A Rant: Things that Drive Me Crazy in Restaurants

 In 1. David Scott Peters, Operations
By David Scott Peters

RantOK, I have never done this before… I’ve got to RANT! I have been in the restaurant business for 30-plus years. I started dishwashing when I was underage, then worked for my mother growing up. Over the years I have held almost every position in the business and have seen a lot of things. While I love training, making a difference in the industry, making you more money and helping you get your life back, there are a lot of things that just drive me nuts!

I thought I would just get it out of my system and share them with you here.

As you read through this list of things that drive me crazy, realize that I have and continue to encounter all of these things in restaurants everywhere; it’s not specific to one. And note, this is just one man’s opinion.

The List

  • When the host greets me when I travel by saying, “Only one?”
  • When the manager or server checks back at my table and asks, “Is everything OK?” Like that is what they were striving for, just to be OK!
  • Sitting at a table and feeling gum on the bottom.
  • Sitting at a table next to a window and seeing dead bugs, dirt, dust and cobwebs.
  • Seeing restaurant employees on duty using their cell phones.
  • Employees who answer the restaurant phone who have not been trained how to answer the phone, especially when they answer it like they are at home (see Linda’s article on page 6).
  • Servers dropping a stack of extra napkins when 1) I didn’t ask for them and 2) I didn’t need them.
  • Fast-food drive-thru cashiers who take a crane load full of ketchup or salsa and empty it into my bag, when a couple would have easily done the trick.
  • Silverware with baked on food or paper.
  • Cups with lipstick on them.
  • Spotted wine glasses.
  • DUST, DUST, DUST everywhere!
  • Staff not in uniforms… even if they are simply jeans and a common T-Shirt.
  • Rags tucked in a busser’s pants over his butt crack.
  • Servers who carry the pepper mill in their armpit!
  • Managers who don’t dress any different than the line employees and/or look disheveled.
  • Servers alternating tables.
  • Servers delivering multiple drinks squeezed between their bosom.
  • Service staff reaching across me.
  • Service staff putting a drink down by putting the glass down holding the top rim with their fingertips.
  • Service staff taking my drink away from the table to refill it along with one or more other drinks from my table… “I wonder how they keep track of which one was mine. YUCK!”
  • Wobbly tables.
  • Beat-up and dirty menu covers.
  • Staff members walking over trash that they can clearly see.
  • Staff members who when I am walking expect me to get out of their way instead of giving way.
  • Dirty windows and doors.
  • Hot food cold!
  • Cold food hot!
  • Food that just plain sucks!
  • Greasy, dirty kitchens!
  • Gaskets on refrigerator and freezer doors that are broken, greasy, moldy and disgusting.
  • Dried food from sauces being splashed up under the pass.
  • Walk-in cooler racks with dried drippings… blech!
  • Unsafe food handling and storage procedures.
  • Staff who think gloves are meant to protect them vs. protect the guest.
  • Can openers with black goop in them.
  • Racks covered with a thin film of grease, then covered with a layer of dust and the plates, cups and small wares laid on top with the food side down.
  • Dirty drains.
  • Faucets that leak.
  • Bathrooms that are a disgusting train wreck!
  • Walls that are covered in mop dirt from slapping the walls where they are mopped.
  • Grout and caulking that is turning black.
  • Employee bathrooms that are a wreck.
  • Employee break areas that are dirty and unkempt.
  • Unlocked liquor storage areas.
  • Unlocked manager office.
  • Dirty POS terminals and stations.
  • Bus tubs out in the open for customers to see.
  • Bartenders who only spend time with regulars.
  • Moldy soda gun holders!
  • Glass mats that stick to the shelves because they have never been cleaned.
  • Bar sinks where the water isn’t changed often enough.
  • The smell of stale beer because no one ever cleans under the reach in coolers behind the bar.
  • Managers and owners who do EVERYTHING for their staff instead of helping and directing.
  • Managers who de-hire — not fire — people instead of telling them they are not doing a good job and helping them get better, so they simply write them off the schedule.
  • Owners and managers who say, “I just can’t get my managers to do _______.”
  • Owners who don’t have a budget who say, “I know my numbers.”
  • Owners, chefs and managers who say, “I generally know what the protein costs,” as a reason they don’t have to do recipe costing cards.
  • Owners and managers who allow staff to not turn in exact change or more when checking out.
  • Owners and managers who allow the bartenders to count their own drawers at the end of the night.
  • Owners and managers who say, “You don’t understand… my restaurant/catering business/food truck is different.”
  • Owners who say, “I make enough.”
  • Owners who WILL NOT change their menu, even when they know it’s killing them!
  • PEOPLE WHO KNOW IT ALL! That’s crap; I’m the expert, and I still learn every day.

OK, OK… I’m done. Now look, the honest to goodness truth is I could probably double this list. I just started to get on my own nerves with all this negative talk. While I like to complain just as much as the next guy (Don’t believe me? Ask my team! LOL), this is even a bit too much for me.

I hope that if I offend anyone reading this, you take a good look at yourself and your business and understand you need to make changes. If you looked at this list and saw that some of these rants apply to your business and it didn’t upset you… what are you thinking? This is your business. You can be the BEST! And with that in mind, that’s what we are here to help you do… be the best. So take my advice and use your coaching time (and SSP). You’ll be glad you did.

David Scott Peters is a restaurant expert, speaker, coach and trainer for independent restaurant owners. He is the developer of SMART Systems Pro, an online restaurant management software program helping the independent restaurant owner remain competitive and profitable in an industry boxed in by the big chain restaurants. He is best known as the SMART Systems guy who can walk into any restaurant and find $10,000 in undiscovered cash before he hits the back door… Guaranteed! Learn more at www.TheRestaurantExpert.com.

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