Tuesday, October 23, 2007

"All stereotypes turn out to be true. This is a horrifying thing about life. All those things you fought against as a youth: You begin to realize they're stereotypes because they are true..." David Cronenberg





I constantly rail on to my staff about the pre-judging of guests. Look past color, past religion, past ethnicity, past gender, and past age. I urge everyone to remember all the times they have been pleasantly surprised. I constantly harp on them to see the big picture and give all of our guests the benefit of the doubt.





However, behind my earnest visage as I campaign for equal treatment beats the heart of a hypocrite. I don't sneer at jews or make jokes about black families or refuse latinos dinner seating. No Jimmy the Greek or Fuzzy Zoeller or Marge Schott am I.



My heart has been blackened not by general racism but by specific observations compiled during years of babysitting and riding herd on all manner of scumbags and reprobates.



The following behaviors and/or physical signs have, over the years, become grounds for me to dismiss a person [or sometimes even a group of people] in their entirety. Many of the infractions are wholly benign unto themselves, but almost always indicate a world-class douchebag primed to work his sour brand of magic at the first opportunity.



1. Ordering a regular cocktail or liquor and insisting it be served in a snifter. Also, doing the same and demanding a crystal red wine glass.



2. wearing a polo-style shirt with the collar up, or dress shoes without socks

3. telling me you deserve something for free before anything is offered. This behavior will almost always be found in conjunction with telling me how something should be done [i.e. your wines are too cold, you need to store them at 62, not 59...these steaks have no flavor, you need to get a good, thick char on your steaks for them to be any good...a good martini has to be shaken, never stirred, etc.]

4. grabbing hold of a bottle of wine while it is still in my grasp to gauge it's temperature/yanking a bottle out of my hand to inspect the label, cork, vintage, etc.

5. interviewing me regarding my personal life as if I had just hired you to be my biographer.

6. taking your shoes off, or putting your feet up on our furniture/rearranging restaurant furniture of your own volition.

7. prefacing some ridiculously invasive or inappropriate comment by telling me, "I was/am in the business..."

8. men with needlessly or superciliously elaborate facial hair

9. women known for "trademark" pieces of apparel [one former regular guest of ours wouldn't leave the house without wearing a ludicrous straw hat the size of a volkswagen]

10. faking allergies [just because your doctor tells you to cut down on cholesterol doesn't mean that you suddenly become "deathly allergic" to butter]

11. using a discover card

12. constantly reminding everyone that you are a doctor [note: I understand that in the 1950's this would guarantee a physician a great table and unending admiration--now it simply pre-signifies one as an arrogant tool, apt to get a worse table than if he/she had just stuck with Mr./Ms.]

13. writing us a novel and a Christmas wish list to go along with your Open Table reservation

14. trying to shoulder your way behind the maitre d's desk in order to look yourself up on the screen

15.deciding that the best way to get seated quickly is to not leave the front desk after checking in


None of these transgressors are going to find a knotted noose or a burning cross--they'll just find themselves unable to join that elusive "valued guest's club"--they can still come in and eat, eventually-- but instead of all the perks of membership they get the municipal-course version of the restaurant: fewer thrills, fewer perks, bigger crowds, and longer waits.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please excuse my ignorance, but I have seen the Discover card referance a few times now and don't get it. Why does a Discover card usually = douchebag?

-Andrea

10:01 AM  
Blogger last one home said...

I can only speak from my experience, and that is limited exclusively to restaurants, and almost exclusively to fine dining restaurants. With that said, our simple sales figures reveal that Discover Card users are ALWAYS our lowest checks by per-person check average, and our worst tippers. The same holds true for every restaurant I have ever run or worked in.

On the rare occassion that I receive a complaint via mail, email, or phone that seems to me to be of an exceedingly marginal or nit-picking nature, our standard investigation will reveal a Discover Card was used to pay the check over half the time even though Discover Card usage accounts for less than 2% of our total sales.

Lastly, like many other restaurants with high check averages and high credit card usage, the amount authorized when a credit card is "run" at the end of a meal is 20% higher than the actual amount of the bill. This extra authorization amount covers the expected gratuity that is almost always left on the voucher returned to the guest--our average credit card gratuity is 20%, and so is the extra authorization. This is not the restaurant's idea--it is a policy of the credit card processor--the policy saves time and money for them as well as possible over-limit fees for cardholders who may be just under their limit with dinner charges, but pushed over it with the tip. If all of this extra authorized amount is not actually used up in the tip, the issuing bank or company holds the amount against the card limit for a little while and then it falls away if no corresponding sales ever show up. On occassion I get calls from people who apparently check their credit card activity on-line every single day, and who mistake the extra authorization held against their limit for a fraudulent charge--when they call me they never ask what might have happened--they always tell me they have been the victim of theft--every single time. These calls are rare, especially considering the hundreds of authorizations we call for every day, but once again nearly 75% of the "robbed" card users are Discover Card holders.

If you have one, use it on-line or at a store--if you bring it into a restaurant you WILL be a source of restaurant-wide derision.

10:36 AM  
Anonymous Restaurant Gal said...

Your guests, my guests--twins separated by 1500 miles or so. Interesting factoids about Discover card people.

9:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

At our restaurant, the reservations for the evening are printed and distributed to different stations throughout the restaurant. We also use Open Table. I am constantly amazed at the comments people leave in the special notes section. People are crazy. I have beeen saving reservation sheets and I am going to put them in some sort of publication for all the servers for a christmas present. I love reading your stories. Thanks.

5:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have never heard a manager talk about low sales with Discover cards. I really dont seen them much of late to be honest BUT I did for a time bank with a local credit union whose membership used to be 10-15 years ago educational employees only.

I cringe everytime I see that check card as they tend to be bad to cheap tippers. 15% is uncommon and 20% i would estimate 1% or less of my tranactions. We just hired a PT server who underwrites their auto loans during the day -they are happy to loan on mere 800 credit score.

Open table comments-- I was always amazed with how little info my fellow server listed. 90% involved key info like good/bad tipper and jerk. And I was listing names, wine, and food preferences.

12:57 AM  

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