(Click on the Image to Make it Larger!)
The phone won't stop ringing. It's on the fourth ring when I get up from Table 33 and sprint across the dining room to grab the phone from behind the bar. As soon as I pick it up, I hear the dial tone and see Ardes has come from in the coat room and has already picked up the phone, taking another reservation. At this point, I have been interrupted too many times to rejoin Staff Meal, and decide I should get dressed and ready to be on the floor. After all, Tim has a nearly full bar, two Marbletops, and it's not even 5:30. I change and as I am coming out of the coat room tying my apron, a four top walks in "just for drinks." I put them on Table 15 and go to the waiter's station to get them water and to make myself a cup of coffee. Usually, I have some time in between Staff Meal and Service in which I can relax a little and have a cup of coffee while preparing for the evening. I can tell that this is not one of those nights. Tonight I am already in The Weeds.
I get Table 15 started with some water and two Beefeater manhattans straight up, one with olives the other with a twist and olives on the side, a pint of Anchor Steam and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. I take over Table 5 and Table 6 from Tim. Table 6 is Barbara and a friend of hers, so that's good. She's a regular and always has the same thing, but even she pulls me aside and asks for an order of frites. I put that order in, and on my way out of the kitchen I see I have two more tables. I put some sugar in my coffee and set up 4 waters for Table 10 and 12 and as I am doing that, Karen sits down on 11. So, I pour her water and her wine and put all of the waters and wine on the tray and pass them out. Table 10 tells me they are going to the theater and in a hurry and are ready to order, so I stand there with the rest of the waters and Karens wine still on the tray and listen to them order a beet salad with the sauce on the side followed by the chicken but with frites instead of potatoes and just a soup for the lady. Oh, and also two Manhattans, one dry, one regular, both up and made with Canadian Club. I make a mental note and hand Karen her water and wine, dropping the remaining waters on Table 12. I write out the order for 10 since we don't have a computer POS system and put it in the kitchen, because when you're in The Weeds, the last thing you want to do is forget to order food. I go straight to the bar and get 15's drinks and grab menus for 11 and 12 (even though I don't think Karen really needs one) and drop the drinks on 15. At this point they tell me that they think that maybe they'll order some "small bites" so I drop the menus for them and rush back to the menu stand to get another 4 menus. At this point, Table One is being sat with another 4 Top and Liz and her friend have snuck into Table 2B. So, now I pick up another 4 menus to make 8 for 4 different tables and drop them on 12, 11, (one extra on 15) and 1. While I was doing that, I got the drink order from 12, a bottle of Cotes Du Rhone, and then go get Liz's Extra Sour Gray Goose Gimlet and her friends Pinot Grigio order and tell Table 1 that I will be right back to get their drink orders. I forgot about Barbara's frites so I race back into the kitchen and pick them up, wondering where the heck everyone else is, and being a little sad that our runner doesn't show up for another hour, and Table 10's soup and beets salad is also ready, so I pick up all three things and distribute them to Barbara first, and then soup and beets to Table 10. I stop to say "hi" to Karen and explain that I am already in The Weeds, so that I might be a little slow when the guy on position one at Table 15 actually grabs the back of my apron and tugs on it. I turn around to him as he says, "I think we're ready to order." My blood boils a bit when the girls at the table say something along the lines of, "Oh, we are? I haven't even looked yet!" and the tugger says something like, "I'll just order some small bites for the table." At which point he essentially lists off all of the items on the appetizer menu and takes a vote at the table until they have ordered 2 appetizers and an order of frites. During this time, Table 3, 4 and 16 have all been sat, and so I have a full section and it's barely 6:00.
Flash forward to a half an hour later. The runner has finally showed up, although my section is full and then rest of the restaurant is filling up fast. It's just one of those nights where The Weeds poke through the pavement at an extraordinary rate and there is nothing you can do to stop them. I knew it was going to happen as soon as I walked into the restaurant a little after 4:30. The book was packed and the phone just wouldn't quit. That's how you know. You can feel it from the frantic energy in an empty restaurant. Now here I am, two hours later without time to even drink my coffee which sits untouched on the waiter's station, cold and stale. I see it and down it in one gulp, picking up drinks at the same time and racing over to Table 6 to get Barbara her bill. At this point I pick up Barbara's Gold Card and run it through our credit card machine. American Express has extra security so I take the extra time that it takes to process the order to process my section. I start from the front:
Table 1: Ordered food, waiting for apps, have drinks
Table 2A: Still looking at wine list although most definitely ready to order
Table 2B: Liz and friend on Round 2 of drinks. Probably ready for more. And frites
Table 3: Having drinks and looking at menus
Table 4: Drinking (light weights) very slowly
Table 5: Still here from about 5 and essentially taking up space. "Camping"
Table 6: Waiting for me to give her this credit card which is processing extra slow
Table 10: Eating entrees, going to be early for the theater
Table 11: Karen, ordered burger with half a bun rare-medium rare with frites sauce
Table 12: Eating appetizers, drinking Cotes Du Rhone
Table 15: Waiting for more frites after the first order wasn't enough, need more drinks
Table 16: Pleasent enough people. Waiting for apps....
And with that, the credit card machine whirrs to life:
To Be Continued...