Archive | January, 2012

Things I have eaten in the past week without sugar.

31 Jan

Literally nothing.

Perhaps I’m a little stressed because I’m trying to arrange a ridiculously unbelievable yet complicated Valentine’s Day gift for Harry. And because we got Fios and I don’t know any of the channel numbers and as a result I didn’t tape Pretty Little Liars last night and the only way to watch it now is on demand which is NOT IN HIGH DEF and therefore pointless. Also, Riley still only has 2 teeth and I’m freaking out that I have to order baby dentures for her and I really don’t have that sort of cash flow ever since I decided not to become a drug dealer.

The following have been meals for me in the recent days:

  • Buttercup Bakeshop Cupcakes – Went the other day with my sister-in-law and we walked in as they were locking up, which was too much pressure. As I ordered the 10th cupcake, (2 red velvet, 2 lemon, 2 vanilla frosting chocolate cake, 2 chocolate frosting vanilla cake, 2 vanilla/vanilla) I asked her why I was purchasing ten cupcakes and she assured me that they always get eaten. Harry had the red velvet, Austin took a vanilla with chocolate cake for lunch, gave a chocolate on vanilla to Charlie when he got cranky at the beer bar and now there is half a lemon left. You do the math.
  • M&Ms – Sometimes for parties at the restaurant we do Ice Cream Sundae Bars for dessert so my work husband Ryan picked up a barrel of M&Ms. So every time I pass the server station in the party room, which is 5-50 times a day, I fill my hands with the candy coated amazingness and squeeze them for like ten minutes until the chocolate is oozy and melted in the middle and my hands are covered in blue, red and green dots, and then I pop one at a time. It proved difficult on Saturday night because it was hard to put the menus on the table and clear off extra place settings with only one hand, so I had a busboy follow me to the tables and take care of it for me.
  • Chocolate Chip Pancakes – Anyone who’s anyone knows that I make some hardcore fabulous pancakes. I use Riley as an excuse to make them, although lately it’s annoying because I only have Bisquick and you need an egg and who has eggs just laying around in their refrigerator? (Probably normal people, but I promise you that restaurant people stick with the basic condiments and Poland Spring) We have a whole routine. She gets 2 plain, I get the rest although lately she’s been stealing off my plate. I don’t blame her. I melt butter on top because nothing goes better with un-whole grains and artificial syrup than a little saturated fat.
  • Frozen Yogurt – Or as I like to call it, A Container of Fruit Loops and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups topped with a Dollop of Mint Fro Yo

I haven’t even had milk with my Oreos because I keep bringing whole milk home from the restaurant for Riley and forgetting to grab skim for myself (IRONY!) and frankly whole milk tastes like cream, and if I’m going to have cream it had better be whipped with some sugar. But whipped cream is totally not on my diet.

 

IT’S POETRY TUESDAY!!!!

January’s Over

(a limerick)

I said that I’m joining a gym

And eating less so I get slim

But I’ve got a hubby

Who says I’m not chubby

So I’m gonna just believe him.

 

Advertisements

The Jacket.

30 Jan

Last night Charlie and I went for a drink to another one of those beer bars. We ordered our usual “whatever’s on tap that tastes like water” and settled in next to the jukebox, which is totally stressful because you dictate the mood of the the ENTIRE BAR and pretty much can control whether someone gets dumped/wasted/laid/naked by the tap of a screen. The stools were occupied by scruffy 20s boys and their comrades, most of whom would have been thrilled with live Dave Matthews Band tracks or the Killers. We chose some top notch showtunes, “Don’t Stop Believin” fourteen times in a row, and Cindy Lauper’s greatest hits, but unfortunately we forgot to inform the barmaid that we put money in the machine, so the owner’s iPod prevailed and either saved or destroyed the evening for the handful of other patrons. We discussed Charlie’s future and how he’s a really really bad driver, and about my continued desires to be a weed dealer and have an Asian baby (catch 22 – I really want to wear maternity clothes one more time but the only way for me to get an Asian is to adopt…). We complained about the bar’s lack of snacks, and talked smack about the barmaid for not shutting off the iPod and for having the audacity to try to give us useful information about the beer we were drinking, like the name, which we obviously didn’t care about based on our criteria for drinking it.

And then we saw it.

Slung limply over a barstool a few feet away from us. A black jacket, which wouldn’t be alarming in any way, were it not for the Rastafarian stripes around the collar and sleeves.

“What the fuck is that?”

We didn’t know. I mean, yes, we knew it was a jacket. So maybe it was more of a question of “WHY?”

Charlie and I each developed theories of The Jacket’s owner. My theory was that he went to his first Phish show and it was in New Paltz and he went to a head shop and excitedly purchased the cheapest typical/wannabe/so-not-a stoner thing he could find. Charlie said that the owner proudly spent at least $70 on The Jacket, and purchased it in the same trendy place where he gets his jeans. We stared at the coat until the owner retrieved it and put it on. Scruffy 20s boy, decent haircut. I told Charlie I was altering my theory. “Guy sells weed! He’s a weed dealer! It’s like his calling card! Genius!!” And then…..

Charlie: Excuse me, are you a weed dealer? My friend thinks you might be.

Me: Because of your jacket.

Weed Dealer: I knew I shouldn’t have bought this jacket! It was such a good deal though!

M (obnoxiously to Charlie): Told you, bitch!

WD: It was only $140! Marked down from $280.

C (obnoxiously to me): Told you, bitch!

M: Well it’s really cool that you’re a weed dealer. I totally want to be a weed dealer too!

WD: I’m not a weed dealer.

C: Are you sure?

WD: I thought this jacket was so cool. Look! (closes jacket) It even says Oakley across the chest when you close it!

M: So you bought it for the mountain.

WD: Well yeah (obviously doesn’t snowboard, judging by hesitation in voice)

M: Well maybe you should only wear it on the mountain. I think you’d get better feedback there.

WD: Thank you, I will take that into consideration.

And that was that. The Jacket got ready to leave the building, presumably to smoke a cigarette or get a bagel at the 24 hour bagel place next door (we’re not the only ones who complain about the lack of bar snacks, it’s a serious problem). He started walking, but slowed and turned around.

WD: If you really wanna sell weed…

M: (wide-eyed, super excited for the secret to my future success)

WD: Don’t. You won’t make money. Sell coke. Don’t do it.

M: Ok, thank you, stranger. Wholeheartedly. I will not do coke. Because of you.

CD: No prob.

The moral of the story is that when you’re out with Charlie, don’t let him talk to strangers. But always let him pick the music!

 

This week I’ll be blogging about Grocery Shopping for Restaurant Owners, Avoiding People You Haven’t Seen in Awhile Unless You’re Having an Amazing Hair Day, and many more pressing issues.

Business Meetings for Foodies!

27 Jan

My friend who grew up in the liquor store business recently built a sparkling new shop with super tall ceilings, automatic doors, and fancy shopping carts. But the real treasure lies towards the back of the building, in the obscenely over-the-top office he constructed for himself, complete with private bathroom, koi pond and robot maid. The crowning jewel is a conference room in which he conducts totally important business meetings with ultra elite men with expensive haircuts. I am not blessed with a board room. But I often hold meetings. Here are some of the places where they tend to go down:

1. The Dry Storage Room – Not good for people who don’t like the smell of curry, and don’t count on much privacy because there’s no door (although there were whisperings of a racy late-night encounter on top of the flour bin a few years back… some people just like to live on the edge I guess.)

2. A Bench Oustide – Ideal for sunny days, breezy nights, and smokers. Also nice for late at night so you can make fun of the ends of awkward first dates and bid your happy customers adieu.

3. The Walk-In – When a conversation gets too heated, this is the place to head. Not only is it cold, but also virtually sound proof. I found this an ideal spot to rendez-vous with Harry when we first started dating. Except right after the seafood delivery and then it really lost a lot of appeal. But we have the Beer Cooler for backup.

4. The Liquor Room – The most privacy in the restaurant because it is windowless, and there’s only one key so you can lock yourself in. One may find it difficult to resist the temptation of being surrounded by booze, so use this room with caution.

5. Any Random Table – Who needs a board room when you’ve got a room filled with empty seats?!? Take that, Mr. Liquor Store Guy!

6. The Coat Closet – Definitely my board room of choice during service, because I can see the front door from here. If I have to fire someone, this is where it usually takes place. I really don’t enjoy the process so I sit in the dark and face away from the door. It’s really annoying when someone hands you their coat though, because you have no choice but to hang it.

Of course, I do have an office. But let’s face it, with all of these exotic locations to chat it up, who needs it?

The Ghosts of Waiters Past

26 Jan

An entertaining responsibility for important business owners like me and my fam comes along during the chilly days of January. The sorting and sending the past year’s W2 forms is ike crusing through The Graveyard of Employees Past. And like any good cemetery, you’ve got the dearly departed, and you’ve got some real shitheads. I don’t usually believe in ghosts, but one look at that stack of papers and suddenly they’re knocking down my door to remind me why I hated/fired/stared at/questioned the sexuality of/loved everything about/hired them. To you, they may have been a friendly face that served you a burger or passed you a deviled egg at a baby shower. To me, they are the thousands of tiny reasons that contribute to why I need therapy more than once a week, and even though I had COMPLETELY forgotten about many of them, they all come rushing back into my head for one last visit.

There are some lines of work that scream “STABILITY!!” but the restaurant business is not one of them. I mean, think back to when you decided to enter the work force. What did you say to yourself? “Self, I will go and pursue my dream job! But in the meantime, I need to make a few bucks. I know! I’ll just wait tables to pass the time! They won’t mind when I tell them I got a ‘real job’ because it’s not like theirs is an actual business or anything.” Or fourteen years after you quit your dream job in the city to move to the ‘burbs and grow offspring, your daughter decides to give herself driving lessons and crashes your Highlander into the fence that your neighbor just put up to keep your kids out of their flower beds and now you need to make some quick cash so you say “Hmm… Back when I was in college I poured vodka cranberries at, like, all of our sorority mixers and my botox is working real well so I bet I can totally get a job bartending!”  Surprisingly, you are not the only person who falls into one of these categories. So let’s just say we go through, like, more than one book of stamps.

Some losses, like in other arenas, totally suck. Like the cook who, like me, enjoyed country music (because it’s the best!) and we talked about line dancing and shit all the time and made playlists, and now I’m left with only people who like Top 40 and I know that the only time I get to talk about Rascal Flatts  is with people who totally don’t give a crap and are just kissing my ass because I’m the boss. And we recently bid adieu to a waitress who began with us when she was 19, and needed off Sundays because she had to go to church. And even though it was a total lie, she took those Sundays off for many years because she came to work on time, entertained us with stories that would be deemed inappropriate in any other work environment, and always smiled. I was missing her everyday, but we hired a waitress who, last Saturday, offered me or Harry (our choice) a sensual back massage to get out of work early. So we replaced our resident naughty comedienne with a blonder version of herself and now I don’t even remember the original girl’s name. There were other entertaining characters, but really over the course of an entire year, most of the departures were welcome.

Among the un-fond memories (some are made up and/or exaggerated so don’t be a narcissist and think I’m writing about you) that have come back to me this week:

  • The ultra-Christian line cook who swore that he was going back to Honduras to aid his ailing brother, but subsequently popped his head out of the kitchen during a recent trip to IHOP for chocolate chip pancakes (on Long Island, not in Central America)
  • The waiter who failed to show up for work for three weeks and then sued us for discrimination against people with Upper Respiratory Infections when we no longer put him on the schedule
  • The manager (who, I have to tell you, I really liked) who drunkenly slurred “Good luck with your crazy problems” as she threw a rack of glasses to the ground and told everyone to “Stick it where the sun don’t shine” in Pig Latin
  • The busboy who stole an iPhone from a customer and the only reason I found out about it was because the cops arrested him during a busy dinner service and I had to wrap up people’s leftovers.
  • The bartender who was offering services other than beer-opening. To my father-in-law. And his girlfriend.
  • Anyone who called me “Shel” before knowing me for at least 4 months.

I mean, the list goes on, but I don’t have all night. I’ve still got stamps to lick.

how to be the golden child!

24 Jan

I don’t know. Ask my brother.

In other news, it’s poetry tuesday!!

ode to my father

My Pops stopped by work tonight

and this friend of mine said “Shel’s alright!”

and Pops said “Well she’s kind of odd”

“Why, in what way?” my friend did prod.

“She dresses like a Super Freak,

It isn’t pretty, it’s so not Chic.

She likes the strangest types of food,

She’s always in a fucked up mood.

She’s got great hair but I have to say,

She showers every other day.

She uses curse words all the time

and thinks I only speak in rhyme.

Other than that she’s the greatest kid,

I’m so damn pleased with the job I did.”

My friend was speechless (and really impressed)

“I always liked the way she dressed.”

Note: After reading this poem, I will forever be referred to by my dad as THE OFFICIAL GOLDEN CHILD. Not counting the dog. Or my brother. Ok fine the Jewish guilt is killing me! My dad didn’t say any of this stuff! He adores me and thinks my clothes are occasionally above average and knows absolutely nothing about my bathing habits!!!!

How to deal your way to success.

23 Jan

If you’re prone to heart attacks, the restaurant business really isn’t for you. I often find myself clutching my chest in agony, wondering how I managed to make it to the point in my life where I get to clean up after Tweens Gone Wild in the Ladies Room, or carry cases of beer up and down flights of stairs in heels and a short skirt. Ok fine, neither of these things give me chest pains, but they do make my mind wander to far off and fantastic places where some people get to earn their livings. Like PR Firms in Manhattan and psychiatric hospitals. Here are a few paths I could have chosen in life, but stupidly and/or smartly did not:

  1. Wedding Planner: I really think of myself as a top notch party planner. And that’s being like really really humble (did you have a log flume at your wedding? I didn’t think so). I was sure for many years that my calling was in creating memorable nuptials. Until I started talking to this wedding planner who I knew, and I realized that many, many brides like baby pink bridesmaid dresses and jordan almonds as favors and shit like that. And I was like “NEVERMIND.” I have no patience for conformity. What would my slogan be? “Want to wear white satin slingbacks and a rhinestone tiara? DON’T EVEN THINK OF DIALING MY NUMBER OR I’LL HANG UP ON YOU!” And so, for lack of better slogans, I disposed of my wedding planner dreams.
  2. Camp Counselor: I have every intention on making this dream career a reality for myself for at least one more summer of my life. I kicked ass when I was a counselor. I only wrote “REDRUM” backwards on the mirror twice, and stopped after I made the third girl cry. I got lectured only ONE time for rewriting the lyrics to “Pretty Fly for a White Guy” by The Offspring into something inappropriate for ten-year-olds to sing. Whatever, only weirdos would have taken it as sexual innuendo. Get your heads out of the gutters! I still have a lot of leftover stationery from my sleepaway camp days, and I don’t want to waste paper. I’ve gotta go back.
  3. Screenwriter: I’m just saying this because I went to school for TV and film and I don’t want my parents to be pissed off that they wasted their money on a path that I had no intention on following. Don’t worry, Mom and Dad, I promise you I’m going to write that Academy Award Winning screenplay about a whirlwind romance that takes place in the walk-in refrigerator of a restaurant and live in LA and thank you profusely for rearing me to be a Supergenius. Or at the very least, I’m going to watch the Academy Awards every single year. On your couch. And cry when I realize another year has passed that I forgot to submit (or write) my script.
  4. Gap Sales Associate: This was my very first non-restaurant job. It was actually GapKids. I folded velour mock turtlenecks ALL DAY LONG because they were slippery and tipped over anytime a passer-by breathed near them. I got to use a shirt folding board. I learned how to make even piles of jeans. I learned that the Husky boy’s jeans have hidden elastic in the back so the chubby boys don’t have to feel badly about themselves. The worst part of my life at that point was the velour mock turtlenecks, and it quickly disappeared when the price got reduced and they got put on hangers. I would wholeheartedly love to deal with those stresses once more.
  5. Hotel Owner: I’m really gung-ho on this one. Everytime Harry and I go to Lake George we explore the abundance of FOR SALE signs along the road. But then it comes down to staffing, and suddenly you’re dealing with a 24 hour schedule full of employees who need off to take their brother-in-law’s puppy for pre-op and/or elective plastic surgery. I don’t think my weak heart can handle such a daunting task.
  6. Weed Dealer: I realize that in many states, particularly the one in which I reside, this isn’t necessarily legal. But don’t worry, I’m not nearly organized enough to pull this career off. Plus I heard that there’s an insanely low profit margin unless you’re dealing in massive quantity. And also, at the end of this season of Weeds, Nancy Botwin may or may not have been shot dead, so she really isn’t the greatest inspiration at this juncture.

I don’t think the perfect career for a girl like me is something that actually exists. Perhaps there are jobs out there that are fitting, and I just haven’t stumbled upon them as of yet – Professional Jeopardy! Player, Googling Expert, Mix Tape Maker, Analyst of Teen Movies. Until the day comes that a camp owner comes to recruit me to plan all of the discos and square dances by day, and sell weed out of the laundry room by night and then write a book about it, I’ll just stick with telling food allergy people that we can gladly accommodate their every need, ordering a new filter for the cappuccino machine and hoping my heart holds up long enough to force Riley to become a movie star or 3rd grade teacher.

The importance of being perfect.

21 Jan

I’m not going to deny the superiority complex I’ve developed over the course of the past thirty years. Why would I? I’ve devoted hours, possibly months, to dwelling on moments that prove I’m better than pretty much everyone I encounter. In fact, other than being really chubby, I considered myself pretty much flawless for much of my childhood. It wasn’t until the summer between 7th and 8th grades, when I heard this wretched voice on a tape that me and my sleepaway camp (another day) bunk mates made of us singing fake lyrics to Day-O by Harry Belefante and cackled at the offensive “singing” (if it could be called that) and later realized was actually ME that I even recognized that I may not be the Super Queen of All That is Top Notch. But I still find it difficult to be in the presence of morons, and so I find myself rolling my eyes far too often.
Sometimes this occurs at work. Unfortunately, I can’t control who walks through the door, or what people may choose to say once they get settled. I can’t banish the class act of a woman who insists that she sit at a separate table from her teenage children so she can get tipsy on grape cosmos and sexually harass her sister’s husband and/or my busboy. I am left with no other choice than to roll my eyes every time I walk away from her table.
Occasionally eye rolling goes wrong. For instance, premature rolling of the eyes is a serious hazard of the job. Sometimes you literally cannot control the circular movement of your eyeballs. Perhaps a group of customers tells you that they’re friendly with the owner, and they deserve a table “on the fly” (Vocab of the day: On the fly is what you say when you totally forget to ring in an order and you need it super fast so it doesn’t look like you fucked up big time). As the owner of the restaurant, it is my duty to hate you if you pull this shit, and to consequently make a disgusted face that results in a dramatic eye roll. Hopefully you aren’t still looking at me, but as I mentioned sometimes it just happens too quickly.
Another mistake I tend to make when rolling my eyes at customers is when I do it while facing the spouse and/or child and/or colleague of the irritating person. How am I supposed to know that they’re coming back from the bathroom at the EXACT MOMENT that I’m most disturbed by their mate’s behavior.
Occasionally I’ll locate a buddy. A compatriot with whom I can lock eyes and disapprove of intellectually inferior behavior. Sometimes this buddy is really just making eye contact with me because he wants a refill on his iced tea. Sorry, my friend, not now. Now we are silently condemning a couple who has sat at FOUR different tables and simply can’t find a cozy spot.
Tonight I picked up Riley from my mom’s house and as we headed to the door she reminded me to put the baby’s hood on because of the cold. Before I could get my hands on that hood my mom was there, pulling it snug over her tired face. And I swear, in the shadow of her pink North Face, I saw those beautiful perfect little eyes dance a spiral in their sockets. Proudest moment of my life….

how to grow up the right way.

19 Jan

Growing up in a restaurant can be really confusing. Not just for those involved, but also for those observing. I mean, I think nothing of my barefoot daughter running through the dining room pushing a hard boiled egg with a broom. And I giggle over the fact that Austin likes to veg out on the floor of our party room on Saturday night building lego motor homes while he watches Spaceballs on the TV usually reserved for rehearsal dinner slideshows. Probably if you walked in the door you’d be like “What the fuck?” but not me! I’m proud to be a second generation Restarant Parent. I was the child who emerged from the kitchen on a busy Saturday night to inform my mom while she was trying to seat a table that my brother hit me because I wouldn’t let him play with the pizza dough. I was the child who named lobsters as they got delivered by the seafood company. (If you still think I have to post Part 2 of “why I have {pretty much} no friends,” raise your hand.)

This evening I took Austin and Riley to visit their dad at work. Sometimes Harry chefs at the “other” restaurant, also known as my mom’s restaurant. We call it this because my mom is the only one who really ever goes there. It’s not that we don’t care, but you know how it is with older siblings. Sometimes they just get left to fend for themselves because the baby is really needy and so darn cute. Plus Mom’s is a schlep and a half, and gas doesn’t grow on trees! But Harry goes there to check up on things and keep the minions in line. Also to catch up on the latest iPhone apps and upcoming concerts.

We haven’t eaten at Mom’s in quite awhile, and I have to say the meal was pretty darn good. Our waiter attempted to be on his A game due to my flourishing blog (he purposely forgot my steak knife so I would be FORCED to write about him, but I’m not going to give him that satisfaction). We received entertaining visits at least every thirty seconds from some member of the staff. We took up no less than 4 tables and 12 seats even though there were only 4 of us (hey, Riley felt like spreading her toys out, and  Austin needed his room to concentrate on homework, ok?). Harry sat down with us, and even though I know what his hair looks like when he wakes up in the morning, I felt really fucking cool having the chef sit at our table and hold my kid. And Austin probably felt pretty cool when he asked Harry for a refill on his drink and Harry said “Go get it yourself.” I mean, how many 8 year olds get superstar treatment like that?

 Being a customer at my own restaurant makes me feel the way some of you probably feel about your dining room – like I’m at home. Only my dining room is like WAY bigger than your dining room, and you probably don’t have to drive anywhere after you finish your dinner in order to go to sleep.

I can’t help but feel like my children are going to grow up with all these twisted notions, so here is what I hope they someday come to learn:

  • Normal people butter does not come in a 1 pound block.
  • Not every cook in every kitchen in every restaurant is required to say hello to you, so don’t get insulted if they ignore you.
  • If you go out to dinner, you should pay.
  • The only person in our family who can wear a hat in a restaurant is your daddy, because that’s part of his uniform.
  • Soft shell crabs do not make good pets.

how to be a world class bartender.

17 Jan

Today I wore no makeup, a pair of faux snake short boots that are total mom shoes and an ugly gold and olive sweater that I probably never should have purchased, and definitely never should have worn after Christmas. Because why dress fancy-like when nothing ever happens on Tuesdays? I do my liquor inventory, answer phone calls, schmooze a bit, tell people I’ll ask my boss if I can make a donation to their ferret rehabilitation charity and catch up with Harry, because I haven’t seen him in 2 hours (he goes to work at 9, I go to work at 11). I figured it was a normal Tuesday, only today I was feeling more antisocial than usual.

Then the lunch hour hit, and for some reason, while I was trying to innocently count how much was left in the Frangelico bottle and ignore my surroundings, everyone wanted to sit at the bar. And chat with me. And tell me that I’m prettier than the waiter.

And then lunchtime became the part of the day that we restaurant people call lunchtime (vocab of the day: restaurant lunch – 3 to 5pm, when other people are done eating lunch and not yet on to dinner. We get to sit down, check our Words with Friends, watch some Ellen or SportsCenter or Disney Channel if you’re me, just take a breather). Only I didn’t get to eat lunch. Not even at 4, when the bartender normally comes in. Because the bartender didn’t come in. Because there was a “mixup” or whatever, and  Ryan my manager aka Work Husband (even though I work with my husband) offered to come in and help out but I’m SOOOOO nice and said that I’d just take care of it. So there I was, all frumpy and makeupless, and these people just kept coming in, ordering Stoli O on the rocks and happy hour wings and I had to card people and clean stuff and clear dishes and put napkins and utensils in front of people and ask people how they were doing and ENTERTAIN PEOPLE and bring more ketchup and stuff like that.

There were highlights, of course. For instance a friend came in with one of her friends, a fellow Jew, who met a Canadian in Mexico the other day and two-and-a-half days later got married in a Toga party wedding ceremony conducted by her brother on the beach. Can you believe it? I met a new Jew!

Also a man asked if there was a new chef in the kitchen, because the bread on his French Dip sandwich was less scooped out than usual. “No sir, no new chef. He just clipped his fingernails recently.”

These people all exhausted me, and all that windexing at the end of the night made my fingers wrinkly.

And so the moral of the story is, I’m not blogging tonight.

But for all of you Poetry Tuesday groupies, a haiku…..

 

Bartending is fun.

Unless you’re antisocial.

Then it really sucks.

how to tell if you’re being kicked out of a restaurant

14 Jan

Occasionally we have meals with such beloved and exhilarating people that we wish it never had to end. But all good meals must come to an end. We in the restaurant business prefer that end comes sooner, rather than later, especially on a busy night.

Here are some insider tips to know when you are no longer appreciated at your table:

  1. It took you more than an hour to decide on an appetizer. No matter how the rest of the meal goes, it’s time to get out.
  2. You have been asked if you’d like a refill on your coffee more than twice.
  3. The server, hostess and busboy have all locked eyes with you for fifteen seconds each. They don’t think you’re hot, they want you to go home (or to Starbucks, they don’t really care).
  4. You try to go to the bathroom but the amount of people waiting for tables won’t allow you to get there.
  5. The table to your left and the table to your right have been sitting vacant for almost an hour, even though the restaurant seems packed.
  6. Your waitress approaches you every 45 seconds offering to bring you change, even though you have quite obviously not looked at the check yet. She’s subtly telling you that you need to stick the card in the check presenter and at least give her the hope that you’ll get up shortly.
  7. A small gang of unruly children stands a few feet away, staring at you/pointing/making ugly faces. Their parents stand three paces behind them staring at their watches/pointing/making ugly faces. Hey, they wanted to see where their table was going to be… it isn’t my fault if they get aggressive…
  8. There is LITERALLY NOTHING on your table. The busboy has taken your water glasses, your mugs, your napkins and your car keys, so your vehicle will be nice and toasty when you get into it. NOW.
  9. After sitting open for about an hour, the vacant tables on either side of you suddenly get decorated with giant “reserved” signs. Facing you.
  10. Even though you have already paid, your waitress visits your completely empty table every fifteen seconds to ask if there’s anything else she can get for you.
  11. I am standing over your table hysterically crying because hungry people who have to wait too long get like totally verbally abusive.
  12. The lights are turned all the way up, the music is turned off and the vacuum is the only sound other than your WAY TOO LONG conversation.
  13. Your waiter is wearing his street clothes and jacket, glaring at you in the corner because he can’t leave until you do.
  14. Finally, if it is between 7:30 and 8:30 on a Saturday night, please please please eat and get out. We’ll be your best friend.

Saturday night I served over 250 happy, full-bellied customers. But at the end of the night, the last party of 5 had no place to sit. I pulled out all the stops, particularly #2,3,6 & 7, but nothing. Nobody budged. So i went to my office concealing #11 because the party of 5 couldn’t take the wait anymore, shouted in my face and stormed out the door, still hungry. I know that I try to be lighthearted with these posts, but I can’t tell you how deeply terrible I feel if you have to leave with an empty stomach.

Luckily the shouting man looked a little like Liam Neeson so I was really excited to meet a celebrity.