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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Restaurant Seatology

Have you been downsized, outsourced, or just plain shit-canned from your job?  Consider returning to school to get a degree in the growing field of restaurant seatology.  Restaurant seatologiststs are those well-coiffed mysterious looking folks wearing wireless-radio headsets and toting clipboards who stare you down when you enter most food establishments.  They all sport a rehearsed ceramic smile that would make a Doberman submissively incontinent.  

“Welcome to Olive Lobster restaurant.  How many in your party?”  (You answer, “Two please, and we would prefer a booth by the window.”  The greeting-seatologist’s razor sharp smile turns to a full snarl.)

“Ahem, WELL, we will SEE what we can do.” (At this point, the greeting-seatologist mumbles something into her microphone to the seating-seatologist about some lowlife troublemaker wanting a booth.  They exchange words for a few moments, glance down at their clipboards, and then several waitresses are called into the conference.  After many tense moments, a decision is finally reached.)

“Sir, there will be a twenty-minute wait for a booth. “(At this point, you ask why there will be a wait, pointing out that the restaurant is nearly empty and that there are clean booths right by the window.)

“SIR, that section is closed.”  (For the entertainment of the other customers, you ask in your loudest, most incredulous tone of voice, “Why is it closed?  Is there a problem with the Health Department?”)

“NO!  SIR, the waitress for that area has gone home and we have nobody assigned to it!” (You in turn point out that a waitress is serving a party seated across the aisle from the row of empty booths, a mere five steps away.)

“SIR, we have a system whereby all of the work is divided equally between all the staff for better customer service.  You can either take a table now (with the unpadded chairs, paralyzing backache guaranteed) or we will have a booth available for you in about twenty minutes.” (You now ask to speak to the manager, or you sulk back outside and go to another restaurant, or you tuck your tail between your legs and go sit where you are told.)

By gosh and by golly, those restaurant seatologists enviably have authority second only to U.S. Government Federal Agents.  You will sit wherever they damn well tell you to sit or you can go hungry.

While it is not for me to tell nationally famous restaurants like Olive Lobster or Red Garden how to treat their paying customers, it is my ever-humble opinion that folks tend to frequent establishments that treat customers to some good service.   While I am glad that these big chains offer a respectable vocation for willing American workers, fewer autocratic greeters and seaters on the payrolls sure would make me a happier patron.


Glenn B said...

Olive Lobster, that was a good one. I cannot understand why folks eat at those places in the first place. Regardless of service or seating - the food sucks in most chain restaurants. I had relatives up here a couple of weeks ago, they came up from Florida. We ate an Olive Lobster and they thought it was great. My cousin said it is her favorite seafood restaurant. SHE LIVES IN FLORIDA NOT OKLAHOMA! Why on earth a Floridian would ever think that a chain seafood restaurant is the best seafood restaurant is beyond me. I mean, after all, they have thousands of seafood restaurants in FL from which to choose and the food just plain sucks at Red Lobster (whoops) in my opinion. Of course, after I told my uncle basically the same thing, and told him that I think Red Lobster to be one of the worst restaurants in which I have ever eaten (and I have eaten at several of them over the years)what does he do - he sends us four $25 gift certificates for the place. I must have pissed him off while he was here but at least the gift certs were not for Applebees, no one in my family likes them.

At the very worst, I might get some lousy food, but we still get a free night out so I really cannot complain about the gift certificates. I just wonder - why Red Lobster?

All the best,
Glenn B

James A. Zachary Jr. said...

Hey there Glenn B!

I guess I am flashing back to the days when restaurants were "accomodating" to their customers. The Greeks who owned restaurants in our area were the best... even when we went into a Greek owned restaurant for the first time, no customer request was treated as a problem... "Get my friends here a seat anywhere they like! Tell Dominic to take special care of them! Give them both free drinks!"

Zaharias in St. Augustine Fl is one of our favorite vacation haunts... to me, it is a flash to the past in good service and good food.

Happy New Year to you are yours, my friend!

All the best,