What should I have done?

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Mosca
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2006/03/16 15:35:28 (permalink)

What should I have done?

OK, here's a question for all you pros.

We ate at a Lone Star restaurant last weekend (not my choice, but wth). the waiter was friendly enough, in that "sit down at the empty chair" way. BUT, the table didn't have enough setups and he had to be reminded to bring them, he forgot to bring my water, my second beer was late, and he dropped off the check and then dropped off the face of the earth.

When he came back to pick up the check, he apologized, and then said he was "politicking with his boss for you [us]." And then he proceeded to explain to us about how he felt the most important thing was to make customers happy and want to come back, but his boss was more concerned with how many appetizeers and drinks and desserts he sold, and he didn't think it was right to push alcohol on people, and push extra food on people. He took about 5 minutes telling us this.


Bottom line, the guy wasn't happy, and we got poor service because he was distracted and not concentrating on serving us.

What I did was I gave him a pep talk, told him that it's all about attitude. If his boss wants him to move alcohol and appetizers, it's up to him to make sure he suggests them to every customer. WITH A SMILE AND A GOOD ATTITUDE. It's not up to him to set the rules, it's up to him to maximize the dining experience within the rules. I told him to keep his head up and his attitude positive.

I know that he's going to be gone in a week or two and he just doesn't get it. No sense reporting him, I won't be telling his boss anything he doesn't already know.

My feeling is that diners LIKE having things suggested to them in a professional manner. If the server does a good job of engaging the diner and breaking through the ice in the first 10 seconds, he/she can move appetizers. A server can set the stage for dessert early. A server can suggest non-alcoholic drinks to teetotallers (my wife gets nada-coladas sometimes).


What do you all think?



Tom
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26 Replies Related Threads

    drsmoke02
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    RE: What should I have done? 2006/03/16 15:59:42 (permalink)
    Mosca,maybe if it was this waiters first night,but places like Lone Star have a pretty extensive training program,even if it was his first night there's no excuese for poor service.

    48%Of customers return to a restaurant because of the way they were treated,12%because of the food.

    I believe you had a crappy waiter.

    #2
    1965daytonacoupe
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    RE: What should I have done? 2006/03/16 16:00:00 (permalink)
    I know that I'm new but mayhap I can throw in an opinion here.

    I never get appitizers. Some people just don't.
    I'd rather have my table serviced promptly in all regards than the guy try to be a salesman. I also have dessert maybe one in 20 times I'm out and even then I'll ask to see what they have or ask for another menu. I need no prompt even though I regularly get one.

    But I can understand from a manager perspective. Its all about the dollar.

    If the waiter wants a good tip, they have to earn it. And I'm not asking them to do back flips. Just smile, refill when I'm down to 1/4 of a glass and bring out the food as its prepared. Oh, and get the order right in the first place. If that's all taken care of I always make it a point to tip well. At least 20%, give or take.

    PS. I hate lone star.
    #3
    Mosca
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    RE: What should I have done? 2006/03/16 16:14:13 (permalink)
    He said that they were rated on how much extra they brought in, that it was tracked and they had to stay above a certain %.

    His point was that the manager wasn't about people returning, it was about getting the most out of the people that show up.

    I believe you can do both. A good waitperson will give good service AND hit a fair % of upsell. The kid was so unhappy he didn't do either (I did have 2 beers though).

    Our Lone Star is OK enough. I know what I'm getting. I pick a small steak and the sweet potato.


    Tom
    #4
    V960
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    RE: What should I have done? 2006/03/16 17:32:54 (permalink)
    Generally Lone Star trains seervers very well. Managers are usually very good for that slice of the business. I would expect the server to be gone soon. Just my opinion.
    #5
    roossy90
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    RE: What should I have done? 2006/03/16 19:50:37 (permalink)
    Most corporate/chain restaurants have a 5 day training program, and test's daily, then turn you loose with maybe 1 or 2 tables.
    Some even give personality test's before hiring you.
    Sounds like the Guy was trying to make up for his slacking off.
    Probably was out in back having a smoke and talking on the cell phone.
    #6
    Jeza
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    RE: What should I have done? 2006/03/17 03:15:55 (permalink)
    One of the most important thing for professional staff is too maintain a pretense of enjoying work, even if they aren't. Fact is the issues with his boss ARE NOT YOUR PROBLEM.

    As a waiter he should've maintained service and sorted the political issues out at the end of service rather than during service. Too many people try and sort out political issues during service and all that ends up happening is that the customer is left feeling served poorly. Consequently the restaurant loses a customer, the customer feels ripped off, the manager losese respect both from the patron and the waiter, the waiter loses a potential tip (if in the US - I am in NZ and tips are optional here) , and all in all its abad circumstance.

    If I had been in your shoes, your very polite attitude might have been nice, but it didn't help any one least of all yourself. NICE stands for Not Interested to Care Enough.

    I would've been polite and said to the waiter " Thats not my problem, my problem is that I received bad service. I feel like you don't/do care, your appology seems genuine, but how does this make me feel better about the XXX amount plus tip I am expected to leave?"

    By approaching it in a polite yet truthful manner the waiter will hopefully realise the mistake of making his problems yours. Especially considering its YOUR night, not his .
    #7
    ohman
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    RE: What should I have done? 2006/03/17 09:05:32 (permalink)
    Hmmmmmmmmmmm, I wonder where this is heading? I bet I will have a lot of interesting reading when I get home from work today.
    #8
    Fieldthistle
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    RE: What should I have done? 2006/03/17 09:34:32 (permalink)
    Hello All,
    Mosca, you were a good person to the waiter. I've experienced episodes where the waitstaff complain about management
    or their lives, which really drives me wild, but I put up with it. I don't really want to be a labor arbitraitor or
    social worker when I dine out.
    I do enjoy conversing with waitstaff. Last weekend, my wife and I went to an Italian restaurant, Bravo's, (in Harrisonburg,Va)
    where we talked to our waitress for over 20 minutes,(it was near closing time and few customers) about her visit to Florence, Italy,
    her educational goals, her career goals, etc.. It was a positive conversation and an exchange of ideas. It broadened me because
    I learnt something from her and about her.
    But I don't want to be a sounding board for a bitch session.
    Next, I once had a gardening accident with a waitress. But it was a most pleasant accident. Ahh, memories.
    Take Care,
    Fieldthistle
    #9
    pcdiva
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    RE: What should I have done? 2006/03/17 10:49:36 (permalink)
    Fieldthistle -- you can't just leave us hanging with a comment like "I once had a gardening accident with a waitress..." and leave us hanging!!!!

    The mind boggles with possibilities.

    I often enjoy talking with waitstaff since I dine alone most of the time and it is pleasant to speak with another human. But I don't want to hear a "witch" session about a particular promotion or somesuch. I've been there and done that, and witched with the best of them. Just want to make my customers happy, so they come back and I keep my job. Tip was the icing on the cake.

    As to what I would have done at Lone Star, probably the same as Mosca did, because unless something really bothers me, I just try to pick the battles I have a chance of winning.

    Alice

    #10
    V960
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    RE: What should I have done? 2006/03/17 11:07:33 (permalink)
    One of my pet peeves is the "Hi I'm Jennifer and I'll be your server tonight" I'm a customer and I'm not going to introduce my family. Where this came from , California?, is beyond me. I have NEVER had a professional in NYC introduce himself/herself as a server.

    My wife laughs when the confessions start because she I am counting words to take off the percentage of the tip. I actually started writing the explanation (hoping this moron could read) of the reduced tip while enduring a long tale of woe.

    "Hi, what can I get you to drink, would you like to know about the specials or are you ready to order" is the only thing I want out to hear. By the fifteenth time I visit we'll get to know each other.

    I have at least ten places in the south and NYC that bring me my drink wheen I sit down. I tip well.
    #11
    pcdiva
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    RE: What should I have done? 2006/03/17 11:38:03 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by V960

    One of my pet peeves is the "Hi I'm Jennifer and I'll be your server tonight"


    I usually do answer, "Hi, I'm Alice and I'll be your customer tonight" just to be a smarty pants. You'd be surprised at how many people are totally flabbergasted when they get that response. Like it's sooooo original(But it makes my day, she says with an evil grin)

    But like I said in my above post, I do like the interactions I have with wait staff for the most part. But my glass better not get empty! (Because Miss Alice get very cranky when her glass is empty!)

    Alice
    #12
    roossy90
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    RE: What should I have done? 2006/03/17 11:39:18 (permalink)
    I know where you are coming from V...
    Many restaurants also insist that is the way to approach a customer. I [personally would never do it, but I would most certainly tell my guest's my name. It does lead to no confusion when you need something and I am not close by.
    "Excuse me, Can you ask Tara to come here, please?.. Instead of "Hey, I dont know my servers name, Can you get her?"...
    "uh, what did she look like?".. and so on, and so on...
    You get the gist of what I mean..
    But I still think Mosca's server was out back having a smoke and just trying to sugarcoat the fact that he was slacking off..
    #13
    Mosca
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    RE: What should I have done? 2006/03/17 12:40:55 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Jeza

    One of the most important thing for professional staff is too maintain a pretense of enjoying work, even if they aren't. Fact is the issues with his boss ARE NOT YOUR PROBLEM.

    As a waiter he should've maintained service and sorted the political issues out at the end of service rather than during service. Too many people try and sort out political issues during service and all that ends up happening is that the customer is left feeling served poorly. Consequently the restaurant loses a customer, the customer feels ripped off, the manager losese respect both from the patron and the waiter, the waiter loses a potential tip (if in the US - I am in NZ and tips are optional here) , and all in all its abad circumstance.

    If I had been in your shoes, your very polite attitude might have been nice, but it didn't help any one least of all yourself. NICE stands for Not Interested to Care Enough.

    I would've been polite and said to the waiter " Thats not my problem, my problem is that I received bad service. I feel like you don't/do care, your appology seems genuine, but how does this make me feel better about the XXX amount plus tip I am expected to leave?"

    By approaching it in a polite yet truthful manner the waiter will hopefully realise the mistake of making his problems yours. Especially considering its YOUR night, not his .




    Jeza, I agree completely, right down to your observation that NICE meant "not interested to care enough." In this instance, if I would have read the guy out or called the manager it would have made the experience worse for me, because it would have embarassed my family and created a scene where one wasn't necessary. The thought crossed my mind, to do what you said you'd do, and the very next thought was "Nah, not worth the trouble." I did think that I should call the manager, but I figure the guy's going to get the can without my help.


    Honestly, my biggest gripe was the guy crossed the line from professional to personal. Even conversations about vacations and hobbies can have professional distance. But when someone starts complaining and talking about how he FEELS about things, especially something in the here-and-now, then he's crossed the line.

    Lots of good insight, from everyone.


    Tom
    #14
    V960
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    RE: What should I have done? 2006/03/17 14:44:07 (permalink)
    When I am really in a crazy mood (I have been known to answer the home phone "Joe's pool hall, Eightball speaking ...shoot", which is why my girls do not allow mw to answer the phone at home...worked didn't it?) I will reply to the wait person's introduction w/ questions about their family, future hopes and current SO's. I will then totally embarass both the server and my family by a indepth introduction of my family.

    My wife of twenty four years simply refers to me as the jerk that I love. I do sometimes have a good side...not too often however.
    #15
    -Tricky-
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    RE: What should I have done? 2006/03/17 18:26:48 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by V960

    One of my pet peeves is the "Hi I'm Jennifer and I'll be your server tonight" I'm a customer and I'm not going to introduce my family. Where this came from , California?, is beyond me. I have NEVER had a professional in NYC introduce himself/herself as a server.


    I agree. It's stupid - but I bet 80%of the servers who do it are instructed to do so. It sucks, but corporates seem to believe that it's the way to go.
    #16
    bassrocker4u2
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    RE: What should I have done? 2006/03/18 06:38:38 (permalink)
    the answer to your problem is simple. you must first back up. way back, to the first moment you decided to go to a CORPORATE CHAIN. thats where your mistake was made. go to a mom and pop place, and get better food, better service, and know where your money is going.
    the corporate monsters are so impersonal. who actually owns them anyway? hhmmm
    probably same people buying our eastern ports......
    #17
    Mosca
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    RE: What should I have done? 2006/03/18 10:05:57 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by bassrocker4u2

    the answer to your problem is simple. you must first back up. way back, to the first moment you decided to go to a CORPORATE CHAIN. thats where your mistake was made. go to a mom and pop place, and get better food, better service, and know where your money is going.
    the corporate monsters are so impersonal. who actually owns them anyway? hhmmm
    probably same people buying our eastern ports......


    LOL, I understand you are trying to keep me on the right path. If you remember other things I've written you know where I come from. Suffice to say that life is full of compromises, and it was my turn to compromise. I've had good service and bad service at both chains and mom and pops, I've had bad service and good service at cheap places and suck-your-eyes-out expensive places.
    #18
    Adjudicator
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    RE: What should I have done? 2006/03/18 10:48:17 (permalink)
    There is nothing more annoying to me than a pesky waiter/waitress. As long as they show up when needed; that's all I need. When I dine out, I usually know what I am going to order and if not, I will make my own mind up with no input from said pesky persons. In fact, the annoyance factor of said employee(s) has a direct correlation to the amount of tip I leave.
    #19
    Gizmolito
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    RE: What should I have done? 2006/03/19 16:16:55 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Mosca

    OK, here's a question for all you pros.


    ...but his boss was more concerned with how many appetizeers and drinks and desserts he sold, and he didn't think it was right to push alcohol on people, and push extra food on people.



    Tom



    It's funny, we had an opposite experience at another corporate chain (Smoky Bones) on a Sunday evening. Our server asked us if we would like Iced Tea or a Soda...wife pipes up with "What, you don't have cocktails??"
    He laughed and said they don't get many requests for cocktails on Sunday nights. I said well then, o.k., bring a dirty martini and a scotch and soda to the 2 sinners.
    #20
    bassrocker4u2
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    RE: What should I have done? 2006/03/20 08:19:10 (permalink)
    that brought back some really bad memories.... once i was forced to eat at an 'applebees"(9mm to my head).
    well, i figured i would tie one on, and forget about it. so i ordered a tall margarita. took a few swigs, and thought i thad alot of pulp.
    after looking real real close, it was full of bugs!!!!
    like little termites, or something. i just about puked!
    after alot of heaves, i managed to get the server's attention and after an apology, i was rewarded another glass full of the same pickled creatures. now just what kind of moron can serve up a glass full of critters...TWICE!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    #21
    Sonny Funzio
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    RE: What should I have done? 2006/03/20 15:38:12 (permalink)
    Mosca you are spot-on.
    It is a cardinal sin for a server to buck the establishments policy that waitstaff will practice suggestive selling ... and doubly so if he airs that complaint to the clientele!!!
    quote:
    Originally posted by Mosca

    He said that they were rated on how much extra they brought in, that it was tracked and they had to stay above a certain %."

    Yup, that is how the manager was tracking whether the waiter was sticking to the requirement that he is actually selling at the table and saying what he is supposed to be saying. The manager can't be everywhere.
    quote:
    Originally posted by Jeza

    One of the most important thing for professional staff is too maintain a pretense of enjoying work, even if they aren't. Fact is the issues with his boss ARE NOT YOUR PROBLEM.

    Exactly.

    quote:
    Originally posted by Jeza

    If I had been in your shoes, your very polite attitude might have been nice, but it didn't help any one least of all yourself. NICE stands for Not Interested to Care Enough. ... I would've been polite and said to the waiter " Thats not my problem, my problem is that I received bad service. I feel like you don't/do care, your apology seems genuine, but how does this make me feel better about the XXX amount plus tip I am expected to leave?"

    Jeza I like your thinking. That is exactly how I tend to react as well. Pointing out that fact to this whiny, troubled server is actually doing him a tremendous service. He's on collision course with the help-wanted ads and has precious little time to figure that out.
    quote:
    Originally posted by V960


    >>One of my pet peeves is the "Hi I'm Jennifer and I'll be your server tonight" I'm a customer and I'm not going to introduce my family. Where this came from , California?, is beyond me. I have NEVER had a professional in NYC introduce himself/herself as a server.

    A left coast thing, eh? LOL
    "Welcome friends, My name is Moonshadow and I'll be your server. I'm a saggitarious ... what's your sign?"

    Yes, that is what name tags are for ... though it's also fine for a server to verbally give their name.

    The very best servers do one thing very well ... they don't put the onus on the customer to, in effect, account for themselves by being obligated to any unnecessary responses.
    Especially in fine dining, but in a majority of other restaurant settings as well. It is a delicate balance.
    Customers are not there for witty (or otherwise) conversation. (though at the bar, conversation is *part* of the service provided - if the customer desires).

    That more lengthy introduction begs the customer to acknowledge the servers presence with some sort of benediction in return ... that is NOT what a customer is there for ... they are there for service that is prompt, courteous, knowledgeable and **unobtrusive**.
    While I'm sure many people are fine with extraneous conversation from the waitstaff ... it is an extremely bad habit for a server to develop.
    There are limited number of restaurants where "conversation" might in fact be desired from a server ... this is when the restaurant's image is supported by the banter or "schtick" that the employees provide. For example, if you are a personable "mom and pop" type place where part of your image is that sort of folksy personable banter.
    But for the vast majority of restaurants .. and particularly in the case of training any server ... it is not desirable.

    The bottom line with Mosca's server who stated that he has problems with selling alcohol and was "politicking" with the manager is that, he was showing that he has personal issues of inadequacy and that he feels a need to be self-important thru his "high moral standards" .... it's kinda like "PC".

    If it ever came to my attention that a server had made those comments at a table he would have been terminated at the end of the night.

    The ONLY circumstance where I would consider keeping that person is if I believed them to be otherwise an unusually good "people person" who was absolutely new to the business.
    You can teach people to do lots of things, but if someone isn't already good with people, it's tough to teach them that. In that circumstance, particularly if it was an INexperienced server, I'd try to work on his training before throwing in the towel.
    #22
    prisonchef
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    RE: What should I have done? 2006/03/20 17:03:50 (permalink)
    sonny,
    everyone knows the proper response to whats your sign is "neon"
    just like whats your favorite color the proper response is "plaid"
    wait staff too familiar? try this on. ours sit in an empty chair to take orders. told not to but it's hard to get thru to rednecks who think a family reunion is a good place to pick up guys!!!
    if you as customer hate wait staff just think what those of us who have to deal with them on a daily basis feel.
    and yes i am wait staffed out today for a stinking 50 cents i would off them all
    jack
    #23
    Sonny Funzio
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    RE: What should I have done? 2006/03/20 18:13:33 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by prisonchef

    sonny,
    everyone knows the proper response to whats your sign is "neon"
    just like whats your favorite color the proper response is "plaid"
    wait staff too familiar? try this on. ours sit in an empty chair to take orders. told not to but it's hard to get thru to rednecks who think a family reunion is a good place to pick up guys!!!
    if you as customer hate wait staff just think what those of us who have to deal with them on a daily basis feel.
    and yes i am wait staffed out today for a stinking 50 cents i would off them all
    jack


    LOL
    Long time ago went to a fancy restaurant with about 20 family members. We were all seated at one long table, and the waitress (a girl who really put the "wait" in waitress) stood at the head of the table and demanded "waddya want?" and then stood there, requiring each person to shout their order up to her. Good thing my Uncle was paying.

    Yup ... I hear ya about the hillbilly thing. In fact I'm livin in an area right now where they think Warren Buffet is an all-u-can-eat place over onna east side. <detroit area joke>

    >> if you as customer hate wait staff just think what those of us who have to deal with them on a daily basis feel.

    No,no,no ... don't hate servers at all ... I've hired and trained my share ... good servers are one of the lynch-pins of any great restaurant. That's probably why I want decent service for the tip I'm paying them.

    But I know what ya mean, jack ... it's damn hard to find good help ... and keeping em too.


    #24
    Mosca
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    RE: What should I have done? 2006/03/20 20:04:09 (permalink)
    LOL, I got there early, and my family came about 10 minutes later. While I was sitting there, he sat down in one of the empty chairs and I told him he didn't have to sit. He said something like his feet were tired, and I told him don't expect me to buy him dinner...

    The introduction by name doesn't bother me. The sitting in the chair does because it is an intrusion on my and my family's space. Table=ours, floor=yours.

    A waiter who can't suggestively sell shouldn't be working in a place where that's what they want him to do. If he has a better idea, he can open his own place.

    I appreciate all the comments.
    #25
    EddyBees Dogs
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    RE: What should I have done? 2006/03/21 01:36:55 (permalink)
    OK here is the deal. I have worked for Lone Star as a server, bartender, bar manager and kitchen manager, so I have seen it all from both sides. First of all, a good server(which I am, I currently work for an upscale restaurant and run my cart) should be able to suggest a drink without offending anyone. Offer a margarita or specific beer, and if you get "the look" change to a non-alcoholic cocktail. Many times I dine out and have many things going on(kids) and when an appetizer is suggested I may want it and forgot to place the order initially. I am not offended at all! Yes, this server will be gone soon.

    Lone Star management is just shy of being a cult. There is a list of catch phrses that encompass nearly any restaurant issue. "put aces in their places", was one and "heavy on the front side" was another. There was literally a printed list of phrases we were to memorize containing 110 cliche catch phraes. A management meeting is one phrase after another and it becomes a competition as to see who knows the most cliches. We went along with the "One Minute Manager" concept, which is all well and good, however, we were also required to carry around a card to keep track of how many praises and reprimands we had throughout a shift. These totals were expected to be in the hundreds.

    Do not believe Lone Star is well managed. 10 years ago they took the steak market by storm, then came Outback, and the rest. At that time they hired "key" employees which were higher paid hourlys but no tips. After 90 days, you were expected to know everyting or were fired, Not even waiting tables was an option. This went along with a huge expansion of Lone Stars throughout the country. What this did was put many ambitious(but young some not even 21) people in management that did not know how to do things well, and in many cases didnt wanna be. Thay just were flattered at the time and thought being a boss would be cool, but had never really been a restaurant person.

    The top management is corrupt and they did not pay me as promised. I guess they thought a little from each check would be OK, then I went back and figured it out. We had some good food-servers that were a little older (upper 40s maybe), she wasnt much to look at, but had more compliments than anyone else, and had two sons working there. Top management came in, told us to get rid of her, go to Taco Bell and hire "people" who look like that! It was an obvious suggestion to hire pretty girls. Well, we decided to make the restaurant run like WE owned it and never fired her. We said her whole family would quit as well as many others and there would probably be a lawsuit, and it was a dead issue. Yes, I am bitter with them, but with validation, I promise.
    #26
    bassrocker4u2
    Double Cheeseburger
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    RE: What should I have done? 2006/03/22 07:19:24 (permalink)
    wow! those corporate butt-faces!!!!!!
    sadly, eveyr corporate i have worked in, is very similar.
    all have their fine lines they walk, just on the brink of multiple lawsuits. had a similar situation at outback. they too, will only hire 'busty blondes', as well as hooters...
    there was a segment about this on 60 minutes, a few years back, but nothing come of it.
    #27
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