Thursday, April 09, 2009
Easter is one of the two best/worst days of the year in the life of a server at Red Lobster.
You have to bring your "A" game because there is a lot of money to be made by most involved. I say by most because it happens where some ignorant family tips like crap after sitting for 3 hours on the busiest day of the year. You'll often see those servers throwing things at cars as they leave the parking lot and/or swearing and crying in back.
Easter is like being on a treadmill set to go one speed faster than many are comfortable, except done in the middle of rush hour traffic.
Easter can kill new people, so when we have green staff we often put them in as food runners and in other places where they won't get so buried and cost us customers.
Easter is where we go on wait (or on line) from the moment the doors open until often when we close that night. A big Easter day will bring in as many guests on a single day as we get in 3/4th of a slow week in our slower season.
Easter means all hands on deck. You cannot request it off. Not even if you are a regional manager. All the managers will work that day, the regional managers will often stick their head in every store within 100 miles of where they live, and will call a half dozen times beyond that.
Easter means no smoke breaks. Period. For anyone. Which makes my addicted co-workers all the more pleasant to work with.
Easter is the day where if you go down bread (our Cheddar Bay Biscuits that are like CRACK to fans of Red Lobster) your baker will struggle to catch up for a couple of hours.
Every square inch of prep space will be used. Every rack filled. Every fridge and shelf packed full. And at the end of the day you feel like you've been violated, abused, run over, and beaten - but happy because you made your cash.
I love Easter honestly, but I remember my first one when I was green so many years ago, and it honestly ate my lunch. I had only been serving for a few months at that point, and it was my first really big day. Not any more though, I can do this in my sleep. If you look for me I'll be the guy watering/coffeeing other tables, pre-busing for the new kids, and praying that I don't get a large table.
There are two ways to go for Easter, and you don't want to be caught in between. If you can get a section of all 4 tops take it (four people per table, like a section of all booths in most restaurants - I say most because some RL's have larger booths for parties). You can turn and burn your 4 tops and make a killing. Easter rarely has tables of less than 3 people, though we do get a few 1 or 2 people tables.
The other way to go for Easter is a section where you are assigned a party table - meaning you are going to take parties of 8 or more all day long. 8 or more means gratuity is added, and that means certain money. The drawbacks here are A) getting paired with a bad server and B) parties take longer so your turnover rate is lower. But I do well enough on bigger parties to make up for this (rarely does a party leave me just the added gratuity). Overall having a party section is easier because you have other people assigned to help you out, but it does take a lot more coordination and timing - so that all the food comes at once, so everyone gets salads at the same time etc. You'll hear endless complaints if one server brings salads for half the table and the other server take 2 minutes longer. Teamwork is not optional if you want a fat stack at the end of the day.
The worst place to be is the indifferent middle. These are often the sections surrounding the large party sections, and this means you'll get pulled in on a party here or there, but not for the whole day. So it jacks your section around, moving your tables and making it hard to get in a rhythm. Plus, it means your other customers (non-party ones) have to sit next to the hulking table, which is often filled with large women who are exceptionally loud. If I was a guest, I'd refuse to sit next to a large party table on Easter, even if it meant waiting a bit longer.
So to those of you who will be working rather than spending time with family this Easter, make a fat stack, and have a tall cool one after work, because Mother's Day is just around the corner!