Thursday, 12 February 2009

How to survive in the economic downturn/keep your job/lose all your chums...

Ooooh it's tough out there. It really really is. Tips are falling and restaurants are shutting at a rate of knots. It's even biting in the fanciful and cosseted world of celebraty chefdom. Gordon wants more time to pay suppliers, what a nightmare. Mr Blanc is shutting a restaurant, sacrebleu. And poor old Wozza is really in the mire as he closes four restaurants and stares bankruptcy in the face. So not all bad then. But really it is oh so horrible and fills my heart with dread and fear for the future. Is this the right time to be starting a family? I dunno. But then again how much do dogs really cost?

the empty tip jar
the saddest sight in the whole wide world of waiting...


Closing restaurants has a real human cost, and I'm not talking about the bruised egos of the "masters" of the kitchen either. For every restaurant that closes numerous waiters and others end up on the dole queue and that's not very pleasant at all. What we need is a guide to show us the path to keeping our jobs and keeping the money flowing so that we can maintain the lavish, arf, lifestyle that we waiters have become accustomed to. Crikey even I had to forsake the wonderful world of Marks & Spencers the other day and suffer the hideousness that is Tesco's. [shudder] So many people in anoraks, so many stinky students. It offends my delicate and refined senses.

Yeah what we need is a guide to keeping our waiting jobs and how to still earn tips during an elongated and fiscally challenging credit crunch/recession. Oh look there's one right there, what a surprise....

The Well Done Fillet Guide to keeping your waiting job and how to still earn tips during an elongated and fiscally challenging credit crunch/recession.

  1. Don't go down with the ship! There are no points for being a hero and sticking it out to the very bitter end. If your restaurant is floundering then do one before they do you because when the door shuts for the last time you and all your waiter chums will probably end up applying for the same jobs.
  2. Spotting the signs of a sinking ship. Is there a disorderly and quite probably angry queue of delivery drivers waiting for cash before they deposit the asparagus and the beef? Is the boss, "not in" every time the phone rings? Have you noticed the steaks getting smaller and the salad portion getting larger? Is the head chef drunk more often than normal and when sober only found looking at the classifieds for jobs? Has the boss asked you if you can cook? Run Forest, run..and don't look back.
  3. Remember it's last in first out. It sucks but it's true. When they come to cut the hours or, even worse, people from the schedule all together you need to know who is in front of you. You need to know who is in front of you and how to get rid of them. You need a healthy buffer of people who started after you and a small line of people who have been there longer than you. Set em up people, set em up. What choice have you got? Plant vodka in their bags, make up stories about them and how they said/did something inappropriate. People come and go all the time so did you really like them that much? Eh? They weren't your real chums.
  4. Suck up to the boss. It blows I know, it really really does but you are fighting for your very survival right now. And anyhoo you are a waiter, how much self respect do you really have? Now is not the time for fighting or mounting your lovely high horse and making grandiose proclamations about how reservations should be taken. Buy them things if you must, I suggest a new coffee cup or key ring, that's the sort of stuff they really like. But remember and take note of all the crap they try to pull that you can't answer back to right now and get them in the long green grass in the future.
  5. Bend over for the nice guests. Literally if you have to. Guests with money are like hens teeth right now so the ones you do get you have to be really super wonderful fantastically nice to. I know I know, it's just awful isn't it? Occasional one liners and sarcastic remarks really wont work anymore, not in a recession. You need to devise cunning and elaborate party tricks, stand up routines and be able to both fascinate and excite the guests with whimsical anecdotes about your time at sea. I suggest getting a hold of some PG Wodehouse. Do whatever you have to get the money from their pocket to your pocket. But no juggling mind, jugglers are sick fucks and you know it.
Of course if all else fails you could just keep your head down, don't rock the boat and just try really really hard to be nice to everybody and get it right. Whatever keeps you in the folding stuff...

28 People trying to get Manuel's attention:

ninetyninewords said...

All the other manuels and manuelettes at your place are probably plotting your downfall too.

Still, don't want to start off any paranoia or anything...

Manuel said...

99 words: seriously it's a daily struggle...I feel like Julius caesar...et tu waiter chum number 1, et tu

Medbh said...

They're running this "Winterlicious" promotion among a string of restaurants here to get folks out, but the set menus are never to my taste or even demonstrate a kitchen's creativity, so we generally avoid them. There were waiters in the paper complaining about how no one orders any wine with the cheaper menus, which is probably true. The only way for the restaurants to stay afloat is to provide consistent quality food and service. It's a no-brainer, really.

And a pooch won't cost you much, Manuel.

Manuel said...

medbh: I know all about such promotions......hell on earth......oh so so bad.....I was thinking running a pooch wouldn't be dear....do you insure yours?

Ruodnane said...

If only recessions meant only the good restaurants and staff survived, rather than the wildcard loss of jobs and closing of restaurants. Maybe at least "foams and essences" will die their overdue death.

Get a puppy from the RSPCA - the one that looks the most haunted and guarded in their cage, and shower it with affection - The Cousin will come around...

Manuel said...

Ruodnane: Maybe at least "foams and essences" will die their overdue death....fingers crossed.....i plan to get a dog from a shelter....it's the only way!

Waiter Extraordinaire said...

I like this post a lot especially about keeping ahead of the slow business. If a place is faltering and you know it it's time to move on. Many people just stay way too long and then it's out on the street with many others. They ignore the signs. Life is a sprint run over a marathon distance. Gotta stay a step ahead. What is that Ramsay asking for some time to pay suppliers???

Boxer said...

I'm feeling the crunchy in my biz, we suppy retail stores. I've adopted a list of survival tactics very close to yours.... but it's exhausting and stressy and I'm so glad to come home at night to my dogs! So do not haste. Get a dog.

Old Knudsen said...

Don't forget to be extra nice to those who ask about Yorkshire pudding only to choose pork, instead of silence wink and say, "great choice dude" or however you kids speak.

DeepRed said...

Oh poo, I managed to tick 'yes' to most of your danger signs in my place...dang. I hate the place but finding a new job right now is a nightmare! Oh well I could always go back to Laverys....

Tim said...

My advice Manuel is to get a decent job with normal hours that is not at the mercy of the lowest common denominator. Being a waiter is fine if you are a student but if it is really your chosen career then you are a muppet.

Manuel said...

steve: yeah you're right....you gotta stay vital

boxer: it's not easy at the mo in almost every sector.....dogs for everyone!!

old k: "great choice dude"? where do you think I work, the film Grease?

deepred: for a pint? lovely jubbly

Anonymous said...

Cue shitstorm in 5...4...3...

Manuel said...

tim: okay then, thanks, you have a nice day.......eh actually Timmy boy what's with the antagonism? oh wait, I see, your a real ale enthusiasts.....jesus wept you people are are so sensitive it makes me wanna cry....muppet? pfft....

Manuel said...

anonymous: no, but I am very definitely awake now....

Tim said...

sorry, I didn't mean to come across as being an Antagonist.
I'm not a real ale fan as such, I just appreciate good beer.
The point I meant to make is that to survive economic downturn, find a more stable career.

Manuel said...

tim: cheers for responding back.

dude this post like almost everything I write is intended to be more tongue in cheek than real. it's hammed up, it's an exaggeration. I love being a waiter and wouldn't consider any other job in the world save for maybe stamp licker for stephen fry. and if as you suggest all the waiters were students don't you think that would leave the world of waiting and restaurants in a very poor state?

I have left messages for all over the internet, you can ignore those now.

Ribeye of your Dreams said...

Manuel, I am not ashamed to say that my nose has become more brown than a black man lately. They started cutting hours recently at "the Restaurant that shant be named", even mine, and I was promised that my hours wouldn't be cut due to my position. So much for that lie! Even worse, while they're cutting hours left and right on my staff (cocktail servers), they're hiring them in droves! We've had 6 new cocktails hired in the past 2 weeks, and have 2 more starting next week! I'm thinking it's about time for the old Ribeye to return and run off all these new kids before I lose my average hours needed to keep insurance!

I tried to respond to your e-mail once I finally figured out where in my outlook it was sent, hope you got it!

RagingServer.com

Sherry QuiteContrary said...

I'm in the same boat as Ribeye. I was told my hours wouldn't be cut. I'm down to 31 from 40+ . I have already taken on a second job of 20-25 hours a week. I do not know what else I can do.

Oh and the droves they are hiring are kids 18-22 who hide in the bathroom smoking AFTER putting food order in. So they literally are getting paid to take a food order. Isn't that like working at Mickey D's? Sorry didn't mean to hijack your thread. ;)

Niall said...

No word of you getting sacked yet for your rudeness to the country people... after all even in recessions the farmers still have stacks of money under the bed...

Cheers for the guide. Any for soon to be graphic design graduates with talent but no connections. Thanks in advance

B said...

It seems fairly easy to spot when business is going down anyways.

Vicky Rogers said...

Sigh i did leave the sinking ship that was my resturant last week and just in time to. It closed its doors last saturday there. So i think i had a lucky escape there.

Thanks for the helpful tips manuel.

Native Minnow said...

Everything seems to be getting more cutthroat right now. Here's hoping we're the ones holding the knife ;-)

Old Knudsen said...

I decided you shouldn't get a dog because yer at work too much and it will bark while yer gone and destroy yer place, you need to get an old lady cat you old biddy.

savannah said...

what do the bookings look like for amateur night, i mean st. valentine's, sugar? xoxox

fmcgmccllc said...

Seriously, we quit going out as our favorite place where we dropped tips in the 25-30% range for a 100/150 dollar dinner when they quit giving us the 1 in 6 visit free glass of wine for one person. Never any amuse for starter when looking thru the menu, never a dessert, and we gave the bartender all our leftever food.

Why start at another place as regulars when they always were pretentious in the past.

Best in Show, Nola in New Orleans, if you are fun and happy you get a lagniappe for showing up, AND THEY GET 40%.

Sorry for the rant, love waiters, they make the dinner work or not work.

lorraine@italianfoodies said...

Yep it's tough out there!! Survival of the fittest! I never thought 6 years down the line I would be in the kitchen washing the pots, thought I would be opening my 3rd shop by now but you gotta do what has to be done!! No ego or pride in this game:)

Tim - in Italy being a waiter is a profession, they train and study to be a barman or a waiter! We have an Italian girl working for us who is professionally trained and the difference is unbelievable, even the customers comment on it all the time!

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