7 Reasons Fine Dining Sucks!
Fine-dining is thought by many to be the pinnacle of the dining world, including this author. For my skills and abilities, it is a perfect fit in the restaurant business. There are some that do not like working in the segment of the industry. They prefer to work in others, such as casual dining or the popular casual plus. There is nothing wrong with that at all, if it is not for you, then don’t do it. I could never work at Denny’s or IHOP, many enjoy working at those restaurants and do so well. A casual place can put food on the table the same an expensive place can. Great for you and finding where you fit in best in this business!
However, for all the glory of fine-dining we wrote about last week, there are negatives. We came up with 7 reasons fine dining sucks:
- Pickiest of the Pickest!
- Not getting tipped on the $150 shot or $300 bottle of wine
- Tipping out half of my tips, even when I get stiffed
- Working after a pre-shift “educational” tasting
- People that never leave the job
- Managers that punish you for making more than them
- Discounted menu’s for slow times, hello cheapasses
The goal is to keep it our missive this week shorter as last week we got a little carried away.
Picky Guests: The #1 Reason Fine Dining Sucks
With the escalated price points of fine restaurants, the amount of people that think they ass don’t stink follow
Snobs, Elitists, d-bags and show offs love to visit these places. The high price points provide a rush as does the low threshold of complaining.
There is nothing impressive about your made gluten/onion allergy. The amount of people with an allergy to onions is tiny. Onions are the basis of nearly every food culture on the planet. While we agree raw onions are awful, cooked onions are one of the most delicious things on the planet. That includes fried onion rings. That clam chowder you are having has a base of mirepoix as do many soups. Mirepoix is made up of carrots, celery and yes onions. Nearly all Western European cooking uses onoins, especially France, Italy and Spain.
Dealing with these guests is difficult and constantly insist dishes be made to their tastes. This includes “allergies” (preferences) and like to also comment on service and anything else. They are all experts, experts of B.S! Sometimes it is probably best they do not go out to eat at all. A friend that works at one of the most exclusive dining rooms in Las Vegas, NV said, “The job is fine, the people are so high maintenance they need a team to help them and we don’t do that.”
They suck at every segment of the restaurant business, they just show up more in Fine-Dining. It takes the crown as the number 1 reason fine dining sucks.
Not Getting Tipped on Expensive Booze Making Working in Fine Dining Suck
Even if you are talented enough to hand sell that $250 bottle of Brunello without the help of a Somm. Or that Macallan 25yr instead of the 12yr; many people do not feel the need to tip 20% or at all on the expensive booze.
That is blasphemy!
Having to tip out 10% on that same $250 bottle to the Somm on top of the busser is expensive! It hurts when there is no tip on the sale! This happens all too frequently! In the old days a separate line or ticket was given for wine sold by a Somm. That has changed…changed for the worse.
Beware of this while you are working the fine-dining sphere, it can and will ruin your night.
Tipping Out Half Of Your Tips, Even When You Get Stiffed
This one gives picky guests a run for its money as being the number 1 reason fine-dining sucks. However, there are a few companies and restaurants in high tourist areas where getting stiffed or a tip of a dollar per person in the party is common.
The dark side of having a $95 PPA is that certain people do not feel obliged to tip the way they would when the PPA is $35. The standard tip out in many places is about 50% of tips and is usually based on a formula as follows: bar get 10% of bar sales, busser gets 2% of total sales, food runner gets 5% of food sales, somm gets 7% of bottled wine sales and special ($25+/glass) wine sales.
Its awful to have part with money from good checks that tipped, especially in the world of no autograts! The IRS passed a rule that autograts are to be considered to be sales for the restaurant and taxed accordingly. The IRS apparently doesn’t think that a tip should be added when having to wait on 20 people celebrating a birthday party, well I hope they don’t identify themselves when they are out spending the government’s money at their yearly convention/conference in Las Vegas.
Working After a Pre-Shift “Educational” Booze Tasting
This is pretty straightforward, recently there was a wine tasting before work and 10 samples of wine later, working dizzy with red teeth was interesting to say the least. Its fun to have them and get the in-depth knowledge about the products, but the downside is quite obvious, especially with the liberal pours offered by the reps at these pre-shifts as well. On days like this remembering that fine dining sucks is easy, cause you don’t always remember them!
People That Never Leave The Job
Its hard sometimes to get good nights or opportunities to make money since many times when people work at such places in fine restaurants they do not leave. Why would someone leave when they can work 3 or 4 nights a week and make $60k+ a year? That is insane! Talk about quality of life! People at the “top” of this unwritten food chain, unless you are in a union property (few and far between outside of Las Vegas and hotel restaurants in a few US cities then you are always screwed) pick and choose they days they work like you pick out a pair of pants. It’s an awful situation, but it is the way of the land. The seniority system is kind of lame, but necessary, especially when the people that have been there a while have constant call tables again making fine dining suck.
These people will stay there until they are physically unable to do so, even with accommodations, like no steps, close to the kitchen or bar. Whatever it might be to make it easier for them to do their job. It is sad to watch these people be unable to carry more than a plate, when everyone else is carrying 2 or 3, while you pickup the leftovers and walk-ins on the floor for the rest! Sometimes the good table slips through the cracks and one can put up a nice check. Hope for those, friends.
Fine Dining has a dark truth, many times servers make more money than the managers.
There are reasons for the shift to management. Some are good others are not. Its pretty crazy to know that many times the move to management is about playing long in the restaurant business or a platform to get out into a different lifestyle. Managing the P&L and a staff of anywhere from 15-100 is not an easy feat, but after sometime doing so opportunity is abound!
There are other companies, some well know large chains that pay managers well and provide some amazing perks, such as cars and even full vacations.
Do not forget that they know how much everyone makes and have no problem letting servers know that. Often times they will show indifference toward a bad day or when you are in the weeds so deep a combine is needed to get out. Other times it is denying extra days off cause, well they can only take off when it is convenient for them to do so. Most of all please remember, they work much more than you making their effective pay rate about as great as that of a cashier at Wal Mart!
Discounted Menu’s: Bring on the Cheapasses!
Since the Great Recession many restaurants have added prix fixe menus that are below the price point of the restaurant in order to fill seats. It is a great concept, except that well, it brings a lot of people that are way out of their price point to get a discounted deal!
To make matters worse, many restaurants drop the price of this prix fixe menu even further during slow seasons or offer a Sunday special every night of the week. An example would be a restaurant that normally has a $65 menu, however during the summer cuts the price down to $45! It happens, especially in places like Las Vegas, Dallas-Fort Worth, Phoenix and even Orlando that rely heavily on convention and business traffic. These restaurants struggle at certain times of the year, mostly during the summer months and react accordingly. This means some people come in that normally wouldn’t even consider the place, but 3 courses for $45 is a cannot miss offer.
The cheapasses are needy and picky, but for other reasons. Reasons range from not knowing what an aioli is to not appreciating the food being served. They also feel that the portions on these menus should be larger. Many wish to make substitutions that are not on the prixe fixe menu for items on the regular menu. This is all while clearly ignoring the “NO SUBSTITUTIONS” line on the menu. The anger this causes servers is endless, it might be the most frustrating part of working in fine restaurants. It makes fine dining sucks along with the rest of the list.
Hold your heads up high fine dining servers, everyone else be happy you do not have to deal with it!
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