Tuesday, February 1, 2011

restaurant hostess

Today, someone found by blog by googling, "is it hard to be a first time hostess at applebees" {sic}. Now I haven't been a hostess at Applebee's, but I have bitched about that establishment and worked as a hostess at other establishments, which in my eyes makes me an expert. So let me tell you why being a hostess sucks. There are many reasons, but I'll touch on the main ones:

1. The list checkers:
It's either a bitchy middle-aged woman asking "am I still on the list?" or sending her husband to ask the same question. Yes, you're on the fucking list. I didn't shred it: it's sitting right here like it has been the whole time. It's called capacity: we're at it. There are no empty tables to put you at, trust me: if there were, I'd be happy to rid my lobby of you.

2. The detectives:
These are the people who think seating is one big conspiracy against them. They are always sure that the person you just sat arrived after they did. Well guess what: they didn't. I quoted you a 30 minute wait, and you can just sit tight, before I do shred the list your name is on.

3. The empty table argument:
There are inevitably people who point out to you that there are tables that no one is sitting at. What these people don't understand is that a table does not come with service. Yes, there is an empty table in the corner - the table that rats have chewed most of the cushion off of. Be my guest and sit at it. No server is going to come help you, because we have seven servers and seventy tables. I'm a realist: you, apparently, are not.

4. The conspiracy theory servers:
Nearly as bad as the guests are the servers. If you're not dating them, they think you're screwing them (no pun intended). They will come up and ask why you are you giving them all the families with kids or foreigners or teenagers who don't tip, or the ugly young people. They think you hate them and you are ruining their night by not giving them all Wall Street brokers in pinstripe suits who order seven scotches. I tried telling them I was following a simple rotation: first Jen, then Diane, then Mitch. It's not some sort of restaurant science where I consider the square root of the number of guests multiplied by the number of servers divided by the date, eeny meeny miny mo and end up at table 12. Trust me, if I had those kind of skills, I wouldn't be a hostess in the first place.

5. The to-go orderers who don't tip:
Now things have changed a bit since I was in the biz; many places now have a to-go person and door and phone number and logo and federal ID# just for call-in orders. It's basically its own restaurant for impatient types like me who aren't going to wait around an hour for a buzzer to go off. But before all these advances in technology, the hostess answered the phone. The phone calls consist of the same three calls: 1) What are your hours? (2) Do you take reservations? (3) Can I place a to-go order? Oh, and the collector calls for Mitch, but caller ID was around back then.

To go orders were like my tables - the only tips I received. I made sure the orders were perfect: I put in plasticware and mints and made sure I got the freshest bread and put au jus in ramekins for all eight prime ribs. I bitched out the cook on your behalf about the temperature being wrong. And then you stiffed me. You signed your credit card receipt with just a dash through the tip line. Well fuck you. I'll remember you next time, cheapskate. I do have caller ID, you know.

You're spending $25 for a slab of prime rib and can't even give me a dollar per plate? Outside of drink orders, the service you get from a server is taking your order and delivering your correct food. That's service worthy of at least a fucking dollar. A dollar so I can buy myself a McChicken on the way home while you eat your fancy prime rib. If you didn't want to tip, you should have stopped at a place with a drive-thru window like I will be forced to based on your stinginess.

6. Whew, that last one took a lot out of me. A bit of a soap box, as you can see. It's been seven years, but I remember being stiffed like it was yesterday. What an insult. My hourly rate of pay is nothing worth noting, so the least you can do is give me a fucking bill. Any bill. OK, onto #6) Collecting:
Most don't, but a few restaurants require servers to tip out their hostesses. So at the end of your shift, you are walking around with an open palm, hoping for alms for the poor. Servers think they're better than hostess, so they will turn up their noses and walk quickly to the back for their fiftieth cigarette of the night. But when you do catch one, you would think you're asking for a kidney, not five bucks. They're still pissed that you gave them a couple with an infant and ask you for change on a five. That's when you forcefully flick a penny in their face and say that's all the tips you made on to-go orders, and that's only because it dropped out of someone's pocket. "There's your fucking change!"

Like I said in the beginning, those are only the main reasons. I could regale you with stories of sleazy managers and teenagers coming back, this time sans parents and asking if you found a sandwich bag full of..um..medicine after they left. I could tell you about the drunk people who spill their cosmos and then point out that you should clean it up - someone could slip. People love to bitch to you about the quality or quantity of toilet paper or paper towels in the bathrooms. But those aren't the big six.

So after hearing the main reasons being a hostess sucks, my advice for you, ghost IP address from somewhere in the Midwest, is this: skip the hostess shit and go for the big time: serving. That's where the tips are good and you can act like a total bitch to the lowly hostess who ended up in the spot you just narrowly avoided. The manager will tell you you need experience, and being a hostess first is your best way to end up a server. That's when you unbutton your shirt and say you're only interested in the big time. Let me know how it turns out.

10 comments:

Karen F. said...

Holly, this made me laugh out loud........I am proud to say I have never pestered my hostess by continually asking about my table or worrying who came in before or after me. I have on occasion ( only when I'm with my friend Lori) been known to be M.I.A. When our table has come up since we're in the bar reminiscing about the last time we frequented this same place and ordered the same exact drink and sat at the same table ( it gets even more funny with drink #2).

Thanks for your stroll down "memory lane" recounting your hostess horror stories............very funny!

holly said...

Karen F: my bitchy alter ego was out in full force last night. She might be around to stay for awhile.

That is not an annoyance being at the bar when your table is called. Anything to keep people out of the lobby! And drinks=happy guests. When they're happy, I'm happy (OK, in theory. That's how it's SUPPOSED to work).

Karen F. said...

I can recall a really rude, nasty hostess one time at Chili's. She was sort of the restaurant Nazi, made everyone uncomfortable. Believe me NO ONE bothered her, we all sat quietly like children afraid to speak too loudly. Perhaps she was having a horrible night, but have to say, never returned to that particular Chili's! I'm sure you were NOTHING like that!

Kimberly said...

Hey Holly, so I don't know anything about being a hostess or a waitress- and I thank God that I don't. Your post is hysterical and make me laugh. But what I really wanted to say was that your new profile picture is beautiful:)

Lindsey said...

I've been a hostess at an Irish pub for two years now, and also at an organic, Greek owned, American cuisine restaurant for about 6 months. I can relate to every one of your "top 6" (and be able to add quite a few more, also.)
I'm only 19, but have had my fair share of experiences in the restaurant business, causing me to change my major in school from hospitality management to Journalism. I would spend too much time writing and telling stories about people I've met in my restaurant than actually managing it.
This blog entry is perfect. So, kudos.

holly said...

Lindsey - good call on the major change. Your parents might not agree with me, but I'm a firm believer in following what you love to do. I changed my major in college to English.

Good luck on your story telling - whether it be a book, short stories, poems or a blog: get your stories written down and someone will read them.

Anonymous said...

I love this blog, so true. I work as a hostess right now, and everything you said, is 100% on the money.

Matthew said...

I'm a former waiter who, after I left the restaurant business, refused to tip on take-out orders...I felt like since I picked up the food and left with it, why should I tip? After reading this, I am a shamed convert. I will def tip on take-outs from now on. This is a brilliant blog!

Johnny C said...

Funny as hell! But no wonder you're pissed...you live in Nebraska. JC

Anonymous said...

I love reading an article that vents all my frustrations lol I relate to this 100% nothing I do is ever right as a hostess and I'd love to add more annoying things people do-

1. People "pretending" to hand me their keys as they're leaving knowing damn well applebees doesn't have valet parking.
2. Servers yelling at you in front of customers to the point the customers apologized to me about what I deal with.
3. Customers completely ignoring me as a human being and only responding with grunts or lazy hand motions (not deaf people obviously I make sure before I assume)
4. Getting yelled at by servers because a customer requests a table other than where I intended on putting them! Omg they even ask the customers if they really did request that table to make sure we didn't lie or something.
5. The "really?" when I tell customers we're on an hour long wait. No I am not lying. I know it's crazy.
6. The "this is okay I guess" by the mostly older rich ladies when I seat them somewhere. It happens a lot more than you'd think lol it just really irks me for some reason. I can go on forever but I'll stop there. It's awesome having a place to vent about a job not many can relate to!!