Saturday, November 22, 2008

Advanced Placement Table For One

This is a juicy insider tutorial for the solo diner.

When I lived in downtown Oakland, I would treat myself to a lavish dinner for one at least once a week.
Armed with my industry knowledge from being a double digit year foodie, I constantly exercised the practice that I now pass on to the masses. It should be noted that in any other professional arena, I should be a able to charge for this.

First of all, if you are dining alone, make sure you sit at the bar. Nobody wants to be, or look at, the creepy person on a dining room floor peering over their risotto at all the other happy couples. Now-not any seat at the bar will do. Solo diners need to position themselves as close to (preferably next to) the service bar.
This area is usually marked by tall brass handles, the obligatory bar mat, and ever present the cocktail condiment caddie. This is where all the servers will go to retrieve any ordered beverages from the dining room floor that need to be prepared by the bartender. This area is the water cooler of the restaurant office and offers nothing less than the ha has and gaffas that have become synonymous with gossip posts in any working environment.

Lets step back for a moment: It is crucial that you are armed with props that allow you to co-mingle with the staff as one of their own, without being noticed. Like any wild animal being observed in their natural environment, foodies will silence themselves immediately and pull up shop if the foreigner feigns the slightest interest. So it becomes crucial that you look like your not really listening at all.
Do not assume the establishment will have a television for you to fake watching. Come prepared with a magazine or book, and be prepared to not read a word.

Side Note: If you frequent this establishment, take the time to learn table numbers. This will provide endless visual aides for the tid-bits of industry gossip you are about to devour.

Let The Games Begin!

Two servers patiently waiting for their gin and tonics to be made: "Did you see the rack on the girl on table 22..I would wear that like a hat". server 2, "I got a biggun on table 57. She ordered a 24 ounce bone in rib eye, extra peppercorn sauce, side of mac and cheese, creamed spinach, baked potato and a diet coke. Who the hell is she kidding with diet?" server 1, "how much do you think the guy with the comb-over on 62 is paying for his date with that whore?". enter bartender with made drinks, "Dude on seat 12 has the worst breath ever-seriously smells like hes been eating shit sandwiches, and the fucker just ordered extra garlic on his calamari. gonna be a long night." server 1, "did you hear that Alex and Chris hooked up last night?" server 2, "shes the town bike man-everybodys had a ride." Exit servers bar left armed with their cocktails.

Devilishly you smile not just because you went unnoticed and could make out every word, but you realize this whole phenomenon will repeat itself endlessly throughout the night and you haven't even been served your salad.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Jennas a Little Black Rain Cloud

I have a server on staff named Jenna. She is one of the most delightful people I know. Never short of a smile, never profane, always polite..Every bit the lady that parents hope their kids will become, however; being the eternal optimist does not exclude you from the type of day Jenna had at the restaurant last night. As a famous author once wrote-"things fall apart"

At first glance and from a distance-one would only see Jennas pressed uniform accompanied by her delightfully multi colored headband and think "everything is coming up Jenna". This was not the case.

After an unauthorized gerrymandering of her table section resulting in a far inferior assignment, things just started to go awry. First she knocks the printer off the table into the window and narrowly escapes shattering said glass. Clumsiness happens in the restaurant business when one is idle, and she is idle because an endless supply of patrons are being escorted to her section only to request of the hostess before they sit, "may we sit somewhere else?". Jenna has no tables.

In an effort to supply some sort of distraction, I bring her a sample of the sauce we will be using for the fish that evening. A lovely and well balanced concoction of carrot, coconut, and curry. Upon one sip Jenna is clearly dismayed as she exclaims "this is the grossest stuff I have ever tasted and now it has taken over my mouth". Jenna will be selling no fish tonight.
She excuses herself for a pilgrimage to the guest restroom for some much needed mouthwash relief. There is no more mouthwash. UUUGGHH!
I let her know that there is a small remaining portion in my office and she quickly disappears, she needs that taste out of her mouth and NOW!
She returns glassy eyed and laughing/crying. Jenna has missed her mouth with the hurried shot of Listerine and poured it down her shirt.
Quickly another distraction is needed to alleviate dwelling in the moment, and the phone ringing provides the perfect simple task for Jenna to execute.
She saunters to the phone and picks it up.."Good evening and thank you for calling First Prespeterian Church"......silence...."I mean The Steakhouse". oh Jenna.

At this point I need to dig deep to give her a reason to smile. A compliment that will make her feel good about her terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.
"At least you have a magnificent Technicolor headband today" , I say.
"It gives me a headache".

Theres just no winning this one.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

According To Joe-part 1

My brother Joe is Terrific! Not unlike so many of us in the Tullis clan, he sees things a little differently.

Joe is currently in possession of a Japanese fighting fish. A fish that he doesn't particularly want.
Further more; he named this fish Sandy. Not the ideal moniker for a tough sounding species like "Japanese fighting fish".

Here's the deal. Joe will probably own this fish for the duration of the average fish life span because he is unable to perform an type of euthanasia. He pines over pet ownership on an hourly basis and can be heard muttering "I don't even want this fish" or "dammit, I have to clean Sandy's bowl".

Why does Joe even have a fish, and what could have transpired to lead to such an unwanted partnership, one may ask.

Well according to Joe-They should never put a pet shop next door to a bar.

Friday, November 7, 2008

A Breakdown of Tobyisms

In the fast paced world of food and beverage, I have come to rely on a smattering of "go-to" lines that I use on a regular basis. The guests of course see them as fresh and new and constructed just for them...,my staff however knows that they from a seemingly endless arsenal of cataloged Tobyisms and have (more often than not) taken to rolling their eyes in acceptance.

I.E.-when a familiar patron appears in the restaurant you may hear me greet them with "I thought it felt hotter in here" (insert eye rolling). Or a greeting with a question, "Is it as hard as it looks?" (reply with "what?") , "Looking that good." (insert eye rolling) or table side-"How is everything prepared tonight?" (reply-GREAT!), "Wonderful, in that case it is all MY doing, that's why I ask first you see, because if it was bad it was somebody elses doing and I would act accordingly".

But my favorite isms are reserved for the staff themselves, and while they hear them time and time again they never seem to tire.

I.E.-"pardon me hun, but the grownups are talking" or "I know your job is difficult, let me just call my friend who is busy trying to cure cancer and let him know your both on the same page".

But the number one is a rehearsed soliloquy that is all mine and still makes me giggle when in deploy it.

On a busy night I pick the busiest server. You know the one that has no time to stop and chat let alone revere in Tobyisms. I stop them mid stride-
"I need to see you in my office when this madness cools down"
They come to an abrupt halt. I might as well have said "you need to see the principal". reply-"Why, what did I do?"
soliloquy-"At this particular time, we feel that you and the restaurant are going in separate directions, (hand gesture of separation). We have no doubt that you have a bright future ahead of you, it's just not in food and beverage".

Please note that this person has done nothing wrong and on the contrary is handling themselves very well. Why then?
Quickly the server realizes that I have provided and opportunity for them to stop...catch their breath and thoughts...and coupled it all with a ridiculous joke. They are now able to see over the tall weeds a little clearer...and like I said-I get a kick out of being ridiculous.

What do I hope to accomplish with this grammar school mentality? I just want to point out that we need to stop, laugh, and stop taking our 4 hours of mad paced work too seriously. As they say-This too shall pass.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Prop 8 Madness

As quick as I am to point out how bipartisan sites like blogspot are no place to air political grievances-This kind of oppression will not stand!

Passing prop 8 is absolutely no different than a whites only water fountain.

The goose that gets my gander is why any heterosexual (for or against gay marriage) gives two wooden nickles what Chuck and Larry do at home. It is none of antibody's damned business.

If there were an audio clip associated with anybody that voted for, I believe it might be "Oh look at those two people over there who are in love. They look way too happy. I'm going to have to put an end to that."

We should all be so lucky to find the special someone with whom you want commit your life to. Who gives a shit who that person is.

The passing of proposition 8 is an abomination!