Let it Go!!!

images

A woman walks into a bar.

“Hey.  I was here about a year ago and you had this drink on the menu with fresh blueberries.  Can you still make it?”

The bartender says, “No, I’m sorry.  We took it off the menu so we don’t have the ingredients anymore to make it.”

The woman says, “Well, I’m sure you can improvise.  Can’t you just make me something close to it?”

No.  No I cannot.  Do you want to know why?  We don’t have blueberries.  Do you want to know why?  WE TOOK THE DRINK OFF THE MENU!!!!

The bartender in real life says, “Sure.”

Folks… times change.  People change (sort of).  Restaurant menus change mostly according to product pricing and seasonal changes.  And bar menus change.  They change because you were the ONLY one who liked that drink last year with the muddled blueberries, rubbing-alcohol vodka, and fresh-squeezed overly-sweetened lemonade.  Real talk: no one likes to chew their drinks.  That’s why it’s called food AND drink.  Not food WITH drink.

If you don’t see what you want on the menu, change your expectations.  Don’t ask a bartender to recreate (or worse… improvise) a very specific drink and taste you remember from any night more than a month ago if it wasn’t the bartender that made it in the first place.  I don’t remember what I ordered for Chinese take out last week.  I’m not going to be able to recreate a drink you had a YEAR ago.  You’ll wind up not liking it, my manager will have to comp it off your check, and then I’ll be ACTUALLY snarky to you as opposed to being generally snarky to you which comes across as witty.

Take a note from the Dread Pirate Roberts: “Get used to disappointment.”

You Might Be A Douche… (Part 1)

images

Who doesn’t love a good Jeff Foxworthy “redneck” skit?  Well, to honor that I would like to start my own little list.  The following are things that send red flags shooting in every direction for most bartenders.  They make us slump our shoulders, take a deep sigh, and close our eyes for a few seconds to calm down the stupid.  This list will be on-going.  Here are the first ten of “You might be a douche…”

1:  You walk into a bar.  There are 16 empty, clean bar stools to choose from and you sit at the 17th bar stool – the only bar stool that still has an empty plate and glass from it’s previous occupant at it.  Whyyyy???

2:  You walk into a bar.  The entire bar is clean and empty.  And you ponder for a good five to eight minutes over where to sit.  It’s just a chair.  You won’t find a golden ticket under it.  Sit down.

3:  You sit down.  You may talk with your friends for a few minutes.  The bartender asks you what you would like to drink.  Your answer can include, “Just water for now,” “May I see a drink list?” or “What do you have on tap?”  Your answer can NOT include, “Gosh, I don’t know.”  You.  Are at.  A bar.  Really??

4:  You sit down.  The bartender says, “Hi!  How are you?”  And you answer with the description of a food or beverage item.  So sorry.  I don’t think you heard me.  “HI!  HOW ARE YOU??”

5:  You sit down.  You’re on your phone.  I’m telling you right now the bartender won’t even go over to you.  Give the seat to someone who’s ready to order and spend money.  If you’re conducting business, good for you.  I’m sure you have a lovely office.

6:  You order a Bloody Mary any day other than a Saturday or a Sunday.

7:  You order a Bloody Mary ANY day after 4:00 pm.

8:  You ask for blue cheese stuffed olives with your martini.  The bartender tells you that the bar doesn’t carry them.  You ask the bartender to make them for you.  Sure.  Let me drop absolutely everything I’m doing so I can go slap on some latex and shove some mold into a fruit that’s been marinating in a jar of it’s own juices for God knows how long so you can have a free appetizer with your glass of gin.

9:  You order “an extra extra dirty martini.”  And then send it back because it’s too dirty.

And a personal favorite:

10:  You sit down and order… nothing.  I don’t care if you’re waiting for a friend, or waiting for to-go food, or waiting to speak to the owner of the company.  Ask me for a soda, or get the fuck up.

To be continued…

 

Closing Time

images

The last half hour of a bartender’s shift is the most anxiety-ridden time of our day.  There is one thing that we all fear: the straggler.  Nothing is worse than having it be ten minutes to closing and having a few people wander in looking around like they just landed in Oz.  If it has been a busy night and you feel a little beat up, all you want to do is finish up with the patrons that are already there, clean up, count your tips, maybe have a beer, and go home.  If it has been a slow night, you ONLY want to go home.  So your clean up and tip counting is done early because when the manager locks that front door, you can punch out and fly out the back door.

But then… your hopes and dreams are crushed.  Because an Uber just let out Malibu Ken and Barbie at the front door and they look like they’re about to write the next chapter of a Nora Roberts novel.  Little do they know you’re about to tell them that the kitchen is closed, no you cannot recommend a “fun” drink, and you respond with one word answers when asked how your night went.  Their Nora Roberts novel just went the way of Thomas Hardy.  A good rule of thumb, regardless of the establishment, either know when the bar closes before going in OR be sensible enough to take the hint that it’s time to get the hell out.

A man (lets name him Bob) that was hosting a private event in the restaurant finished with his party and after saying goodbye to his guests, came to sit at the bar.  I gave Bob a beer, and he informed me that he was just waiting on someone to meet him.  This was a good hour before closing so I wasn’t too worried.  Twenty minutes later, another man (lets name him Bill) joined him.  They clearly hadn’t seen each other in a long time, and I wasn’t convinced that this wasn’t a secret romance reunited.  Nevertheless Bill ordered a beer and the two continued to talk.  About a half hour later, Bob received a phone call and went to a nearby table to take the call.  I continued to clean up and soon it was closing time.  Fifteen minutes after closing time, Bill asked me what time the restaurant closed.  I told him and after an embarrassed look at his watch he apologized for the hour and explained that Bob was on a phone call to China.  I told him I still had work to do so he could hang out while I finished.  A few minutes later Bob got off the phone and returned to the bar.  He said he hadn’t realized what time we closed and asked for one more round.  In a moment of weakness I said okay and gave them another round.  They paid immediately once they received their drinks.  That was the good news.

Bill and Bob stayed and chatted for another two hours.  Two.  Hours.

Bill and Bob are assholes.  Don’t be like Bill and Bob.

 

SMILE

Unknown

Servers and bartenders are constantly on stage.  We perform and entertain while providing a service to a paying audience.  Instead of applause we are rewarded (or should I say judged) with money.  In a way, our job is harder than a stage performer’s because we need to read every situation independently to assess the level of entertainment needed.  Are these ladies looking to maximize their afternoon fantasies while their kids are in school?  Are these men on lunch hour blowing off steam or is this a working lunch?  Is this woman buried in her book wanting to finish a chapter before book club or is she using the book as a cover and is actually not reading a single word on the page?  It takes all kinds.  If we are lucky, the audience will return and reward us with more accolades i.e. money.  Maybe this is why so many people in the industry are in the theater business?  And there is nothing more difficult than shaking off a bad performance.  But you swallow the bad taste in your mouth (grin and bare it… if you will) and move on remembering that every guest is a new opportunity to make someone’s day a little brighter.  Because in all honestly, it’s really not about the money.  At the end of the day if you are good at your job, then you will be rewarded.

I have had plenty of people say to me, “Smile!” or, “You should smile more!” or, “Don’t take yourself so seriously!”  The pressure of working full time, or going to school full time, or making sure your bills are paid on time, or making sure your family is provided for sometimes creeps into your brain and takes over your facial expressions.  Sometimes for no reason at all you zone into oblivion and just need to be snapped back to Earth.  Maybe your friends are blowing up your phone making it hard to concentrate forcing you to shut off your phone completely.  Whatever the reason, people never hesitate to tell a service professional that they should be happier.

The other day i had just finished carrying two full cases of wine stacked on top of each other up two flights of stairs.  To my great relief, I managed to get them behind the bar and on the floor safely.  As I opened the boxes and started putting the wine away I heard a voice saying something behind me.

“Excuse me?” I said as I turned around.

“Smile!  It’s not that bad!”

“Oh I’m fine!  It’s all good!”

“Well you’re putting those wine bottles away with this, ‘Ugh!’ expression on your face!  Lighten up!”

“Oh of course!  No worries!” with a smile and a ‘hahaha’ is what actually came out of my mouth.

What I wanted to say:  “I didn’t realize that you expected a rendition of ‘Make ’em Laugh’ while my BACK was to you.  I’m completing a requirement of my job that is actually benefiting you in that I’m making sure this bar is supplied with more of that overpriced sludge that you’re chugging.  I just carried 70 pounds of wine up two flights of stairs.  Maybe if you tried to lift something heavier than a glass from time to time you’d be able to go out to a bar in something other than an over-sized Hawaiian shirt with a stain on the collar.”

That last part was just me being mean.  But… honestly!!!

“You’re Too Smart for This.”

The restaurant and bar I called home for 15 years has recently closed.  It was eight bittersweet weeks of memories, tears, and goodbyes.

It was also eight weeks of, “So what’s next for you?” and “Are you going to be okay?”

Every bartender has a shelf life, and I had already been working on a game plan for my future.  So when I reassured the inquirers that I would be okay, I was confronted with, “Good.  You’re too smart for this business.”

What do you think I DO for a living??

I count, calculate, evaluate, and record the bar’s weekly ending inventory and costs including variances and costs of goods sold.  I actually helped to design the Excel program that monitors all the restaurant data including inventory costs, expense reports, and invoices.  I order product and receive weekly invoices for all bar products including beer, wine, liquor, and dry storage goods.  I work with vendors to implement new product and to keep our wine and drink menus current.  I help to hire, schedule, and oversee a staff of ten bartenders and close to fifty servers including their new hire paperwork, training, incident reports, write-ups, and terminations.  I organize training data, cleaning schedules, and staff meetings.  Oh, yeah.  And the restaurant averages about $6 million a year.  The bar alone brings in on average about 22% of that number.  During my time at this job I obtained an Associate’s Degree in Accounting, a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration, and two professional certifications in Transcription and Paralegal Studies.  I also paid for half of my wedding myself, traveled internationally three times, and bought a house.

So I’ll make you a deal.  You don’t underestimate my level of intelligence, and I won’t overestimate your level of tact.

 

What’s that smell?

A woman holding a baby walks up to a bench outside a restaurant.  Directly above the bench is a series of open windows.  Directly inside the windows is the restaurant filled with people enjoying their meals and having relaxing conversations.

The woman proceeds to put her baby down on the bench and change its diaper.

For the love of all things holy… WHY???

Where Are We?

I apologize for the absence… WordPress and I had some miscommunications.

Onwards…

Guest: “Hey, is this a full rack of ribs on your menu?”

Snarky: “Yes it is.”

Guest: “Are they… like… Outback Steakhouse ribs?”

After a blank stare and a long pause…

Snarky: “I have to say no, since we aren’t in an Outback Steakhouse.”