Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Stepford Dining...

We have a brand spankin' new Applebee's right here in O-Town!
I was kind of anxious to try it out,because I've never been to one(cave dweller that I am),and the commercials make it look pretty good...All that somethin' good in the neighborhood shmooze that makes you feel all warm and snuggly,like as if they are an old family friend welcoming you to break bread in their home.

It's corporate restuarant hell.

I know the routine because I tended bar at 'Carlos Murphy's' restuarant in Carlsbad,California.They have a formula,and regardless of your previous experience in the food and beverage industry,they're gonna enlighten you as to the proper demeanor for a representative of their establishment.

You see,37 myopic bean counters hunkered down with enough Tang and Balogna sandwiches to power through an entire afternoon of brainstorming,to come up with the most efficient version of customer service...They know what's best for us!

1) Staff the restuarant with beautiful people -
Apparently,Applebee's has determined that females should have raven-black hair,pulled back in a ponytail that is no longer than 6 inches.It's essential that they all be the same height,and build,so that you can't tell which waitress is yours as they walk in the opposite direction from your table.
Male employees are required to maintain one of those little fuzzy lower lip beard thingys,and and an,'I'm only doing this 'till my trust fund kicks in' attitude.

2)Greet the customer within 1.5 seconds after they walk in the door -
This usually involves 2 or more employees that swoop down on you like that scary Aunt with the hairy mole and painted on eyebrows,pinching your cheeks and spiriting you off to your,..'Table,..or Booth?' before your eyes have even adjusted to the dismal interior lighting.

3)Give the customer at least 30 minutes to peruse the 4 page menu,before offering them a beverage -
This also gives them time to look at all the cool local sports team's memorabilia you've got plastered in every available crevice because,hey!.,this establishment has been part of the community for 3 weeks now!..Love us some Chico State University Outlaws.

4)First things first..Ask the customer,..'So,are we celebrating a special occasion tonight?'
**Hint** DO NOT answer in the affirmative!..Great hordes of Applebee's clones will encircle your table,and burst into song,totally putting you off yer feed.
Although,I was briefly tempted to exclaim,'Why yes!..Today is the 3rd anniversary of my circumscision!'..
Come up with a little ditty for that!

5)You WILL,under penalty of termination for failure to comply with corporate policy,inform each customer of today's special! -
Nevermind if the haggard businessman has just arrived from a brutal day of negotiations at the office,plopped himself dejectedly in a seat at the bar,loosened his Pierre Cardin tie,and ordered,'A double Johnny Walker Black on the rocks'...You must grin like an idiot,and cheerfully suggest he try a banana/strawberry Marguerita with powdered sugar on the rim!'..
..just don't put one of those little umbrellas in it,unless you want it surgically removed from your ass.

I ordered the buffalo wings,crunchy shrimp,and key lime pie.
The portions were considerable,and the price was sensible.
Comes the check,and trust fund boy asks me,..'Will you be needing your change tonight?'..

Now,I'm a generous tipper.Really.
If I'm at your station,and all things bein' equal,you can generally figure on 30%..It's how I roll.
Still,I was struck by the impertinance,if not downright rudeness of that question!..I couldn't he'p it...
'Yeah, a matter of fact I will be needing my change!..Will you be needing your Spleen tonight?'

I don't think I'll be going back to Applebee's anytime soon.



At 6:40 PM , Blogger yellowdog granny said...

i knew i would hate it when i saw the latest fucking applebee's commercial with what's her face doing the voice of the apple...please...kill me now...
I'm afraid i would have to do some terrible harm to anyone that asked me if i would be needing my change..

At 6:51 PM , Blogger Sling said...

yellowdog G.- We've both pounded the slats,and I know,that you know,you can serve a $3.00 drink,and get a $5.00 tip!..Someone at corporate advised trust fund boy that this was the bright thing to do.
I heard him ask two tables before he came to ours.
In truth,I tipped 20%.
He's only following corporate guidelines.

At 7:38 PM , Blogger jan said...

It's the decor that takes my appetite. Trying so hard to be authentic Americana and part of the local sports community. Yeah, we're yokels. It's what we deserve.

Love that "needing your change" line though

At 9:34 PM , Blogger Sling said...

jan- they had a huge,'employees wanted' campaign here in O-Town.
Quite naturally,nobody in town was hired.
They wouldn't want locals having their riff-raff friends milling about to discourage business,after all.
There are 3 other restuarants in town,where the waitresses know that I take my eggs over easy,and like my steak medium rare.
..and none of them have to extort tips.

At 11:17 PM , Blogger sageweb said...

I spit on my keyboard over your circumcision, not over your actual circumcision but the comment.. I would have loved for you to use that line..Promise me if I ever come and visit we can go there just to try that line out...oh that would make for great belly laughing

At 11:32 PM , Blogger hello, my name is danny. said...

if i had known it was your third anniversary, sling, i would got you a card. you know, one of those new ones that sings when you open it.

i'm sure it would have been the best way to top of your dining experience at the apple of all apples.

anyway, next time, tell us how you really feel about corporate-run dining establishments.


At 12:44 AM , Blogger Auld Hat said...

I am an Applebee's whore. I will also hap'ly spread my lips for Chili's, The Olive Garden, T.G.I. Friday's I love love love it all!

At 3:23 AM , Blogger apositivepessimist said...

Haha I just blessed JS fer making me laugh and now I do the same to you dear Slingoh.

I’m still getting used to the wait-staff hovering near my table, luckily I got over my cringe of people watching me while I eat before I moved over here.

At 7:17 AM , Blogger billy pilgrim said...

yup, nothing like a feckin sparkler in a cup cake to mark a special occasion.

At 8:22 AM , Blogger LostInCO said...

I avoid chain restaurants like the plague.

At 9:14 AM , Blogger Willym said...

OK I just had to link to this in my Sharing Post - it says everything I've ever wanted to say about coporate dining experiences. Thank god that still hasn't caught on here in Italy - being a waiter/waitress is a profession and a proud one, not a stop on the road to American Idol stardom. That don't mean you don't get some real attitude thrown at you but at least its original not "by the book.""

At 9:19 AM , Blogger jp said...

You weren't circumcised until 3 years ago? Wow, that had to hurt. I hope you were wasted at the time. But happy anniversary anyway.

And Hat's comment just made me choke.

At 10:47 AM , Blogger Lorraine said...

I hate places like that. Once we were forced at gunpoint to take my SIL to dinner at the Keg. We'd just taken a 4 hour train ride with a 6 month old baby, then drove in a rental car another hour to find said SIL and then when she said she wanted to go to The Keg got us totally lost getting there and the baby was screaming with tiredness and hunger and then The Spouse lost it and I had to frakking breast feed her in the backseat of the car while she was still strapped into her car seat and let me tell you that is no mean feat and THEN we get to the frakking restaurant with the chirpy people and 4 page menu and dim lights and every time we ordered something the waitress said, "Do you want to Keg size that?"

Do you want me to Keg size your ass?

Man, now I'm all worked up.

At 12:10 PM , Blogger Mom said...

I really like the local Applebees.Good food, nice people. The wait staff are often closer to my age than your young trust fund kid. I hate bad service. One a young man once asked if if wanted any change. I said yes. He said how much do you want back? I said all of it. I don't give good tips to rude waiters.

At 1:21 PM , Blogger more cowbell said...

That settles it. I'm taking the Hat to Chili's.

Well, what can you expect with the way they've handled those Applebee Apple commercials. Do not even get me started on that. And I would've paid to see you throw out that circumcision line. With a smile, of course.

Gawd, I hate chain restaurants.

At 1:21 PM , Blogger more cowbell said...

PS: KUDOS to Lorraine for that car-seat breastfeeding thing. THat's a bitch.

At 5:23 PM , Blogger rosemary said...

So, I'm the low life of the group cause I'd do anything for Del Taco and Appplebee's is just a block down the highway. Second runner up is El Polo Loco which Idaho does not have and no chirpy-black haired twits to deal with just high schoolers with cell phones. As for Lorraine...she has my vote for number one mother or breast which ever she chooses. Hat, you left out Sheri's. Remember?????

At 5:52 PM , Blogger Sling said...

Sage- HA!..We can double team 'em.
I'll tell them it's the anniversary of my circumcision,and then you can ask,'Do you guys know the "Happy Penis" song?'..and when they throw us out,we can go have dinner at my favorite greasy spoon.

danny- You are so thoughtful!

Hat-tasia- okay,the food was excellent!..But that wouldn't be any fun to blog about,would it?

apos- I just don't care for bein' surrounded.It almost never works out very well.

billy P.- ..until you found that they charged you $7.95 for it.

lostinco- Having worked in one,I can tell you that the employees really don't give a shit if it's your birthday or not...The customer gets a 4 page menu,and they get a 327 page list of rules.

willym-' being a waiter/waitress is a profession and a proud one, not a stop on the road to American Idol stardom.'
..Exactly!'..There is no room in corporate policy for individual excellence.
It's not cost effective.

JP- Did I say three??..I meant 53.
It didn't hurt at all,PLUS!..I got a balloon.

Rainy- Holy Crap!..I'm gonna replace my rant with yours...
Were you wearing a seatbelt while breastfeading The Child in her carseat?..The math is killin' me!

mom- In spite of my little rant,I really do know that the employees are just tryin' to make a buck,under some ridiculous guidelines..Been there.
I do think however,that the 'need your change' line is a rookie move.A pro knows that the tips will come by simply doing the job well.

Cowbelle- Chain restuarants are just creepy!..Nobody is that glad to see me.
..and doesn't lorraine deserve a Gold Medal in Olympic breastfeeding!

At 5:56 PM , Blogger Sling said...

Rosie-Oh dear heart,you must know I have no problems with the food,or the service.Really.
I just had to spend 8 grueling months working for corporate restuarant idiots.
Having said that,I love my local diners,where everybody knows my name,and they're always glad I came!

At 6:54 PM , Blogger austexgrl said...

I love you Sling! I love you, I love you, I love you!!!!!

At 7:06 PM , Blogger Sling said...

austexgrl- Sometimes,I say the right thing! ;)
I love you too darlin'.

At 8:29 PM , Blogger booda baby said...

1. I swear to god, I wrote this very thing on JP's bloggedy blog BEFORE I read yours. Well, not THIS very thing, just the 'brand spankin' new' thang. I NEVER say that so there's probably some planetary alignment thing going on.

2. What are they thinking? Do you want your change? Calling it impertinence is just being kind. But you're that kind of guy. Kind.

At 8:56 PM , Blogger Kimberly Ann said...

Chain restaurants are stinky stinkerson, in my humble opinion. Seafood ones especially because the "fresh catch" has been trucked in via Iowa and who wants that when real fresh seafood is practically right outside the door in my neighborhood. Bleh. Find a good old greasy dive with great coffee - now that's good in the neighborhood.

At 5:41 AM , Blogger Doralong said...

That was too funny!

You, me at the diner honey! Some nice broad named Millie that'll bring some steak and eggs and keep the coffee coming.. while semi snarling.

Trust fund boy- imagine my surprise.

At 8:26 AM , Blogger Lorraine said...

She was strapped in, I wasn't. And I just kept picturing what would happen if The Spouse wrecked the car in the midst of it. Gawd, that was a horrible night.

At 8:36 PM , Blogger citizen of the world said...

I hate Applebees. You know, not only is that change question rude, it's foolish. In most cases, you end up tipping more than you'd get back in change.

At 12:06 PM , Blogger Stash said...

I think we can safely say that the last place on Earth you'll find this hobbit is in an Applebee's or an Olive Garden.

Move over McDonald's. They're the cockroaches of the restaurant industry.

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