Of all the positions in a restaurant, bartending definitely has the best reputation, and I can’t even count how many interviews I have done where the applicant has never bartended before and this is something they dream about.
They picture movies like Cocktail and just have this vision of being the cool guy in the room and life of the party.
I will say that bartending is probably the most fun and entertaining of all the positions, but after about a week or two it is just like the rest of them.
Same **** Different Toilet…
Bartending is very similar to serving in regards to dealing with the animal guests that come in but kind of in a different way.
When you are a server, most of the complaints and problems you come across usually have to do with food taking too long or something like that where it’s almost never the server’s fault if they are halfway decent at their job.
When bartending, a lot of the things you have to deal with are people too drunk to even know where they are and are just as much of a pain as anyone else.
Anything and everything I complain about on here by the way is always assuming that the server or employee is good at their job. I know and understand that this is most certainly not always the case and there are definitely people who are working in the industry that shouldn’t be, but that’s another story and can almost always be distinguished.
Going to continue on from yesterday’s post as far as servers taking the majority of all the abuse from customers even if it is totally out of their control.
Being a server or working for a restaurant in general is not for the weak of heart. You really do need to have pretty thick skin to be able to handle your cool, especially at a busy restaurant.
People Don’t Understand
So remember the buddy I mentioned a few days ago who worked in a calm, cool, and collected place like the one below?
Well I was talking to him today about life and the topic of getting yelled at by customers came up and he was absolutely shocked at some of the things I have been called and even the things I have had thrown at me while bartending.
Don’t worry; I will get to that on here eventually.
When I went down the absolutely infinite list of horrible things I have had yelled at me, he proceeded to tell me that he legitimately cannot think of one moment of working his construction jobs that he has ever been yelled at or even talked down to by a customer.
I can’t even imagine what it would be like walking into work and not mentally preparing yourself for the mental anguish you are inevitably going to be getting all night.
When I started talking about being a server yesterday, I briefly mentioned the misery that accompanies it but didn’t have a chance to dive in so I am going head first in on this one.
There have been countless books, blogs, forums, and everything else you could think of made out there from bitter servers and bartenders and I am going to jump on that bandwagon because please trust me when I say this; they are all true.
For anyone out there reading this who has never worked in a restaurant before, please carefully study everything I post on this whole thing, because you all need a reality check and a slap in the face.
Don’t Care. It’s Your Fault
This might come as a shock to a lot of you but pay attention because it’s true. Your server does not make your bar drinks, they usually don’t seat the door, and they MOST CERTAINLY don’t cook your food.
So when any of the above isn’t going exactly how you dreamed it would when you walked through the doors to this magical restaurant where everyone is DYING to kiss your feet and worship the ground your dumb feet walk on with a smile on their face, DON’T IMMEDIATELY BLAME THE SERVER.
They have NO CONTROL over pretty much everything I just listed and unless you see your server standing at a server station flirting with some co-workers, please use common sense and show a little bit of compassion.
Now granted, there definitely are servers who aren’t good at their job and spend a lot of time messing around but it is painfully obvious when this is the case and unless you are 5 years old, you should be able to tell the difference.
I really didn’t mind being a cook. Sure it was stressful but you never really had to interact with guests which was alright by me.
So out of all the positions that I have worked during the years, and I have done them all, serving and bartending have to be at the top as far as misery goes.
Why is every single picture of a restaurant so deceiving?
Gotta Be Quick
I really can only remember one or two of my close friends growing up that worked in the restaurant industry like me. Most of my other friends went the traditional routes and either went to college for some corporate office job, or learned some sort of trade for the blue collar working world.
I remember one of my friends worked for some construction or roofing company out of high school and I always envied him so much. Listen and take note of the guys tone of voice from this company:
Nice and calm right? My friend didn’t work for this company specifically but just to give you an idea of what I mean.
When you are working as a server for a busy restaurant, there is not a moment of anything close to being this calm when the waves of customers keep pouring through the door.
There wasn’t a day that passed by where I didn’t daydream about cleaning up a roof with my buddy during a cool breezy summer day as some fat monster is asking me why her well done steak is taking longer than 10 minutes to cook.
After hosting for a few months and actually having to deal with customers, I thought it was time for a little break from them and to learn a little bit about what goes on in the kitchen. My father was happy to put me on the schedule and get to training.
Not For Everyone
For anyone that has never worked in a busy kitchen before let me be the first to tell you, it is not easy.
Don’t let this cheerful looking fat man fool you. This is not a career choice for the light hearted or those who crack under pressure.
Think about how many tables are in a nice big restaurant. Now think about the line of people out the window. Now think about 5 or 6 guys crammed in a kitchen the size of a big walk in closet cooking full course meals for every single person in said nice big restaurant and you have no more than 15 minutes to get every single plate out of that kitchen.
Different Kind of People
So even though you really don’t have to interact with guests when you’re working in the kitchen, you definitely still have some people you have to deal with and sometimes they are more psychotic than the customers.
These psychos are the servers and other staff in the restaurant. Let me say that I know serving is difficult and bad cooks can make their lives miserable and trust me I will get into that later on here, but I have noticed that servers never look at anything outside of their own head and I will get into that next.
So as a host the majority of restaurants out there take reservations and the concept is pretty simple to grasp, right?
Well at my father’s restaurant, we did not take reservations but we did take something we called “call ahead seating.” So the idea behind this is that we couldn’t guarantee a table when you and your party arrives, but if we are on a wait you will be bumped up to the next table to get sat which should never be more than 10 minutes at an absolute maximum. The amount of times I had to explain this on the phone over and over again to people is enough to make anyone go insane.
So I am curious, does anyone reading this not understand what I mean by this? Is this not perfectly clear? Well, it sure as hell wasn’t clear to at least one group of people every night and guess who was always at the front line of getting yelled at for not having a table ready even though they made “reservations.”
This really was probably the worst part of hosting at my father’s restaurant and if I had known that this was NOTHING compared to the kind of abuse I was about to be taking for basically the rest of my life from angry customers, I probably would have ran away and never came back.
So after bussing for a few months and getting an introduction to how my father ran his restaurant, he decided it was time to keep my training going by adding me to the schedule of hosts in addition to my bussing. Hosting and bussing are usually the two positions that most people start off doing when they first start working in a restaurant and really probably are the easiest of all the positions.
Not Sure What it Is
I think most people would agree that there is something very strange about people when they go out to eat. I really don’t know what it is, but when people walk into a restaurant they immediately feel a huge sense of entitlement and everyone who works at the restaurant better be ready to get on their hands and knees and start kissing their feet or there will be hell to pay.
Let me say that I will probably sound like I hate the entire human race a lot on this thing and I really don’t mean to lump all people together as the monsters I will be talking about. I know there are a few of you out there who know treat employees with respect. Also keep in mind that I am not this jaded for no reason at all.
So it Begins…
Starting to host is when I got my first glimpse of this. I never really had to deal with people much as a busser but this quickly changed as I was about to be the first person guests see when they walk in.
So now that you got a little glimpse into my introduction into the restaurant industry with my bussing position, I can get a nice little flow on this whole thing and go down the line of my positions at the restaurant and little overviews of them all.
Then I will probably end up just going back to each one and talk more about how much I hated them and add anything I missed.
Not Typical Buffet
Let me back up a little bit and tell you a little bit more about the restaurant. Although we did have a buffet option, we weren’t your average Chinese buffet that I am sure you are picturing in your head. We also offered a full size menu that you could order from if you weren’t into the buffet option, which most people weren’t.
I will be the first to admit and I have witnessed it firsthand that the vast majority of Chinese buffets are absolutely disgusting. The food is cheap and very close to, if not 100% of everything they use comes frozen. I won’t even get into some of the kitchens and the state that they were in.
I will give my father a lot of credit when it came to how much of a stickler he was when it came to the quality of his food and the cleanliness of the whole restaurant.
This is why I have said buffet “style” when I mention it because we really were a step up from the average and I always admired my dad for it.
Now that you know a little bit about my father, and eventually me, owning a Chinese buffet style restaurant for my entire life and my disdain for it after so many years I figured I would dive right in and tell you about it all right from the beginning.
Welcome to Hell
I had always known that I was eventually going to be taking over my father’s restaurant and my career started when I was just 14 years old when my father hired me as as busser.
I’m sure most of you know what a busser is at a restaurant but there is a lot more to it then just clearing off some plates on a table.
In addition to cleaning off dirty tables, the busser is usually the one in charge of all of the “bitch” work that no one else would dream of doing in a restaurant. This includes, but is most definitely not limited to cleaning the bathrooms, unclogging toilets, cleaning up any spills, and pretty much any possible form of cleaning that you would need to do in a restaurant.
We didn’t have a machine to wash glasses when I was young so I also had to wash every single glass that got used by hand and properly before it got reused. I had to clean and wash silverware, seat the door if there was no host on, and run food for servers if they were too busy.
One thing good about bussing though, is that you really don’t have to talk to any customers and suck up to them which is always a plus in my book.
My entire life, I have worked for my father at his Chinese Restaurant buffet and in 2000 I took over the family business and carried on the legacy. Fast forward 14 years later and I couldn’t take it anymore. Two years ago I sold the restaurant and am living the retired life with my wife and kids and I couldn’t be happier about it.
Think About It
I tend to see the restaurant industry very glamorized in TV, magazines, or newspapers and I have to urge a word of caution for anyone considering diving into this horrific industry and has had no experience yet in it.
Take the time to really think about it and familiarize yourself with the industry. Get a job as a hostess, a server, a bartender, bus boy, cook, manager, and every other position that is out there and after you have put in the years working every position then you can sit down and make a logical decision on whether or not this is the industry for you.
Not for Me
If it wasn’t for my father owning the family business and eventually passing it down to me, I would have never dreamed of working one more day inside of a restaurant than I needed to.
From the impossible to please customers, to the drug addicted felons doing blow in the employee bathroom (yes, this has happened several times), I hated every aspect of working in and owning a restaurant and this is going to be a place that I can let loose and be totally open with everything about it.
I did my time, I have nothing to lose on here so stick around for some reality checks.