Let’s Tell Restaurant Stories: Spill it Servers

donnasummersheworkshardHave you waited tables? If so, chances are you have enough juicy tales to fill a book. Here is one of my most memorable tables.

I was working at La Cave Wine Bar on Henderson and a man called ahead to reserve a table in the back of the room near the cellar. He said he was going to have a flower arrangement sent to the restaurant and he would like it placed on a table along with a champagne bucket filled with ice and a chilled bottle of Dom Perignon. He pre-selected a cheese and pate plate. “I don’t want my wife to have to think,” he said. “No problem sir,” I said. (Whoops.)

That evening the couple showed up on time. They were dressed to the nines. I can still see her silver sequined dress. She’d had her hair done by Mr. Larry across the street. She moved through the room and perfumed the air with the strong scent of Opium. The dapper gentleman pulled out her chair. They sat side-by-side. They held hands across the table. I moved in to open the Champagne. It was then that I noticed the 4X6 note cards on his lap. Pop! went the cork. She sliced a bite of aged Mimolette.

Jump with me.

They toasted each other and I left. When I returned to refill their glasses, the not-so-gentle man looked down at the first card. Right there in front of me, he started to read. I’m paraphrasing here: “Darling, we have had a wonderful 15 years together and this is hard for me to say so I am going to read to you.” The woman grabbed my arm. I was horrified. I was forced to stay at the table while he recited all of the reasons why he wanted a divorce.

Yes, there was another woman. Yes, the other woman was pregnant. And yes, he had already asked the other woman to marry him.

Wifey pooh number one, understandably, started to scream. She threw the cheese plate at him. Smartly, I might add, I pulled the Dom out of the bucket and put it on a side table. The guy stood up and walked out of the restaurant. I had another server take my tables and I dragged the poor woman into the bathroom where she cried for about an hour. By this time, the whole restaurant (like 40 people) was into the drama. Male and female customers came in to check on her. Some even shared divorce stories. Finally, we poured her into a cab. When the door to the restaurant closed behind me, everyone clapped. Of course, it was at that moment I realized that the bill hadn’t been paid. Guess whose paycheck was deducted for the unpaid tab? Yes, mine.

But at least I got a half a bottle Dom and a bitchin’ flower arrangement out of the deal.

Okay, your turn.

19 comments on “Let’s Tell Restaurant Stories: Spill it Servers

  1. Why are the most difficult parties also the ones who always seem to stiff you either for the tip or for the entire bill?

  2. I was waiting on this couple who were obviously on a first date. The guy had arrived early to pre-order a bottle of wine he wanted brought to the table during the first course. He was one of those people who tries way too hard on a date and has to make a joke of everything. Plus, he was very condescending in his tone towards me. So what happened next just made my night. After I poured the wine for him to taste, he began the swirl process by placing 2 fingers down on the foot of the glass, holding it to the table, and violently rotating it in a counter-clockwise motion. Being that our tabletops are smooth and without tablecloths, the wiseass lost control of the glass and across the table it flew…directly into the lap of his freaked out date. The best part is she was wearing white and the wine was red. I had to walk briskly to the kitchen to avoid laughing in his face.

  3. I swear this story is the truth. While working in an upscale Steakhouse in Phoenix, one of the owners impressed on us to NEVER judge a book by it’s cover. So there I am on a Friday(amateur nite) and I get sat a duece with a reso note stating 25th Anniversary. I go over and do my thing and present a wine list. Now while the couple seemed a little out of place and out of their element I didn’t judge and gave them my first class service. So the lady orders the wine…Screaming Eagle.. Inside I’m flipping out and already have the tip spent! The bottle she orders is 1,800. The proceed to split a prime rib and of course enjoy their complimentary dessert. I’m thinking to myself that these are very odd people, but who am I to judge what they eat. So time comes to drop the check and the minute I turn around to walk away I hear the women scream bloody murder. Apparently she thought 1800 meant 18.00!! AFter a 2 hour negotiation our owner decides to charge them cost for the wine plus 10% and comps their enire food bill while the husband is stuck with the fun chore of cleaning out all accounts to pay for this. I mean these people prob only had 1000 to their name. I of course got stiffed. I’ve often wondered if I possess enough hillbilly panache to pull something like that off.

  4. @DallasChef- that is why i always clarify the price with the guest beforehand. Sure, it may offend some, but its always CYA (cover your a**) when it comes to things of this nature. Screaming Eagle’s not even worth the cost of the bottle too.

  5. I was waiting tables at Texas de Brazil on Cedar Springs and I went to one of my tables which was a booth in the back and they were doing it right there in the restaurant. The gal was sitting on top of her guy and just pounding away. They didn’t even care that I saw them. The manager told them to leave. We were all disappointed because it was quite a show.

  6. Funny story. I was a waitress in a coffee shop a zillion years ago and a guy broke up with his girlfriend over bacon and eggs at like 6 in the morning. He also left her sitting there crying. We all sat down with her and cried while the other customers waited for their food. Some even got up and went to the pass through window and picked up their own orders without getting all mad.

  7. I worked at the Mansion and had a couple that came in all of the time. Every time they came, they ordered stuff and sent it back. Every time. It was like a big game to them to show everyone what real gormonds they were when we just all thought they were rich assholes. It was laughable how they acted. I never thought it was funny because I was lucky if they left me 10 percent. They always spent hundreds on wine and treated us like we were their servers. I bet they still go there.

  8. A family with bratty kids came in and were seated in the section next to mine. The waitress was doing her thing, served them their drinks and foods, etc. When she presented the check one of the kids threw up her entire meal all over the table and the floor. Disgusting. But what was more disgusting is that the parents just gathered their kids and things and started to leave while the waitress started crying. So I met the family at the door and insisted that they go back to the table and clean up the kid’s vomit. They were furious but they did it! This may have not been the most professional move on my part but it wasn’t my section (not my tip!) and I felt so badly for my coworker that I did not hold back.

  9. My God, Mrs. tesar, your husband must have had a fit! He was known to be a tyrant with guest requests and complaints. Another true story – I was working at a mid-end Mexican restaurant and a big table sat in my section, must have been two families each with small children and grandparents. Before the meal came and people were enjoying chips and margs, they started playing pass the baby – so they’re passing this 18-ish month old and the kid has a blow out mid air which spills over onto the table. And chips. And setups. And drinks. Half of the table didn’t notice, the other half was gagging and “eeewwing.” Grandma holding the baby tried to wipe it off with her napkin and get on with the meal. we had to move the whole table. I hated waiting tables.

  10. Damn! I think I’d rather stand on a street corner with a “will work for food” sign than wait tables.

  11. Blast from the past…. I miss La Cave! Used to love their Bastille day with the can can girls and had many a glass of wine with Larry Hagman and his wife back during the DALLAS glory days.

  12. I was working at a big chain seafood place in college right before Christmas. A family of about 10, about 4 children, were done eating and exchanged gifts. One of the children, who ate a lot more than he should have, was trying to get his mom and grandmothers attention, he was standing right behind them. They were talking and basically ignoring him, as well as all the other kids. The kid gets louder with trying to get their attention when mom says “grown ups are talking here” in a rude voice. Well kid throws up right in the two gifts bags sitting on the floor that belonged to the two grown ups of mom and grandma. Bet mom wishes she would have shown Jr. a little attention?

  13. You should have seen the fights between Avner and the waiters at Aurora over the tip system back in the beginning. Avner has a nerve all right. I’m surprised so many people give him the benefit of the doubt and so frequently. He once said that he is so great that if all the foh quit, he would do buffet and he was pretty sure people would not mind. How about the tasting menus that never had a price on the menu? The worst thing you could say is just have the chef cook whatever, make it fabulous and have him pick the wine. It ended up being at least $500 per person.

  14. I worked at the Jordan Pond House in Acadia National Park years ago. The big attraction to the pond house was having tea and popovers on the lawn which overlooked some mountains and the pond. My roomate time and time again would complain about his customers. One time he said he was so tired of being asked to take a picture of people that he started cutting their heads off in the viewfinder. This was before digital cameras so the unsuspecting victims would not find out until they had the film developed. The thought of honeymooners, vacationers, and families getting home and seeing their prized picture with everyone’s head missing about brought me to tears I was laughing so hard.

  15. Nance, listening to wrr this morning. The Alexan is a stone’s throw away from our door, would love to have you visit… sounds like we owe you a bottle of barbeyrolles for the “deduction”. I miss all the drama at the original La Cave, but ya’ll come on over to 1931 Market Ctr. Blvd. # 129, for great wine values and visit our refrigerated cellar!! Next Cave Dweller free tasting is Ocotber 17th, 11am – 1pm

  16. I was usually treated nicely as a waitress, but customers were incredibly rude to me as a hostess. I worked at a Dallas restaurant known for giving its regulars special treatment. The worst was someone I’ll call Ms. X, one of the most prominent realtors in Dallas. I could deal with her being demanding, condescending, and having no regard for other customers having reservations during peak hours. I didn’t mind being on constant alert to make sure she and her ex-husband were never there at the same time. What I could not deal with was the day she chewed me out for letting someone else park in “her” parking spot, where she claimed to park every time she visited (which was at least twice a week). As if I had any control over customer parking, I went outside to look just to placate her – it was a handicapped spot.