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Bruce Buschel's 100 Rules for His Restaurant


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These are from Bruce Buschel's rules for workers at the seafood restaurant he's building. Taken from today's New York Times Small Business section. A small selection from the article. Which ones (if any) do you disagree with?

"1. Do not let anyone enter the restaurant without a warm greeting."

"5. Tables should be level without anyone asking. Fix it before guests are seated." This is one of my pet peeves. Nothing like having a table rocking and rolling your wine all over the tablecloth.

One through fifty today, fifty-one through one hundred next week.

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These are from Bruce Buschel's rules for workers at the seafood restaurant he's building. Taken from today's New York Times Small Business section. A small selection from the article. Which ones (if any) do you disagree with?

One through fifty today, fifty-one through one hundred next week.

Wow! I want to dine at his restaurant! I know these are only half of his rules, but even if the servers followed only these, I'd be really happy.

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This only reinforces my belief that waiters - as a group - are the most overpaid, underskilled prima donnas in the American restaurant industry.

Yeah, I said it. It's about time someone did.

And I think these quotes from Steve Dublanica's Time.com interview sum it all up pretty nicely:

Why did you become a waiter?

Because I was a 31-year-old man with no marketable skills.

[uh huh.]

It sounds like waiters have a broad arsenal of retributive tactics.

If waiters are good, they're subtle. I know a waiter who was good at accidentally clipping people in the back of the head with his tray. Another technique is making people wait when they've ordered wine. You make them stew. Or you put in their steak order as medium instead of medium rare. I controlled the reservation system, so if you were a bad tipper or had mistreated me, I would seat you next to the men's room. My all-time favorite move was to tell people that their credit card was experiencing difficulties.

[Tool.]

How do you feel about restaurants charging a flat 20% for service?

It removes the incentive to perform.

[That's because you have no pride in your work.]

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[That's because you have no pride in your work.]

My first trip to Tokyo made me realize that this is the problem with most restaurants in the US, from the lowliest yakitori joint to a middling izagaya to a Michelin star restaurant the service was the same and in each case they did it in a society where tipping is frowned upon, it was all done out of pride for themselves and for their restaurant.

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This only reinforces my belief that waiters - as a group - are the most overpaid, underskilled prima donnas in the American restaurant industry.

Yeah, I said it. It's about time someone did.

Hell yeah.

Then again, not all of us were fired for having a too-small bra size (nope, not a joke) so maybe I'm irrationally bitter. But still, there's training and a belief in a job, and then there's not.

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Then again, not all of us were fired for having a too-small bra size (nope, not a joke)

Gosh, if you're considered small...well I guess it's time to pull the magnifying glass out for the rest of us....Yeesh.

I have to say though, opposite to Sthitch's experience is what I saw occur in my trip to China. I will say that in Taiwan and Japan, serve was top-notch most of the time. However, in China, it was frustrating trying to flag someone down much of the time, in some of the places my family dined at, and this was in a big city. I definitely felt like the servers didn't have an incentive, so they didn't have to try hard. Who knows.

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However, in China, it was frustrating trying to flag someone down much of the time, in some of the places my family dined at, and this was in a big city. I definitely felt like the servers didn't have an incentive, so they didn't have to try hard. Who knows.
When you know that you get paid whether the service is good or bad, why bother with good?
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When you know that you get paid whether the service is good or bad, why bother with good?

1) Because you can still get fired? 2) Because it's possible (and preferred) to take pride in one's work no matter what you're doing? I realize these can be little motivation when you're working for a rotten boss but that's true in any profession. And customer service is automatically fraught with stress and unfairness, perceived or real.
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It's pretty much like that in France, too.

I've had the same experience in France and in Belgium too. Bad service is pretty much accepted over there (the sense of resignation is as depresessng as the perpetual grey sky), and no one gets fired for providing bad service.

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I have to say though, opposite to Sthitch's experience is what I saw occur in my trip to China. I will say that in Taiwan and Japan, serve was top-notch most of the time. However, in China, it was frustrating trying to flag someone down much of the time, in some of the places my family dined at, and this was in a big city. I definitely felt like the servers didn't have an incentive, so they didn't have to try hard. Who knows.

That's not universally true in China. The places that were part of our tour, they would bring the food and give us our 1 free drink, and that's pretty much it. When we ate at Shanghai on our own at T8, the service was impeccable, probably because lunch cost us over US $100. You get what you pay for.

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That's not universally true in China. The places that were part of our tour, they would bring the food and give us our 1 free drink, and that's pretty much it. When we ate at Shanghai on our own at T8, the service was impeccable, probably because lunch cost us over US $100. You get what you pay for.

Hm, I think you are missing the point of my statement. Besides, you were in Shanghai, where service at most places were pretty top-notch when I was there, down to the roadside stands.
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His restaurant dreams may not have borne fruit as he hoped but his writing is terrific.

I was surprised by how many commenters offered condolences; I read the last 4 or 5 blog entries describing the sale (not involuntary closure) of the restaurant and thought, shit, this is a success story! He's had the fun of opening and running a critically successful restaurant which perhaps was not sufficiently profitable in the summer to balance out the winter doldrums in the Hamptons, but he's sold the business while retaining the real estate, rented out for sufficient money (if I read correctly) to pay off all loans and leave him with unencumbered real estate in, oh, 15 years. (Obviously a lot depends on the chops of the guy he sold it to, but he seems comfortable with the guy, and, hell, if this one fails there will be other takers, believe me; the point is he still owns the real estate.).

Plus he established a relationship with his (apparently soon-to-be celebrity) chef which has led to what I am assuming is roughly a 20% interest in what seems to be a slamming Brooklyn restaurant (he's put up 25% of the money, I assume the other 75% was split between three investors and the chef got a free ride for an equal share, but that's just a guess). And they may be doing other deals...

Plus he clearly is going to get a book out of this deal...and he got to hob nob with the Rich and Famous, some of whom he name checks...

Any first-time restaurant start-up you walk away from without a stop in the bankruptcy court is a success, but he did far better than that.

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