Monday, January 30, 2012

Quick Update

Now that the weekend's over, I thought I should let you know we survived.  We served 120 people on Friday and 127 on Saturday.  That's great business for a 50-seat restaurant, but you'll notice it's lower than the 135 and 140 we had on the books going in.  Because a whole bunch of people didn't show up.  Can you imagine?  You make reservations on one of the busiest weekends for a restaurant, meaning they have to turn away dozens of other people for their most popular times, and then you just don'

Now that you're a reader of this blog, you have no excuses.  Please don't do that.  At least call us and let us know.  Because believe me, there are people calling at 6:00 looking for your 7:00 table.

On the other hand, if it weren't for all the no-shows, I would have been in a world of hurt.  Both nights went smoothly, but only because the double-booked seating on table 7 didn't show up, and the unexplained absence of the regulars on table 13 at 7:30 allowed the snarky couple before them to linger well over 2 hours.  Also, the mistake on our end leaving an 8-top free sure helped when table 4 showed no signs of leaving, and the third couple showed up whose reservation never made it onto the list.  All night long I was moving reservations from table to table as couples left early or stayed late.  If guests knew how many tables they'd almost been seated at, they'd be too dizzy to eat.

My favorite of the evening, though, was the lady who called an hour and a half before her reservation time, asking if she could add a third person to the party.  She was told sorry, but no, because the table they were assigned to was too small to seat a third, and as the restaurant was fully booked, we had no other table to switch them to.  Ninety minutes later, three people showed up.  (Pause to imagine my teeth-gritting grin while I told them again we could not put a third chair in the narrow aisle through which the servers have to carry hot plates full of expensive food.)

Believe it or not, they walked out that night without being seated.  No, not all restaurants have that magic table saved for when the President or the chef's mother stops by.  Some of them actually have to fill all the seats to get by.  (And the chef's mother knows better than to show up at 7:00 on a Saturday without calling ahead.)

Sunday was a day of recovery for me.  I felt tired, but also confused as to why Miss Chef seemed perfectly fine.  She'd been through ten days, and I'd only caught three.  She laughed when I told her she's amazing, but it's true.  She amazes me.

Now, even though we got through without too many issues, Chef Adam still got a couple of emails from customers unhappy with feeling rushed through their meals (out of over 300* served, that's not so bad).  He actually called me Sunday evening to get my perspective on how things went in the dining room, and whether an hour and a half is too short for a deuce.  Giving people more time would mean he could only flip tables twice instead of three times, but on the other hand his restaurant does have that romantic, lingering-over-candlelight atmosphere.  And sorry, but aside from the deal they're getting, Restaurant Week patrons don't care that it's Restaurant Week.  They only know they're trying out a restaurant that has interested them--and the idea is to wow them enough to make them come back.

There's no easy answer, and I sort of argued both sides with him.  So I'll be interested to see if there are any scheduling changes next time around.  In the meantime, I'm girding my loins for Valentine's Day.  The things we do for love...

*If you're wondering about my math skills, one of the emails was about Thursday night, on which they served 86 people.


  1. Whoosh!
    Can you hear my sigh of relief?
    Sounds exhausting, and successful.

  2. I bet there are a lot of restaurants that would like to have this problem! I hope the restaurant week brings in lots of new, repeat customers!

  3. When I was a teenager and started a cashier job, my feet hurt like the dickens for three days. Then - nothing. I got used to it, I guess. Maybe the same would happen if you were doing that job all the time?

    Kudos to everyone! Hope it leads to lots of new business.

  4. Yikes, what a lot of work! Hats off to both of you. Now do something nice for yourselves.

  5. Zowie, what a week, and what a weekend! I'm very glad you both survived, and while it's important to always be reflecting and tweaking, it sounds to me like a miracle was worked at the restaurant. Some people just complain no matter what.

    Back in the days when I was in the classroom and on my feet a lot, I used to go home and use one of those foot roller thingies - kind of like a smallish rolling pin with ribs, that you roll back and forth under your foot. Heaven for tired feet!

  6. I was tired just reading about that whirlwind. I'm so glad you gave an inside perspective to the restaurant business. Very selfish people out there.

    When taking a reservation, I wonder if it's better to say, "if need be, please call us to cancel as there's a waitlist for your table" or something like that.

  7. Jenny--I think you're absolutely right!

    Miriam--Yes, I'm thinking the complainers are probably not the kind of people we'd like to see regularly anyway. Thankfully my feet didn't hurt particularly, probably due to those Mephisto shoes I bought for our Big Trip. I was thinking beyond tourism with those.

    Garret--Thanks! I don't know what is said when reservations are taken; half the time the kitchen staff are the only ones there and they're too busy to spend a lot of time on phone calls. But I know sometimes they get credit card numbers and state there's a $20 fee for no-shows. Don't know that they actually follow through, though.

  8. Do you notice how I stay away when there is work to be done and drop in afterwards? It's one of my many charms. Thanks for visiting me and hovering over me like a protective mother eagle. I adore you.


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