1. Fresh air–When it’s nice outside we have the front and back doors open and a beautiful breeze blows through the restaurant. Since we are on the main street, sometime the breeze includes the smell of diesel, but it passes quickly and doesn’t detract from the beauty of the fresh air. During the heat of the day, we close the doors and turn on the A/C, which actually works, so I’m in a sweat free environment. I don’t go home smelling like a goat and that’s a beautiful thing.
2. People watching–The main street yields a bounty of people to look at. One day I watched some yokel try to parallel park for about 20 minutes. I didn’t watch the entire time, but every time I came out of the back dining room, there he was at the wrong angle. He even went around the block once as if that would improve his ability. It didn’t. Then there are the outfits. Some people know how to dress and some, well, just don’t. It isn’t high tourist season yet, so I haven’t seen anything downright embarrassing, but it’s coming.
3. Teamwork–The Spaghetti Western is not an Us vs Them environment. If one person looks good, everyone looks good. If one person fails, we all fail. No one wastes time pointing fingers and passing the buck, everyone jumps in to help and fix the problem. Everyone is polite, there is no shouting, and it’s please and thank you all night long. Everyone works for one goal: to please the customers and make the restaurant the best it can be.
4. Music–We have an instrumental channel, Muzak if you will, which plays a little bit of everything. It’s very soothing, unlike the country crap I had to listen to at the Harribalsac. I don’t have to shout over the music or ask customers to shout at me. I don’t have to hear the same Taylor Swift song 4 times during a shift.
5. Customers–I’ll bet you never thought you’d see that on a list of likes. The customers at the Spaghetti Western are delightful. They are polite, happy, considerate and generous. They understand a joke. They aren’t stupid and ask the difference between the Veal Parmigiana and the Chicken Parmigiana. Their children are well mannered, don’t leave messes and don’t run all over the restaurant.
In two weeks, I’ve only had one table that I felt like killing (two little old ladies). I know when I go out to greet a table, they are ready for a good dining experience and look at me as their guide rather than an annoyance or a servant. I don’t think I’ve stopped smiling since the first time I clocked on.
6. The pace–No one is in a hurry, no matter how busy we are. There is no running, no panic, no stress. Nothing is expected immediately. If I don’t have time to get drink refills to a table, Pro Rodeo does it. If I’m busy taking an order and my food comes up, someone, possibly even the kitchen staff, will run it. My job consists of taking food and drinks to a table, charming them, and picking up a big, fat tip. At the end of the night, I have about 10 minutes worth of closing work and I’m done.
7. Shift drink–Also at the end of the night, usually about 30 minutes before we close, Pro Rodeo starts handing out the shift drinks. It’s just as important to know the wine as the food, so I’ve sampled all the house and select wines. There are a couple of beers I plan to try this week. A glass of wine makes the end of the shift absolutely perfect.
8. The food–I’ve never seen more beautiful food. The presentation is so incredible half the time I can’t decide whether to deliver it to a table or bolt out the back door and devour it in the alley. Not only does it look good, it tastes divine. I’m a big fan of pasta and this is pasta done right. I’ve tried several things so far and nothing is a disappointment. The Penne Rustica is so freaking good I drool every time someone orders one. The kitchen staff is amazing. Al Quieda is the lead night cook and while he’s only 22, he’s so professional I expect him to bow every time I explain an order or ask him for something. Nothing goes out of the kitchen without his approval, which means nothing goes out looking less than spectacular.
9. The auto-grat–This is everything I thought it would be. I’ve had two tables of adult children who, left on their own, would have probably tipped me $5 on a $150 ticket. Auto-grat to the rescue. I can tell the people who planned to skip the tip, by the look I get when I tell them the computer adds an 18% gratuity on parties of 6 or more. Some of the adult children argued. “But we are all on separate tickets.” Yes, and for that it should be a 20% gratuity. “We always tip 20%.” Uh…no you don’t. I’ve waited on you at the Harribalsac and either you can’t do math or you’re a liar.
I ran my ass off on Sunday with big table after big table. I was so exhausted when I left I couldn’t even take my apron off, but it was worth it since I was guaranteed 18% on every table that ran me into the ground.
10. The money–I’m not going to lie, the money is insane. I make more than I did at the Harribalsac with far less effort and zero stress. I work half as hard for my money because I have minions to do all the little things (desserts, drinks, salads, busing, restocking) and the customers tip a better percentage on a higher ticket total. I should have listened to Sunni and left the Harribalsac a year ago.