July 10, 2009

The title of this blog is Eternal Carry-Out Girl, but I also host. Hosting at The Restaurant doesn’t work the way it does at most normal restaurants. From what I’ve seen, hosts at other restaurants typically have a rotation they follow, so as to distribute customers among the waitstaff in something resembling an orderly fashion.

That’s not how we do things here. Here, the host’s job is essentially to stand in people’s way as they try to sit wherever they damn well please. We do not have a “Please Wait to be Seated” sign. It’s also my job to set the tables (we don’t wrap silverware), get people water, and generally do whatever the waitresses tell me to do.

This setup leads to a lot of stupid situations. Single customers taking up a whole booth (we only have four booths, so this is actually a problem). Customers mistaking me for a waitress and trying to order from me, then getting angry when I explain to them that I can’t take their order. People sitting down before a table is set, or even while it’s still dirty. I then have to try and weave around them, setting placemats, napkins, and silverware while they try to look at the menu. It’s a little amazing how many people don’t bother to pick up their menu or their hands while I’m trying to do this.

This setup also leads to major problems for the waitresses. There are three dinner sections—4 booths, 8 tables, and then the two full counters and the entire back dining room. Woe betide the waitress assigned to counters, for they are doomed to either having no one all night or being completely slammed. Tonight was the latter situation, and I felt terrible as I watched the counters fill up and led groups of 8 to the back.

Some explanation: I understand that at larger restaurants, dealing with large groups is the norm, and an individual server can have a ton of tables at any given time. Said larger restaurants also typically have computer systems, food runners, and/or people making milkshakes for them.

At The Restaurant, waitresses do all checks by hand, take out all the food themselves, and are responsible for most sides, desserts, and our handmade milkshakes. Suffice to say, this makes it far more difficult than usual for any one person to deal with that many customers, especially when there’s a rush.

So I get to stand by and watch this happen to Mrs. T tonight, a very sweet woman who I am quite fond of, and who doesn’t deserve the shit she has to take from people and management (Owner always gives her the counter section and the most clean-up work). I feel like shit, but there’s nothing I can do about it—I have no control, and frankly I have to spend all my time running around setting up the back dining room (which is never set up) and having people think I’m a waitress.

I also found out my friend N is quitting—it’s about time, but I’m sad, as now I will have no one to chat with when it’s dead. Still, I don’t blame him. He’ll be making significantly more money at his new job. Good luck, sir.

Oh, and ten minutes before closing we had a group of ten come and sit in the section I was supposed to sweep. Note that here at The Restaurant, it’s the host’s job to sweep the carpet with a broom at the end of the night, which makes it hilarious when people with small children apologize to the waitress and tip them extra for the big mess they left. Tips aren’t split with the host or busser here, so the waitress gets more money while we get more work.

Thirty minutes after we closed, they were still there, and I said screw it and left. The disher was done, so I was done. I don’t mind staying a little after to help out or wait on a slow table, but I’m not waiting on a party of ten who’ve decided to camp after we close.


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