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Everything posted by beans

  1. Something triggered this and it wasn't from lovely Carolyn story, but perhaps this counts.... While I lived and worked at Put in Bay, we catered only to tourists having a happy weekend away from whatever city they were from. I was often asked "Where are you from?" Depending upon my mood and whether I wished to converse with this guest I answered either Alaska or Cleveland. For 80 percent of the Cleveland answers I got the "Do you live on the island?" No! I like to drive back to Cleveland for the 20 minute boat ride to the mainland and hour and a half drive every night at 3:00 a.m.! Duh!
  2. There are different issues being entered here. 1. I'd never work anywhere that makes us tip out back of the house. No matter how well the feed me. That is only an excuse for a restaurant owner not to pay the kitchen crew a decent and competitive hourly or salary and only exploits FOH. 2. I tip out, as a bartender, the food runners and barback. That is not pooling tips but a known amount (a straight percentage) of our tips we don't mind or quibble about. As a bartender, I get tipped out by servers for pouring their diningroom drinks. When I was a server I tipped out food runners, bussers and the bar I was assigned to call from. At a different restaurant, during my cross training and I worked the floor, I had to tip out the hostesses for seating my station. 3. Tipsharing is just wrong, IMHO. Small staffs it may work out, but rarely does everyone feel it is a good thing. One can always go elsewhere and earn more and another can always pull a lazy shift (lax to their working sidework or upselling). Looking back I suppose I did work under "tip sharing" terms when I worked for ClubCorp for a winter. Oddly, it was the bartender's responsibility to total up and submit all of the servers' checks from the day shift. (Thank heavens I only did this a mere four times). Want to know how many of those servers never wrote down what the guest drank? A whole diningroom of waters during a very busy lunch? The gratuity was systematically added to each of their check totals and billed as it was not a cash house. The gratuity was then divied up among the staff according to the hours they worked. These servers were a nightmare to work with as they were complacent and never did the extra effort because they were merely punching the clock. No wonder our executive chef demonstrated his loathing by providing crew meal as only wing dings for over 30 days in a row! [/end rant]
  3. Ditto for many of the above. I'd like to add beef bourguignon.
  4. I've seen much worse than anything I've ever heard. Does this count? I was living with my boyfriend who was a charter boat captain, operating a 38 foot Carver that was often docked and rafted at Shooters. We broke up and for one reason or another I decided to work for Shooters. About two weeks into the job, I had heard every story about his indiscretions while "on the job with a charter" with various other now fellow co-working servers, much to my horror. Welcome to the wild world of food and beverage, eh?!
  5. Great thread. My grandfather has been credited as a well respected Tlingit elder and honorary U of Alaska professor. He's been published and works very hard to continue the cultural history, traditions and teachings. Interestingly, there is evidence of the native cultures dating as far back as 5,000 years ago. Okay, enough anthrolpological history. If we were to throw the State of Alaska into this mix, there are very distinct differences of cuisine as varied as region -- the Southeast, Aleutians, South Central, Matanuska Valley, Interior and North Slope. (did I forget one?!?) These differences are entirely due to locale and what is able to be harvested (via fishing, hunting or foraging) which coincides with that particular native culture. Consider the gold rushers too. However modern Alaska is quite influenced by those cultures that have moved in. Russian, Mexican, Japanese and Filipino influences much of the little town of Sitka where I have grown up and lived.
  6. Oh, I minded. I somehow was lucky where I work I started as a boat server waiting on the boat row D5+ with that being the 35 foot and larger yachts. I already knew many of the private boat captains as I was lived with one for the last year or so. There are better sections and better shifts. I'd never share what I earned equally with a Monday morning opener, stationed on the "right" no less. We're an enormous staff of 48-52 bartenders and about 150 servers in all. There are all sorts any given shift.
  7. Asserting vodka has little or no flavour with that TTF legal description will dig me out of the woodwork. Here's a recent and fairly decent press release on vodka tasting and judging. Based upon one's own preferences will determine which vodka is the "best." edit to add: Someone needs to advise that MSN article author that it is Canadian whisky. Ahem.
  8. I want to make it clear that my snarkiness about poor service comes *because* I used to be a waitress for many years. Behaviors and attitudes I wouldn't have dreamed of showing in the workplace, I now encounter on a regular basis when I dine out. It's so discouraging. I despise feeling trapped in a restaurant. It makes the positive experiences pale into oblivion. But a good server can make poor food worth the experience! I'm with theFoodTutor. And a good server cannot ever make poor food worth the experience. They did their job, the kitchen didn't. That is not a good thing.
  9. Actually it smacks of "union" -- an organised group of workers within the same profession. It rewards the lazy.
  10. As a server, never. As a bartender, we all "pool" at each bar. Teams of 2, 3, 4, 5 work a particular bar during a particular night/shift count up and divi-up equally.
  11. Without any offense to any and/or all, I referenced "Pacific Northwet" to a geographic area of land we both share -- North America, and that I specifically labourously collect and study in various cookbooks. I'm not going to speculate upon identity crises. I can't. However being a US citizen (edit to add: when asked, I'm Alaskan BTW), I can note the differences of dishes, blending of cultures that translates into food and only enjoy.
  12. Interesting. I was chatting with our chef and he chuckled about this thread. In his years of experience (and he came from the Ritz Carlton) most restaurants are all purchasing aged, jaccarded steaks, with exception to filet mignons.
  13. Upselling may get you an immediate profit, but do you have any way of knowing how many patrons never come back because of it? There's one restaurant I've never visited a second time because too much upselling went on. I got the feeling the server had been told to do it to everyone at least twice, or something like that. She was very nice and charming and even wrapped up a second batch of bread to go, free. I liked the food, too, but I just do not want to go through what is clearly an upselling routine every time. Upselling never means immediate profit. That food too does have its own cost. Where I work it isn't a broken record sales pitch. Good servers are able to read their table and as I said up thread, some do it with aplomb and style. It is after all suggestive and one can just say no. If the guest never returns because they don't like upselling, well, in this city, they will be hard pressed to find a venue to dine in. Again, this technique is not soley reserved for those that patronise TGIF, Applebee's or the like, despite that seems to be the focus of this current study. Indie, popular and upscale places such as Blue Pointe or the Chop House do the it as well. (I've eaten in those places, and yes they too suggest a particular wine or first course or chef's feature....) I think what everyone is having a hard time accepting is that your server is a salesperson and not a simple order taking/carrying drone servant. Good management (and that is both FOH and BOH -- because chefs like to sell their stuff) pushes this, looks for this and sometimes will require this. Trust me after the years of retail of selling Disney then to managing a women's moderate ready to wear store (where management was also commissioned), food and beverage was a breeze and not much of a change. That alone usually got me hired wherever I chose to work.
  14. beans

    Chewing the Blubber!

    Very cool. I'm Native Alaskan and have spent much time in the Southeast, and wee bit in Anchorage. Although I suspect eG tires my Alaskan-ness from time to time -- the "fooding" is very much a part of the life and culture that is my heart and soul. re edits: started with today's first posting, so why not be consistent?
  15. Hi Steve. I have to think about this to post a more articulate reply, but off the cuff I agree that there is in fact Canadian cuisine. I have to laugh as the first thing I thought of was the butter tart! And that is because it is one of the first differences I saw from reading about Pacific Northwest cuisine, as an entire region, and B.C.'s contributions to same (despite the butter tart isn't limited to B.C., that and Nanaimo bars!). Alaskans share those yummy salmonberries among with many other similar/common local ingredients. Hmmm, I'm off to find some of my favourite cookbooks to revisit. Thanks!
  16. beans

    Toaster Pig

    (Oh, I see. A very lean pig. ) That ranks up there with ironing up a toasted cheese. Goes to show if there is a will there is a way. What a hoot!
  17. beans

    Toaster Pig

    Yeah, I have to wonder that myself however clever. I confess to loving melted peanut butter on my toast on occasion. Bread pops up, I quickly butter and peanut spread it and drop it back into the toaster as it is cooling off. Gooey goodness, however after a few bouts of caving into this whim for breakfast, some peanut butter inevitably falls off and gets onto the coil causing a wee flame the next time it is used and shorting out the toaster. I'd say not really a good thing.
  18. beans

    Chewing the Blubber!

    I agree in the case of whales, great apes (a growing source of "bushmeat") and any other "higher mammal." It just defies logic and ethics for one who can easily satisfy their nutritional needs otherwise to chow down on whale out of curiousity or as an arcane means to identify with their forebears. The Inuit have a case for continuing to consume whales, as they still subsist on their surrounding resources; who's to tell them they should shop Wal-Mart and eat frankenfarmed beef. FYI, going deep into the North Slope of Alaska, there are many Eskimo villages that don't even have indoor plumbing let alone a store to shop from. Kids are often flown into other Alaskan cities, and live in dorms to earn their high school educations. Hospitals aren't everywhere either. Think very remote and still subsisting in today's day and age, fishing, hunting and foraging for foods much in a similar manner as their anscestory. Then there are those that move into the more populated areas, but have a developed an appreciation and taste for specific foods, say like whale steaks. Even then they cannot be denied something that they are legally able to harvest and eat. Sort of a side note as to the remoteness of Alaska, even in the touristy Southeast: There used to be a K-Mart in Juneau (it closed, but there still is a Costco) that many all over the Southeast are used to taking a trip on Alaska Air with empty, huge duffle/shopping bags or take a empty large SUV on the longer ferry ride to stock up on many common households, food product and new clothing. Some families bond together to place a combined order via long distance telephone and pay for the bulk barging of their purchase to arrive.
  19. Stupid pet tricks? Nah. I'm happy to demystify that restaurants are business and actively seek out and teach methods to empower their servers to make more money for themselves as well as for the house. No smoke and mirrors there. Wait on a few tables and ye shall see. It is very personal to me for I'm knee deep in my family's restaurant operation and still have to find the time to earn a real paycheck making the most of the time I spend at the real job pouring various liquids for spiritous enjoyment. We serve food at some of our eight bars too (within the same restaurant), so serving is never something that is forotten or left behind for a 'tender in most oHIo bars as it is by state law we serve food in order to be able to sell alcohol. No voodoo to it.
  20. as a consumer, i believe a restaurant is in business to feed me food i want and provide a pleasant environment in which to eat it. can't grow sales? can't cut costs? See, that's exactly where you and I differ. EVERY restaurant I know or have worked at ARE concerned about their profit margins. Sales grow through suggestive selling -- add ons, upsells. Costs are high if product doesn't sell and rots in the walk in. For all of those "no thank yous" a sales person (the server) receives, some other patron delights in the suggestion. Bingo! Added sales! Increased sales average on that server's shift ending sales report most often generates more tips and a happier employer and employee. Why is a restaurant owner in business? To profit. Hopefully out of a love and desire to succeed in a very tough, competitive and expensive business to run.
  21. So a restaurant isn't in business to make money to profit while keeping costs down and sales high? I don't subscribe to the concept they are public service and forget operational costs and profit to provide another a good meal. In fact, I've never met a chef yet of that mindset and are always constantly worried about the bottom line. The customer doesn't have to like the idea, but us in the biz know it is to be run as a business in order to still have a job to return to after the bills to the utilities, landlord, bank and purveyors are paid.
  22. There are plenty of indie casual dining options. However do note that those corporate chains hire many sharp and savvy MBA's with knowledge about marketing. Restaurants are retail. They sell food. Their policies are not ever arbitrary unless it is a bad lower management person trying to enforce or procure policy or procedure out of spite or ego -- which does happen.... These things are quite studied in depth which is why many places now offer a whole scripted speel because that is selling. Some servers do it with style and aplomb, while others drone along to punch the corporate time clock. It is perceived consideration for offering variety or choices and quality. Consumers studies seem to back it up, elsewise would they do it? For fun? I agree, don't hold it against the server; hold it against the choice of eateries and adjust accordingly to seek out a different, more pleasing place to eat in the future.
  23. Servers are not servants. They are a restaurants front line sales people that are often dogged by the executive chef to SELL. While working at a restaurant comparing our last year figures to this year's on specific days, we cannot continue to stress enough that upselling is essential to stay afloat. And we are a high volume, popular venue. The same goes for joe shmoe/mom and pop places. My parents are barely able to make their bills with their restaurant and are really tapping into every avenue to garner that few extra cents. The food and beverage business is in a tough spot in this economy for many reasons. Upselling is essential.
  24. True enough. I always appreciate a server's effort to listen. But the article seemed to be talking about squatting in all circumstances as a means of getting inside your customer's personal space. Bad idea if you ask me. Other than the circumstances that I wrote about with the crouching, it isn't meant to be taken as getting into your personal space. This was a lesson that even in retail one wonderful Disney employee learned of first hand. He was such a Disney fanatic that he nearly wet his pants when he got hired to work part time at our store. He was in his 40s and simply collected old memorbilia and enjoyed taking his kids to the park -- now for a nice castmember discount! His first shift he was actually nervous due to his enthusiasm and he started easy as our front door greeter. He was doing really well but one family came in and he bent over to say hello to the children who were about fourish years old. The adorable little girl shrieked into tears. Our new employee was hurt with much misunderstanding. Did I mention he was nearly 6'5" tall? Same effect at standing at a booth or table taking a guest's order with swooping in to hear them better or see what they are pointing at in a dimmly lit atmosphere. Consider background music, plate clang and the roar of restaurant chatter of other patrons. Or even if the seating for whatever reasons is sunken a bit lower than the actual dining room flooring. This is something that is studied and are considerations for elevating booths one step up (despite fighting potential tripping and falling lawsuits, I think Long Horn has these but I could be wrong) or when hotel front desks are built they are intentionally a step up to have their desk associates that one step up advantage and "towering." (Think about the irate, screaming, unhappy guest). Consumer behavour is a fun study. So much so that I earned a bachelors reading, writing and thinking about it. Hmmm. "Swooping" and/or bending = aggressive. Crouching = submissive and receptive.
  25. Reason I piped up was because I remembered being provided an article to read in server training that outlined much of the same from CNN's newest article. I forgot about the candy which also brings a different point. I believe there is tremendous difference between fine dining and casual dining. However casual dining does not enitrely mean going to a TGIFs. I feel there is better casual dining with fantastic menus, food preparations but are of a casual atmosphere. These interpersonal communication techniques work there as well. Case in point: Ferrante's, a place I visited a few weeks ago where my heart absolutely sang while plucking a mussel from their own chardonnay broth. (It is also a winery). I revelled in the portabello mushroom chicken breast that was coated with smoked mozzarella in the winery's red wine (I forget which exact one -- their cab or cab franc) demi. They have those lovely but hugely expensive little m&m like coated chocolate mints at the end of your meal. I think they are the only restaurant that still goes through the expense of these mints and am thrilled when our server hands us more than two packages. grrr. sloppy proofing
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