Can we talk about seating incomplete parties? I know, I know, it's like beating a dead horse(face) to bring this topic up yet again, but it needs to be discussed. There are two ways to thinks about it.
The person who has never worked in a restaurant before: I don't see what the big deal is. I mean, it's not like we're not going to order food eventually...
The Bitchy Waiter: It's freakin' annoying.
I am at work on Thursday night and the place is slammed. People in Queens have major cabin fever from being cooped up in their apartments during Hurricane Sandy and since there is very little subway service into Manhattan, they are settling for a dinner out at their local neighborhood restaurant. We had a 100% increase in covers over the last two nights. Slammed.
A woman arrives and alerts us that she is waiting for two or three other people who are "on their way." I ask her if she'd like to sit at the bar and wait for the rest of her party to arrive but she's says "No, you can go ahead and seat me now."
I can? I can go ahead and seat you now?? Oh, why thank you, ma'am. My evening will be complete for I have had the wonderful opportunity to seat you now.
She wants a booth but they are full so she agrees that she will suffer through the horrible situation of sitting at two small tables pushed together. Never mind that there are millions of people in the area with no heat, water or electricity who are suffering in their own way, but this woman has to truly suffer by sitting at two tables, the poor thing.
"If a booth opens up, let me know," she says.
Right, sure, uh huh.
She orders a glass of wine from her server all the while popping up out of her seat every ten seconds to scan the room seeing if a booth has opened up. She looks like a fucking meerkat in a pink polyester pantsuit.
About ten minutes later, she is still waiting for her guests. Meanwhile, we are on a waiting list because all of the tables are full. One of my booths in the back of the restaurant has paid their check and are on their way out. Miss Meerkat smells her chance. She leaves her table at the front of the restaurant and hovers around my booth as I wipe it down. She immediately places her cell phone on the table like she is Christopher Columbus claiming some new piece of territory.
"I've been waiting for this booth, so I'm gonna sit here now," she tells me.
She returns to her original table and gathers her coat, menu and wine and then heads back to her little piece of heaven known as booth 14 where she asks me what the specials are. So now, we have to reset the table in the front and transfer over her one glass of wine to me because another server had originally started the table. That is annoying.
Five minutes later, one of her guests arrives who wants to know the specials and order a drink. I regurgitate the soup of the day (verbally, not actually, although the soup of the day is white kidney bean with kale which sounds disgusting so had I tasted it, it could quite possibly have been regurgitated.) I go get the pinot grigio and then try to carry on with the rest of my tables. Five minutes later, another person arrives at the table who also wants to know the specials and order a drink. I have now spent and inordinate amount of time on one table. Between transferring the check, resetting her first table, making way too many trips for a first round of drinks and reciting our laundry list of specials, this table has already gotten more attention from me than I give to some of my family members, and I haven't even taken their food order yet.
"One more person might show up, but you can go ahead and take our order now?"
I can? I can go ahead and take your order now?? Oh, why thank you, ma'am. My
evening will be complete for I have had the wonderful opportunity to take your order now .
Two people were ready and the third only thought he was. "Hmmm, I don't know. You don't have any fish specials?" he asks me.
"No, sir, the only specials I have are the ones I already said. Three times."
"Well, what fish do you have then?"
I glare at the menu he is holding that says we have salmon and tilapia. "We have salmon and tilapia."
I can see two other tables in my station waiting to order and I can see an order of fries in the window that needs to be delivered.
"Salmon and tilapia, huh? Nothing else?"
"I wish you had swordfish."
"Salmon and tilapia."
"Okay...I guess I'll have a cheese burger then."
I decide that he will be having it medium with cheddar because quite frankly he is out of time with me and they have used up all of my patience.
This is why I hate seating incomplete parties. It throws off the rotation of the restaurant. It always puts us behind because we can't consolidate our trips to the table. Seating incomplete parties requires us to make individual trips to that table over and over again instead of getting all the drink orders in one fell swoop. Who's with me, here? I can't be alone in this thinking, can I? If you have never worked in a restaurant and still can't understand why seating incomplete parties is a bad idea, kindly go back to the top of this post and re-read it out loud. I'm right. I just am.
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