Monday, January 17, 2005

Restaurant Biz - Day Four (Friday Friday Friday)

There's no denying, the busiest nights in the restaurant business (barring holidays) are weekend nights. So, despite last Saturday being relatively dead, I had high hopes for getting a taste of the flurry and flow of a busy restaurant this past Friday.

It did not disappoint.

The first wave came at the normal time, 6pm-7pm. The small space had people vying for the few available tables and I spent 80% of the time bussing the places of people who had barely gotten up, in order to get the next group seated. Keep in mind, the restaurant has no official wait staff, so customers were kind of left to fend for themselves to grab a table, but I did my best to assure that the next one was ready asap. In this rushing around, I learned one of what I consider the "big lessons" of the business:

You must psychically *know* where all people on the line (cooking) are going, at any given point. This was hammered into me the first time I got in the head chef's way and was shot a look so dirty, it could peel paint. From then on, I watched. For example: From watching him cook these last few days, I knew at what point the chef was going to take that burrito from the grill to the sandwich board and I knew how long he would spend *there*, giving me time to dash the other way and throw the dishes to the dishwasher, without him having to move a muscle to avoid me.

A little side story with that: they hired someone new, who started on Friday. I was, at first, a little hurt, as, well, I'd been working there for a few days, unpaid, now and expected that, upon the first opening, I'd get hired in. But then, as Genevieve brought up, I didn't actually work with the owner until this past week and this new person, very well, got hired before then. It's an odd point of note, though, that while she was on dishes all night, I handled any prep, most of the bussing, and a few drinks, chips & salsas, etc. through the night.

Anyways, just when we thought the rush was done, the second wave of business hit. This was in the form of a whole crew of 20-something's, beer in hand, ready to take over almost half the restaurant. Not that anyone was minding, they ordered lots of food. But, between them and foot traffic coming in, the orders kept flying in. Of course, there reached a point where my usefulness was completely exhausted, not really being able to help on the line. So I was the gopher boy for the rest of the night: throwing some extra beans and chicken on the burner, refilling the prep buckets, putting dishes away, etc etc.

So, thought I really wish I could have helped out the cooks more (I felt especially useless during those times when they were busting ass and I was just sitting on mine), it was definitely an interesting view into the behind-the-scenes atmosphere of a busy restaurant, which is really what I wanted to get out of it.

I return to work today (Monday). I was actually asked to come in this day. Why? Not quite sure, as Monday's are infamously dead (so much so that many restaurants close on Monday), but we'll see. Maybe I'll be suprised.