Welcome to Foodservice Eternity

July 9, 2009

Welcome, Readers, to my little corner of the series of tubes. You may call me the Eternal Carry-Out Girl, and this is my first post in what I hope will be an ongoing blog about the restaurant industry and life in general. I hope you find something here you like.

A little about me: I am a 21-year-old college student living at home in an upper-middle class suburb. I’m presently saving money for a car and trying to move out. What is holding me back right now is my job. I call myself the Eternal Carry-Out Girl because at this point, that is what I feel like—trapped in this shitty position working at minimum wage with apparently no opportunity for advancement. This blog is born of my resultant frustration at the situation, and while I do seek to entertain and perhaps educate you, Potential Reader, that goal is second to the catharsis writing about my job will hopefully provide.

I work at a very old, family-owned restaurant that’s been around since 1955 or so. The décor certainly hasn’t changed since then—red vinyl booths and seats, formica countertops, and possibly the oldest, ugliest, grimiest carpet I have ever had the displeasure of walking on. New recruits are typically advised to pick a pair of shoes they don’t like as designated work shoes, due to the carpet having been worn down to the tarlike backing in many areas. This combined with normal restaurant grime will destroy your shoes.

I call this establishment a restaurant only out of respect for its age—in my neighborhood and the major city it borders, new restaurants come and go at a fantastic pace. In reality, however,  The Restaurant is a diner. Our seating capacity is no more than 50 to 70 people at a time. Our biggest section is the counter, for Christ’s sake. Burgers, fries, and milkshakes are our specialties, and all of our salads are made with iceberg lettuce and feature some sort of meat or cheese. The most expensive item on the menu is $10.95. In short, we are a step up from Mom’s Podunk Roadside Burger Stand and a step down from Generic Family Chain Restaurant.

Our typical nightly staff is small. We run no more than three waitresses, three cooks, a host(ess), a carry-out girl, a busboy, a disher, and a manager or the owner. We are frequently short-staffed, and most of the employees are high school kids. As anyone working in the industry will already guess, our service is terrible. Why so many teenagers? Well, because Owner doesn’t give anyone enough hours to make a decent living, and the concept of a raise never even enters his mind. My friend, a busboy I’ll call N, has been there for four years and still makes minimum wage.

I primarily work as a carry-out girl, but on Thursdays I am a hostess. My next update will cover the joys of working that position, and to those in the industry, let me note that The Restaurant has its own idea of what constitutes being a host. More tonight, after work.

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