To Serve Mankind











   What a great day we had on Wednesday March 25th!  Many thanks to the Turlock Red Robin, my Riverbank managers, and the gents at the Sierra Nevada Brew Co for an awesome afternoon in Chico.  They arranged a tour and lunch for both Riverbank and Turlock mixos at the plant and brew pub.  I took lots of notes, hoping to get a good blog out of it.  The gents at the brewery noticed me taking notes, and gave me a good tease saying they’d need to check over what I’d written before going ot print…they’ve nothing to worry abought though, for they were all fine hosts.  Besides, who am I to talk smack about anybody who gives me free beer?

   After a lovely 3-hour car ride, from Riverbank to Chico, I was giddy as we turned onto East 20th St. and the parking lot with the solar-panel roof came into sight.  “Very cool” I thought, and continued checking out the building’s exterior.  It is very clean and well-kept, lush landscaping with a Sierra forrest feeling.  Makes sense?  More on that later.

   Upon walking into the lobby I was greeted by four smiling dudes all standing around.  I said “hi” quickly as I beelined past them to get to the girl’s room – we were just in a car for 3 hours, ya know?  When I made it back to the main lobby, we exchanged pleasantries and I got right to checking things out.   The lobby was clean and simple; pictures of hops and machines and old buildings decorated the walls.  Through the glass doors to the left I could see the brewing tank room with some gorgeous murals depicting the process of brewing.  Four huge tanks, 2 copper and 2 stainless, were taking up most of the room.

   I turned back to the lobby and decided it was time to check out the gift shop.  They have all the usual fare – pints and other glassware, shirts, hats, bottle openers, thermos’ – but no shotglasses.  So I got AP a 3-oz taster with their logo on it.  Their shirts were adorable and I really wanted a green tank but was just a little short on funds that afternoon!  Next time!

   Exit the lobby and off to the left is the area I originally darted through to get to the powder room.  What I had dashed by before was a “museum” of vintage brewing equipment, but I’ve not idea, specifically, what they were used for.  I’ll talke a wild guess and say maybe they were used to , uh, make beer?  And more pics of the people and things of the brewery’s past and present.  On this side throught the glass I could see a different style of tank area (the fermentation tanks) which I later wrote in my notes is the “metal pipe room where the yeast is added and liquid becomes beer.  Then cold filtering.”  These tanks were the bottom half of the huge tanks seen on top of the building. 

   When the time came to begin the tour, our guide Charlie “The Battery Man” Kyle took us upstairs to begin.  It was a terrace-like upstairs they call the “mezzanine” that overlooks the lobby and leads to The Big Room, which is their main venue.  The terrace is said to seat 150 and I think this would be a darling spot for an event.  The Big Room is a bit more decadent, but not pretentiously so, and is set up with seating for 350 facing a stage area.  Charlie told us they have regular shows and events.  You can see for yourself what is coming up on their website www.sierranevada.com, click on “The Big Room” link to get you there.  

   Back out of the Big Room and onto the mezzanine, we were shown a brief movie that offered some insight on the brew’s beginnings and founder – Ken Grossman.  It mentions Ken’s love of nature and the outdoors (hence the landscaping and the name of the brewery!).  Later in the tour, Charlie tells of Ken’s further dedication to nature and preserving it when we were shown the four huge fuel cells (sustainable energy producing generator-thingys).  He also pointed out that there are nearly 10,000 solar panels used to power the plant cleanly, and that Sierra Nevada Brew Co. recycles / reuses 99.8% of their plant waste.

   Charlie cruised us all around the behind-the-scenes.  We got to observe the brewing tank room (Lauder Ton, Whirlpool, etc) from the observation deck above.  I got some awesome pics of the murals I mentioned earlier.  We got close to the afore-mentioned “metal pipe room” and learned more of the beer process there.  Upon leaving, we cruised outdoors past the Pilot brewery where they test their ideas.  He even pointed out where the employee health center is (quarterly free massages!) and were they are building an employee child care center.  Bravo!

   One of my favorite spots on the tour was the bottling room.  It was so cool to see those bottles going by – all the Pale Ale scuffling down conveyor belts to hungry gripping machines that ironically, gently, pick them up and box them for distribution.  I got some cool video in there!  Can you believe they put out over 50,000 cases a year?  After leaving the bottling area, we went for a pleasant walk outdoors, past the solar panel parking lot, to our final destination – The Brewpub.

   The staff already had four tables all set for our arrival, and got right to setting out waters and beers for our refreshment.  They brought out their 2 newest brews for our delight: Kellerweis, their new belgian-style draft, and Torpedo, a hoppy, rich ale, that was my preference.  They brought out two appetizers for us to enjoy while we waited to have lunch orders taken.  The sausage platter came first; it was a selection of Bratwurst, Hot Link, and fennel sausage served with a side of caramelized onions and a side of some kind of sauerkraut / coleslaw – I don’t know what it was called, but I ate it all with a fork!

   I chose to take a cup of the butternut squash soup for my next course and conservatively ordered a chicken Ceasar salad for my entree.  The chicken was overcooked and dry but I ate it all anyway!  I ate so much!  I even got hold of Angela’s salad!  They make a great house salad: spring mix, goat cheese, candied pecans…mmmmmm.  No dessert for me, I was too stuffed!  We did have a birthday boy at our table; Angela’s son Roby joined us in celebration of his 21st, and what better place to celebrate than at Sierra Nevada!?!?  We finished off Red Robin style with a loud birthday chant; “Oh, I don’t know but I’ve been told / Someone here is gettin’ old!” 

   Thank you again, so much, to Red Robin, Team Turlock, Riverbank managers, and the great staff of Sierra Nevada brew co.  I can’t wait to come back again…if only you weren’t so far away!

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{March 22, 2009}   Sips vs Red Robin

   Our essay assignment for my Eng101 class, due March 14, was an expository essay developed by comparison / contrast.  Since I got an “A”, I am not too embarassed to post my paper here for your reading pleasure!

 

I am a lucky lady; I have two jobs.  One might immediately call to mind the obvious fiscal advantage of two jobs during this country’s depressed economic atmosphere, but the money is not my point.  I have jobs at two very different restaurants, both have their positives and negatives, and this contrast provides me with balance and job satisfaction.  I am endeared to both locations for their dynamic differences, but only the beloved guests know for sure which atmosphere is right for their own purpose or occasion.

Sips Bistro and Wine Shop is a peaceful spot with a maximum guest capacity of 37 people seated.  The tables are odd sized, making it difficult to accommodate a party of over twelve people.  As one enters, the first sight noticed is the wine shop to the right.  It features over 500 labels of wines from around the world.  The feeling is very casual, and guests are prompted to seat themselves at any table in the restaurant.  Any available staff member is happy to approach arriving guests with menus and details of the soup du jour and any specials.

Guests tend to choose from the wine list for their beverage selection, which offers 12 varietals by the six-ounce glass or two-ounce taste.  They can also choose any wine from the shop and we will chill it if necessary and open it for a minimal corkage fee.  As for the food menu, Sips’ guests choose from an unpretentious menu of healthful items.  The plates are not loaded with food, but rather have just enough to compliment the wine and the dining experience.  There are separate menus for lunch and dinner.  All items are made from locally grown and manufactured ingredients whenever possible, and soups and desserts are homemade from scratch.

  After Chef John spent 2 ½ years training at culinary school, he followed his education with high-profile work experience with companies such as Hyatt Regency, The Arizona Diamondbacks, and The Phoenix Suns.  All employees are dedicated professionals with a passion for food and wine.  The owners, Bill and Diane, are oenophiles (wine lovers) and have been for many years.  Bill has been studying and appreciating wine from childhood, and is self-taught in the ways of wine.  Both have traveled abroad on numerous occasions, and Diane has attended many local winery conferences and other assorted culinary classes to hone her food and wine knowledge and skills.  Additionally, Diane’s main love is for the kitchen; her library of homemade recipes keeps the new menu ideas and specials exciting and fun.  Although I do not have the extensive training in food or wine that our Chef and owners possess, I have been active, and learning, in this field for 16 years.

Once the guests’ food order is taken, the order is submitted on a hand-written ticket to the kitchen.  During times of high guest volume, this system of ordering and charging guests can be tedious because we servers manually write the items sold and appropriately corresponding math on the guest tickets.  When all guests are served their beverages and waiting for food, there are a few options for employees to stay busy while waiting to meet further guest needs.  Empty and / or unused dishes are removed from tables.  Water glasses can be refilled.  Dirty dishes can be run through the dishwasher and put away clean.  However, the primary focus is to watch the door for approaching guests.  Cleanliness in front and back is maintained to the best of our abilities, and is usually accomplished, throughout the entire shift.  When the environment is peaceful and quiet, we engage in friendly chit-chat.

As the shift winds down, the restaurant is put back into order for service the next day.  Silverware is rolled into napkins, floors are swept and mopped, and the minimal supply of non-alcoholic beverages is restocked into the reach-in refrigerator.  Diane checks inventory to prepare the next day’s shopping list.  This break-down time is brief and all closing procedures are performed by all staff on hand, except the Chef, who closes his own station promptly after the last plate goes out.  Bill counts the drawer and the day’s receipts after the doors are locked and all guests have left the building.

The Red Robin is another beast altogether.  This restaurant, which includes a full-service bar area called a “Refreshment Center” (RC for short), can accommodate well over 300 guests, from parties of one to thirty or more at the same table.  Upon entering the Red Robin, one is greeted as quickly as possible by a “hospo”, also known as a hostess in other establishments.  If the hospo is not nearby, it is every service employee’s charge to greet and seat incoming guests immediately. 

After, or perhaps even before, noticing the smiling greeter, one can glance around and clearly see the Red Robin’s focus on family-oriented clientele.  Flashing lights and whirring sounds of video and crane games fill the recreation area to the left.  Sights of mixologists (Red Robin’s term for bartender; we are called mixo’s for short) cheerfully shaking milkshakes and mixing martinis to the sounds of overhead music from the 80’s, 90’s, and today, can be seen to the right.  And what is that at your feet?  Yes, a 27” television is embedded into the ground so guests can catch the sports score while waiting to be seated.  The only self-seating tables are found in the RC.

As one walks further back into the main part of the restaurant, further evidence is found of the Red Robin spirit catering to families.  Parents are often to be found chasing crayons that their little ones have thrown to the ground, or tying balloons to their babe’s wrists.  A statue of a Red Robin stands cheerfully in the center of the main restaurant floor.  And if you come at the right time, you may hear a group of team members clapping out a happy birthday chant at some poor, unsuspecting soul.  The staff at Sips would never create such a loud commotion; it would disturb too many people – guests and employees alike!

Unlike Sips, Red Robin has a very limited wine selection.  Only five varietals are available for purchase by the glass or bottle only.  Red Robin does boast a fair selection of eight draft beers, eight bottled beers, and a full bar.  Alcohol sales are not of utmost import at the Red Robin; their popular non-alcoholic beverages are fountain sodas, milkshakes, and their signature Freckled Lemonade.  The same food menu is available from open to close and features over 29 burgers in a myriad of styles and forms.  To the detriment of many, Red Robin offers free refills on baskets of fries, which are automatically included as part of the meal with any burger.  To maintain food consistency among the many Red Robin chain locations, it is policy to obtain all food supplies and ingredients from the same centralized source.

Red Robin cooks may come from other assorted cooking venues, but all are trained consistently in the Red Robin method of burger building and menu item preparation.  They are constantly quizzed on their knowledge of ingredients, food safety, and preparation procedures.  Server training follows the same suit; no matter where one worked previously, Red Robin trains all servers in the Red Robin way to ensure consistency of service.  All are taught to know and follow the Red Robin “Steps of Service” standards, which are a practical and efficient guideline to granting guests optimal service.

In keeping with these steps of service, the server is required to perform tasks within a very specific and brief time frame.  These steps include but are not limited to; greeting the table with information about Red Robin, entering beverage and food orders to the computer in an immediate and accurate fashion, and offering fry refills and the dessert menu / check presenter at specific intervals.  All of this methodical prioritizing is geared at creating a 37 minute table turnaround during lunch hours and a 42 minute table turnaround during dinner.  Guests at the Red Robin tend not to linger, unlike Sips where people may sit for hours over a bottle of wine and talk.

As a shift at Red Robin winds down, servers are phased out as fewer guests walk in the door.  When a server is phased, it is their urgent priority to “break down” their assigned station.  These duties can include rolling silverware, stocking to-go boxes or straws, wiping trays, or refilling salt and pepper shakers.  Closing duties are ideally completed by the time the server’s last table pays its ticket.  When the server’s last ticket is closed, he or she prints an automated report that tells how much cash is owed to Red Robin for the guest tickets transacted.  In the case of the mixo, the same cash due report is generated, but the mixo must count out his or her cash drawer for deposit, as opposed to the personal bank the server carries around.  The back-of-house staff (cooks, dishwasher) begins their breakdown and clean up of the kitchen as early as possible.  This usually occurs as soon as the dinner rush is over.  Back-of-house staff has a lot more detail cleaning to do than the front-of-house staff, so they all stay and work together as a team until cleanup is completed.

Indeed, there are many differences between my beloved places of employment, and I truly appreciate them both for the establishments they are.  I can not choose a favorite.  But for the potential guest seeking a laid-back, mature dining experience without the clapping of birthday songs and wails of fry-deprived children, Sips is the place to be.  On the other hand, if you have youngsters to entertain, a baseball team to buy milkshakes for, or you’re on the road travelling with your family and need a quick in and out dinner, then Red Robin is where you want to visit.  But only you can decide!



{March 14, 2009}   Building the perfect drink

(Hello out there!  I know it’s been a long while…I’ve been dedicating all my writing energies to my English 101 class, which is why I’m here today.  Our in-class assignment for Saturday the 7th was to crank out a 600-800 word essay developed by process analysis.  Since I earned an A, I dedided to post my work for any to enjoy!  If you try the recipe, let me know what you think!)

     There are many positive qualities one must possess to be a successful bartender, but key to being a great bartender is making a perfect drink.  The perfect drink should be both aesthetically pleasing with an appropriate aroma and flavor balance.  At Red Robin, the most popular house drink is a Sand in Your Shorts, which requires a specific method of building to result in a beautiful, delicious, and refreshing cocktail. 

     We begin with the appropriate glassware; remove a thistle glass from the rack above the well.  Thistle glasses are identified by their footed base, bulbous bottom, and high, flared edges.  Be sure the glass is clean before filling it to the top with ice.  The ice should be free of debris; stray sprinkles (a.k.a. jimmies) from over-zealous servers garnishing their milkshakes too close to the bar’s ice well are often to be found.

     After the clean glass is set with ice, it is time to start pouring.  The vodka and triple sec are added first.  Their bottles are conveniently located in the speed rack at knee level right up at the well.  Take a bottle in each hand and free-pour a 2-count measure (1/2 oz. each) into the thistle.  The next 2 liquors to add are the Midori and peach schnapps.  These bottles are also next to each other in the speed rack, but over toward the right where the more expensive bottles of liquor are stored.  Pour in the same manner and amount as the vodka and triple sec.  Should any of these bottles run empty during pouring, simply remove the pour spout, throw away the empty bottle, and replace the pour spout in a new bottle from the storage area on the wall of the bar.

     Once the initial four liquors are in, the straw should be placed in the glass.  The color pattern of this drink is the sincerest part of its charm.  Inserting the straw after the more colorful fruit juices and Chambord are added will agitate the layers of colors, thereby decreasing the cocktail’s visual appeal.  One ounce of sweet and sour is added next.  This mixer is located in the juice well to the left of the speed racks.  One can tell when one ounce has been poured by the height of the liquid in the glass; at this point the level of liquids should reach the top of the bulbous portion of the thistle glass.  From the juice well, take the orange juice and cranberry juice in each hand and pour approximately three ounces of each juice into the glass until they reach the top of the ice.  Some of the ice will settle during this process, so a few more cubes should be gently added to the glass.  There should now be a space of 1/2 to 3/4 inch at the top where there is no liquid.  This space is necessary to accommodate the final float of liqueur, and to keep the drink from splashing over the sides of the glass while a server walks with it.  The final liqueur, Chambord, is located behind the milkshake machine.  A half-ounce float of Chambord is a beautiful top to this drink.  To successfully float the Chambord, pour slowly and aim for the ice rather than the liquid.  Allow the Chambord to release slowly down the ice and into the drink; its royal shade of purple will remain independently on top until the drink reaches the guest.

     Ready to deliver this beautiful concoction?  Not just yet.  An orange wedge should be placed delicately on the rim of the glass.  Be careful not to upset this beautiful drink you’ve worked so hard to build!  And, per Red Robin standards, do all you can to get this miniature piece of art to the guest within four minutes of the drink ticket coming up on your printer.  In some cases, a server may already be standing at your well urgently awaiting the drink.  Occasionally, the bartender will find him or her self calling for a drink runner – any available server, busser or hostess – to ensure timely delivery of the drink.  But the most fun is taking the time to deliver the drink oneself.  I enjoy delivering  the drinks I’ve made to guests.  I am proud to show off my talent and I let the guests know it!

     I have been practicing the art of bartending for over ten years and have enjoyed nearly every minute of it.  It is an art involving many talents like the ability to talk to, engage, and endear guests, think and work at an outrageous pace, and organizing and prioritizing every task of every moment as it comes flying along.  But if you can pay attention to the simple details of building a perfect drink and follow through with diligence, you’re already on the road to being a successful bartender.



{October 27, 2008}   One Step Beyond…

Ok, it’s one week later and if you happened to read my last post you may be wondering what happened to me this Friday.  Well, let me tell ya.

     I got to the Robin at 4:45 and did my usual scan.  I had 3 tables and it was my duty to back up the bartender.  Ok.  I worked steady and strong all night, even taught my gf Dawn some yoga while we were on break.  It was a $5 night.  I kid you not…you other tipped staff know what I’m talking about.  It’s one of those shifts when every table gives you the same $5 tip.  Yep.  Isn’t that bizarre?  I haven’t had that happen in probly 2 years.  Tonite, I had one of those nights.  At least I only hadta sing 2 birthday songs…And I left making less than half of what I’d made the Friday before.

     Kelly and Steve; yous need to come out more often! You were like good luck charms!

 

 

Namaste



{September 5, 2008}   What you should NEVER do.

The restaurant biz is like any other biz.  There is just some s#!t that you should never try to get away with.  It amazes me sometimes how foolish people can be.  Just because we can and tend to have a lot of fun at work, that is no excuse for a lack of professionalism.  And there is no age discrimination in this topic, either.  Altho the younger, less-experienced staff are more likely to make stupid mistakes, this doesn’t preclude full-grown adults from doing stupid things.  Really stupid things.

1)  Don’t ever show up to your shift drunk or high.  Seriously.  Party time is party time, and work time is work time.  It sucks trying to lead a cook thru a paced meal for a guest and he’s so stoned he can’t remember that you just came in and asked him to fire the main course.  Or trying to break down a bar with a cohort who’s been guzzling and now can’t stay focused.  Which leads me to…

2)  Don’t party with minors.  Duh.  It can be hard to avoid those under 18 / 21 when working in certain restaurants.  We fight the battles together, grow close together; but there needs to be a line of responsibility demarcated by we who know better.  The minors don’t know better.  Of course they want to “play with the big kids” but you’re leading them down a path they don’t need to be on yet.  Party with people your own age.  And not at work.

3)  Managers, don’t get involved with your employees.  And you know what I mean by involved, like having too much “access” to their personal information/situation.  Creating an inappropriate relationship in the workplace is a recipe for disaster.  Even if you’re able to keep it under wraps for a little while, eventually news leaks.  We are a tight community, remember?  Which leads me to…

4)  Leave your attitude and drama at home…or in your car…or at your other job.  I don’t care, just don’t bring it into the workplace where other’s are trying to be positive and successful.  Sometimes it’s hard enough for me to get thru a shift, mentally.  Dealing with guest drama and letting go of one’s own personal issues during a shift consumes enough energy; and it’s not fair for another to pile on their attitude and dramatic situations to another’s situation.  Just zip it, get thru your shift, and take your attitude somewhere else where you can effectively deal with it and not destructively share it with your coworkers.

5)  Don’t diss your team to or in front of guests.  We are a team, and if one falls short we all fall short as we are intrinsically intermingled in each other’s guest service experience.  If you talk smack about the hostess, or the busser, it does reflect back on to you.  And the guests think it’s ok to have a lack of respect for those of us trying to do our job to the best of our ability.  Remember that what comes around goes around.

   I’d love to hear any other “never do’s” that anybody wants to add.  I just may update this post in the near future!

 

 

Namaste



{August 3, 2008}   Bar and Restaurant Lingo

     As you may be aware, we restaurant staff kinda have our own language.  Here are some serious and fun terms we use in the biz, both front of house and back of house.  Some are mundane, some will have you cracking up, some will be familiar and some new.  And this list is by no means complete.  Add your favorite terms in the comments – I want to learn too! 

This is going to be a fun post.  Enjoy!

86, 86’ed – basically means no more.  Can refer to a product or a customer who has been ejected.

Alcohol by Volume – (ABV) used to measure the alcohol content of a beverage.  A beverage’s ABV is equal to half of the proof.

Alcohol Abuse – a pun used when a beer or cocktail is spilled on accident.  Also known as a party foul.

All Day – slang term meaning total of like dishes being prepared. e.g. “I need two more BLT’s.  That’s six all day.”

BAC –  Blood Alcohol Content; a measurement of how much alcohol is in the bloodstream;  milligrams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood.

Back of the House – refers to the parts of the restaurant the customers do not usually have access to: the kitchen, prep area, dishroom, offices, store rooms.  Can also refer to the personnel who work in those areas.  At the Red Robin, we refer to it as “Heart of House”.

Bank – the money carried by a server to make change throughout their shift. 

Bar back –  a bartender helper who restocks and runs errands for the bartender.  Duties can vary from pouring drafts, running food and bevs, stocking anything and everything, calling cops, running to the bank or store. 

Barista – a coffee bar tender, maker of espresso, cappuccinos and the like.

Bar Fly – one who frequents or hangs at a bar.

Bar Time – Bar time is usually 15-20 minutes faster than the rest of the clocks in the time zone.  It doesn’t matter what your watch says.  It’s a bar, its bar time, don’t argue.

Behind – a verbal warning called out when walking behind others so as to prevent them from stepping short or back or sideways into you and knocking a tray of food or drinks (or worse) out of your hands. 

Benjamin – slang for $100 bill; $100 American; a very nice tip.

Burn – to throw away or write off wasted or overmade product.

Bus, Busser – to clean tables; one who, among very many other duties, cleans tables.

Bistro – a laid back informal European style restaurant, generally on the small side (Sips only has 8 tables plus 5 seats at the bar).  Believed to be taken from Russian, meaning fast.

Bouncer – a typically large employee who watches the door and keeps order, physically when necessary.

Breastrant – slang term for a “dining establishment” with scantily clad waitstaff. ex-Hooters is a very popular breastrant.

Call – refers to a named spirit used in a drink; above the well liquor.  Absolut is a typical call vodka, whereas some cheap swill like Popov would be the low-budget well vodka in the speed rack.

Campers – people who dawdle at their table long after they are finished, usually wrapped up in conversation or making out.  Not really a problem unless they’re tying up tables or keeping people on the clock who want to leave.  If you want to camp, remember you can pay your bill and still linger.  Your server can close out your ticket as long as you’ve signed your credit slip.  And remember;  that table (especially in the bar area or whatever my section is) is Prime Real Estate.  Tip accordingly if you are preventing that table from being reused (aka turned around).

Carafe – a glass bottle with a flared opening used to serve wine.

Chaser, Back, Sidecar – Beverage accompanying a shot used to help one deal with the aftertaste of whatever they’re drinking.  May I suggest that if you don’t like the flavor of what you’re drinking you may want to try drinking something else.  Like milk, you sissy.  ;P

Chew and Screw – dine and dash; walk out on the bill.  Not cool.  When I’m on, don’t even let me hear you joke about it. 

Chimneyfish – someone who smokes like a chimney and drinks like a fish.  Not often found in, but rather outside of, CA bars since smoking has been banned since, like 1997.

Church Key – thin metal combo bottle and can opener.

Class 6 – classification that alcoholic beverages would fall under in the military.  According to an ex-Air Force friend of mine “Class 6 is what you would consider to be a Cumberland Farms or a Wawa for the Military.  Except that is where you buy all your liquor if you are military.”  (For my non-East Coast readers, a Wawa is a convenience store like the Stop N Save, 7-11, or Circle-K, only WAY friggin’ better.)  He also noted that Class 6 is typically Air Force and is not sure if the Army/Navy/Marines call it that. 

Clinking – the act of tappng 2 glasses together, which makes the glass holders drink.  It is bad manners (and bad juju) to not take the glass directly to your mouth after clinking.  Also known as toasting or tapping.

Clusterfxxx – a disorganized, messed up situation generally occurring when too much input comes from too many sources who think they are helping but are really being counterproductive.

Comp – short for complimentary; refers to food, drink, swag, whatever given to a guest for free for many different reasons.  Could be a VIP, or to make up for shortcomings, or as a marketing device.  Or to catch a hot mama’s phone number.

Corkage – the fee charged by an establishment to a guest who brings their own wine.  The price of corkage will vary from restaurant to restaurant – at Sips, Bill is apt to waive corkage for those buying wine in our wine shop.  However, you shouldn’t argue the corkage fee, since the establishment is still paying for the glasses and the washing of the glasses, and the presentation and opening of your bottle…

Corked – wine ruined by a faulty cork; air has entered the bottle.

Corner – a verbal warning called out to warn others when you’re coming around a blind corner.  As with “Behind”, this warning can/will/has prevented many a disaster.

Cougar – an older lady searching for and maybe even hitting on a much younger man / men.

Coyote Ugly – description for a bedmate with whom you wake up and they are so ugly you’d rather gnaw off your own arm to get away from them rather than wake them.

Cut off – occurs when the bartender stops serving you drinks

Dash – approximately 1/2 tsp.

Dead Soldier – empty beer bottle.

Decant – to pour out a bottle of wine into another container to aerate it, or to remove sediment.

Designated Driver – lucky person who stays sober to drive when necessary, and eventually take embarassing pictures of their friends doing crazy stuff, or in odd passed-out positions.

Dick Beaters – derogatory slang term for fingers and/or hands. Ex.; “This barfly just dick beatered the cherries in my fruit tray.  Now I have to burn ’em and pull out some fresh ones.”

Distillation – a process to purify or separate a substance by heating.

Dive – a lower-class drinking establishment; can be warm and friendly or full of trouble.  Usually the drink prices are lowest at your favorite dive.

Droddle – that which is left in an abandoned drink glass.

Dry – pertaining to wine it means without sweetness; pertaining to a martini it refers to little or no dry vermouth

Dutch Courage – British slang from Anglo-Dutch wars; now used as a term for a drink before a challenge.

Echo – Red Robin phrase for “I hear you and I understand”.

Fermentation – a chemical reaction where yeast produces alcohol from a sitting starch, ie sugar.

Finish – the last taste left by a drink in the mouth

Fire – means to start cooking or preparing.  As in, “Ok, my guest has her burger.  You can fire that milkshake now.”

Flea – bad tipper, because their little arms are too short to reach down into their pockets.  Don’t be a flea.  The only Flea I like plays bass for the Chili Peppers.

Freddy – a pint of Heineken, named for Freddy Heineken who died Jan 5, 2002.

Free Pour – to pour a cocktail without the use of a measuring device, such as a jigger; measuring by eye and memory.  You must practice to free pour successfully.  In my opinion, it’s the only way for me to pour.  There is no shame in surrendering to jiggering, for those who need to! (Love ya, Heather!)

Front of the House – refers to the part of a restaurant that a customer sees.  The bar, dining room, hostess station are all Front of House.  Also refers to the staff who work in these areas.

Fruit Tray – the tray of fruit garnish at the bar, usually consisting of lemon and lime wedges and / or twists, orange wedges, cherries, olives, cocktail onions and any other garnishes necessary for the establisments’ house drinks.

G.T.F.O. – Get The Fxxx Out; acronym often used at the end of my shift…”Hey, Zack, if you don’t need me anymore I’m gonna G.T.F.O.”

Giggle Juice – liquor; any alcoholic beverage, really.

Ground Control – somebody who stays sober (enough) at a party to keep an eye on their overindulgent (girl/boy)friend.

Hair of the Dog – a drink taken to combat hangover.  Commonly a Bloody Mary.  I recommend a vanilla milkshake made with real vanilla bean ice cream, altho it has no alcohol.

Head – BE CAREFUL WITH THIS WORD – 1. the rest room. 2. slang for a particular type of sexual activity. 3. foam on top of yer beer.

Hophead – a beer aficionado.

In the Weeds – beyond busy and on the way to tubed.  An extremely hectic and unpleasant working environment.  Can happen when a server is seated too heavily, or when a single guest makes requests one after another and monopolizing the server time instead of asking for everything at once or in advance.

Jug Bug – fruit flies commonly found floating in uncovered liquor bottles.  They love the sweet stuff.

Last Call – fair warning from the bartender to order your last request, as the night is wrapping up.  When it’s over, it’s over.

Level 3 – Red Robin terminology for an inebriated guest.  Level 3’s get no more liquor and the attention of a manager.

Line, The Line – section of the restaurant where food is prepared from the back-of-house side and presented and prepped for running on the front-of-house side.  The BOH side of the line is sacred ground and not to be tread upon by non-cooking feet.  Seriously.  The FOH side of the line is the crucial point where the plates are presented, examined, checked for accuracy  and completed with all necessary garnish in order for precise and prompt delivery to occur.

Marry – process of combining two or more bottles into fewer containers, ie. ketchup or wine.  It is an illegal, but common practice.  Not that I’ve ever done it.

Mickey Finn – an ancient term for a drink that has been drugged or overdosed with intention to knock somebody on their a$$.

Mist – a term meaning “on the rocks”, preferably with shaved or crushed ice.  It comes from the fact that certain clear liqueurs cloud or mist when poured over ice

Mixologist – clean term for bartender; flip side of the coin would be intoxicologist

Muddle – mashing ingredients together (i.e. mint and sugar) to release essential oils and fragrances from herbs or fruit.

Neat – a drink served straight up, no ice, not mixed, not chilled.  Just liquor in a glass.

No Fire – don’t make.  This phrase is used on an order ticket when the item has already been made to prevent over-making.  Not using this instruction can cause serious inventory shortages.

One Edward – a dismissive, sarcastic and/or smartass way of saying “Whatever”.  Best used in jest.

On The Fly – I need it immediately, asap, yesterday.  Or faster.

On The Rocks – on ice

Peet – to drink.  From “A Clockwork Orange”.

Perfect – describes a drink made with equal amounds of dry and sweet vermouth

Puma – younger lady at a gathering spot actively seeking attention and or affection.  Likely to evolve into a cougar.

Punt – the indentation at the bottom of a wine bottle.  Originally, punts were a way of preventing the jagged pontil mark from scratching the surface of a table.  When mold-made bottles were introduced, the punt remained due to the stability it adds to the upright bottle.  But with Champagne bottles, the story is a little different.  During the second fermentation (the happy party when the Champagne gets its bubbles) massive pressure is built up inside the bottle’s glass wall.  The punt allows for a more even distribution of pressure inside the bottle.

Regulars – kind “fans” who come frequently to an establishment.  A solid set of regulars can really make your business.  I like to gift mine with Hershey’s Kisses.

Runner – the kind person who brings you your food or beverages when your main server is unavailable.  They are also responsible for ensuring the goods come out complete and correct, as well as making sure the guests are all set to enjoy their meal before walking away.

Running Duties – the mundane tasks, ideally tackled during the slow parts of one’s shift, that are needed to keep an establishment running efficiently.  They include stocking, sweeping, wiping walls, prepping fruits or juices, rolling silverware, or folding napkins.

Saint Lawrence – the Patron saint of restauranteurs, cooks and Chefs, winemakers, brewers and students.  Feast Day is 8/10

Saint Martha – Patron saint of service staff, maids, innkeepers and travelers.  Feast Day is 7/29

Saint Monica – the Patron sain of alcoholics and alcoholism, homemakers and disappointing children.  Feast day is 8/27.  Coincidentally, St. Monica’s was the name of the Catholic school attended by Mary Katherine Gallagher…

Sea Monster – a trashed chick that will not leave you alone

Sediment – a natural and common collection of particles at the bottom of a wine bottle

Shot – a type of drink typically thrown down the throat.  This pour will generally measure 1 to 2 oz, depending on how much your bartender likes you.

Soldier – a full beer bottle

Speed Rack – stainless steel wells used to hold bottles behind the bar.  Filled and organized strategically for maximum drink-making efficiency.

Spirit – any alcohol that is distilled

Splash – approximately 1/2 tsp

Steps of Service – the structured guidelines to service standards for a given establishment.  Red Robin has seven. I have worked at an establishment that had ten.  This will be the subject of a blog in the near future, because steps of service create and lead to successful, professional service.

Tannin – very basically, a natural acid that escapes the grape skins and stems into the juice and adds color and tartness to the wine.

Tip – an additional sum of money given to show extra thanks for services rendered.  Soon to be the subject of its own post.

Top – refers to the number of people at a table. ex; a 2 top has 2 guests sitting at a table. 

Top Off – to refill a glass or freshen up a drink.

Top Shelf – refers to the finest liquor available, usually kept up on the highest shelves.  I don’t mind climbing for them, though.

Training Wheels – the salt and limon (verde o amarillo) which typically accompany a shot of Tequila.

Tubed – this occurs when your station is full, or your line is full of tickets, you can’t possibly catch up.  Then, all of a sudden, a softball team comes in and orders 14 milkshakes.  Then you’re going down the tubes…you’re tubed.

Turn Over (tables) – every time a party leaves and a new party comes is a turn over.  Turning over tables is crucial to waitstaff income, which is why you should be tipping extra for monopolizing a table.

Ullage – The space between the cork of a wine bottle and the wine, or the bottle cap and the beer.  Also is the 1st or last beer out of a keg, generally discarded.

Vermouth – a wine which has had brandy added as well as 50 or more herbs and spices

Vintage – the year of the grape harvest in any given wine.  Non-vintage means grapes from 2 or more years were used

Weeper – a wine bottle with a leaky cork.  This doesn’t necessarily mean the contents have spoiled, but they may have.

Well – the generic liquor used in a basic drink.  If one orders a vodka collins, the well liquor will be used.

Wounded Soldier – a beer that has been opened, partially drank and left do die.  Not cool.

     Are you still here?  This has definitely been a marathon post.  Thanks for sticking thru ’til the end…or coming back and finishing.  And altho I typed this all by myself, I in no way could have accomplished this without the help of many a professional.  The bulk of my terms and definition help has been from “The Bartender’s Black Book” 7th Edition by S.K. Cunningham.  I love this book.  If you are a bartender, or want to know anything about bartending I highly recommend you pick up this book.  Also, Karen MacNeil’s “The Wine Bible” was an invaluable source in rounding out some wine knowledge details.  Bill Rehling, my revered wine guru.  Thanks for the constant info.  I hope you read, enjoy, and learn from what I’ve thrown up here.  Rob LePre, the Military Man, I always appreciate you letting me pick yer brain.  And Dr. Dawn, my complimentary opposite, I always appreciate your knowledge and …just you!  Love ya.

 

 

Namaste



{July 22, 2008}   Serving Children

   Hello again!  This topic has been on my mind quite a lot lately, partly because of the MANY kids we serve at The Robin; partly because there is a near-complete lack of children at Sips (naturally); and mostly because I have a super-outgoing six year old who has me cringing whenever we go out to eat.  It’s true, I have been lagging in my duties to teach her proper restaurant etiquette.  But this situation is soon to be remedied…

     So, here I’ll be considering important aspects of serving other’s children.  Part 2, in a few days, will be focused on the other side of the coin – helping our kids become order savvy.  What can I say, it’s just going to take a little extra research.

     Winning over those kids is a huge step in winning over the parents / guardians.  Getting down to eye level and learning their name will not only help the little one warm up to you, it will impress the parents that you are there to take care of everybody’s needs.  Parents want you to treat their kids special – positive attention – so suck it up; love those kids and treat them like they’re your own.  And the real reward is when the parents are coming back regularly because little Johnny wants to see YOU!

     Always, always, always ask before giving a gift to another’s child.  Some might think “what’s the harm”, but truly it’s best to not assume.  Never take the power out of the parent’s hands.  Some parents teach their children to not accept gifts from strangers, and for the most part we are strangers.  Some parents, for safety reasons, don’t want their little ones having stickers, crayons, or other small items.  Just ask mom or dad first, preferably on the “down low”, and you should always be ok.  I’ll never forget the first (and last) time I offered the free kid meal sundae (this was oh-so-many years ago) to a young boy instead of asking his father first.  Oh, if looks could kill…and I couldn’t remedy the situation because it was too late!  If I had only known / realized to ask dad first!

     Never assume it’s ok to touch.  Some kids are so adorable you just can’t help but pinch a cheek or twirl their hair – but resist!  If the little one flatteringly reaches for you to pick her up – ASK!  Again, never do anything that jeopardizes a parent’s full control over that child.  And remember to wash your hands!

     When parents allow their children to order for themselves, give that child  your full attention and treat him as much like the adults as you can (this is obviously dependent on the child’s age).  But, since little Johnny isn’t paying the bill, MAKE SURE that when you repeat the order back to your guests you make eye contact with the parents regarding the young one’s order.  It is frustrating and inefficient to have a milkshake order come out that never should have been ordered, or extra appetizers, or whatever.

     Never, ever show judgement or disdain to your guest no matter how much time they are taking trying to get their little angel to chose between american or cheddar cheese; lemonade or chocolate milk.  Be patient, keep smiling, keep breathing, use the Sullivan Nod when taking the order to cut down on indecision. Sometimes it can get ridiculously frustrating, which is why i’ve decided this topic has to be seen from both sides of the coin.

     My fellow servers, please let me hear from you!  What other helpful tips do you have in regards to serving children?  I’m always looking to improve in this area!  Sound off!

 

 

Namaste



et cetera