Here’s how a Tuesday morning lays out at the restaurant: Scheduled in at 10 a.m. to start prep for the day. There are two of us in the kitchen today. We open for lunch at 11:30. List of prep: cook off 20 lbs of ground beef and 10 lbs of chicken for tacos. Make taco shells, set up taco station. Decide which specialty tacos we are going to run; fish, shrimp, crawfish, double decker, seasoned shells, puffy shells? Owner decides, why not all of them? Shift gears, re-arrange station to accommodate all of the choices. Scramble to make the salsas and sauces for each selection. While dealing with the tacos we are also: cutting meats and cheeses, making a couple gallons of chili, slicing and dicing all the veggies for the day, putting up product from the truck that just rolled in, running to the store for that one item we need and don’t have a suitable substitution for, fixing the tea urn for the server, dealing with vendors, trying to find the right disco station on the iPod, and so on and so on and scooby dooby do.(just seein’ if yer payin’ attention.)
While all of this is going on in the back, there is one server out front setting up by herself because the bartender has over slept and is running late. The owner has run to his house to print up some taco menus and yet everything is rolling pretty smooth, until:
11:15…..And a 14 top rolls through our front door, unannounced. Yep, no call ahead. Right on their heels, a 3 top and a 2 top. Now, the 3 and 2 tops coming in before we open, not so much of a problem. It happens. Even though we are usually still prepping like mad in the kitchen, we just grumble a bit and tell the staff “of course we can accommodate them”. The 14 didn’t even ask if we were open yet. Just headed through the restaurant and seated themselves out back on the patio.
Here’s the deal: had the group of 14 given us a heads up we could have been better prepared. The owner would have stayed to help out since we were short-handed. We could have pushed some of the prep off till after lunch. Little things that would have made for a smoother opening. Simple as one phone call.
While the server headed out to the patio, I pulled everything off the burners and went out front to greet and seat our other guests and get their drinks. I explained that we were a bit short-staffed at the moment and that help was on it’s way. Both tables were very nice about the situation. The 14 top, well that was a whole different matter. They were in a hurry. Just celebrating a birthday during their lunch hour. They needed the kitchen to get their food out as soon as possible….well, you know where this is headed.
So, the group of 14 comes in before we open with no head’s up. They are pushed for time. They think it is half off burger day. Nope, sorry, it’s taco tuesday. Now they are pissed off, talking to each other “should we stay, should we go?”, and ignoring the server who is trying to get their drink orders.( Gee, one phone call would have avoided that situation.) While they have the server tied up, bitching, the owner comes back and waits on the other two tables.
The tickets for all three tables come back at the same time. We push the 2 and 3 top to the front. Easy tickets. They’ve ordered straight off the menu. The 14’s ticket was a foot and a half long. Everthing they ordered was special. Everything gets fired off and the food is rolling out of the kitchen. 2 and 3 get their food and we are just finishing up 14’s. As that food starts leaving the kitchen, one of the 14 walks through the dining area to the bathroom, notices the other two tables eating already, and that’s when it starts to unfold. The guest wants to know why the other tables are eating and her table is still waiting. After all, they were the first group through the door. The server explains that their food is ready and on it’s way. As she is running their food, they keep stopping her and asking for more napkins, silverware (because “I just dropped mine”), sweet and low (they’ve already used up three caddies worth) water refills and more lemons. That’s right, they all ordered water and LOTS of lemons. To make lemonade of course. Free lemonade. Or so they thought. We charge for LOTS of lemons. Not much. But apparently enough to piss them off even more than they were to begin with.
Suffice it to say, the server had to devote a lot of attention to this group. The 2 and 3 top were more than nice about everything. Very patient and understanding. Ate and left. The group that was in such a hurry stayed for an hour and a half. The two small tables left more of a tip than the 14 combined. Sad.