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The Restaurant Chronicles, Part 1


Have you ever heard that saying, "The show must go on"? When you hear it, you think of what is commonly referred to as "Show-biz," don't you? But where can you go to see the best acting money can buy, any day of the week? No, I'm not talking about the theatre or TV. I'm talking about the "Restaurant-biz." Servers, bartenders, hostesses, and restaurateurs act on a daily business. Their performance is crucial! Every movement, every word, every bite is an integral part of the restaurant-goers experience, and any one of these parts, if it isn't just right, could lead to the restaurant-goer, well, going.

Many a restaurant owner has held their breath as they flipped to the local restaurant critic's (probably some pompous, pretentious old windbag), page to see what he or she has to say about their establishment. This write-up has the power to make or break a restaurant, especially a privately owned one. Unfortunately the only critiques a server gets to give are given behind a kitchen door, in a server station, or over a beer (or several) at the end of a shift. Well, the restaurant critic has held the pen too long! The time has come for the server to speak up and critique the customer for a change!

I, as a former member of the exclusive club known as the Restaurant Industry, am about to attempt a categorization of several different types of patrons. This will be the first installment of a series I like to call, "The Restaurant Chronicles." In this, Part 1, I will begin a labeling process which will hopefully serve as both comic relief for others in our distinguished field, and also to illuminate those who may unknowingly belong to one (or more) of the following groups. Let's see, where should we begin?

The Chatty-Cathy: This breed of customer is more interested in gabbing and/or gossiping with friends or colleagues than ordering or eating food. She or he is content to have the server stand and wait while finishing the conversation. This customer will ignore the server every time they come back and ask whether a refill or some other service is needed. If the server has to repeatedly ask the question, this customer will often flash a dirty look or make a snide comment.

The Cell Phone Addict: This lonely soul cannot seem to put their cell phone down long enough to even order. They insist on pointing to items on the menu and requiring their server to guess at their order instead of simply putting their phone down and speaking.

The Sally: If you've seen the movie When Harry met Sally, you have seen a frighteningly realistic example of the high-maintenance guest. This person says thing like, "I'll have this roast turkey sandwich, except can I get it with mustard instead of mayonnaise? Actually can I have a little bit of both on the side, and, uh, no tomatoes? Do you have rye bread? Could you have them toast it? And could I have a mixed green salad instead of the pasta salad, but with ranch?I don't like that vinaigrette you guys use. Do you think I could get a coke instead of this tea? It tastes funny." Although they speak in sentences that sound like questions, an experienced server recognizes them for what they truly are, demands.

The Dummy: This simple creature somehow manages to find their way to the restaurant, although it's hard to imagine how. They come in through a door directly below a giant neon sign, flashing the word "OPEN," and ask, with a blank look on their face, "Are you guys open?" The menu may have the word, in huge letters, BREAKFAST on the cover, and they will ask, "Are you guys serving breakfast?" This client teaches their server the art of patience, because it is nearly impossible not to reply sarcastically to such moronic questions.

The Merry Mommy Club: This group of lovely ladies and their lovely children is always a treat, if your idea of a treat is hurdling small children, while at the same time, maneuvering large heavy trays of hot food and liquids without losing your balance, as they run under your feet. This species of diner loves to sit for hours and hours chatting, as they consume only small side dishes of food and sip away gallons of decaffeinated coffee, or every server's favorite, hot tea! They squeak in babynese, and compete in the "My baby can do this?" game. They also are notorious for their lack of observational skills, as their older children compete in creating a virtual "Obstacle Course" for servers and other guests by climbing on top of tables, running behind the counter, and other various activities.

Well, that concludes Part 1 of the Restaurant Chronicles, but fear not, my wonderful readers! I plan to continue my exploration of this fascinating creature, known as the diner, in Part 2. So please come back and learn more about this interesting, exciting, and often times, just plain weird business, we Restaurant folk affectionately refer to as, well?our job.

Toni Kiser is a recently married, college graduate from North Carolina. She worked as a server, manager and bartender in the Restaurant Industry for over 12 years. She now lives in California with her husband, a musician and computer-programmer. She has been writing all her life, and hopes to one day write a collumn in a magazine or newspaper.

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