Sunday, September 17, 2006
Polished and Shining
Like rats deserting a sinking ship, all of the waiters at The Restaurant are quietly putting their other options in order. While I can't (and shouldn't) speak for other people's projects; ie how they are going to tactfully remove themselves from a Restaurant that has been suffering under mis-management for a year, I can speak for myself.
I have been staging (pronounced in the Frenchy French manner--"stAH-sheeng") at other restaurants around town. Staging, a term that is used when a cook tries out for anywhere from one day to one month at a restaurant, is a way of trying out a restaurant (and having a restaurant try you out) in a relatively low-pressure setting. The resume has been approved, the interview(s) have gone smoothly, and the stage takes place to see if the restaurant is a good fit for the cook (or in this case, the waitress) from both sides.
My stage tonight went extremely well, and I accepted the position. The new Restaurant is a joy to be at. It's funny how when you're working at a place where the entire staff is miserable, and you're miserable, that you start to accept those as being normal working conditions. I kept telling myself, "It's just a phase. The Restaurant will settle down (or pick up) soon enough, I just have to wait it out."
Leaving for two months and then returning put a lot of things into perspective. Just about everything at The Restaurant has changed since I've been gone, and this has been the common thread at The Restaurant for the last year (the time that I've worked there). While I didn't mind it when I was raking in fistfuls of cash, once the cash stops a-flowin' (and The Restaurant has been scarily slow for the two weeks that I've been back working there) I start to evaluate why, exactly, I'm working in a place that has made me consistently unhappy for the better part of my employment there. I left for a period of time because of a terrible manager; once he was fired I came back but now there *is* no manager, which presents a whole slough of other problems.
The deciding factor of which new restaurant to accept the position from came tonight; the New Restaurant is filled with professionals who are all decently nice people. Nice people are somewhat of a rarity in a restaurant world filled with ex-cons in the back of the house (cooks) and charming coke-heads in the front of the house (waiters). While The Restaurant has been busy trying to cover its lack of panache with a glossy PR campaign and an elitist attitude, the New Restaurant quietly goes about its business (providing excellent food in a nice setting), and people are taking notice--they did over 400 covers last night (on the same night The Restaurant didn't even break 100 covers).
Another restaurant that offered me a position is one of San Francisco's Very Famous Restaurants, and I spent a lot of time thinking about their offer. But after speaking with a couple of servers at the place whose offer I did accept, I feel confident in my decision. The other Very Famous Restaurant serves a specific clientele, a gentrified clientele that sees a big distinction between the people who serve them, and themselves. I'm not into that. While the money is consistently good at this place, I think I would only have lasted about 3 months before I began to hate it. The New Restaurant seems to be a perfect fit. It's run by a few people who have been in the business at comfortable, hip places of quality for a long time. Nice people who happen to love food and run a restaurant. Bon appetit!