Getting Rolled: When Middle Management is more important than the guests

Previously: Getting rolled: Meeting everyone except the person that counts


Crap, I’m running late for the job and this is only my third day here. It was a rush to get to work on time but made it a few minutes late.

Not that anyone cared because, as the previous two days, I was the first person in the front of house to actually make it there. The kitchen usually get there one hour before to start with prep for the day and receive vendor orders.

I start opening up the bar and, as the previous two days, the ice in both the bar well and the server well hadn’t been burned, so set about doing that. Did the miz for drinks, got everything ready. All of this on my own. It’s not hard to open a bar when you even have a dim idea of how it’s done. About 30 minutes later, at long last, I get to meet the GM during the work day! And finally get instruction from someone about it!

Fat chance. She just said hi and then hid in the back office for the next hour.

Okay, fine. I suppose she’s busy. Bartender shows up 10 minutes before open and sees everything is done so we’re good to go. 20 minutes later the first of Middle Management show up.

Making chitchat with her we started talking about restaurants and websites. I made mention of how most restaurants just never update their menus, or if they do, it’s just a PDF file they upload. She said she would never do that. I snorted disbelief.

“Don’t you believe me?” she asked. I replied “no, I do not”, then walked over to the host stand to welcome a guest. I suppose I could have handled that more gracefully but what’s done is done.

That first table was the first of many during an extremely busy lunch service. Bartender and me are doing good, he’s behind the bar and I’m handling serving duties. Now, at this point I am still not enabled within the POS system so I cannot enter orders myself, I have to write them down and then pass them on to the bartender. Roadblock: The items in the POS are not labeled. They are numbered and you are supposed to learn this on the first day but no one had thought to tell me about it. No chance for a cheat sheet menu as the owners don’t allow for anything to be put on the walls if the guests might see it. Still made a go of it with a little cheatsheet I kept next to the POS terminal.

By this point there are six people from Middle Management in the restaurant. They commandeer a table in once of the closed-off sections, break their laptops open and start having a meeting. 30 minutes later GM shows up and joins them. They completely ignore the fact the dining room is now full and a couple of tables in their closed-off section are being used.

So that’s an entire restaurant full of people. Five 4-top high tops, Ten 6-top booths (including those in the closed sections), 16 seat bar, four 6 benches out on the patio, plus a fair number of to-go orders. All of this handled by the bartender and myself in the front, two cooks in the kitchen. It stayed liked this for a solid three hours before lunch rush was finally over; even then it wasn’t a clean cut-off between being slammed and being slow. It just became manageable for two people and not leave tables dirty until they were needed by a new set of guests.

This is where I get annoyed. At no point did anyone from Middle Management offer to help, or to have the GM help. I can’t even be sure they noticed. Their meeting was just too important to interrupt. Indeed, at one point they got miffed when they tried to order a bunch of salads and the kitchen told them to wait cos they were busy.

So that’s confirmation of a concern of mine. How does management behave when the restaurant is understaffed and needs help? I know knew the answer.

At some point it had quieted enough I finally got around to cleaning all the tables, cleaning the bar, restocking, and whatnot. All of the things you would do once you’re cut.

But… I hadn’t been cut, and no one, the GM, Middle Management, or Ownership, had told me what my job duties would be. Talking with Bartender he thought I was hired to work on the floor as a server. Again, at this point I still don’t actually know what my work duties are. Bartender himself said he moved up the ranks from To-Go cashier to bartender when the previous GM quit and took half the staff with him.

The day finished up as suddently as it started. GM tells me I’m cut and as all my sidework is done, start gathering my belongings to leave. I still have no number in the POS so the only record of my hours is on my calendar. As I start to leave, GM calls me to one of the back rooms:

GM: “I was told by someone that you walked away from them.”
me: “Some guests were coming in when it happened. Did she not hear me apologize?”
GM: “Look, some others have said you’re hard to work with.”
me: “So far I’ve only worked with the bartender. I’m not sure if we’re coming to you with different stories but I like working with him cos he already knows the flow of the restaurant and he lets me work on my own without trying to get in the way. Unless it’s someone from the kitchen or one of the manager ladies?”
GM: “Just make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
me: “Okay, sure, I’ll just keep quiet then. Do you happen to have my schedule?”
GM: “You do that. On your schedule I don’t have it yet, I’ll have it tomorrow.”

As I went out the door after this little meeting I ate another protein bar because you don’t get a staff meal after a shift. At this point I just left to my next job, increasingly sure I was going to have to put in my two weeks notice not even a week into the job.

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