The Serial That Takes You to Dinner
by Chef Bob Munnich
Back of the House is a real chef's fictional story about running a restaurant and the politics behind the scenes that diners rarely see.
Becky was pretty worried. Scott had asked her to see him in the office after work, and that was not usually a good thing. She had been with the restaurant since it opened, but always thought Scott didn't like her.
Scott wasn't too sure how to handle this situation. His first inkling was to fire Becky. If he fired her everyone would know he wasn't kidding. No one would question the seriousness with which he took this situation. She had the nerve to question a guests decision to leave an appropriate tip, and had in turn insulted the guest.
Becky finished her side-work. Everyone knew what she had done, and she was pretty upset with herself for having done it. The restaurant was all a-buzz with talk about what Scott might do to Becky. Some thought she'd be fired, other thought he wouldn't say anything at all. Still others discussed wether or not she was right to question a less than ten percent tip. One waitress, Darlene, had been a waitress for over fifteen years. Darlene had worked in ever kind of restaurant from hash slinging houses to white table cloth establishments. She thought that what Becky had done was wrong. She remembered working ten at night to seven in the morning in diners and making ten bucks in tips all night.
Jackie was a new waitress, this was her first "real" job. She had been working in fast food part time during high school, and now was working the summer as a waitress before her second year of college. She couldn't believe that anyone should be happy with that type of tip. They worked way too hard to get tips of so little. Jackie thought that if they couldn't afford that restaurant, they shouldn't eat there.
Scott had a dilema, should he talk to Becky and warn her, or follow his instincts and just let her go. She was a great waitress. She always came in when they needed extra help. She had started a couple of days early to help clean up all the dust from construction. She even worked the salad station one night for Jules when the pantry cook quit. But he had a policy. It was even written in his handbook that he wrote and handed out to all the employees before they started their training. He found Jamie and sat down to discuss it with him.
"Well, she has been a great help to us," Jamie said. He obviously didn't want to fire Becky. He was quite fond of her. She was loyal, hard-working and he thought she was kind of cute. "I don't think you should do anything."
"You just like her." Scott shot at him. "Think of our business. If we just let it go next we'll be talking to guests complaining that a waiter wouldn't serve him because last time they were in they only gave him fifteen percent."
"Don't be rediculous. This is a one shot deal, she made a mistake. Why don't you just ask her what happened, let her know you disaprove, and move on." Jamie suggested. "Don't make a mountain out of a mole-hill."
"I'd love to, but everyone knows what happened, and now everyone is talking about it." Scott said. "Maybe I should get everyone together after work and see what they think." "Yeah, that's a good idea." Jamie laughed. "Why don't you just put her in front of the whole group with no clothes on. You're just going to embarass her to death if you do that. You might as well just fire her, she'd probubly quit."
"You're right there. I guess I'll play it by ear. See what she thinks of it and tell you how it works out." Scott said.
A few minutes later Becky, done with her side work, gently knocked on the office door. "You wanted to see me?"
"Yes, come in Becky, I wanted to talk to you about the couple you waited on. You know the hillbillies'." Scott said.
"Hill-billies sir? You mean the tip people, Yeah I though you over-heard that. I'm really sorry. I thought that I had offended them, but they seemed ok with it." Becky said.
"Well you know, if it had been any other waitress I probubly would fire them for questioning a guests decision whether or not to tip. People leave lousy tips for many reasons, and I think you did embarass him because that may have been all the money he had." Scott explained. "Two things we don't do, one is question a tip and the other is talk about our guests. I'm going to give you a formal warning. It's serious, but not too serious for you. Chances are, if you work the way you've worked up to now you'll never see another one and it will just dissapear."
"I understand. I shouldn't have approached them about the tip." Becky said.
"No you shouldn't have," Scott went on "You should only have asked them if their service was acceptable. That way you could have assumed it was not because of you that he left a poor tip. We are so used to eighteen to twenty percent and higher tips that when someone comes along and gives us a tip of ten it shocks us. You have to accept that some people just don't tip as well."
"I guess you right." Becky paused, "Then I still work here? I was worried.""Of couse you do," Scott smiled. "Just don't let it happen again!" He said with a grin.
Note: This is the last episode of Back of the House.
Copyright © 1996, 1997 Bob Munnich. All Rights Reserved.
This page originally published as part of the electronic Gourmet Guide between 1994 and 1998.
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