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Tag Archives: Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day

Many words have been spilt on the waiter’s perspective of Valentine’s Day.

Amateur night. Uncomfortable proposals. Weird prix fixe menus. Buttkickings.

You know the drill.

So I’m going to simply mention a few things.

Amateur night refers to the fact that this is some people’s limited exposure to dining out each year. A lot of very young people also take advantage of Valentine’s Day. This means that you might not see the same percentages that you would normally see. Now is the time to take a smaller tip less personally than you normally would.

Valentine’s Day actually started Friday night, due to the fact that it’s on a Monday this year. so I’m a bit behind the curve. Having said that, expect to get your ass handed to you tonight (Sunday night). Hopefully, your restaurant has anticipated the extra business. This means more floor staff and a kitchen that has ramped up in personnel and prepping (increasing pars). This means breaking out extra champagne flutes, wine glasses and smallwares like candles, silverware, etc. If i were you, I’d go into tonight and tomorrow night expecting to have to deal with issues not anticipated by management. If you do that, you will be prepared for anything.

90% of your business tonight and tomorrow night will be deuces. Live with it.

Embrace the holiday. Wish everyone a Happy Valentine’s Day. Be as upbeat as you can possibly be. This is an important emotional holiday for most Valentine diners. Sometimes it’s forced. Try to make it special for those who see it as an obligation.

Want to be different? Go get a box of those insipid candy hearts with a little message on them. Leave two with the bill. It’s cheesy but it’s a touch that many will appreciate.

Volume is your friend. Embrace it. Prepare to be busy. In fact, your economic and emotional well-being relies on it!

I don’t have much more inspirational guidance to give you as I’m a bit spent from last night’s reaming. I had very nice guests and things flowed well and I grossed $490! That means I walked with $335. I’m not complaining at all. Our kitchen rocked and there were few issues from my viewpoint. I was literally sore from all of the running. However, I’m a bit nervous as that usually means that the next night will dissolve into chaos! Oh well, I’ll go into tonight’s shift not expecting the worst but being prepared for any eventuality. You would do well to follow my example tonight and tomorrow night.

Good luck to all of you and to our diners, I hope that you get good service in the face of the inevitable stampede, that if you are foolish enough to propose that your proposal is accepted, and that you understand that your waiter will be dealing with extraordinary circumstances. If you don’t eat out all that often, remember the normal guidelines – 15% for average, workaday service, 18 – 20% and more for great service. Please try to be a little bit more patient with your waiter than normal. Our kitchens are trying to feel between 2 – 4 times the number of people, especially considering that this is Sunday and Monday night. Your accommodation is greatly appreciated.

Another Valentine’s Day in the books

For waiters, Valentine’s Day isn’t exactly a Hallmark moment. People who never go out to eat save up all year for this day, and, for waiters, it isn’t pretty.

However, the saving grace is the volume that’s generated.

IValentine’s Day on sunday means a whole weekend of butt-kicking, low tips and smarmy behavior. Put it all together means a decent payday but a feeling like you’ve just been drug behind a truck through a muddy field.

I was lucky that I had a 50/50 sort of weekend. I worked Saturday and Sunday night, skipping Friday night, which was extremely busy as well. Saturday night was a treat. I had a small 3 table station that paid off with quality guests. I ended up walking with $300 after tipout and, while it was a long night, it was smooth and pleasant. Last night was pooling with others and frankly, I was the beneficiary because I had three pretty abysmal tips from my tables (one was actually $10 on $150). I think I only had 2 20% tips, the rest hovered just below 15%. Fortunately, several of our team got some quality, which made up for the bad tips that some of us had to suffer from. We walked with about $220 after tipout. It wasn’t the smoothest night, but I could say that it could have been worse.

Yep, let’s put Valentine’s Day behind us and move forward. Please.

New scam as outlined by “Sorry, Not My Table”

Well, I thought I had heard it all. But scalping reservations? On Craigslist? Really??!!??

Well, read this little post at Sorry, Not My Table”:

http://sorrynotmytable.com/2010/02/11/egregious-offenses/

And don’t stop at the new scam. The bottom of the post outlines some of the really bogus things that people shouldn’t do when it comes to Valentine’s Day (especially, but also applies to any other big holiday that gets booked up early).

The advent of OpenTable, a popular online reservation system, has created a way for enterprising people in their pajamas to try to exploit the interwebs for their own nefarious purposes. I hope this doesn’t start requiring extremely popular restaurants to start taking credit card deposits at the time of reservations. I can’t see it happening, but you never know.

Valentine’s Day Weekend

Valentine’s Day is a blessing and a curse for waiters.

It’s a blessing because it means a lot of business. It’s a curse because it means a lot of business.

Do to the overwhelming number of deuces, it usually means that you have to do a lot more tables for the same amount of business. Depending on how the kitchen is geared, it can either make it a lot easier for them to crank out food because there aren’t many big tables to create logjams, or it can make it more difficult for waiters to get their food because of the number of small orders that have to go out simultaneously as well as the idea that there could be more tables in play because of the tendency of some restaurants to put tables together for larger groups.

One key in ensuring a good, smooth section for yourself is the ability to identify which kitchen condition you are likely to face. If your kitchen has no problem with the number of orders going out at any time, then you really only have to manage your tables in a normal fashion. But if it (or your chef/expo) tends to lose focus when the checks start piling up, then you have to be proactive and watch the kitchen for signs of meltdown. You might need to order your entrees a little early in the first course if you work in a restaurant that makes you order by course. If you do this, it’s a good idea to ask your guest if it’s OK to do this. You can point around the restaurant and say something like, “Folks, the entree orders are starting to pile up in the kitchen. Would you like for me to put in your entree order now? If I do this, it’s possible that it will come up a little quicker than normal “. You might get the answer, “No, we don’t mind waiting a little longer. After all, it’s Valentine’s Day”. While normally, this isn’t an answer that you like to hear on a churn and burn night, it does prevent disappointment should the kitchen go down in flames right about the time that you’re at the 10 minute mark between courses. By telling you that they’re cool with waiting 20 minutes for their entrees, they’ve let you off the hook. If they tell you to put it in and the kitchen gets it out quickly, even before they’ve finished with their salad, they’ve let you off the hook as well. You can’t be accused of “rushing them” (well, you can still be accused of that, but at least you have a defense – you gave them a choice).

The same thing goes for “firing” food (for civilians, this means that the entree order has been sitting in the kitchen since the beginning of the meal, ready to be called for). If you have any doubt in the ability of the kitchen to get your food out on time, you might ask your guest at the appropriate point if it’s OK for you to call for it. You don’t want to do it as you’re picking up the salad plates because, what if the kitchen is already in the initial stages of meltdown and 5 other servers have fired their entrees first? You need to have a sort of internal clock which sounds about halfway during the salad course. At that point, you need to be evaluating the state of the kitchen. Since you have tables at different points of their meal, this means that you are constantly evaluating. Also, people eat at different speeds, so this could be 3 minutes after you have brought the salad or 10 minutes after you’ve brought the salad. In general, people tend to eat more leisurely on Valentine’s Day because it’s bonding time with the significant other. But this isn’t always the case because, for some, Valentine’s Day is a chore to be disposed of as unobtrusively quickly as possible. 

If you don’t need to ask, obviously you shouldn’t. Great service should be invisible. But there are times when you need to bring the guest into the logistics. Better to throw back the curtain than to have people waiting inordinately long times for their meal. Most people will appreciate your concern and your ability to read the flow of the restaurant to their advantage.

Valentine’s Day on Sunday also means a busy weekend in general because of the people who couldn’t get the actual Valentine’s Day reservation. This means that tonight, you’re going to get more than your share of Valentine’s Day meals. You should go into the evening expecting more deuces and more leisurely dining than on a normal Saturday night. Going in with your eyes open and with an acceptance of reality will reduce disappointment. If you gear your service toward reinforcing the “romantic” angle of obvious Valentine’s Day tables, you increase the chance of a better tip percentage and a higher check. Try not to treat them as he normal “let’s go out Saturday night” tables. Now is the time to suggest champagne, upscale appetizers, chocolate desserts, Bailey’s with coffee, etc. Remember, spouses and SOs are trying to impress their companions, especially if they’re new to the relationship. Use this to your advantage. Just be subtle about it.

Now go out and make lots of money.