Tuesday, March 2, 2010

New Year and Resignations

Before you read the following harrowing story of insanity and stupidity, you may want to familiarize yourself with New Year last year.

So, having come full circle, I seemed to think it was a good idea to go back to working for these people. Let’s put it this way… they headhunted me and offered me 30% more (net) than I was earning at the time….

So this time, I was working for their new venture, a restaurant with a private beach. Sounds awesome, doesn’t it? It really is a gorgeous location, but the running of the place leaves much to be desired. I will explain.

The plan for New Year was this:
Exclusive entry, bands and entertainment, with a front row view of the fireworks and use of the private beach…
2 menu options:
Seafood option (3 course meal with deluxe seafood platter – crustaceans etc) R1500
Non-seafood option (3 course meal with no seafood – mostly for our Jewish clientele) R1000
Menu price included a bottle of bubbly, entry and entertainment, but not service.
Deposit must be paid in advance (everyone pays a R500 deposit). Total and tip to be paid on the night. Non-payment by the 24th of December would release the booking and the waiting list would then be contacted.

The restaurant seats 160 comfortably if the weather is horrible, and it being Cape Town you have to expect the worst, so we all agreed to book that many people.

Please see below the disintegration of my plans:

• Before the restaurant even officially opened we were fully booked for New Year. It was crazy. The problem being that all the ‘regulars’ who hadn’t managed to make a booking began to get all indignant that they hadn’t been ‘invited’. Now, our darling boss has never, and I mean never, even heard the word ‘no’. Heaven forbid that we don’t let the poor psychotic entitled horrible bastards in for the night. Next thing I know, I have 200 people booked for the night and nowhere to seat them.
• I chat to the boss, manage to convince her to pay for a Bedouin tent for the evening so that we can cover the deck, and to rent chairs and tables. She agrees, which means that I then had just enough for the people booked.
• Both the boss and the Head Chef (who honestly thinks he is God) decided that now that there was all this extra space, they could overbook again: and added an extra 90 (yes I did say 90, that isn’t a typo) people to the bookings.
• At this point I tell everyone that we are overbooked and that we cannot under any circumstances take any more bookings. 290 people, in a restaurant that seats 160…
• On the 16 December the boss decides that we have too many VIPs on the waiting list and that everyone must pay IN FULL by the 20th December or they lose their bookings. You can’t do that. You can’t just call someone up and say, “Hi, I know we said that you only had to pay R500 but really, we want the whole amount. No, no, not by the 24th. By the end of the week.” That’s not how it works. But that’s what she decided to do.
• At that point we started having REAL problems. I had a list of bookings that had paid a deposit, a list of bookings that hadn’t paid yet (but were also VIPs so I couldn’t hassle them for money before the 24th) and then for fun and games we had the bosses list of people who had now paid the total in full. Since she has never actually worked in a restaurant before it didn’t cross her mind that they might have to pay the service on the total paid in advance (if it isn’t paid when they pay the total, the waiter works all night for no tip. Who is going to tip on a bill they paid a month ago?), so she didn’t charge them service. To make it all really interesting, some of the people on the different lists were seated at the same table.
• On the 30th of December, the boss added another 20 people.
• I managed to call the rental company and they managed to help me out with some extra tables and chairs.
• Finally the night before the event, I sat up until 2am in the morning to write out a manual for the event. I listed every single booking, their menu choice, their seating requirements, allergies and special requests, and table number. I also created table plans (one for the floor staff with numbers of seats, one for the chef with the menu requirements, and one for the manager with the billing requirements).
• I felt I was ready
• On the day of New Years Eve, we started setting up the restaurant. The boss looked at it and decided that she didn’t like how it looked (maybe because we had 130 people more than we could actually accommodate… maybe not).
• I changed and reprinted all the table plans.
• She changed it again.
• I changed and reprinted all the table plans.
• She shouted at me for wasting my time on table plans. Then changed the table layout again.
• In secret I changed and reprinted all the table plans.
• We all agreed that everything was as it should be, most peoples requests had been accommodated, and that nothing was going to move. Mostly because we had decided that to prevent confusion we were going to settle the incredibly complicated food bills as the group sat down so that they could get drunk and just pay for drinks later.
• The Head Chef changed the menu. No kidding. 30 minutes before we opened for New Years EVE, for a fully booked restaurant full of customers who have paid in advance, he changes the menu.
• I went and got dressed up, wiped the fury from my face, convinced myself not to walk out and prepared to stand at the front entrance with the guest list.
• The very first table that walked in took one look at their table, decided it was too tight and demanded that they sit at the next table over. The Head Chef (aka: God) – who had AGREED that we must NOT move anyone, told them, “sure, no problem” and seated their group of 10 on a table set for 16.
• The table of 16 arrived, and had nowhere to sit…. From here on out I am going to just jot down the highlights because I think that you get the picture:
o No one got the table they had requested
o No one got the food they had pre-ordered
o The tables moved around so much that the waiters had no idea who they were serving or what their requests had been
o The billing was a complete disaster because the managers had no idea where the customers were. I was still processing bills at 4am.
• We ended up having approximately 400 people in the place, and maybe 60 happy customers.

I handed in my resignation the next day. I now work for an IT company.