Wednesday, September 20, 2006
No More Ties for Restaurant Girl
After a night staging, some intensive food and wine training, and my first night on the floor at the New Restaurant, I am happy to report that Restaurant Girl is no longer being choked by a tie, the great waiterly de-humanizer. I forgot what a difference it makes to not have a tie around your neck in your comfort level when waiting tables.
The New Restaurant is a self-proclaimed "not-hip spot," which automatically makes it cool. The groovy owners, who all hail from San Francisco or its outlying areas are "not slicksters," as one of them says, and what this comes through as is a restaurant that's well-designed with a decided lack of pretense. Everything's organic but they don't advertise the fact, they just let the food speak for itself. And last night, on a Tuesday, in a reduced section (two tables), I made the same amount of money as I'd made last Friday night at the foundering ship. Sigh of relief.
The way the New Restaurant does its training is really nice. I came in to stage on a Sunday night (and wasn't paid for my five hours of foodrunning, unless you count a truly delicious dinner and cocktail ordered off the menu at the bar after my shift) and then returned the next day after being offered a position to meet with the owners and review restaurant philosophies and policies, which happily are in line with my ideas on how a restaurant should be run; ie. open doors to management, building sustainable communities through feeding people and being a positive force as a business in the neighborhood you've chosen, and making sure the employees are happy.
I returned to taste through the whole wine-by-the glass list yesterday at 3pm, and then went through computer training (the Restaurant uses one of the most up-to-date and user-friendly systems that's available) before starting the shift. The kitchen puts up just about one of every dish at every line-up, so the waiters can taste it all before they start. They also put up a nice staff meal at 11pm...a welcome change from the new kitchen at the Old Restaurant, who didn't allow the waiters to taste anything (costs too much to feed us vultures the fancy stuff the guests get?) and sometimes put up leftovers that were too disgusting to sell before the shift started (old tapioca pearls from last week's soup, anyone?). Sometimes a salad was put up (no protein was offered in the two weeks since I'd been back from South America) but the chef put most of it on a plate for the "vegan" floor manager ("vegan" in parenthesis because when a meat dish was infrequently put up for the staff to taste, this floor manager would be the first one elbowing you out of the way with their fork, to "know what the food tasted like").
It's easy to tell how a restaurant feels about its waiters by the way they feed them. After all, restaurants are in the business of feeding people. So if a restaurant feeds its staff, happily and with good quality food, you can bet it's a place where all the staff is happy.