Posts Tagged ‘restaurant’

Service

April 4th, 2012

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What do I want from a server? What do I expect?  I expect the proper handling of my dining logistics; I expect some semblance of warmth; I expect the food server to at least act like they enjoy what they are doing even if they don’t.  I am in the business so I tip at least 20%… always…unless the actual service is atrocious and the server is down right unpleasant, then its the %15.

What I yearn for, though is to find that waiter, the one who loves what he does, realizes the meaning of integrity, and has the support to engender that integrity into the food service with sincerity and aplomb. (See Frank Byrnes)   I will tip 25% to a server who is methodical, pleasant and manages my dining experience without me noticing her service other than the occasional “thanks” on my part.  I’ll give 30%-40% to waiter who is sincere, knowledgable and humorous along with the properly apt service.

My Uncle Larry read the paper everyday and advised us boys to read it everyday, especially the sports section, if we wanted to be good waiters someday.  This was in the late 70’s, but it still applies, via IPad and what not…but he was trained in Dublin in the discipline of food service.  In Europe the dining business is an old and established trade, one which is not only quite respected, but carries with it an almost symbolic,  shamanic admiration.

So many articles written about rude waiters, or clueless waitresses fail to bring in the consideration that the customers themselves are rude, ignorant people who do not know good food, would not recognize good but not fawning service, and really should not be given the official permission to go out to eat.  Oh, that is not something you have to get a license for?  Well, make it mandatory to work a restaurant for a year to graduate from high school and i guarantee you a much larger group of respectful individuals.

But that’s just my take.

A burst of epiphany

September 18th, 2009

I have had this regular guest for most of the 2 1/2 years my restaurant has been open. He’s a tad garrulous at times, overly particular about his food, and generally finds himself to be very knowledgeable. He is not overly respectful of either the back or  the front of the house. He is sometimes rude and always tips 10%.

When he came in today it was my turn in the rotation.  Actually his wife came in first and I sat her at a table by the window.  When he arrived ten or so minutes later his eyes hurt him and so he asked to move towards the back of the restaurant where it is dark.  Of course, I said, and moved the water glasses and menus over to the chosen table.

My dad once told me a story about working at the Ringside in ’71.  This fellah came in and regardless the size of the party or the bill would tip the staff $1.  My dad swore to himself that he would some day get $2.  With the correct service and real warmth, by the end of the year, the gentleman was tipping 5 bucks a dinner party.  He never went over that, but that’s not the point.

The cooks behind the line of our open kitchen bear witness to everything that happens in the room…unless, of course, they are getting their asses handed to them.  All kitchen personnel are philosophers.  They are attempting to understand our existence through the growth and preparation of the  food we eat and/or they don’t have to talk to the public.  All cooks are philosophers.

They whisper to me, over the corn grits and grilled pork, they whisper questions about the floor.

“Is that guy on 204 a total douche? Is he really paying more attention to his iphone than to his son?” or “did I really  hear chicken wing guy tell you that he could be a restaurant critic?”

See. I don’t care how decrepit the social graces or what brand of moron walks through that door.  I smile at every nitwit, jack ass, ding dong that rolls into the room…it’s the entirety of the concept that one has to embrace.  If the food is made with love then it deserves to be served with love.  Sometimes it is not received well, but then one can only produce ones best and not everyone in the world will enjoy oven smoked tomatoes with their grilled shrimp.

I busted my ass and made sure the service was genuine and Jack leaves me an astounding 12%. As he is bustling his belongings together he uses his cell phone.

“Where are we? “he asks.

“On the North side of Southeast Stark street,” is what comes to my mind.

“Don’t you know what street we are on?”

I tell him.

His brother came in for the first time about 20 minutes later and sat at the bar.  He had a martini, a two course meal with a beer, and enjoyed himself very much.  He left 20% on his bill, but that’s not really even the point.

It’s the big picture, baby…

Snow storm

December 23rd, 2008

I have been pained frequently over the last few days thinking about retail businesses, the losses they are experiencing right now, and how much the economy in general needs consumer spending.

This dramatic winter weather is forcing many people to stay at home. Retail stores, already reeling from the current economic turmoil, have had a last minute lifeline, holiday spending, withdrawn.

Neighborhood restaurants and businesses might feel a little upturn from local customers, especially on day 2 or day 3 of being snowed in: folks can get a bit stir crazy and desire to go out.   I have a freezer full of seafood, steaks, tomato soups, frozen berries,  yet I still went out for brunch at the local and enjoyed some outside time.

I’m getting ready to go into work now, and am very much looking forward to having the locals come in and spend a snow day with me.

duckspoon.com

September 19th, 2008
together we cook!

together we cook!

Sometime about 4 years ago I was kicking it with my dad at his house.  We have lived together a few different times and have always enjoyed cooking, drinking wine and chatting, with each other and whomever is around.  So, about 5 years ago we had an idea for an internet tool.  Although I have a good touch with food, I have a deplorable memory, and soam sometimes forced to call my dad to ask questions about timing, temperature and other specifics.  In an effort to immortalize my father’s clean, simple, basic approach to food,

So we came up with the concept of duckspoon.com.  The paradigm grew into  duckspoon, although the actual name of the site had not revealed itself until recently.

This was in 2005 when we started this endeavor: before the video recipe encyclopedias was ubiquitous.   Google had just started recording the volumes in libraries.  We could see that the ides of free information was growing and we wanted to throw in our passion and love of food done correctly.  Hence the simplicity of duckspoon.com.

We did not want any of the sensationalism that was so abundant on the cooking shows.  As much as I admire  Anthony Bourdain’s writing and revel in his adventures, he has ushered in the concept of the celebrity chef…and pop culture loves the celebrity chef.

We weren’t interested.   Straight, to the point information without wasting  time was our goal.  Just the right information.

I wanted folks in the middle of dinner to be able to rely on going to my site and finding the answer to their question quickly and easily.  How long to you roast the chicken for?  What temperature?  Those questions.

Now by  creating an information system that was sleek and easy to use, and by limiting the video recipes to 3 minutes or under, we were omitting certain components of the meal.  When you are watching us make lentil soup, you don’t have to wade through the chopping of carrots, the mincing of onions, the dicing of bacon.  Unless you want to.  In the written instructions to the side of the actual videos are links to “chopped carrots” and “minced onions” and “diced bacon” that you can hit and see the instructional videos which will  guide you through that particular chore.

The site is finally coming together.  Granted duckspoon.com may be way behind the curve now and probably not considered innovative, but I funded it myself and it’s mine.

I’m about having a lot of fun and I hope that it becomes a useful tool and that others will enjoy duckspoon as much as I do.  I am fortunate enough that the owners of the restaurant that I at, Adam and Jackie, support my project and allow me access to the entire life of the restaurant.  It’s a beautiful little concept that has grit and whose owners are ready to walk the long way home.

So, have fun with me.

good people

May 19th, 2008

I first met Donnie B. while I was waiting tables at Multnomah falls the summers I was home from college.  He was 16 yrs old working on the grounds crew of that high volume tourist destination.  He came inside to the lodge to help out bussing tables on Father’s day.  When he resumed doing grounds work I met with the manager and asked him to move Donnie to the restaurant because he was such a good worker and he would make more money inside.

Donnie B. later came to work with me bussing, then waiting tables at the Black Rabbit at Edgfield with me.  A few years later I asked Donnie to come up to Alaska and tend bar at a restaurant I was managing.  We drove my volkswagon bus back home to Portland together when the partnership crashed and the restaurant was sold.

He has a family now and is doing well managing a restaurant for some local folks.  Donnie’s house recently burned down, and, although I hadn’t seen the kid in years, I felt that something ought to be done.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have kept my connections to the people I worked with at Edgefield back in the mid ’90s.  So I gave a bunch folks notice and we threw Donnie a party and raised some money, gift cards and much needed furniture.  Plus, Donnie was thrilled to see everyone and was touched that so many people cared.

What astonished me about the event was how sincere everyone was when they brought donations and asked if there was more they could do.  It’s not every restaurant I work at that I meet really good people, but at most of them I do.

Something about this sparks my curiosity.  Do computer programmers create relationships with their coworkers? Do nurses?  Do we all create relationships with the people in our career world?  I grew up treasure hunting beneath restaurant booths, and playing fort upstairs in the storeroom with all the banquet chairs and tables.  I easily forget that most people have not been raised in restaurants. Community has always been integrated with my what I do for a living.  Is this unique?