Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Fed Up!

As regular readers know, I can’t work on a large writing project and blog at the same time, which is why this blog has been AWOL for a couple of weeks. I may not be cooking, but I am, however, still able to cram food into my gaping maw, as long as it’s restaurant food. Having said that, with too many restaurant meals under my belt, I’ve become an expert at the lingo. So …

If you’ve ever wanted a job as a restaurant host or server, here’s what you need to know:

  • Hosts: When leading diners to their table, it is mandatory to turn your head ever so slightly to ask: “How’s your day been, so far?” This will make the restaurant’s patrons feel like you really care (which, of course, you don’t). 10 points.
  • Servers: As you approach the table to take your diners’ orders, it is mandatory that you interrupt their prattle without apologizing. This will put you “in command,” ultimately turning the table over faster and allowing the restaurant to squeeze in an extra seating. 5 points per diner. 
  • Should you slip into the Standard Server’s Script of 20 years ago and say: “My name is Brittany and I’ll be your server tonight,” deduct 5 points per diner. Instead, it is the Host’s job to say: “Brittany will be your server, today. She’ll be right with you.” Which, of course, you won’t be. Take your time so your new table of diners can work up a thirst. 15 points for each diner who orders an alcoholic drink.
  • As the diners make their selections, it is mandatory to say of each: “Excellent choice!” or “Purr-fect!” Knowing they’ve chosen menu items that meet with your approval will boost their self-esteem. 10 points per diner. 
  • If someone asks: “What would you recommend?” stifle the urge to tell her Escoffier is dead. Just name the second-most expensive thing on the menu, even if you’ve never actually tried it. 50 bonus points if she orders it.
  • Midway through the meal, it is mandatory to stop by the diners’ table to ask: “How’s everything tasting, so far?” Rehearse those exact words. Deviations from the Standard Server’s Script will result in demerit points. Once again, the diners in your charge will be impressed by your interest and attention, as if you really cared. 15 points per diner.
  • Should a diner make a little moué that suggests a concern about - for example - the steak (i.e., the usual bitches about doneness, tenderness, seasoning, sauce, or temperature ... What do these people expect for $25 bucks?), it is mandatory that you display a moment’s hesitation to allow fleeting bewilderment and pain to flicker over your face. Smile wanly. Say: “If you wa-a-ant, I can take it ba-a-ack …” Zero points if the complainant agrees; 15 points if s/he shrugs and says: “It’s okay!”
  • And now, the equivalent of what photographers term “the money shot.” This is the moment when the final coffees have been poured and you present the bill and pretend you are your diners’ BFF - that magic, mellow moment when someone at the table volunteers to pick up the tab. Who will it be? Not that idiot in the worn-out sneakers, you hope. He looks like he doesn’t have a pot to … Aha! It’s the woman wearing the bling! You pegged her as a serious tipper the minute she sat down, so (after your empty but mandatory gesture to the other diners of “Who’ll do the honors?”) you showed her the wine label and offered her the first sip. Besides, she wants (needs!) to feel the admiration (jealousy!) of her friends when you later glance at her tip and smile: “Thank yo-o-ou!” 

The standard technique in achieving a sizeable tip is to feign disinterest as the moron’s pen hovers over the tally. If the wait feels too long, engage her dining companions (and yes, this is mandatory) with the scripted line: “What are your plans for the rest of the day?” This will give the other diners a warm, fuzzy feeling of bonding with you as they mumble their answers - thus erasing any memory of the coffees you “forgot” to refill when the stupid cows took too long to eat their lunch. 

If the billpayer’s pen continues to hover, unstop her catatonia through distraction: “Ooooooh, nice wallet! Where did you get it?” Three little neurons will then fire in her head - snap, crackle, pop. She will consider you her buddy, calculate the tip, sign the tab, and confide that she bought the wallet in Las Vegas/New York/Montreal or some other place you’ve never been and about which you don’t give a flying fig. 

The important thing is, you’ve got your tip: 50 bonus points for 15%, 75 bonus points for 20%, 100 bonus points for 25% and above. If she pays cash and leaves too much on the table, it is unfortunately mandatory to ask: “Would you like some change?” But use your church voice and hope she doesn’t hear. Swoop down on the dough quickly, so she can’t change her mind in front of her friends.

Then add a breezy: “No rush! Stay as long as you like!” They won’t, of course, because from this moment, no beverages will be refilled and their table will become invisible. Your body language will make it plain that you want them to get outta Dodge.

No sooner has a server-in-training cleared the table than you see another herd of diners trotting after the host, who - without breaking stride - briefly turns to ask: “How’s your day been so far?” 

More recipes when Im able, Dollinks!  xox  Nicole

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