The Children from Hell

I'll thcream and thcream until I'm thick...
Sometimes I wonder whether diners fully understand the purpose of a bookings system.
You see, contrary to popular belief the booking system isn't actually for the convenience of the diner.
Its for the kitchen.
Think about it.
What miraculous cooking invention do you think we have in the kitchen that would enable us to cook for a whole evenings bookings should they all choose to rock up at the same time(8o'clock)??
The booking system enables the kitchen to cope with cooking a diverse range of dishes,to order and more importantly hopefully send the finished dishes out to a consistent standard and to the satisfaction of the customer.
Its clear lots of diners don't get this.Many will come in without a reservation,which is fine (but please have some flexibility),then when you politely explain that we cannot accommodate due to being fully booked they will look across at empty tables and say 'why cant we sit there?' with no thought that in,15,30,45 mins there will be a people sitting at the table who have had the foresight to ring ahead and book.
Strange though it may seem we do actually want diners,without them we would be bankrupted pretty quickly.
Yes,surprisingly we don't want to turn you away,we want your cash.
Which brings me to the anathema of the vacant table.
The availability of a table doesn't mean you can sit down and order immediately.Making a table reservation isn't a strictly accurate term,what you are actually waiting for is your slot in the kitchen for the food to be cooked.
Which brings us to the most common problem.
Diners ringing to reserve a table at a specified time will often be offered an alternative time should their preferred slot be unavailable.They will then accept the alternative time,but invariably arrive at the time they originally requested,be this early or late.
This is very rude.
It usually causes least inconvenience to the perpetrators,with tables being booked later who have had the decency to turn up on time bearing the brunt of any delay.

Last Saturday night we were very busy.
At 6pm a table of five arrived who were not due until 7pm.Their original request had been for 6pm,I know this because I had taken the call,I had sensed they were a tad disgruntled at not being able to be accommodated at their chosen time. Grandpa,Grandma,Mother and two girls aged around 10 years.
As the table was ready they were seated and served drinks.
As I walked past at around 6.10pm,Grandpa called me over and requested I take their order.I politely explained that their reservation was for 7pm and the kitchen was very busy with orders but I would fit them in as soon as I could,hopefully before 7pm.
Now at that point I could have taken their order,but they would still have had the same wait time for food.Experience has taught us that its better not to take orders too early otherwise you get into the 'I ordered over 40 minutes ago'scenario.This is best avoided at all costs.
What is the point of a bookings system if you don't adhere to it??

Unbeknownst to Table 6, one of the girls was on her break and was eating within earshot of the table.
Grandpa was not happy.'We've already been sat here for 10 minutes' he grumbled.
'Lets be as awkward as possible when they come to take the order' said one of the velvet dressed girls'they're not getting away with treating us like that'
It was agreed I would take the order.
For the record,I am not anti child,I am a mother myself.I like it when parents bring out their children to eat.
It was before 7pm.
I aprroached the table.

Precocious child:'At last...We want the steak(pointing at sister)but cut in half on two separate plates,not one meal with a spare plate,do you understand??'
'What vegetables does it come with?'
Self:'It comes with watercress and roasted tomatoes'
'I don't want any of that'
Self:I tell you what we have a sandwich steak on the bar menu,how about I do two of those for you instead of cutting one in half'
'What's a sandwich steak?'
SELF:'Its a rump just as the same as the one on the menu,just a smaller one'
Then why are you calling it a sandwich steak?Is it a sandwich??We don't want a sandwich..we don't want it in a bit of bread,we want it on a plate,I told you that before..and how much will it be?'Rolling eyes.
Self:'Yes that's fine we can do it exactly the same,on a plate with chips,would you like a sauce?'
'I don't know,I don't know what the sauce is,how should I know(tutting)what is the sauce??' Then without allowing me to answer: 'look,put the sauce in a separate jug and we'll make up our minds when we see it...'
Self(smiling):'How would you like the steak cooked MADAM?'
At last a fleeting flicker of panic,She didn't know how to ask for the steak to be cooked.
Mother came to the rescue'both medium'.
The rest of the table rattled through their order uneventfully.
As I retired from the table I overheard 'well she wasnt very clever was she..'
At some point they had managed to swap their dining chairs for two high back antique Chinese chairs which are really only for decorative purposes.
As I took out steak knives for the table the two girls grabbed theirs and bizarrely thrust them up and down in a stabbing motion whilst rhythmically repeating 'look, sharp, knives'
This unsettled me somewhat.
As we took the meals out,a loud voice emanating from one of the thrones was heard to say 'here come our miniature steaks,they had better be up to standard....'

The adults made no attempt to silence or apologise.
I recounted events to Chef later.
'you should have told them to get out, they're interviewing for the ugly sisters in town..'


I actually don't know how you cope but to be honest you should have thrown them on your sword and told them to leave... Clearly their parents have no parenting skills so someone needs to teach them manners. Hateful people. I detest parents who confuse precoscious with cute.
I know you want and maybe even need customers, but I'm afraid I would have said F*ck off to the little darlings.

If I've ordered in a busy restaurant, I know it'll take time to come through, especially if we haven't asked for a starter but gone straight to mains.

My old Mess sergeant always said: "Always ask for the soup, it gives the cooks time to clean out the galley" (He was ex Royal Navy)

Hope you can cope with the festive cheer, fast approaching.
Oh dear, it sounds like the prelude to a horror movie!
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alison Cross said…
I am shocked. Really shocked. What utterly horrible customers you've had to deal with - those adults should have been taken outside and roundly slapped around the back of their heads for allowing their children to behave like that.

I don't know how you manage to keep a civil tongue in your head when confronted by that.

I'm utterly outraged on your behalf *seethe*

Ali x
Wally B said…
I am always amazed at your patience. I'm with Ali on this one. A good slapping might have lost you some business, but it would have felt sooooo good.
Young at Heart said…
how do you cope...... you are a saint....I know where I'd put the steak knives!!!
TheBoyandMe said…
What absolute little sh*ts! I would not have been able to contain myself and told them where to go.
Pearl said…
I don't work in a restaurant per se, although I do work a number of catering gigs a month and am always amazed at how people allow their children to behave toward staff...

One fears for the 10 year olds when they are adults. Their poor boyfriends, spouses, teachers, bosses....
I am mazed you kept your cool. I would have told them they had been overheard. I don't think I could have dealt with them without blowing my top.
Mark said…
Should keep a special supply of very deadly hot sauce and accidentally spill some on the steaks, so even the first mouthful will finish them off. You can apologise sweetly on behalf of the kitchen as they leave the restaurant with their expiring obnoxious brats

favourite posts