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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Yes, Virginia. There Really Are Good Servers.

On occasion, I will write about an outstanding server I had so the world will know that there are actually people who wait tables who go above and beyond the expectations of their guests and do it all with a smile and a wonderful attitude, unlike me who will take notes about your dining experience and then go home and blog about your ass. This is really about two such servers on opposite sides of the country. One is named Tia who works at the Sapphire Hotel in Portland, Oregon and the other is named Ashley who works at Dutch Kills Bar in Long Island City, Queens. Truth be told, I am not sure that Ashley was her name. I had a few cocktails that night and my brain was all mushy when I left, so maybe it was Samantha. Or Melissa? Honestly, she'll never read this so it doesn't really matter. As for Tia, she was not actually my server but a friend of mine who lives in Portland told me that she was amazing. Tia and Ashley/Samantha/ Melissa, this is for you:

(Since I didn't experience the service that Tia provided, her story is 99% fiction)

Tia was incredible. She didn't just walk to the table, she floated to it like she was a hovercraft with a cocktail tray. Her smile was brighter than Dr. Phil's bald ass head and her hair was prettier than Paula Deen's. No this has nothing to do with how she served the drinks, but a compliment is a compliment and since I wasn't really there, I have no idea. Her hair looked like it was spun from gold. Like Rumpelstiltskin had just gotten a new batch of hay and spun it directly onto her head. Her uniform was perfectly pressed and she manged to hold forty five glasses at one time when she was bussing a nearby table. (I wasn't there, remember?) She knew what everyone wanted to drink just by looking at them. "So let me see," she said. "It looks like we will be needing two Jack and Cokes, a Bud Light and apple and pear cosmo with a splash of St. Germain for the gay guy in the corner, is that it? Oh and I am going to give you all separate checks because I can tell that you guys are pretty good friends but one of you has a habit of not putting enough money down and screwing everybody else. I'll be right back." She floated off and three seconds later she materialized with the drinks and a complimentary plate of nachos "with the jalapenos on the side because two of you are going to get really trashed tonight and make out in the parking lot. Anything else you need?" she asked. Everyone at the table was mesmerized by her all-knowing personae. The gay guy in the corner was hoping he was one of the people who would be making out in the parking lot later so he downed his cocktail and another one appeared immediately. Tia was amazing.

As for Ashley, I watched her as she put up with the flirtatious behavior of a much older man in her station. He was coming on to her and even though she was not interested, she let the old man get his jollies as she smiled and laughed at his jokes. I wasn't sure what I wanted to drink and told her that it could be bartender's choice. My only criteria was "vodka" and "citrusy." She returned with a mint and cucumber concoction that was out of this world. She told me what it was called and how it was made, but if I can't remember her name, do you really think I will remember the name of a cocktail? When we mentioned we were hungry, she whisked off and returned with a folder full of take-out menus. "You can order in, we don't mind." We asked for a suggestion and she told us that the bar-b-q place was very good and very meaty. Thirty minutes later as we were staring at our embarrassingly large plates of meat, she said, "See what I mean? Meaty! I'll bring you some water." She brought us our second round and we chatted about the lech across the aisle who had since left.

Meanwhile, back with Tia, when it was time to clear the tables she did so by repelling from the ceiling and removing the glassware as she hung upside down. "I didn't want to bother anyone," she explained.

Ashley removed our trash from out takeout order and had our check in her hand. "I'm not rushing you, but I have your check if you're ready to go. After a pound of brisket, I'd wanna go home and take a nap." She was right. We thanked her for her foresight and paid the check.

Whe Tia showed up with the checks, she thanked everyone for coming in. She gave a knowing wink to the two people she knew would be making out in the parking lot momentarily and then she gave Gay Guy in the Corner the phone number of another waiter who thought he was cute in that Gay Guy in the Corner kind of way. Tia was amazing.

We tipped Ashley 25%.

Tia was tipped 25%.

Each waitress went home from work that night satisfied that they had given wonderful service to their customers. Job well done, Tia and Ashley. (Or was it Emily?)

Do you remember the name of a great server you had once?

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Anonymous said...

Lisa was the last server (she was really the bartender, since we like to sit at the bar) ... (I like sitting in tall seats. :) ) and she was very good. She had a "motherly" essence about her, in that if you screwed around or were rude to her, she would have no problem pulling you over her knee and putting you in the corner for time out. I don't mess with servers, since I was one, but you don't want to mess with Lisa either.

I had one drink, and apparently looked weird for a minute, so she looked me dead in the eyes and said "are you okay?" Emphasis on that (since I can't use Italics here, apparently.)

I said "yes, ma'am..." Because I am polite like that.

Seriously, though. She was good. She was very nice. ... And by the look she gave me, I think she wanted to seat me in the corner for a good 5 minutes. x.x

KB said...

Back, way back, in the day when I was a cocktail waitress I was absolutely that good.

Most of the Portland servers nowadays are not that stellar because it seems they really wish they were pursuing whatever they received their higher education for and/or they are just too cool for this job but the one I had yesterday at Pastini was perfectly fine.

fmcgmccllc said...

I get business cards from the good ones, and they all have one in New Orleans. If I don't know your name you are not getting 25% and if I ask for you again you are getting 35%.

The Artist Formerly Known As Bagel Fairy said...

Love the Gay Guy in the Corner...especially because that's totally how a food service person remembers who's who!

Lauren said...

Bitchy Waiter, I have a question...

First of all I LOVE your blog. Read it everyday. Second, I work as a hostess in a restaurant so I can relate to so many of the things you write about. But I'm wondering...

You always write about cheap-ass customers who leave 7% tips for great service, and I know how frustrating that can be. I hate cheap-ass people, too! But what do you do if the service truly does suck?? I've been out to eat at times where I'm conflicted because I know the server needs those tips to live off of, yet they were just so inattentive that I don't want to leave them much of MY hard earned money. I'm not a high maintenance guest AT ALL, but simple things like not getting to the table for 11 minutes after we're seated or having to ask for more water three times is unacceptable. Help!

Mark W said...

Lauren, I'm not Bitchy, but I've often wondered the same thing. We usually tip 25-30% for good service. As a rule, I won't leave less than 15% unless the ONLY time I see my server is when he takes my order and when he brings me my check. Then he might get 10%. For so-so service like you mentioned, I'd still give 15% because we don't know why the server was bad. It might just be an off night, or his grandma might have just died. I like to give the benefit of the doubt.

Confessions from the Hairdresser said...

Miss Lauren:

In the situation where the service is sub-par and you wonder about what tip is appropriate I personally believe in tipping the customary 15-20 percent and then alerting management to the situation and having a dish on the bill comped.

Here's why: Management should know if they're employing shitty people. Just stiffing a waiter doesn't improve the restaurant or the service. If the restaurant feels that your experience was indisputably bad they will have lost money by comping your bill and it will prompt them to avoid this in the future by reprimanding the offensive server.
However, if they feel that the shitty service you received is not sub-par according to their standards, than at least the server will have been tipped and paid for doing the job (up to standard) and it will be the restaurant that suffers (through comping your bill) for having such low standards.

Unless you saw your waiter standing around with no other tables blatantly ignoring you, chances are they were doing something somewhere that fell into the category of work, and therefore they still deserve to be paid for it. It's regrettable that your service was terrible but it's better to hold the restaurant responsible.

Mary A. said...


She worked at Denny;s just after baby # 3 was born. Clearly, she was in rehab or something. She had a heart of gold but you just KNEW she had a sad story.

She always made a big fuss about my kids even though they were kids. And messy. We tipped well, but I think she really liked kids.

One day, we went to dinner there. Brandy was there. She was our server. She brought our meals, then my #2 son threw up all over everything and everyone. My husband picked him up like a live hand grenade and ran out of the restaurant. He puked the whole way out.

Brandy came to the table with a cloth and said "It happens to everybody -- don't worry about it". She packed up our order and gave me the $20 ticket.

I tipped her $20. Because she had to clean up PUKE and acted like it didn't phase her AT ALL.

We never saw her again.

True, we waited a few weeks to show our faces again, but I like to think that the decent tip was the ticket she needed to launch a better life.

Either that or she said "Fuck this, I would rather go back to being a crack whore than to clean up puke again".

She really was awesome.

SkippyMom said...

Godwin [yes, that is his name] and he always waited on us at Bob Evan's where we went for lunch b/c it was close to work. Just absolutely the best. I miss him.

Remembering back I think I can honestly say the 3 best servers I have ever had worked for Bob Evan's. We do go to other restaurants and bars, but Godwin, Christina and Nafka always get/got 30%.

We did recently find a newish local Diner [great food] and Rami is a professional's professional - very good at his job too. He gets 30% also. [What can I say - I am a former server myself and when you eat breakfast out the check doesn't amount to as much as dinner.]

NellieVaughn said...

I would never make it on here. I rarely showed up for work, and smile aren't something I give. Sometimes I gave a fuck, though.

Little Miss Twenty Something said...

Once when I was with my boyfriend and his family we had this really upbeat server. She had a good sense of humor and laughed at my boyfriend's dad's jokes. She got me extra napkins because I got a sandwich that had a ton of sauce. It's refreshing to see a server goes the extra mile.