July 11, 2011 § Leave a comment

The idea for this post came from here.

I really enjoyed what I read of her blog thus far, but there is also a serious disconnect between what she experiences in a fine-dining environment and what I see in a casual one. That said, read this post, industryfolk. It hurts how much of this I see on Sunday afternoons.

As a background, I’ve never seen myself as a bitter person. Yet, having spent more than a year working full-time plus in the front-of-house I can feel myself becoming more cynical as a result of some of the rude and careless behavior I encounter on a day-to-day basis. I doubt much of it is malicious. I think (hope) that people come into a restaurant with an idea of how their meal will go, oblivious to the work that goes into that. Much of that is intentional; nobody wants to see how their sausage is made, just that it arrives on their plate. That said, by following a few rules, most of which should (hopefully) be common sense, everyone’s lives can be made just a little easier.

So you’ve gone ahead and made yourself a restaurant reservation. Fantastic! Here are some things to note for between that call and your well-earned first cocktail.

  1. A reservation is like an appointment. When you make a reservation for four people at 7 pm, we expect that you will arrive with that number of people at that time. You wouldn’t show up to your doctor’s office 45 minutes late with three children who need unannounced immunizations. A restaurant is no different. That said…
  2. Call us when things change. We’ve all planned dinners out; trying to pin people down for a time is like herding cats. If an extra couple wants to join in, by all means, the more the merrier! That doesn’t mean just mean that you can show up with Harry and Cynthia though, as accommodating Harry and Cynthia would require a larger table than we have set aside for you. Conveniently you already have our number, use it!
  3. That goes for shrinking parties too. There is nothing more frustrating than when your 30-top at 7:30 begins to trickle in at 7:35 and decides at 8:15 that the 19 people who have arrived are the entire party. That server probably did not pick up any tables before your party, and most likely won’t get any after either. This rule also counts for less drastic cases. Groups of 8 fit in places that tens and twelves don’t. If you know only 8 can come, we can save the larger table in case a group of twelve does happen to come in. Everyone wins!
  4. That doesn’t mean call ten minutes before you arrive. That isn’t a reservation, that’s a call-ahead. We are happy to accommodate call-aheads as best we can (and they are very helpful in planning for large/awkwardly sized parties), but that does not imply that a table will be available upon your arrival.
  5. But PLEASE call if you are a large group. Any group of 8 or more should notify a restaurant in advance of their arrival. Clearly to get that many people together required some level of planning, and notifying the restaurant should be a part of that planning. We can have a table ready, and the host can rotate the servers accordingly.
  6. Play by the rules. Often restaurants make restrictions on the availability of reservations. Some do not accept reservations on certain evenings or during certain events. Others require parties of a certain size (i.e. six to eight) before accepting reservations. My place of employment does not accept reservations after 6:30 on Saturday evenings. This policy is designed so that tables aren’t being left open in the event that a reservation is late/incorrectly sized. That does not mean accepting the reservation for 6 pm and showing up late/sending someone to order a beer until the rest of the party arrives. Nor does it mean that your sixth person suddenly caught a case of virulent herpes and can no longer attend.
  7. Be reasonable in your expectations. No, we cannot accommodate 25 people on the patio at 8:30 on Saturday night during WaterFire. Why Not? For one, see point 3. Honestly, even with a call-ahead we couldn’t have accommodated that. If you want to come out with 25 of your closest friends, you should probably not do it on the night everyone else is trying to do so with reasonably-sized parties.

After seven points, the main moral of this post is that you should communicate with the restaurant early, frequently (if necessary) and in good faith.

Coming soon: Ordering.



July 11, 2011 § Leave a comment

I’ve never been good at introductions.

This feels like the space on internet dating sites where they give you an open box that says, “About Me.” Nobody likes those. Maybe I should have labeled this post as “A Statement of Purpose.” Yes, that sounds nice.

I plan on using this space as a forum for:

  • Sharing recipes and whatnot. Deb at Smitten Kitchen was totally an inspiration on this one, as I’m sure many others. All of her food is uniformly fantastic and her photos are gorgeous. If you haven’t been yet, go there. Cook anything she suggests (This! Or this!). I promise it will be amazing.
  • Some freeform rambling. Having spent a significant amount of time in the restaurant industry (hosting, serving, and now interning with a pastry chef), I have come tp a (not at all unique) conclusion that most of you are woefully underinformed on the appropriate way to handle yourself in a restaurant situation (to be polite). I’d like to rectify that in a series that (hopefully) is both snarky and informative.

I guess to fulfill the introduction portion of the title. My name is Matt. I’m 24. I cook and bake–often for one–which I hope to make a focal point here. I overuse parenthetical asides. I’m trying to be better about using proper capitalization. I’m sure further details will follow as necessary.