I have used a lot of this page to moan and complain about everything I hated about working in a restaurant my entire life and noticed that I really haven’t talked about many positives on here but what’s the fun in that, right?
Has its Moments
I will say that working in a restaurant (especially managing/owning) does have a few aspects about it that makes it very unique and sometimes very entertaining to work in. This is going to sound really bad and my dad would be very ashamed if he were to read this but one thing that is awesome about working in a restaurant is you pretty much have an open bar whenever you would like.
Now I promise I am not an alcoholic and I would never have more than 2 or 3 drinks during a shift, but after a long Saturday night it is amazing how therapeutic a cocktail or two can be.
There really aren’t many jobs out there where it is as acceptable to have a drink while you are on the clock.
This is of course assuming you can handle your liquor and know what you can handle. I have fired multiple employees during my time who have gotten a little too excited about being able to have a shot or two while working and this has always been my no exceptions rule when I was in charge. I was a pretty easy going boss as far as most managers go but that was one thing I did not put up with. If you are drinking behind the bar and you mess up just once then you are done; no questions asked.
Earlier I mentioned a friend of mine, Mike, who works for a gutter company and I talked a little bit about how his work life is much different than mine. This goes for any other industry really. Anyone you talk to who has a decent amount of experience in working in a restaurant will tell you the same thing and I thought this would be a good time to compare and look at a few of these differences to give you a idea idea of where I am coming from.
Yesterday I talked about turnover and a couple reasons why it is so much higher for restaurants than other businesses. A big reason for this is because you really don’t need any formal training or education to work in a restaurant. Because of this, I have seen countless people come on board and start working only to realize after a few days that they are absolutely not cut out to work in a restaurant and the reasons for this are numerous.
So Mike works for this company at www.elitegutterco.com and he is an “team manager” for them. This pretty much means he oversees the jobs they do on site and just makes sure everything is going smooth.
Unlike my restaurant, Mike needs to make sure that people have the right certifications and qualifications very closely to make sure that everyone they hire is qualified and can do the job. The majority of the work they do involves having to put on rain gutters on peoples’ homes and sometimes installing durable guards for gutters which are just there to protect leaves and what not from piling up in them.
For the most part, Mike has told me that his job is extremely boring and mostly consists of him pacing around the house while his workers do all of the work. Very rarely does he need to step in and do any actual work.
Ohhhh how glorious does this sound…
So as a manager in a restaurant, you constantly have servers, bussers, bartenders, cooks, and every other position rushing to you at all times needing something to be done. Whether this is handling guest complaints, arguments with servers, or fixing incorrect orders sent it, all of this comes at you full force and you are 100% responsible in finding the remedy to them all.
Generally speaking, a lot of employees that work in restaurants are very hard to work with and rely on their manager to make everything better when something goes wrong. Sometimes I wish I would have went on the same path as Mike…
Now that I have touched on bartending, I think I have talked about all of the “main” positions of a restaurant and anyone can get these jobs. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need any formal training or certifications to be a server, bartender, or any position really that you see in a normal restaurant. You either need to know someone or have decent experience if you want to get hired at a new place.
As a result of this lack of need of any training or school, the employee turnover rate at a restaurant is considerably higher than other fields of work. Click here to get some stats on what I mean by this.
This is just the first of an enormous list of annoying things that come along with being a restaurant manager. With every new hire or termination, the paperwork doesn’t end and at the end of the year there are literally hundreds of W-2 forms that never get mailed where they are supposed to and it is a huge headache.
Well, there are a few reasons that make the turnover rates so high in restaurants. One thing is that the majority of people who work in a restaurant are nuts and job hop all over the place. Pretty much every restaurant is the same and if you can work well in one you can most likely work in them all.
Of all the positions in a restaurant, bartending definitely has the best reputation, and I can’t even count how many interviews I have done where the applicant has never bartended before and this is something they dream about.
They picture movies like Cocktail and just have this vision of being the cool guy in the room and life of the party.
I will say that bartending is probably the most fun and entertaining of all the positions, but after about a week or two it is just like the rest of them.
Same **** Different Toilet…
Bartending is very similar to serving in regards to dealing with the animal guests that come in but kind of in a different way.
When you are a server, most of the complaints and problems you come across usually have to do with food taking too long or something like that where it’s almost never the server’s fault if they are halfway decent at their job.
When bartending, a lot of the things you have to deal with are people too drunk to even know where they are and are just as much of a pain as anyone else.
Anything and everything I complain about on here by the way is always assuming that the server or employee is good at their job. I know and understand that this is most certainly not always the case and there are definitely people who are working in the industry that shouldn’t be, but that’s another story and can almost always be distinguished.
Going to continue on from yesterday’s post as far as servers taking the majority of all the abuse from customers even if it is totally out of their control.
Being a server or working for a restaurant in general is not for the weak of heart. You really do need to have pretty thick skin to be able to handle your cool, especially at a busy restaurant.
People Don’t Understand
So remember the buddy I mentioned a few days ago who worked in a calm, cool, and collected place like the one below?
Well I was talking to him today about life and the topic of getting yelled at by customers came up and he was absolutely shocked at some of the things I have been called and even the things I have had thrown at me while bartending.
Don’t worry; I will get to that on here eventually.
When I went down the absolutely infinite list of horrible things I have had yelled at me, he proceeded to tell me that he legitimately cannot think of one moment of working his construction jobs that he has ever been yelled at or even talked down to by a customer.
I can’t even imagine what it would be like walking into work and not mentally preparing yourself for the mental anguish you are inevitably going to be getting all night.
When I started talking about being a server yesterday, I briefly mentioned the misery that accompanies it but didn’t have a chance to dive in so I am going head first in on this one.
There have been countless books, blogs, forums, and everything else you could think of made out there from bitter servers and bartenders and I am going to jump on that bandwagon because please trust me when I say this; they are all true.
For anyone out there reading this who has never worked in a restaurant before, please carefully study everything I post on this whole thing, because you all need a reality check and a slap in the face.
Don’t Care. It’s Your Fault
This might come as a shock to a lot of you but pay attention because it’s true. Your server does not make your bar drinks, they usually don’t seat the door, and they MOST CERTAINLY don’t cook your food.
So when any of the above isn’t going exactly how you dreamed it would when you walked through the doors to this magical restaurant where everyone is DYING to kiss your feet and worship the ground your dumb feet walk on with a smile on their face, DON’T IMMEDIATELY BLAME THE SERVER.
They have NO CONTROL over pretty much everything I just listed and unless you see your server standing at a server station flirting with some co-workers, please use common sense and show a little bit of compassion.
Now granted, there definitely are servers who aren’t good at their job and spend a lot of time messing around but it is painfully obvious when this is the case and unless you are 5 years old, you should be able to tell the difference.
I really didn’t mind being a cook. Sure it was stressful but you never really had to interact with guests which was alright by me.
So out of all the positions that I have worked during the years, and I have done them all, serving and bartending have to be at the top as far as misery goes.
Why is every single picture of a restaurant so deceiving?
Gotta Be Quick
I really can only remember one or two of my close friends growing up that worked in the restaurant industry like me. Most of my other friends went the traditional routes and either went to college for some corporate office job, or learned some sort of trade for the blue collar working world.
I remember one of my friends worked for some construction or roofing company out of high school and I always envied him so much. Listen and take note of the guys tone of voice from this company:
Nice and calm right? My friend didn’t work for this company specifically but just to give you an idea of what I mean.
When you are working as a server for a busy restaurant, there is not a moment of anything close to being this calm when the waves of customers keep pouring through the door.
There wasn’t a day that passed by where I didn’t daydream about cleaning up a roof with my buddy during a cool breezy summer day as some fat monster is asking me why her well done steak is taking longer than 10 minutes to cook.
After hosting for a few months and actually having to deal with customers, I thought it was time for a little break from them and to learn a little bit about what goes on in the kitchen. My father was happy to put me on the schedule and get to training.
Not For Everyone
For anyone that has never worked in a busy kitchen before let me be the first to tell you, it is not easy.
Don’t let this cheerful looking fat man fool you. This is not a career choice for the light hearted or those who crack under pressure.
Think about how many tables are in a nice big restaurant. Now think about the line of people out the window. Now think about 5 or 6 guys crammed in a kitchen the size of a big walk in closet cooking full course meals for every single person in said nice big restaurant and you have no more than 15 minutes to get every single plate out of that kitchen.
Different Kind of People
So even though you really don’t have to interact with guests when you’re working in the kitchen, you definitely still have some people you have to deal with and sometimes they are more psychotic than the customers.
These psychos are the servers and other staff in the restaurant. Let me say that I know serving is difficult and bad cooks can make their lives miserable and trust me I will get into that later on here, but I have noticed that servers never look at anything outside of their own head and I will get into that next.
So as a host the majority of restaurants out there take reservations and the concept is pretty simple to grasp, right?
Well at my father’s restaurant, we did not take reservations but we did take something we called “call ahead seating.” So the idea behind this is that we couldn’t guarantee a table when you and your party arrives, but if we are on a wait you will be bumped up to the next table to get sat which should never be more than 10 minutes at an absolute maximum. The amount of times I had to explain this on the phone over and over again to people is enough to make anyone go insane.
So I am curious, does anyone reading this not understand what I mean by this? Is this not perfectly clear? Well, it sure as hell wasn’t clear to at least one group of people every night and guess who was always at the front line of getting yelled at for not having a table ready even though they made “reservations.”
This really was probably the worst part of hosting at my father’s restaurant and if I had known that this was NOTHING compared to the kind of abuse I was about to be taking for basically the rest of my life from angry customers, I probably would have ran away and never came back.
So after bussing for a few months and getting an introduction to how my father ran his restaurant, he decided it was time to keep my training going by adding me to the schedule of hosts in addition to my bussing. Hosting and bussing are usually the two positions that most people start off doing when they first start working in a restaurant and really probably are the easiest of all the positions.
Not Sure What it Is
I think most people would agree that there is something very strange about people when they go out to eat. I really don’t know what it is, but when people walk into a restaurant they immediately feel a huge sense of entitlement and everyone who works at the restaurant better be ready to get on their hands and knees and start kissing their feet or there will be hell to pay.
Let me say that I will probably sound like I hate the entire human race a lot on this thing and I really don’t mean to lump all people together as the monsters I will be talking about. I know there are a few of you out there who know treat employees with respect. Also keep in mind that I am not this jaded for no reason at all.
So it Begins…
Starting to host is when I got my first glimpse of this. I never really had to deal with people much as a busser but this quickly changed as I was about to be the first person guests see when they walk in.