Friday, August 5, 2011

Restaurants & Waitstaff

Full disclosure:  I was a waitress through high school and college, so this will not be an unbiased post in the least.  More full disclosure:  what blog is unbiased?  NONE of my posts are without any bias. So, there you go.

As Nate had a meeting, I had the opportunity to go out to dinner by myself....something I (before today the word to fit there would be "never") rarely do. I took the time to research where I wanted to go. I like independent restaurants that pride themselves on homemade products using local ingredients and I do everything I can to avoid chains. So, I researched and found a restaurant that sounded like a local gem. The reviews said the waitstaff was phenomenal, which is incredibly important to me. With my past experience as a waitress, I may be sympathetic to how hard they work, but I also have very high expectations, which usually leads to me being somewhat dissatisfied with the service I receive.

I went to the restaurant and the sign asked me to wait to be seated. A waitress meandered through a few times looked at me each time and kept walking. I waited what seemed like an eternity, but in actuality  it was probably like 5 minutes or so. That same waitress came up to me eventually and said, "Do you want to be seated or something?" Don't you hate it when you want to come back with a smart remark but your brain has just gone blank? I replied in the affirmative and she still stood there. "For just one?" she asked.  I said, "Yep! Just one!" And she took me to a table. At this point "not happy" is a little bit of an understatement of how I was feeling about this place. But fortunately, I stayed. And fortunately, being on my own, I was able to watch and observe what the real story was of this place. Although the girl has much to learn, I learned that it was her first day working at this restaurant,and from what I witnessed, it was her first day working anywhere! I also learned that there was only one waiter that was serving the entire dining room. Granted, it was a small dining room, but it was quite full and a steady stream of people kept coming. He was running around trying to take care of everyone...and you know those moments when you are so overwhelmed that no thought can stay in your brain very long at all? That seemed to be what he was going through. The table behind me was waiting for their dessert, the table to the side of me was waiting for their check, and then there were three tables waiting for their order to be taken. And then there was me. So, he was quite busy not only taking care of the customers but also trying to train the new girl. My meal was delicious and the waiter was increasingly apologetic as he forgot the salad and I sat without a water refill for a long time. And it gave me the time to remember another time and place, where I wore a red and white plaid skirt working at Stan's Restaurant, the amazing (amazing in this instance = only) sit-down restaurant in my hometown. I remembered times of running around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to meet the demands of the customers. My heart went out to "John" the waiter and I wish him a well deserved rest today or at least until the restaurant opens today at 3:00 and it starts all over again!

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