…..continued from the previous post.
Guest #4: The Guy Who Knows The Owner.
The guest who “knows the owner” never lets you forget that he, in fact, knows the owner. You know how in Dale Carnegie’s book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” Carnegie suggests that you repeatedly say a person’s name because people love hearing their own name? The Guy Who Knows The Owner loves the sound of the him saying the owner’s name to every server and host he encounters. He usually pronounces the name incorrectly and sometimes he names the previous owner instead of the current one, but don’t you ever forget—he absolutely, positively knows the owner. He’ll start by asking, “Is Seamus [fictional owner name] here? Let him know that I am here.” Here’s exactly what I’m not going to do—I’m not going to go up to the owner and let him know that you’re here. If you know him so well, you can text him. Whenever the owner’s around, see, all he’s ever doing is fiddling on his iPhone anyway.
I never know what This Guy wants me to do with this fact that He Knows The Owner. Should I treat him differently because he supposedly knows the owner? Does he want a free appetizer? An extra server? A free bottle of wine? A handie underneath the table? What? What’s the point of that? Anyone who really knows the owner never really feels the need to make the point that he or she knows the owner. And the manager already knows all the “VIPs” that need special attention, anyway. That’s really the manager’s only job, right? To cater to the owner’s friends while the servers do the real work? I know it’s not to walk the floor and comp tickets. Whenever you need a comp from managers, they disappear as quickly as Frodo when he encounters Ring Wraiths.
Guest #5: The Yelper.
The Professional Yelper goes to restaurants to Yelp. She or he’s also a hipster, to boot, though that’s a topic for a whole different post. The Yelper usually comes in alone with a misplaced sense of importance and has your restaurant’s Yelp page already open on his or her phone. Make no mistake—the Yelper wants you to know that he’ll Yelp. At some point early in your conversation with him, he’ll mention that he wants something he “saw on Yelp.” That’s Captain Obvious Clue #1 that he wants you to know he will Yelp about you. Clue #2 is that he will never have any beverage besides water—he needs to focus the remains of his unemployment check on food, after all.
The Yelper loves Instagram and will Instagram photos of the bread, the appetizers, the soups, the ramekins, the entrees, himself, himself with the entrees, the silverware, and everything and anything so he can fill up his Instagram feed with enough photos so his online friends know, for sure, that he’s dining at your restaurant.
I went to a Killers concert recently and the entire audience was watching the concert from the video recordings on their iPhones. This is what Professional Yelper does: he deprives himself of an enjoyable and leisurely lunch by obsessively documenting everything he does. And then he tips 15%, pretax, down to the penny. The Yelper, at least, is good at math even if he’s not good at knowing the simple social convention that a standard tip is 20%.
Guest #6: The Children of the Great Depression.
Look. I think John Steinbeck is an American treasure and “The Grapes of Wrath” is as fine a chronicle of genuine Americana there is. I really do. And our Senior Citizens are our nation’s greatest treasure. They defeated the Nazis in Germany, the warlords in Japan, and the Communists in North Korea. And they did it all with silent resolve. They are made of steel and implacable in their resolve to shepherd younger Americans into the future. But look. There are a few challenges to taking care of Senior Citizens…..and when you’re sat a table with a sweet couple in their late-90s while your colleague gets four businessmen in suits with expense accounts, you’re going to start wishing that your restaurant had a tip pooling policy.
First, I have to tell them that, no, we don’t serve White Zinfandel. We don’t. And so the Riesling will probably be your best bet. Or a Kir Royale or Mint Julep or some other drink from Fitzgerald’s Jazz Age. Yes, we have Zinfandel….the red kind. We don’t have Beringer White Zinfandel. No, we don’t serve creamed spinach here and sorry, we took the Cobb Salad and the Liver & Onions off the menu six months ago. I of course have to yell all of these answers while they tell me that the restaurant is far too loud and far too cold. The too cold part, I never understood. They didn’t even have heaters during the Great Depression, right? I thought they had steely resolve for cold temperatures.
Let me get all the takeout boxes ready because we know that, indeed, The Children of the Depression cannot let anything go to waste. I’ve literally boxed up single bites of remaining food for them. I always thought that if the weight of the takeout container exceeds the weight of the leftovers, the leftovers do not get boxed. I was wrong. And yes, they did ask for more bread at the end of their meal…..which will get promptly boxed up in the end.
On the plus side, they always pay cash and in exact change, meticulously counting out every bill like they’re giving Christmas money to their great grandchildren. On the down side, I always feel guilty taking tips from them.
Guest #7: The Known Complainer.
So I never understood this guest—the one who’s never happy with anything and always complains, never tips well, constantly creates obstacles to his own happiness, and yet keeps on coming back. Isn’t that the very definition of insanity? Always making the same mistake over and over again? If you’re always so unhappy with the food and the service at this restaurant, why do you keep coming back? If only there were other restaurants in Orange County. If only.
The Known Complainer always orders something that he knows he won’t like. He’ll take a dish from a award winning chef, modify it so it has no flavor, and then send it back and say, “That dish had no flavor!” He’ll want his Seared Ahi cooked well done and his salmon to be “not fishy!!” Yes. He wants his fish to be non-fishy. Whatever the f*ck that means.
The Known Complainer’s been known to send back Cakebread Chardonnay. Seriously—has anyone else ever sent back Cakebread Chardonnay? He thinks the restaurant is too loud. He thinks the music is too loud. He’ll complain when a bird flies onto the patio. I’m pretty sure the birds were here before we were. He’ll ask you if you can do anything about the sun being in his eyes. Yes, sir. Even though I work as a waiter, I have the power to move that giant ball of burning hydrogen known as the sun. Even if I could move it, doing so would end all life on Earth, you know? Still, his petulance knows no boundaries.
The Known Complainer is enabled by managers who repeatedly comp off his food, food that he always finishes. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to get him to pay for 50% of the stuff he’s ordered. And he’ll tip 12% on the post comp amount. Let me tell you about how waiters feel about tipping on the post comp amount. The most important rule of tipping is that you always tip on the pre-comp amount. If you get a bottle of wine for 50% off, you need to tip on the cost of the wine before the discount. If the manager comps you a free appetizer, you need to tip on the value of that appetizer. Hey, look. This is Newport Beach and this upscale dining. We’re Generation Y. We are entitled. But the Known Complainer doesn’t know this. But don’t you worry—the complainer will be back tomorrow. And the next day. He’ll define the very definition of lunacy, coming back to complain again and again.