I Know Everything

Posted on Tuesday 22 August 2006

“Restaurant Gal, you’re the maitre d’ here, right?” asked the mother of a family of three who I had just seated in a booth in the bar area. Dad was reading a map; Mom was marveling at how we still had a smoking section and taking full advantage of it; Daughter was looking over a pile of papers.

“Yes, I am.” I responded a tiny bit hesitantly. You never know where these open-ended questions are headed. Because the next question could be anything from, “If you’re the maitre d’, then how come this is the best you could do for us?” to, “If you’re the maitre d’, then what else are you going to do for us?”

“Maitre d'” is an old-fashioned term laden with demanding modern-day standards. I traverse that mine field very carefully everyday.

“So, as the maitre d’, you know everything,” Mom declared.

I smiled. If she assumed I did, then I did. “Sure!”

“So, you can tell us if the places we want to go to are in a bad part of town, right?”

Whew! Yes, yes I could.

“Where are you headed?” I asked

Mom rattled off one address. “Uh, no, don’t go there,” I advised.

“See!” she said, waving a cigarette at her husband. “I told you she’d know!”

“Well, what exactly are you looking to do?” I asked. We were busy, and 20 questions wasn’t part of my game plan today.

Daughter immediately spoke up: “The armoire for my dorm room was ruined by UPS. Crushed. We have to get a new one. The closet space in my room is a joke.”

Wow, a whole armoire? My kids each got three stackable plastic drawers that doubled as a side table to help store their excess stuff.

“So, you’re looking for furniture stores?”

“Yes, CHEAP,” stressed Mom.

And they were relying on Google and Mapquest to find this cheap armoire.

“How about this one?” asked Dad, pointing to an ad on a map, certain his selection would be in the right part of town.

Okay, twenty questions was officially underway. Time to nip it.

“I have a better idea. Take the main avenue outside the restaurant up two blocks. It veers right. Stay on it. Keep going and going some more to the bypass. Head west. Look for Route 11. Take that. Every Target, Walmart, and discount place in the world is there.”

“I TOLD you she would know!” repeated mom.

“So, you know everything, huh?” laughed Dad.

If only he knew.

How little I feel like I know right now.

Do I take the hotel concierge job and wrap myself up in the safety net of 401ks, paid holidays, and discounted rooms? Maybe.

Do I take a private party planning post with a casual dining spot and simply deal with the fact that they hired a formerly fired host who I just learned is working there? Likely not.

Do I take the challenging leap into management with an untried fine-dining spot and figure I will learn the job like I have all my others–by thinking on my feet? Probably, if it is offered.

Do I know everything?

Well, I know this much–I surprise myself at how much I already know in the crazy hospitality biz.

And I know the time is just right to spread my wings.

6 Comments for 'I Know Everything'

  1.  
    August 23, 2006 | 1:57 pm
     

    I wish I was more familiar with my area. Whenever people ask me directions, most of the time I have to hand the phone to someone else. I’ve spent the past few months as a hostess at my local steakhouse. I’ve gathered some questions that I’d appreciate your advice on, if you don’t mind:

    At my restaurant, when patrons come to check in, they are able to view a few small side booths, which are empty most of the time. They are the least popular so they are treated as last resort seats. However, because patrons can see them, some of them get angry why they (if it’s two) can’t be seated there right away if nobody else is sitting there. Sometimes it’s because on the current waiting list, there are no deuces. Sometimes it’s because we just sat that section. What’s the most professional thing to do here with an angry customer? I think it’s unfair to seat them right away when other people have been waiting longer. I’m only a few months experienced though. What would you say to them? Is the best thing to do really is to just seat them there?

    Another question is about our Call Ahead Program. I’m going to assume that you know what it is. There will be that occasional patron that calls ahead, comes in and we cut down the waiting time for them, and they still get impatient. “Why do we still have to wait if we call ahead?” People question the philosophy and us host(esse)s have trouble explaining the concept, too. What would you tell a patron who called ahead, came in, was told to wait half the waiting time, gets impatient, and starts complaining why they have to wait for so long if they called ahead?

    If you could input your thoughts on these pondering questions, that’d be appreciated. I’ve read your blog for awhile and it’s very interested. From one hostess to another.

  2.  
    August 23, 2006 | 2:46 pm
     

    Oh, you are SO going to fly.

  3.  
    Hostess Jo
    August 23, 2006 | 8:08 pm
     

    but who will be our guide in THIS life though? whahhhhhhhh!!!!!!
    but since its good for you, I’ll try to adapt 😛

  4.  
    Waiter4you
    August 23, 2006 | 8:46 pm
     

    Directions? The bad part of town? In a major city? Uh, yeah…you FLY Gal….Go FLY!

  5.  
    August 23, 2006 | 10:22 pm
     

    Melissa–So many questions! Empty booths, questioning customers–say you are holding them for reservations. If they don’t show, they’ll be available. Or, others are ahead of you on the wait list, but as soon as something is available, we’ll page you. Waiters taking customers to tables without adhering to your wait list or deferring to you??? Hello, is there a manager in the house? As for a call-ahead wait list–horrible thing to offer. Suggest management do away with it. If you are in house, waiting, you are on the wait list. Other wise, you’re not. Period.

    Hang in there!

  6.  
    August 23, 2006 | 10:24 pm
     

    Natalie–as always, THANK YOU!

    Hostess Jo–I’m not going anywhere, at least in this blog. No worries.

    Waiter4you–huh?

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