On the House is Eater's semi-regular column that goes behind the scenes of the restaurant business, written by the owners, operators, chefs and others who make our favorite establishments tick. Today, we bring you an anonymous, but well placed, waitress' take on the holiday season in times like these. Her story unrolls in two parts. The first is here, the second what's contained herein.
Dining out this December has been something of a crap shoot, what with the amateur holiday crowds, deserted dining rooms, deserted kitchens and the general sense of cold, dark doom. But what's it like on the other side of the table, for the server caught up in this mess? We got one still-employed waitress' take (start here):
For me, the worst day to wait tables has always been Sunday. On Sunday, you do just as many covers as any other night, but your sales are always less. On Sunday, you wait on old people, mean people, babies, people who want their soup extra EXTRA hot, people who want their steak well done, people who want to drink cup after cup of decaf coffee throughout their meal. No one drinks alcohol, so sales are low, and everyone is in a hurry to get home and watch American Idol or whatever it is they watch on Sunday nights. It's a total mess. When this whole recession debacle began, I worried that every day would be like Sunday, because the numbers at the end of the night were Sunday numbers.
But for the most part, I have to say that the atmosphere of a recession-era dining room is a lot less grumpy than I expected. The people who get out to eat are getting out to eat; they're taking a little time off from being broke. Maybe they aren't ordering how they normally order in December, but, as someone who loves to eat out but hasn't recently, can hardly blame them. This week, work has been quiet, to be sure, but the atmosphere is largely a positive and convivial one. It's like something out of a World War II movie: quiet, sober, and while everyone is shit out of luck, at least they're SOL together. That’s oversimplifying, and I know it, but I’m sort of in a mood for that.· On the House Special: Waiting Tables in December, I [~E~]
It’s deadly quiet, but it’s the first December in years that I’ve actually been able to hear the cheesy, background holiday music.
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