So You Want To Be A Waiter

The best book on waiting tables that you have never read – yet

Daily Archives: June 30, 2009

Capital Grill hurting since firing blogger

Well, yes and no. They were hurting before they fired our friend in Kansas City, but I’d like to think that it was a direct result of being buttheads.

They are definitely underperforming in the steakhouse sector, but they did come in first in the chain steakhouse category in the most recent Consumer Reports nationwide restaurant survey. Personally, I’d listen to to them when it comes to buying a washing machine, but when it comes to matters of taste, as a recovering audiophile, I always had to laugh at CR’s complete lack of a sense of style and taste. I mean, Bose? Really? So, when a report that lists PF Chang’s as the number one “Unique Dinner House” chain restaurant, I have to wonder about Capital Grill.

BTW, for 3qtr fiscal year 2009, they were down 19.0% same store sales from 2008. Pretty bad indeed, even in these bad times. It jumped to 22.1% down in the 4th quarter. They are one of the worst performing companies in the sector. Other steakhouses like Palm, Fleming’s, Ruth’s Criss, Mortons, Sullivan’s etc. are hovering between 10 and 15% down this quarter.

So, maybe CJ’s firing has had some effect! Look at their bar – deserted:

Capital Grill


Cookbook of the day – Splendid Soups


Splendid Soups: Recipes and Master Techniques for Making the World’s Best Soups

by James Peterson

Publisher: Wiley (September 22, 2000)
ISBN-10: 0471391360
ISBN-13: 978-0471391364
Once again, I don’t have the most current edition of this book. I have the 1994 edition, which clocks in at 100 less pages than this new edition. Mine has a different cover as well:



I’m assuming that Peterson has added some modern variants of classic soups, as he has presumably done with the updated edition of his Sauces book that I reviewed yesterday. This could be considered a companion edition to Sauces, but even this earlier edition has a wider scope than Sauces, with non-Western ingredients such as bonito flakes, Udon noodles, miso, and various soups from the Far East and other places included in this edition. You’ll find soups from India, Japan, Morocco, Thailand and other far-flung corners of the globe.

This is another of Peterson’s “reference” works. As such, you won’t find a single photograph. It’s all recipes, tips and techniques. Some recipes are for intermediate or advanced cooks, but even the beginning cook can find a lot of practical advice on soup-making that will help them move past the basic into the more advanced levels of cooking.

If you have Peterson’s Sauces, this should sit next to it on your bookshelf.

A couple of restaurant mnemonics

White is right. No, it’s not some sort of KKK infiltration of the restaurant industry or some white supremacist secret recruitment tool.  The conventional placement of salt and pepper is with the salt shaker on the right as you face the table. There are probably some restaurants that have a different spec, but this is generally the case. So, if you’re new, this can help you remember what the standard is (assuming that your restaurant follows this standard, of course).

Also, another popular mnemonic is regular is right. In the absence of a labeled coffee pot, some restaurants have conformed to the convention that regular is always on the right when there is more than one pot. Once again, this is something that you have to find out for yourself – this is probably less universal than the “white is right” thing. Also, I use this personally when I’m carrying coffee cups or pots. If I have both regular and decaf cups in my hand, I always have the regular cups in my right hand. If I’m “butterflying” two cups in one hand, the regular cup is always the one on the right.

A couple of other principles to keep in mind – seams always go down, whether it’s the seam on your apron, the seam on the napkin that you do a rollup or a table fold with, or the seam on your tablecloth. and speaking of tablecloths – let’s say that you have one of those fancy tables that converts from a 4 top square table to an 8-top round table. When you flip up the four half-moon leaves, make sure you align the middle crease of the tablecloth with the original square. In other words, don’t just throw the tablecloth on the table nilly-willy. Make sure that it’s aligned with the original square so that if you have to pop it down because of a no-show, it’s still lined up with the crease down the center of the square. It will save you a lot of time if you don’t have to re-position the tablecloth.  In other words, place it with all creases parallel to the original four sides of the square.