Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Restaurateurs

Restaurateurs are a funny lot, not a lot of laughs but funny all the same. I've worked for them all at some point or other. There was the family who were The Sopranos years before that show was even conceived. That ended with a bomb and a gun to the back.

Happy days.
that's what your average restaurateur looks like
fuck it
that's what they all look like.....

Then there were the Pizza Hut years. Corporate restaurants are soulless and stifling environments to work in. Creativity and free expression are crushed in a way that the Glorious Leaders of North Korea would be proud of. A restaurant owned and run by a chef is always infinitely better than one owned by someone with too much cash and a daft dream.

I used to work for a guy like that. He bought his wife a restaurant, which I suppose if I'm being generous is quite a lovely thing to do. If I'm being cynical, and I almost always am, he was trying to save his marriage. Just a pity neither of them knew a tidlers fuck about the running of such a venture. He expected the money to flow thick, fast and constant. Pfft! As if! He should have been a waiter with an attitude like that.

Everyday was a battle with him. He once gave me a bollocking for hiring a guy who wasn't as ascetically pleasing as he thought the staff should be.

He made me sack him.

This was one of the lowest points of my professional career. It mattered not that the guy had years of experience, was great with his tables and was popular with the other staff. His less than "perfect" face just didn't fit. This, of course, was ironic as yer man, the owner, was so grotesque he made me do a sick in my mouth every time I saw him.

But ugly people don't make bad restaurateurs, but ugly souled people do. You need passion and creativity, you need to know your beans not just how to count them.

They had poached me from another restaurant and promised me the earth, the moon, and a go in his Ferrari if I came and worked for them. I got no earth. I saw nothing of the moon. And by the time I finished each day I gave not but a toss for his red coloured penis extension, or Ferrari as it's also known.

When they weren't badgering the life out of me about something ridiculous such as the length of the waitresses skirts, true story, they were sending their friends in to spy on me. This was intolerable. They would swan off to their villa on the Costas and then send their equally slimy and perma-tanned friends round to snoop on what I was up to. I would get a call, from Spain, about hand prints on the glass door or the need to change the toilet roll in the ladies.

This couldn't go on. After about three weeks I was given the heave ho. Her brother had finished his university course and was looking for a job. So he filled the large space I was crowbarred out of. I was gutted but also relieved. I didn't want to work for people who held their employees with such contempt. I laughed for a week when the restaurant closed less than a year later.

A while later I started with my most favorite employer, Ol Crazy Horse. He was, as his name suggests, as crazy as bag of badgers hyped to the max on Bolivian marching powder. His lunacy, for that's what it was, was brought on by a fantastic cocktail of grade A narcotics, an undiagnosed case of ADHD, and genius. This manifested itself in behaviour that on one hand made for the most awesome-o day at work and on the other made you want to run away and hide under the nearest car. He was up when he was up and he was demoniacal when he was down. There was no pattern and no no way of telling what you were in for when you went to work in the morning.

Both sides of his personality could be unbearable. But he had passion and he cared about the little things and about the quality of the food and temperature of the coffee. And in his more demented moments he did things like bar a 6 month old child and it's mother, but only after the child had been told to get out. Their crime? For complaining about the door being open. It was lunacy of the worst sort but did make for a fun day at work.

But that couldn't last. I mean there is only so much lunacy a chap like me can take. I knew the end was nigh when he took to wearing a Zorro mask for a few weeks. This was followed by a few days
masquerading as Mr Potato Head resplendent, of course, with a huge Mr Potato Head mask. These were difficult times. I wasn't sure if he was having a good time or having a breakdown. In the end he went into rehab and I went in search of a new job.

He was and probably always will be my most favourite employer. I mean who else would shut up just so we could all go out on the lash or play "She" by Elvis Costello 20 times in a row just for the craic of it?

So who's your favourite boss been and have they ever taken to wearing a Zorro mask for a week or two? If so we probably worked together..........or heaven forbid there are two of them.

30 People trying to get Manuel's attention:

Maxi Cane said...

I had a boss get drunk one Christmas eve and cry telling me he wanted me for his son.

Eye contact after that just seemed wrong.

Manuel said...

maxi:[sharp intake of breath] that's not so cool...

Medbh said...

I don't know how it is in Norn Iron, but in the U.S. the majority of restos are out of business within a year. Close to 90% actually.
My favorite employer laid out lines on the bar, treated staff to all you could eat and drink, so long as you worked your ass off for him. His wife was like a big sister to me, pure class.
Then they had tax problems and the place was shut down.
Such is the way.

Manuel said...

medbh: oh it's the same here too.....even some of the good ones don't make it....sounds like a good boos for sure.....

Green Ink said...

There's really only so many restaurants that an economy can sustain. I also love the fact that in a gastronomic blog a bit of sick in your mouth is never far away.

dave said...

I worked in Winemark when my best mate worked there. You didn't need to lift a finger cos he had it sorted within 20 seconds.
(he didn't give a fuck if we were caught on, he was gonna take the rapp as he was emigrating)

The boss couldn't understand why me and him volunteered to work every Sunday (the wine tasting day). We rolled out of the place drunk and stoned on joints after playing cards for 6 hours.

Then we went to the bar. Yee Ha!

Manuel said...

green ink: my blog is the typed form of "sick in yer mouth".....

dave: nice dave, nice......

belfastyouthworker said...

i have worked in several restaurants in antrim and north down (there's your first clue) owned by a prominent northern irish family of restauranteurs. they paid me less than minimum wage for the best part of three years. however the backlog pay was sweet. bwahahaha.

Niall said...

when i was part of the dream team was good. i enjoyed it. and the glorius leader wasnt bad. coming form a background of people with big wallets and no clue it was good to work for someone with all the answers.(or most of the time) restaurant staff were alright too i suppose. ah well there goes my nice ration im off to stab a badger.

Manuel said...

byw: the dirty bastards......! I'd make a guess but I fear the lawyers.....

niall: give him two from me......

dave said...

Manuel...


Go work in Winemark...it's an experience!

Manuel said...

dave: I wouldn't buy a tin of harp from winemark let alone work there.....honest

nica said...

Favorite? I don't know about that. We get treated pretty well most of the time I guess. We get fed at least, but the owner has serious flip out issues that come from no where. Way too many people have gotten fired for breathing too loudly on those days. Plus his girlfriend who happens to hostess/bartend is a total bitch who recruits other people to do her work while giving them more " special projects" to do.

Medbh said...

Nica, oh, I've had to endure that scenario at more than one restaurant where the hostess was fucking the manager or a waitress was in order to get all the best shifts and sections. Once, a waitress and head manager bought a house together and all I heard was that she had to get the big tables to pay for the fucking down payment. Horrible conditions.

Manuel said...

nica: what a class act! working on the floor with an owners other half is so not cool......

paddy said...

worked for a fantastic lunatic known as the Skipper in the mid 90s. The Skipper bought a pub because he liked getting drunk and his other restaurant wasn't making enough money. Often wouldn't have enough money to pay us, especially after a gambling binge, so he'd soften the blow by getting us rotten on single malt and hash after work before he broke the bad news. While the pay was irregular at best, occasionally you'd have a win where he would be so fucked up he'd pay you for the same week twice. Other highlights included him passing out under the pool table quite early at a staff party and losing close to three grands worth of stock as the staff laid waste to the bar and the night his wife caught him shagging a customer on the roof of the pub.

Steve said...

This restaurant owner named Alex was the best boss I ever had.A restaurant owner who knew the business and made every restaurant he touched hugely popular.But to work for him what was great is he would leave you alone.He liked to hire people over 40 who knew what they were doing.As long as you could host , answer the phone , bartend , serve wine , run your own food , handle 10 tables at once and be your own busser you were in.I worked for him for 2 years but had to go so I could teach Bartending at local College.He wanted you available all the time.But I made incredible money with him.Worked one week last December with him and earned $3,000 Canadian ( about $2700 US ).The drink was good too after work.
The offer is probably still open to come back but I like to see my kids once in a while and teach.

Silverstar said...

All my favorite bosses just left me the fuck alone to do my job, unless I asked for feedback.

Manuel said...

paddy: Seriously, ol crazy horse was just the same. I remember complaining about my xmas bonus one year. Now any other employer would have told me to fuck away off, he went upstairs and got more cash......he wanted it back a month later....

steve: get him to open a place in Ireland!!!

silverstar: yes, damn right!

Lottie said...

Ive never had a really nasty boss...that I can remember at the moment anyway. My boss at present is lovely - he behaves like a nice man at least. People tell me he's sly to the bone and wouldn't give you the scraps of his plate unless you could do something for him but I have not seen that side. He's always been a real gentleman even if he is a bit wired.

Like Silverstar - once they leave me to my own devices then I don't have a problem with them.

Manuel said...

lottie: people say that about my current boss too but I've never seen that side of him.....maybe I'm an idiot though.....

oh for shame said...

Did I tell you about the ugly chef who used to seduce waitresses with copious of cha-cha and bring them home to his wife? Apparently he was impotent... Boom boom!

Sniffle&Cry said...

Summer work on a German building site a hundred years ago, the beau-führer pouring benevolence on me cause he couldn’t with the Turkish gastarbeiters. So, when concrete needed cooling down in the hot afternoons, (you sat and sprayed water and drank beer – did I mention they sold beer on German building sites back then), well I’m your man. Harry used to be in the Luftwaffe and really wasn’t meant for foremaning, “Sniffle, sometimes I vish I was still up there, dropping bombs down here” Oh, how we laft!

sheepworrier said...

The current boss is ok, even if he is a bit of a god-botherer, but I agree the best ones are always those who just leave you the fuck alone.

Became really good mates with one of my previous bosses until I decided to leave the company - never have I seen such a turn-around from best guy in the world to complete vindictive bollix. He was one of those all-or-nothing types and the job was his entire life, but even with that I was shocked how quickly he turned on me.

MJ said...

My two fave bosses from days of yore actually read my blog!

We got along famously based on the fact that we shared similar senses of humour.

I count myself lucky to have worked with them.

DotC said...

favorite boss sang Cake's Going the Distance at me when I did a good job at something. Also quoted Cohen brothers movies and drew cartoons of all of us.

Second favorite boss let me yell at her and wouldnt fire me for it.

belfastyouthworker said...

also my current boss (in my youth work setting) is only a few years older than me (late 20ish i imagine) yet wildly rich and successful. she's an absolute darling and so laid back that i imagine i could be a teeth-grinding meth addict and come into work hungover every day and she wouldnt bat an eyelid. although she's got to have some freaky serial killer side, as all owners and managers do.

Anonymous said...

my current boss is thee absolutely freekin best. he is a thai man, sweet and soft spoken and biz savvy. he leaves us alone and lets us do our job. seven table sections, great money, no hassle. i work hard for him because he makes me WANT to.
best job i have ever had (after some real kickers!)

Anonymous said...

Laverys. You couldn't beat it. At least when Lally was the manager. Those were the days....sitting in the pool hall drunk and stoned til six in the morning.

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