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In The Weeds: 20 Percent Is The New Black…and Crazy Russians

January 5, 2010

Sorry dears, I only have time for a quickie this week.  I started my new job yesterday.  And like I said before, that’s pretty much all I’m gonna say about it.  I’m a quick study on the blogging and working thing, don’t you think?

I’m not-so-secretly flattered that a dude named Eric has devoted lots of space on his blog to writing about how disgusting we servers are and how I am particularly disgusting.  But he also says that “In The Weeds” is well written — so I’m smitten.  He seems genuine in his attempts to take restaurants to task, particularly on food allergies because he has a severe shellfish thing.  But having no industry experience, his utopic and idealistic advice on how things should be done is downright adorable.  Kinda like watching a toddler try to tie his shoes.  One of his suggestions is for servers to talk to the chef and kitchen staff about implementing training on food allergies.  See?  So cute. 

Chefs are cranky… pretty much universally.  Their job is to work hard all morning alongside their equally hardworking immigrant staff getting ready for service.  Then they must get consistent food to hundreds of people as quickly as possible for the rest of the day. And they perform this sprinting marathon every week for 70 to 80 hours.   Then they go home long after their kids have gone to bed and collapse in a pile of stinky exhaustion.  Anything that interrupts this controlled flow of chaos is cause for major additional stress. He won’t try to kill you.  But he will roll his eyes.  I encourage Eric to do one observation shift at a busy restaurant like The Capital Grille.  Even in a corporate environment where all the kinks of the assembly line have been addressed, shit does get crazy on a nightly basis.  It’s easy to think things are really “easy” to implement when you only see the labor involved in getting the food to your table.

To answer his question on why 15 percent is no longer considered a good tip, it’s just so ambiguous.  Ten percent definitely lets me know things went wrong (I’ve never received a 10% tip unless it’s from a European)…but it would certainly send a message.  Twenty percent lets me know that things went swimmingly.  But 15 percent, I’m stumped.  Is this just how you tip or were you unhappy?  I’ll never know.  There is not some vast left wing conspiracy to change the gratuity standard to 20 percent.  It has been ticking up, like everything else, for the better part of fifteen years.  Food prices, due to competition, do not rise at a rate that would cover the cost of living increase, so that may have something to do with it.  But like I said, I didn’t make it up.  That’s just the way it is.  Like not shitting in the airplane bathroom, everyone pretty much agrees it’s just the right thing to do.  It’s only a difference of $2.50 on a $50 check and $5 on a $100 check.  It costs you very little but means so much to your server.  Good service does not simply accompany your dining experience, it enhances it.

Finally kids, the crazy owner of Paradou restaurant in New York sent a certifiable e-mail to his staff after they failed to bully their guests into giving out their email addresses for marketing purposes.  Vadim Ponorovsky either needed some Stoli or had already had too much when he wrote this.  Check it out and we’ll discuss next week.

“To All,

Please read this email carefully. This is the last time we will be discussing this.

This weekend, saturday and sunday we had 451 customers. Guess how many emails we collected? 60? 80? 40? No. None of those. We, or more acurately you, collected 2 emails. Thats less than half of one percent. 2 fucking emails.

WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU ASSHOLES?!?!?! How many times do we have to tell you how important it is that you collect emails. Everytime we have a slow night and you make no money and you sit there bitching about how you make no money, remember its because youre fucking lazy motherfuckers. YOU SHOULD ALL BE FIRED IMMEDIATELY!!!!! ALL OF YOU, INCLUDING THE HOSTS!!!!

Let me guess, youre probably sitting there saying “Vadim is such a fucking asshole. How dare he speak to me like this. I dont need this.” Youre right, you dont, so why dont you get the fuck out. Any and all of you.

Youre probably sitting there saying “How dare he speak to me like this. How dare he not have respect for me”. Youre right there also. I have absolutely no respect for any of you. Why? Because every fucking day, all of you continue to show that you have absolutely no respect for me or Alex. So if you dont respect us enough to do the little that we ask you to do, then GET THE FUCK OUT YOU FUCKING LAZY DISRESPECTFUL ASSHOLES!!!!!

Effective immediately, any server or host who fails to collect at least 20 emails per week, will be fined $100. Anyone failing to collect at least 20 emails for two weeks in a month will be fired immediately. No matter what. No matter who you are.

You dont want to do your job, you dont want to do what we ask, you dont belong at Paradou. Go find another place to work.

How dare you disrespect Alex and me this way. How dare you completely ignore what we ask of you time after time after time.

I am sick of all this shit, you bunch of fucking children. This is what I have to deal with at 6AM?!?!? I wouldnt tolerate this from my 13 year old, and Im sure as shit not going to tolerate it from any of you assholes.

You give no respect, you get 10 times back.”

Wow.  Man, I have so much to say.  But I work mornings now like a grown-up, so I’ll save it.



10 Responses to “ In The Weeds: 20 Percent Is The New Black…and Crazy Russians ”

  1. Nat on January 5, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    Regarding Eric, I don’t see why there’s any disagreement or animosity between you (if, indeed, there is), since you’re talking about two different things: He’s arguing about what restaurants should do, whereas, in the passage of yours he cites, you simply explained what they do do (hee!)

  2. I've eaten, thank you! on January 5, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    I can only imagine the bag of dog dung in his mailbox!

  3. AiXeLsyD13 on January 6, 2010 at 7:39 pm

    Heh. I’ve been served. I’ll be sure to leave a 20%-25% tip!

    Actually, that’s the best explanation I’ve heard on tipping. Usually it’s a “just because” kind of answer. I generally tip 20%-ish but I thought that was above good. I now see that it’s just plain good, so I will try to tip more.

    I see you’re taking my rants in good humor, and again… this is an incredibly well written blog. I am admittedly naive about the inner-workings of a kitchen, and would gladly observe a place in operation.

    Laurel, a good friend of mine who has worked more than a few waitressing jobs, and I have this conversation once or twice a year. I will always and forever be wrong in my opinions to her. I’m OK with that.

    I do see that it’s not the server’s job to talk to the chef about implementing allergy awareness… but shouldn’t that be taught in school or handed down by the owner or something?

    @Nat… not sure on Charity’s take… but I see no animosity towards me… and I hope to not come off that way. My stuff is more like thinking out loud, in an apparently idealistic way… ha ha ha.

    I guess people writing blogs are trying to provoke some kind of reaction anyway, right?

  4. teleburst on January 7, 2010 at 6:20 pm

    I wrote about something similar to this on my “So You Want To Be A Waiter” blog. It was two posts, one about accomodating vegetarians and vegans and one on people who have celiac disease and are on gluten-free diets.

    Neither is comprehensive but hopefully points servers in the way of accomodating people with certain dietary needs. You might find them interesting:

    I would devote a post to allergies, but there’s not a lot of practical info that I can give waiters because, as you pointed out on your blog, this is more of a kitchen cross-contamination issue than a food knowledge thing, although some menus might have some things that a waiter might need to know about in regard to unstated ingredients in recipes that could cause a patron to have problems (something cooked in peanut oil might not be immediately obvious, for instance).

    But you have gotten me interested in exploring the topic of allergies, so I’m likely to come up with something that might be helpful to both waiter and patron.

  5. AiXeLsyD13 on January 13, 2010 at 9:26 am

    @teleburst – Wow, that’s encouraging. You must live in my idealistic world, ha ha ha.

  6. teleburst on January 13, 2010 at 8:13 pm


    Heck, you could certainly eat in my restaurant because we don’t cross-contaminate, except that you wouldn’t be able to eat any fried food because we have fried calimari. Plus, we are pretty knowledgable about what goes in our food and we cook a lot of elemental things like steaks (no shellfish ever hits the cutting board that they use to “oil” the steak) and steamed green veggies (our veggies can be steamed or sauteed in garlic and olive oil). If you can afford it, you might try your local steakhouse (I’m talking Capital Grill, Palm, Ruth’s Criss, Morton’s, etc.) The servers there can assure your safe dining and it’s pretty easy to build a meal that just about ANYONE can eat, even those with such esoteric allergies like garlic, which is a tough one for many restaurants. The food is pretty simple in general and don’t have a lot of “exotic” ingredients, plus, the line cooks and broiler personnel have pretty high standards and are well-trained and can comply with most reasonable special dietary requests. Even vegans can eat in most high-end steakhouses, if their moral compass allows them to do so. Of course, most vegans would never be caught dead in one…

  7. AiXeLsyD13 on January 14, 2010 at 10:41 am

    Well, after reading things like I’ve discussed here and here, how do I really trust anywhere?

  8. vandervecken on January 14, 2010 at 11:08 am

    My theory on the 15% tip [ especially the ones who leave EXACTLY 15% to the penny]: it’s the Amateur Night tip.
    Every 15% tip I’ve ever got was issued by some goober –usually in the 55+ age range [either physically or mentally] — who thinks what they think is the only thing that matters, that life is about getting the world to meet some secret set of expectations, and their psychic comfort zone is feeling betrayed when it doesn’t happen. Who is so obsessed with thier own penny-ante gratification that it’s inconcievable that there could possibly be anything else in the world. Who is way more interested in how other people ought to treat them than in how they ought to treat others. In other words, Republicans. Whether they know it or not.

  9. Dave on January 14, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    I like following my friends around the internet…

    Anyway… Eric is one of the only people I know who has a food allergy and isn’t a dick about it. I’ve seen him ask the servers about the cooking situations as they pertain to him. He then calmly awaits their response and then orders based on the verdict from the kitchen. Eric understands that it’s not the cook’s fault that he’ll die from shellfish, as he acts accordingly.

    My thoughts on cross-contamination are simply that too many people anymore take NO pride in their work. This is not everyone, but I’m sure that it is the vast majority of people cooking, serving and then cleaning up food. How many of those people are working in restaurants because they want to? Probably not too many. That leads to apathy and general disenchantment with the job when in reality, that is someone’s food. That is something that someone is paying for and then subsequently consuming.

    As for the tipping deal, I start at 15% and go from there. I do, however, tip on the entire bill; taxes, drinks and so on included. I also tend to be the one to encourage the leaving of more money for better service, nice personality or whatever strikes my fancy that day. My sister is a server, so I have heard the lectures from her about the ins and outs of the restaurant world. I also make sure to never walk out with the server’s pen. That’s a big no no. :)

  10. FudgePickerOuter on January 15, 2010 at 5:44 am

    They should just give that crazy Russian dude fake emails. And make them be something like ..