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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Almost Closed But Not Closed Enough

It is a slow night at work. Well, from 7:00 until about 9:00, it is rockin'. There are two of us on the floor and we are weaving amongst each other in perfect synchronicity. Every time I go to refill a glass, I see it has just been done by the other server and more than once I see him go to the window to check on food that I had just run to the table. We are a good team. The customers are happy and I am in a good mood which is very surprising considering there is very little white wine in my system. Suddenly at 9:10, the restaurant dies a slow agonizing death. What had been a healthy vibrant restaurant throbbing with life and excitement is now wheezing for breath and struggling to find someone who wants to order some calamari. By 10:15, the last customer is gone, the other server has been sent home and I am left alone with the bartender waiting until closing time at 11:00. Sidework is done and I even reorganized the silverware, dusted underneath the bin and refilled ketchups. I was that bored. At 10:40, I start to send out vibes to passers-by to let them know if they decide to eat now, I will resent them until the day I die and then after I die I will haunt their sorry asses forever.

Bored, I head to the patio to see if it needs any attention. I pick up an errant lemon wedge and straw wrapper. I notice that a big spider has spun its web linking it from the fence to the giant Pelligrino patio umbrella. I toss a leaf into the web so I have something to watch as the spider races to the unwelcome item. Once he discerns it is not a fly or some other tasty morsel, he tosses the leaf to the ground. I throw another leaf into the web for an encore performance. It is now 10:45.

The candles are still lit on the tables because we do not want to give the impression that we are closing early. Knowing that my manager does not like us to do certain things before the official closing time, I leave the chalkboard scrawled with the words "No Smoking" on the patio as well as the two tables that will need to be dragged inside. At 10:56, I untie my apron and walk over to my manager who is scrubbing the line and wiping down the stove. "Do you mind if I run downstairs and get the book?" I ask. The "book" is what I fill in every night with who worked and what we made in tips.

The manager looks at the clock and then back at me. "Well, we're not closed yet."

Is she for real? All I want to do is run to the office and get the book so I can get a two fucking minute head start in entering information. The date, the names, etc. "Okay. I'll wait four minutes." I put my apron back on.

Five minutes later, at 11:01, I blow out the candles, drag the tables inside from the patio and pour out the last water pitcher. My manger graciously  brings "the book" upstairs for me. "Thank you," I say. She does not respond.

At 11:06, I am finished. The tips have been logged, the goodbyes have been said and the apron has been removed for the night. And then she has something else to say to me.

"I need people to be here who encourage customers to come in late, not people who are ready to leave."

I am getting angry.

"I don't want it to look like we are closed when we are still open," she continues. I guess me going downstairs to pick up a blue binder would somehow signify to the world that we are closed, while  scrubbing the line and wiping down the stove in our open kitchen is screaming to customers "Come in, we're open!"

"Did I do something wrong?" I ask. "Because all I did was ask to go get the book to start filling in names. We haven't had anyone in here for 45 minutes."

"Well, it's just-"

"Because I don't see how me getting the book four minutes before closing is any different than you breaking down the line," I continue.

"Well, we need to be busier late at night," she tells me

I am still trying to figure out how that affects me. Does she want me to wear a fucking sandwich board in front of the restaurant? Would she like me to telephone people at random and just let them know, "Hey, we're still open in case you're wondering." Or maybe I should tell the guests who come in at 7:00 that they should go home and come back in three hours. None of this is my fault or my problem. She was just being snippy because she sees profits dwindling and she can't be mean to the economy but she can be mean to me. And if she wants there to be more customers then maybe she should look into Groupon. Oh wait, she doesn't want to do that. Or maybe have a happy hour. Oh wait, she doesn't want to do that either. If I thought she would listen to me, I would suggest that he offers 15% off to anyone who comes in after 9:00. I think that is a great idea, but what do I know? I'm just a waiter.

I punch out and go home and then debate whether or not I should blog about this on the off chance that she reads it. Obviously, I decide to write it. Nothing I have said here is wrong. I even gave some handy dandy suggestions on how she could gain more customers. I kinda know a little bit about pimping oneself out for the sake of more followers and it's not any different than getting more customers. Maybe she is reading this and when I get back to work, she will want to discuss it with me. I will cross that bridge when I come to it but before I cross the bridge, I think I am supposed to answer three questions from the troll who lives under it. So let me answer those now and get it out of the way:

Yes, the Chicken Caesar salad has chicken in it.

No, I do not have another "real job" because this one seems real enough.

We close at 11:00.

Wish me luck on this post. I might be digging my own grave but as long as the grave has a mini-bar, I'm good.



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27 comments:

Julie Page said...

Right on! I hope your manager does pick up one or two of those wonderful suggestions! We actually were closing early due to non volume one night and wouldn't ya know it .. the entire mall suddenly wanted to eat at our restaurant instead of the food court!

Rita said...

I had to laugh out loud (spelled it out to give you props) We "JUST SERVERS.. have all encountered.. the "know it all manager" who wants you to re-clean the coffee station AFTER she JUST watched you clean it!!! I realized NO MANAGER is going ot take advice from a server... So keep ur ideas in ur pocket and when u FINALLY get rich enough to open ur own BISTRO.. Use them to ur ADVANTAGE!! LOL... Keep writing... Don't ever hold BACK!!! Love ur BLOGS!!

California Girl said...

Bosses...meh!

Your suggestions make sense. Funny how other restaurants can do some or all of those things and not appear cheapened. It gives incentive to someone who's wanted to try the place that extra little push.

Ellen S said...

I really like the late night suggestion. That would be a cool way to cater to the post college age croud in a restaurant that sees mostly blue hairs. I'll mention it to the sous chef that's always whining that he wants to cook for people his age.

www.DiatribesAndOvations.com said...

Clearly, your manager has no life. Let's all pity her.

anne marie in philly said...

your boss is a douche.

chacha1 said...

That is the kind of passive-aggressive crap that gives bosses in every business a bad name.

Seriously. If you need more late-night business then you have to do a late-night promotion. I'm not even in that business and I could think of half a dozen ways to pull people in for a late dinner.

Simply keeping your wait staff standing around doing nothing is not going to bring in more business.

Anonymous said...

A moldy douche of a boss at that
~PolishSpring

Alex said...

Haven't you blogged this exact post before?

Jaime said...

I know how you feel! I was the bartender every Sunday night, and at closing, part of my sidework was to take all the liquor bottles off the shelves behind the bar, clean the shelves, and arrange the bottles by category on the bar top so that inventory could be done more easily Monday morning. The manager would always tell me not to do it until all Guests were gone from the bar side (which I never did anyway). Understandably, he didn't want to give the impression that we were rushing them out. This is the very same manager who, almost EVERY night he closed, would turn off the music and turn up the lights when there were 2 or 3 tables left. Made no sense to me.

Anonymous said...

I could swear that I read this exact post word-for-word a couple of months ago...? Still, I feel your pain; I remember those nights!

JoeinVegas said...

Sure glad you got home, wrote this and posted it instead of writing it and not posting it. I guess you do that sometimes.
No idea how to bring people in late, your suggestions sound like a start. I too have a boss who watches the clock, and makes sure you aren't getting ready to leave before the company time ends.

sparky01gt said...

If more managers had any actual training or business acumen and weren't just the people who went the longest without quitting, they'd be able to do cost/benefit analyses. Then they'd probably realize that just closing an hour earlier is the best business decision they could make. But if you're going to be open long past when 90% of people eat dinner then you better offer something to bring people in. late night Happy Hour with appetizer deals can work, or change the entire vibe of the place, crank some rock music and hire a half naked girl to dance on the bar. Whatever it takes, the only thing you CAN'T do is NOTHING and expect to get different results.

Anonymous said...

I think 15% off after 9pm is a great idea. But, what would I know? I'm not a manager. Managers are special people.They must be musn't they? Being oca manager and all... Robyn Qld AU

... said...

The thought of you wearing a sandwich board while cold-calling potential patrons nearly caused me to wet myself laughing. And yes, your boss should offer some sort of incentive for dining after 10pm. After tax and tip, that would leave customers with enough money to buy lots of Maalox to combat the heartburn they'll have because they ate so close to bedtime. :)

Degreed Waitress said...

The concept of a late-night incentive scares the hell out of me. Our restaurant never fails to have a regular-time pop of normal guests for lunch or dinner and then, once that has died down, a late-shift pop of solely ghetto, trashy guests. It's a terrible experience.

LAB said...

The restaurant I work at offers half off appetizers after 9PM, so we always get the assholes who come in ten minutes before close. But hey, that's an extra $2 in my pocket for being stuck there for another 45 minutes!

Anonymous said...

I am so lucky sometimes. If it's dead and getting near closing time, the kitchen will normally call it or the bartender will send me home and tell stragglers that the dining room is closed but they can sit in the bar area (we have tables there) and he/she will take care of them.

Our owner HATES paying us to stand around (understandably, we make more than industry standard since we make our own drinks) so we don't have to deal with stuff like that.

lee said...

i once went to a sandwich shop that i knew closed at 9:00 because i had been there before. so i wondered why my friends and i were getting nasty looks when we were there at 8:15. finally at 8:30, we left. on the way out, i saw a sign on the inside of the window stating they would close at 7:30 on thursdays. why not put it on the outside of the window so it could be seen as we walked in? i know those people cussed me when i left, but wasn't intentional. if i'd known they were closed, i'd have gotten it to go.

Elizabeth Seiber said...

Glad I'm not the only one who noticed this!

J.B. said...

I knew it looked familiar!!

maxi said...

This has definitely been posted before! The restaurant I used to work at was a chain place and the manager routinely used to close early if it was dead, it saved the company money. Now I work at this posh place and we are open to 11 every night. It's a pain in the ass. Who the hell wants to eat dinner at 10.30 on a sunday night???

Beefcake said...

I've been reading your blog for most of the week now. Love it.

This post rang true to my establishment tonight. We closed, though the manager on duty didn't actually know what time our restaurant closed. WTF?

We were cooking over an hour after close because she's dumb and I know the servers had to stay late, and I bet they were thinking somewhat of the same things.

If you gather anything out of my comment, please just let it be this.

Fuck management.

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Anonymous said...

So funny, just a week ago our owner changed our closing time to 10:05 instead of 10 because "we don't want people to have the door slammed in their face when they come in late"

I would like to know A) who is slamming the door in customers' faces so I can buy them a drink and B) why the door is able to slam at 10:00, but not at 10:05?

At some point, having a full kitchen running and staff on the clock (not, of course, referring to waitstaff but to kitchen staff who make real hourly) starts to work against you IF NO ONE IS COMING IN.

My boss also refuses to do drink specials, promotions, or discounts but complains about lack of business.

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