“Mary, we would love for you to come work with us…”
I forgot about my professional persona, let out a giant breath…
‘ I can finally breath for the first time is my twenties..thank you!’’
So that’s me now..employed in an agency, leaving behind my hippy ways of not joining the monster machine. It’s taken a couple of years of, ‘saying yes to everything’, resulting in filming dead pigs being cut up…
sitting in a director’s broken down car and fitting in the cliche waitress job.
If you follow me on anything you will know I love nothing more than eating out which is why when I needed some cash I worked as a waitress in a Kennington gastro-pub.
It took a bit of time to settle into the job- I remember seeing there was no toilet roll, thinking that’s not good! Then realising it was my job to replace the roll. And generally having to stop my brain repeating ‘I’m sure Syria will understand” when a local isn’t happy with his foamy pint.
However I loved it and best of all I learnt a lot about the restaurant industry. There is a lot of people that don’t, yet feel they are destined to document their terrible experience on Trip Advisor, social media platforms or blogs for the world to see.
I know there are restaurants like the Ritz or a michelin star wonder where there is a certain expected standard however I thought I’d compile a DOs and DON’TS customer guide when dining in a small gastro pub:
DON’T Complain about Slow service: waiting staff didn’t decide to try out two steps forward one step back from the kitchen to your table for giggles. Don’t worry sir your pork belly will come (and let’s face it… you don’t look starving)
As a waitress you had to deal with a lot of ‘slow service’ damage control. My favourite would be this bloody chocolate fondue cake that states on the menu takes 15 mins. This is fine but when freshly made and the sweaty Mexican chef collapses the fondue twice making my table wait 45 minuets we have a bit of damage control to do. After returning to their table twice to apologise and repeating
‘it’s just coming’ (which…by the way it’s not..’ just coming’)
I finally got the bell to deliver the fondue.There was nothing else i could do at this point except stand over their table, stop their flow of conversation and announce
“And finally for you sir…the best fondue in the world”
DON’T be the waver/clicker: Yes I know you are there…i am choosing to ignore you. knob.
DO accept your waiter/waitress maybe in your class:
I was paying for a ‘Mary Berry-type-lady’s bill, ’ she bellowed over the table
“Scotts on Saturday everyone!”
‘I LOVE SCOTTS” I blurted out. She looked at me like I couldn’t possibly mean the same place.
but I did.
Saying this I loved to play a poor waitress/Oliver twist role. I was in a conversation with a typical British, old man we both discovered we had Westies.
“Yar..Yar.. mine are called Chelsea and Kensington”
“ah sir I see what you have done there…if I did the same it would be called Croydon”
He laughed nervously.
DO accept your waitress may have made a little, tiny, mistake that has ruined your whole day:
So everyone around you has their meal except you…don’t take it personally! On the system we just forgot to put it in. I learnt this on my second shift when an angry woman chased me to the bar shouting “WHAT IS GOING ON!” her friend had no food for a good 10 minuets because I didn’t want to admit I may have missed it off the order.
A letter of complaint followed that week.
DON’T believe you are the Jay Rayner of Steak: When has the public decided how they like their steaks and believe they are experts at it?? Yes by all means demand for your steak to go back to the kitchen because it’s slightly too pink for medium rare but we will lick it on the way back.
DON’T be a weird orderer- we will laugh at you.
I once took an order of a burger without the beef, because she made a promise to the cows.
DON’T ask for recommendation
You will be sold the most expensive dish.
or you can’t expect any reply apart from ‘It’s really good!” Just imagine….
“What’s the duck like?”
“Disgusting, I can still see it’s beak.”
DON’T believe waiting staff live and breath the menu
so when people ask what is the third cheese on their cheese board.
“not as strong as the first….not as weak as the second. See sir…you have purchased well with you board of cheese.”
DON’T expect your waitress or waiter to be a mathematician …The horror of the bill splitter
That moment of the meal I hate the most is standing over a table of 7 brains waving 7 cards expecting my little, tired out (foundation-GCSE) brain to work out a split of £436.84.
my favourite split bill experience was with another posh, old British man. He said:
“I suppose you will need your phone or something to calculate this?”
I laughed and dug out my phone
“I didn’t grow up with these fancy devices.. so I can work out any maths in my head!”
I smile (biting my tongue)
“See if you were on a desert island how would you work things out”
“I guess i will have to take you with me sir..”
You will be pleases to know I no longer work in the hospitality industry but if I became Prime Minister (which until I can at least split a bill in my head, probably won’t happen) I will make it the law that you can’t write badly about restaurants unless you have been on the other side.