010 at 3:12 pm #

    To my dearest Chrissy…
    We r so proud of you that you are becoming a lioness!! Make me happy we did manythings right at the Bluedog..
    Stick around until u find another job.. They will not be in business long.. Those stupid dumbass… Remember this—- the last laugh is always louder (thai say)

  2. nichole September 28, 2010 at 4:02 pm #

    Wow. You are such a trooper. I’m not sure what I would have done in your situation. Sounds like complete madness. Just keep pushing through. You are such a great worker and nice person, something great will come your way soon. We miss you in Seattle!!

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