One of my managers likens the job I do to working Rubik’s Cube: “Some people can do it, some can’t. If you can’t do the Cube, you probably won’t do well at figuring out the flow of a fast-paced restaurant like this.”
Yes, well…. I HATE trying to make sense of Rubik’s Cube. I hate it because I am hopelessly horrible at it. (And the manager who said this is kind of an idiot, anyway.)
Curiously, however, I am not too bad at putting the pieces of our table puzzle together every lunch shift, despite my Rubik’s disability. A slow day for us is 250 covers; our usual is 400-plus. Today, we topped 550. Soon, I will share photos of the Table Check board we use in combination with a computer program to keep it all up-to-date. When I joke with customers that a degree in engineering goes a long way in my job, I am only half kidding.
The deuces and four-tops are relatively easy to deal with. It’s the large parties–the multiple sevens and eights and tens and sixteens that make for an interesting day.
What makes for a challenging day? When large parties arrive claiming to have a reservation that isn’t in the book. When large parties don’t like their pre-assigned tables and demand to switch. When large parties grow from seven to ten upon arrival, then bump up one more to eleven. When one person in the large party arrives at the reservation time, and the others trickle in over the next hour. When a large party stays longer than the two+ hours we’ve allowed, and the next large party arrives for the same table.
What makes for an incredibly adrenaline-fueled, unbelievably CRAZY challenging day? When all of the above happens during the lunch crush between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
That would be today.
My first ten-top hated their table. They wanted round, not oblong. We have limited seating for 10-tops. We had overbooked 10-tops today. Uh oh.
They argued amongst themselves, they argued with the seaters, and they argued with me. I threw myself on a very big sword to speed up their venting process and get it over with so I could deal with the hordes piling up in my foyer. It actually worked.
My conversation with the other host podium went like this:
“Let’s put the retirement party in the 330s. I can take the birthday group that was supposed to be seven and is now ten and put them where the retirement party was supposed to go.”
“But what about the other two ten-tops?”
“The one isn’t due in for a half hour. Set up the 320s for that. We can no-show the other in a few minutes anyway–they’re late as hell.”
“But what about…”
“Just do it. It’ll work, I promise.”
True, the eight-top that didn’t have a reservation, but said they did, was a huge pain in the ass. They almost singlehandedly threw the puzzle into disarray.
“What about the eight?”
“Push the 404 and 405 together. Tight, but it’ll work.”
“People are still there from an hour ago. They have the check but won’t leave.”
“Tell the eight with the ‘reservation’ it’ll be a moment, unless they want two booths side-by-side.”
“Yeah, uh, no. We tried it. The f-bomb was used several times.”
“Okay, give them…”
“Never mind, I got it.”
Team work–never underestimate it.
Moments later: “You okay with the eight?” I ask.
“Yeah, but, can I give you a ten-top in your area in 20 minutes?”
“Sure, if you’ll take the eight-top coming in thirty.”
“Will they be okay with back-to-back?”
“Probably or really probably?”
Screw the Cube. The Gal knows how to cut a sweet deal spoken in incomplete-speak while smiling and doling out pagers to the hungry masses before her.
It’s all in how you deal.