Lookin' Good at 58

Monday, June 5, 2017

Cocktail from the Past

Last night I was working and this guest ask me for a Stinger on the rocks.

Now back in the day 30 years ago this was a very popular cocktail so when I went to find the cocktail on our POS system I could not find it anywhere to order it.

So I went to the manager to ask how he wanted me to punch it in so the bar would get credit of course for the alcohol used. It happened to be I was the only one who knew what ingredients went into the drink.

I guess if I didn't get that table that guest would have been out of luck because I don't think any of the young waiters would have known either. Good thing to have an old guy on the floor who knows a few of the oldies.

By the way the ingredients are 2 parts Brandy and 1 part White Creme de Menthe usually served over ice with a twist of lemon.

Now I am waiting to get a Rusty Nail request next week!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Safeguard Yourself if Your Food is Delayed

Sometimes the kitchen is backed up and your food is arriving really late. What do you do?

First of all if you know their entree is gong to come out in 30 minutes and they only ordered one appetizer amongst the four of them do not ring in the appetizer right away. Stagger the service. Get their bread and wait 5 minutes before ringing it in. This will take another 5 minutes before they get the appetizer  so when they gobble it down in 3 minutes it will not seem as long waiting for that main course. Don't clear the empty appetizer plate so quickly. They will think their mains are on their way. Offer more bread and see how their drinks are doing. Let them know the kitchen is busy but you are on top of it.

As long as they hear you say it they relax more. Make a joke with them, don't show panic or they will panic and get all peeved off like you don't know what is going on.

Be always smiling and happy. Like the waiters at these resorts in the Caribbean.

If you make a big deal of anything they will.

Sometimes as a waiter there are things that happen that can ruin the flow of service. Try not to let that throw you. You will not win 100% of the time but managers will love you if you can relax guests. Especially if they do not have to buy anything for them cause their meal arrived late.

Always be aware of how things are going on in the kitchen. Same works if appetizers are taking a long time. Judge accordingly.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Juravinski Hospital

Next Tuesday I have an all-day consultation at the above location in Hamilton Ontario regarding what will I am pretty certain will be a stem cell transplant. I will find out all the details then.

Currently  I have to get my blood checked every 2 weeks. Unfortunately the last couple of times my hemoglobin was low so I had to have a blood transfusion each time. For those who are not sure what hemoglobin does is it provides oxygen to the organs. If it's low you are are always feeling pretty tired.

This hospital has a very high reputation so while I am excited about the consultation and getting better but it all still seems a bit surreal.

Stay tuned.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Probably My Best Attribute as a Waiter

Well we just finished up another Mother's Day weekend which is a sign of good weather and warm hot sunny summer days ahead of which I am looking forward to with great anticipation.

Working on these busy days when the main objective is to flip tables and get the next one in as quickly as possible is probably where I have to say is my strength.

I can take the order very quickly and get the meal going for the guest. When I go to a table I give them my greeting, outline the feature and do very little talking. Usually I am there real fast so a lot of the time they may not even know what they want to drink so I point out the wine list and drink menu and then say I will be back in a couple of minutes so they can have some time to decide what they like.

Then I check my other tables to see how they are doing and if they need anything or I can start clearing some plates. If I am triple sat I do the same thing as I did above.

When I go back I get their drink order and I also ask if they have decided on what they want to eat. Sometimes you get a yes and I take the whole drink and food order. Same for the other tables.

I don't waste any time getting the order in.

When I worked in Terminal 3 at Pearson Airport I worked in a place called Fionn MacCools and the cooks always said to me that every other chit that came into the kitchen seemed to be my food order. I had a big section and at the airport everyone wants their food fast before they have to hurry off and catch their flight. Well I used to take minimum 3 orders at the same time and punch them up all at once. It was no wonder I used to do over a 100 covers during a shift.

Yes when it comes to taking an order I am all business taking the order in because I know no matter what tip they leave I will still get a chance to get a bigger one on my next round. That is sometimes what it is all about is driving up the numbers.

So I take the order correctly and enter it correctly and let the kitchen do the work from there. All I have to do is table service from that moment on.

That is the fun part for me.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Stem Cell Transplant

Well I haven't posted in a while. I am still working and sort of resting while I can. By the way a couple of posts ago I was talking about getting the highest average check as being my goal. Well for the month of March I achieved that. It is not like winning the wine contest where is is flat out decided by number of sales.

There is a lot of caveats to having the highest check average. First of all there were others who did more covers for the month than I. Also you have to take into account the amount if children who sat in your section each month who usually will bring your check average down etc..So even though I finished on top it is sort of a not get too excited about it win but I was happy with the result anyway.

Also I have some personal health news. As some of you know during the winter I had some blood issues where I had a bone marrow biopsy done and thankfully showed I was cancer free. But after further analysis of my blood work the hematologist has advised me to get on the Ontario Health Plan so I can get some injections once a week for 3 months to try to kick start my lazy blood cells which are basically doing nothing to fight off infection or viruses. I have a sore throat almost all the time. I get tired easily which explains for the second time in 6 weeks I had to go for a blood transfusion the other day to give my hemoglobin a boost.

Bottom line is whether these injections work or not the maximum is for 2 years I will be taking these once a week shots.

I need ultimately a bone marrow transplant. This will increase my life span by decades the doctor said as opposed to living maybe 5 more years. So within a year or two this is what is on the horizon.

This might mean I may be off for up to a year afterwards till I can return to work. That may mean instead of waiting on tables I may do something else, who knows?

Fortunately the doctor said I am still young at 58 to receive a transplant but I am not so sure when I am 60 I want to return to waiting on tables.

First thing first though is to get on the health plan so I can pay as little as possible of this $600 an injection. Then they will set me up with the clinic in Hamilton to start on the transplant work.

Meanwhile we have a family holiday on Myrtle Beach planned for at the end of July. Some R and R before this starts is definitely on the schedule.

Some interesting times lay ahead. At least finally after so many years of trouble with my blood something is being done. There is a plan to get me well.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

It's All in How You Say It

We have this feature on soft shell dungeness crab going on at work. For the first little while I couldn't get anyone interested in ordering it.

Then I changed how I worded it.

Instead of saying our feature is "soft shell dungeness crab then going on to explain a little about it like where it is from etc..

Now I say " soft shell Pacific Coast dungeness crab."  Why this works better is because  I think the first one is kind of generic sounding while the second one adding Pacific Coast in the middle gives it a more emotional appeal. Like yeah the Pacific Coast...

Sometimes when you are featuring an entree it may come down to how you word it. In the second example I rarely need to go any further to sell it. The first example still left a lot of questions to be answered.

In this case less is more and I am selling more of it. Wording is important make no mistake about it. We have to appeal to the emotion of whatever it is we are selling to get people interested.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

How to Increase Your Check Average Working Backwards

I have been challenged to increase my average check at work this month. My average check is a dollar down what they would like it to be so I have been experimenting with ways to increase my average check.

Here is what I have come up with.

First of all depending on alcoholic beverages or wine nowadays with people cutting back and being designated drivers etc.. to rely on that alone to increase your check average can be meager at best. When you see a lot of tables sticking to soft drinks and water you know you are up against it if you rely on wine etc.. Maybe about 1 in 5 tables order a bottle of wine.

So this is what I am doing to increase the check average. First of all I greet the table and go over our features to them. I ask them gently if they would like a beverage or would like a couple of minutes more to look over the wine or drink list. In many cases if they do not drink they will say they are sticking with water or would like a soft drink.

Next is the fun part. So I start with the lady and she usually will always only order a main course. Some order an appetizer but most do not waiting for the cue from the husband.

When they order a steak I will say to them, "do you want the salad with it?" Now if I ask them if they want a salad generally most people will say no but if you say the salad they almost always reply back, "does it come with it?" I say yes it does if you order this and I point at the part of the menu which includes what they are having with a salad. It is not much more but it's something.

I do the same for the other lady who almost always orders the salad as well. Then the guys come and this is when I can up sell the size of the steak. If they order the 10 oz with the salad I offer the 14 cause I know they want it and they are still saving money with that salad combo. Then the other guy I can up sell the size as well. It is like if someone has bought a car and the salesman is asking if you want the heated seats with that? The car is bought all he is doing is selling some add-ons. Same idea selling the bigger steaks.

Once they have ordered their salads working backwards I ask if they want to share a couple of appetizers before their salads? Now there is always that one guy who looks for himself then ask the table if they would like to share what he would like to have. Then the other guys says sure order that and add this or that onto that as well.

So if they have ordered drinks I know I got a good table here because now timing your table is critical. A lot of dumb waiters will order the bread and salads right away send it through then put in the order for the hot appetizer. So the people are inundated with food on their table.

As I mentioned earlier and I tell them I will get that bread out to you and I will let you share and enjoy those hot appetizers before I bring the salads out. That is the proper service anyway so they agree.  During their wait they are downing those drinks and picking at the bread. By the time I move those appetizers away and getting the salads they are ready for, you guessed it, another round of drinks.

You might even get that second bottle of wine by that time.

Now because they have had their meal spaced out and had time to drink and enjoy each other's company usually almost all the time when you bring the dessert menus over they are at least ready for coffee. In most cases because they shared appetizers I will say here is the dessert menu and perhaps there is something on that you may like to share as well for a night cap.

I usually can get two desserts.

Well that is what I am doing let's see how it works. Not every table is like the one I described obviously but when you get one like this you gotta make it count.

I didn't even mention the add-on sides to the main course either.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Sometimes People Just Tip Me Like Crazy

The other night wasn't a particularly busy night. It was coming near the end of Spring Break with the next day everyone returning back to normal. Kids going back to school and the parents who were on vacation back to work.

I got sat a two top. They had an enjoyable meal and left me just over $30 on a $142 bill. Not a bad start I thought. Then I got sat an 8 top. Their bill came to $428 and change. The guy who was paying had $500 in gift cards. On his last gift card he had $71 plus change left. He said it was for me. Not bad I am on a roll I thought.

Then I got sat a 6 top. They left me $50. My final table I got sat a 7 top. My last table of the night, my 4th table and that guy left me $81.

So after tip out I walked out of there with $187. Not bad for 4 tables. Sometimes things just go your way. In fact all weekend was pretty good. It is nice to be rewarded.

*  *  *  *  *

On a health update I finally got my bone marrow biopsy results. My appointment was set to meet this hematologist at the Cancer center in Kitchener. Fearing the worst because of the location I was resigned to the fact that I had leukemia or lymphoma. 

I was waiting in the doctor's office and was overjoyed to find out that in fact I had no cancer. There was no imminent danger. Despite the relief they are still not sure what it is they are going to do about what I have. So yesterday I had to do some blood work and they took 14 vials of blood. I see the doctor again in 6 weeks so let's hope with the good weather making it's way here as Spring arrives my life will return to some normalcy.

I should start blogging a bit more often as well now that things have settled down for me.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Bad Blood

Yes I know I have not blogged in a week. Unfortunately this past Sunday I was at the hospital all day.

For those of you who do not know my immune system does not have enough WBC in it to fight infection so I come down with a sore throat often which turns into a fungal infection.

Now I did get a bone marrow biopsy on January 30th but still waiting for the results. My blood has bad reading written all over it so it is easy to see what I am down in and high in but the thing is no one can fix anything until they know what is causing the cells not to function properly.

So when I go to emergency it is like a cat and mouse game when the doctors do not know what to do because they do not know how to fix it permanently. Instead I get a prescription for $182 to fix the fungal infection which is fine but soon there will be another infection until the source problem is located.

The cells could be stuck in my enlarged spleen for example. No one knows. That is until the bone marrow biopsy results arrive. Meanwhile I have CT Scan done on throat, x-rays on throat and chest, ultrasound on liver and spleen, HIV test, Hepatitis test, and of course numerous blood tests.

Sometimes these test can be up to two months until they come back. I thought perhaps if there was no hurry to get back to me that was good news. I was told by the operating doctor it would be 2-4 weeks.

It is a bit of a pain but now that I know it may take a couple of months when it comes in that will be the day it comes in and there is not much I can do about that. The problem is each time my throat gets it I cannot eat well so I lose weight. I was just gaining back some weight after the last session then it happens again.

It has been really since January 1st since I felt 100% and here it is March already so hopefully we get this straightened out soon and I can enjoy the summer. For those of you who are hematologist out there here is some results from last month. I know there are worse out there but here is mine.
You may need glasses to read this but you get the idea by the HI and LO

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Choose Where You Want to Live

It appears more and more each day that one has to be prepared if the jobs run out where they are living. Working in an occupation that does not provide any flexibility will make you prone to a sudden closing or layoffs  and then where do you go from there?

A lot of manufacturing plants have gone the way of the dinosaur and fled to other countries leaving the worker who was depending on that one place to feed his or her family wondering what to do next. Or, in the case of the oil fields here in Canada a sudden glut in oil occurs. The price of oil drops like a rock and immediately oil production stops and huge layoffs ensue leaving the worker with less income and big bills to pay.

This happens all the time. Then these same people complain of having a rough ride and how the company or government will not help them out.

The only way people can be in control of their future is to choose a career that you can take with you wherever you go and do it that well that you will always be in good demand. That means continuously educate yourself and gain the experience.

For example, even though the hours can be long in the hospitality industry one who works in the profession will always have the choice of where they want to live and work. Make no mistake companies are always looking for the best and will do the work visa for you if needed.

I mention long hours but anyone nowadays knows that working long hours sometimes is what you have to do to reach the top. Working is easy if you are passionate enough for it. A doctor is no different. Long hours but look at the rewards of higher income and saving people's lives. In a sense working in a restaurant can be no different. Service is making other people happy. Then you get rewarded.

So maybe in retirement I should head to a warmer climate to escape the winters here. Now that would be an idea wouldn't it!