Ways my new restaurant job at Nick and Tony's is so much more exciting than my old restaurant job at Carson's:
1. Business - Customers! Lots of them. We opened at 11:30 a.m. and the lunch crowd started arriving immediately. Almost every table was full by 12:30 and I was told this was a slow day.
2. Lots of tables per station - the smallest station has six tables. At Carson's the biggest stations had four or maybe five. Here most of the stations have seven or eight and some have ten. I'm dazzled by how much money can be made with eight tables during a lunch rush like that.
3. Rules and procedures - I'm currently making my way through the employee manual which is full of two of my favorite things in a job: clear, consistent rules and established procedures that only change with all staff being told or even retrained.
4. Tastings - Every Monday and Thursday the chef presents his "specials" and the staff gets to taste them. Today we descended upon sauteed chicken breast with grilled shrimp in a roasted garlic butter sauce, a delicious bass with asparagus and balsamic butter sauce, and fettuccine pasta with grilled shrimp and oyster cream sauce. Mmmmmmm.
5. More tastings - As part of my training I have to sample items from our menu. Brilliantly, Nick and Tony's knows we can only "sell" dishes if we know exactly how they are prepared and cooked and how they taste. So I get free lunch this week! And I can already recommend the rigatoni giardinera, which has chopped vegetables (carrots, cauliflower, tomatoes, green beans) that are cooked in a delicious broth served over fat rigatoni pasta with breaded chicken breast pieces. Oh, it was good. I also recommend the mozzarella bake, Italian salad, fettucine bolognese (fettucine with meat sauce) and the grilled asparagus, but the rigatoni giardinera was my favorite.
6. Neckties instead of bowties - it's minor and silly, but I hated wearing a black bowtie. My Carson's uniform - a men's tuxedo shirt, black bowtie and apron - was designed to make me look like a little man and I resented it. Here the uniform is a tailored white shirt, which can be a WOMAN'S shirt (thank you!) and a necktie of any color or design you like. Of course, you know what color my tie is: I bought a pink one today, and a cool red/black/gray one from the Jerry Garcia collection. I love how beautiful men's ties can be and in department stores I often walk by a rainbow-like, gleaming silk display of them, wishing I had some reason to wear one. And now I do!
7. Tying the necktie - I always wanted to learn how to tie a necktie, so tonight I went online, found instructions and practiced with my new Jerry Garcia tie. And I got it down. The instructions suggest tying the tie while in front of a mirror, but now I'm used to doing it in front of a glowing computer screen.
8. Tests - At Nick and Tony's they have what I was CRAVING at Carson's: rules and procedures. And they give you a test each day of training. Before we serve one table, we must know the entire menu, the wine list, the beer list, what appetizers/drinks/desserts go with what entrees, all rules and procedures, the sidework duties, general store information, etc. etc. It's so great. There's a right answer for every question I could possibly ask, there's a solid supervisory and training support structure, plus lots of servers who all learned THE SAME INFORMATION. Unlike at Carson's, I won't get a different answer on a procedure depending on who I ask. And I like tests. I like right answers and detailed information, I like memorizing stuff and parroting it back, I like mastering a subject and displaying my knowledge and I like tests. Today for my test, I quickly memorized our street address and corporate/local phone numbers, five wines that can be ordered by the glass, and the first and last names of our owners, the managers and the head chef. And I did great on the test! I love having a photographic memory.
9. Better hours - Nick and Tony's has shorter hours than Carson's, but obviously makes up for them with great customer flow. Carson's has worse business and longer hours, like a kid standing forever with his mouth open, hoping to catch a snowflake. Carson's is also open every day of the year except for Thanksgiving which is a real drag if you like to actually observe holidays. Nick and Tony's is closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, New Year's Day, Easter and sometimes other holidays, at the discretion of the general manager. So much more humane!
10. Marketing - Nick and Tony's actually promotes itself, for instance by building relationships with the concierge(s?) of the surrounding hotels. Et cetera!
Okay, gotta go to bed. Tomorrow I work a double shift. Today I worked with the hostess and tomorrow it's the food runner. Wednesday and Thursday I focus on the actual table serving and Friday I'm on! Scary. Exciting. Scary.