Chronicling six years in the life of a New York City waiter, "Waiter Rant" is one of those rare treats that breaks new ground in originality. Taken from the `blog' of an `anonymous' waiter, tales run the gamut from the hilarious to the sublime. I was stunned and amused to read about the escapades, characters and events that most of us `civilians' rarely see. Stories are deftly told about the complexities of being a `servant' that adds a nice balance from the absolutely absurd incidences to the passionately poetic insights. Of course, the workers (on all levels) are the real stars here and the range of personalities and background is humorously (and endearingly) fleshed out. From sweet `waiter' observations of couples both young and old to the self-entitled manic behavior of rude customers, `Waiter Rant' will have you crying and howling. The "Bistro" may seem like a well run upscale restaurant, but the behind the scenes shenanigans is jaw-dropping.
The author begins his journey as a beginning waiter out of desperation for a job. Soon, he becomes an accomplished professional with amazing skills at handling multiple tables, fast turnovers and the tact of a saint. The author also notes in humorous detail all the tools and insights needed to handle anything from an unrelenting and paranoid management to dining room emergencies and the psychological handlings of all of the above. It is no small feat and his previous employment background in the seminary and a psychiatric hospital prove invaluable in everyday situations at the restaurant.
A lot of territory is covered here and the general public truly has no idea the kind of lifestyle this industry attracts or creates. It is a world unto itself and "the waiter" proves to be an enjoyable read at all levels.Read more ›
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Aptly titled Waiter Rant Is a book many can't Bear to put down once begun As it's true and great fun.
Why couldn't I put Waiter Rant down after reading a few pages? Because he started by serving great dish - although economists say that the restaurant business is a bellwether of the nation's economic health. Our author sees it differently: "... I think it's a bellwether of America's mental health as well. And let me tell you, 20 percent of the American dining public are socially maladjusted psychopaths. We should start putting Prozac in the Perrier."
Unfortunately for this waiter (Steve Dublanica who is no longer anonymous thanks to book tours) much of that 20 percentile found its way to his tables. It's more than entertaining to discover how he handled or mishandled the grouses, the souses, and the patently dishonest.
But, how did a nice guy find himself in such a fix? He started out to become a priest. After attending a college seminary, he became disenchanted by "an imperfect system." Following college graduation with a major in psychiatry he worked for a drug-rehabilitation facility where he again met disillusionment when all the bugs in the health care system were discovered - insurance fraud, restraining patients against their will, etc. What to do to pay the rent and buy groceries? His brother worked as a waiter and found a job for Steve. Thus, it all began.
As time passed he realized that what he witnessed each day as customers dined and drank were snapshots of their lives - either pretty or ugly but always revealing. Steve began to write about what he saw each day on his blog waiterrant.net.Read more ›
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Drama: Without it we are soon bored. With too much drama, we are soon looking for peace and quiet. Waiters usually have no drama as they routinely do their jobs, so naturally the dramatic moments stand out. The Waiter who writes for the Waiter Rant Web site entertains us in this self-revealing memoir by sharing his highest and lowest moments serving the public in the New York City area.
Now, life for waiters in New York tends to be more dramatic than elsewhere in the United States: New York diners are demanding, loud, and aggressive. I well remember my first meal in a nice restaurant with people from New York. It was in Boston. If our waiter didn't sprint to our table within five seconds of these people wanting something, they headed off in a jog to find him. If this meant pushing into the kitchen or pounding on the men's room door, so be it. I wanted to crawl under the table and dig a hole.
Since then, I gotten used to dining with people from New York: There has to be a 30-minute heated discussion with the hostess over which table we will sit at while they threaten to take the whole party elsewhere (and often they do!). They usually don't even start thinking about what to order until after the waiter has returned six times to ask if everyone is ready. Everyone wants to order some item that's not on the menu and bitter complaints follow if that's not permitted. When the food arrives, they automatically send the entrees back to the kitchen to be redone while saying spiteful things about incompetence. The main table conversation is about how bad the restaurant is (led by those who picked the restaurant). Argh!
I hesitate to imagine what it must be like to be a waiter in these places. It might make a person a little cynical; n'est-ce pas?Read more ›
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As I read "Waiter Rant", I couldn't help but think that this truly was a bit like the cult film "Office Space", but for the restaurant world. Parts of the book were just flat out funny, in that kind of way that Office Space is funny to those of us who work in the corporate world.
I found I liked "the waiter" from the beginning. He is cynical, he is funny, he is smart, witty and above all not going to take a lot of "#%*%" from you if you start acting like a moron at the establishment he works at.
In the book you get the real picture of what goes in the back, the tyrannical bosses, the mal-adjusted waitstaff, the psycho customers, the good, the bad and the ugly. There are stories of meat sent back one too many times, a roaming squirrel in the dining room, and the case of the coffee that just wasn't hot enough (until the waiter fixes that for good). As he says in the book "Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Waiter". Rule 1: Always be nice to the waitstaff.
I must admit, that I had never read the waiter's prize winning blog before, so I was completely new to his writing, but hope that he keeps up the writing and entertaining us for years to come, in whatever direction his life takes him.
Oh, and do NOT miss the 40 tips on how to be a good customer, noted in the back of the book. Not only are these written with humor, but are truly those things that many of us fellow diners wish that you would stop (ahem, hel-lo cell phone users.....we are trying to have a romantic dinner here and do not really need to know about your mother's kidney stones).
Great Job "Waiter", I would give you a 25% tip for this one, and a smiley on the check to boot :) Wishing you much success with the book, it was a great read!
174 of 199 people found the following review helpful
So, a priest walks into a restaurant...19 July 2008
I was at a nice restaurant with my now fiance. A man walked in with a small group and proceeded to raise a ruckus. He didn't like the table they assigned. He didn't like the next table. He got angry and firm, finally taking a table near the back despite the protest of the staff. Quite rude and quite thinking he was the only one in the restaurant.
When he sat down his mother, who likely taught him such behavior, said, "First you give them a chance to do it right, then you help them do it right."
We laughed out loud. Their assumption of what they were owed did not disguise the fact they were merely boors.
I'm glad I don't have to deal with such people every day.
But waiters and waitresses do.
The author of this book started out thinking he would like to help people as a priest. He began to study for the priesthood but left when the corruption and the scandals started getting too much. Had a degree in psychology and tried his hand in the mental health care business. Also corrupt and scandal-ridden. Stayed honest, got fired.
Wandered around a little. His brother got him a job in a restaurant. Also corrupt and scandal-ridden, but at least there are no illusions. Stays a waiter. Moves to a nicer place. Begins to write about his experiences on a blog. Then in this book.
That's the background.
The book is a memoir of sorts, but not a typical kind. It's anonymous. It also dwells on a particular setting and makes particular points along the way. It's a memoir with a mission, and this is to illuminate the often hidden world of restaurants. The Waiter, as he is known, touches on important concepts such as management, illegal immigration, rude customers, good and bad service, holidays, waiter revenge, hygiene, and assorted other topics. Each chapter has a particular theme.
Yet, these themes aren't at all obvious at first. The writing is that good. The Waiter is brilliant at showing not telling, that tricky art that foils lesser writers. We are given a story, not a mere rant. He is descriptive, insightful, observing, and honest. The themes are held within an overall story that is his life, a life that has many twists and turns and disappointments.
These disappointments and disillusionment become our boon, however. Because of his background, and his great capability, we are given a wonderful view into an often disguised world. The Waiter brings to bear not only his expertise at his profession, but also psychological and spiritual insights, making this book a surprising deep read. But never overbearing and certainly never self-righteous. The honesty sometimes ventures into the vulgar, but always understandably so. It's not only the story of a man trying to find his way and providing great commentary as he goes. It's also a manual of restaurant etiquette and personalities, becoming a mirror to our often unconsidered actions.
This really is a great book, amazing insight and amazing writing throughout. Profound and readable, all while dwelling on often mundane issues. I'm going to be recommending this to most everyone I know.
Now, I sort of wish he went back into the priesthood, or maybe tried out being a Protestant pastor. I can only imagine how good he would do looking at the convoluted world of church life. But, I suspect his mission is greater than that.
He's a waiter. He's really a writer. And this book should be bought. Brilliant book. Ten stars if I could.
61 of 69 people found the following review helpful
I like to think of myself as the 20% tipper...16 July 2008
I like to eat, dabble in cooking, read the usual food blogs, but hitherto reading the WR, I must confess that I have never heard of the WaiterRant blog or the mysterious Waiter. (One does however, learn the Waiter's first name by the end of the book. And more importantly, as I learned on wikipedia, the Waiter will shed his anonymity at 7:00 PM on Tuesday, July 29th at Borders Books inside the Time Warner Building in Manhattan.)
The Waiter details his beginnings at Amici's, where we meet the first of several psychopathic and dysfunctional managers, fellow waiters, and restaurant owners. He survives the baptism, and soldiers on as a manager at The Bistro for the next six odd years. He deftly handles the crucible that is The Bistro throughout a variety of situations; supervising the infamous Russell Crowe visit, deflecting Fluvio's rants and video camera spying, and handling the day to day obnoxious customers. Some of the chapters may have come from his blog postings, but perhaps the more faithful fans can tell me which portions were newly added.
After finishing the book, his rants inspired me to a bit of introspection regarding how to better treat the wait staff. I've asked for a different table other than my assigned table before. It's amazing what waiters have to put up with, and you will definitely appreciate them more after a good reading. Want suggestions on how to tip better? Then check out Chapter 9, ppg. 105-118. The book also comes with appendices on how to be a better customer (when ordering wine, don't sniff the cork), how to tell you're at a bad restaurant (just look at the employees' bathroom), and tips for waiters. And guys, if you're taking a girl out on a date, the Waiter suggests tipping at least 20%, because she will know.
My one complaint against the Waiter? 30 Minute Meals is his favorite show on FoodTV.
86 of 103 people found the following review helpful
For me there was simply too wide of a gap between what the back cover promised and what WAITER RANT actually delivered. The summary claims to "[tell] the story from the server's point of view, replete with tales of customer stupidity, arrogance, misbehavior and the little unseen bits of human grace[...]" This description sounds like a lot of fun. Unfortunately, while that quote is technically correct, the actual anecdotes that follow are very few and very far between. And the filler wasn't interesting enough to hold my interest.
WAITER RANT shares its name with a blog. It also (alas) shares other aspects of this new form of communication. The book is very shallow, cursory and self-absorbed. It can be difficult to relate to if you do not actually know the person involved. This is something I've noticed with a lot of blogs. For example, a blog entry about the birth of the author's child might be absolutely overwhelmingly joyous news to you if you happen to be a friend of the author, but utterly meaningless if the author is just a random person on the Internet.
Reading a blog over a long period of time may make a reader feel more of a personal connection to the author. In that case, the bite-size, minimalistic style of blog writing may work. However, a novel (or a memoir) is a different medium. It's more immediate. It's not generally read in small doses over a long period of time.
For an instance of how what I'm talking about impacts this book, take chapter two. This is the section where The Waiter discusses the series of events that brought him to the point in his life where he first took a job in the service industry. The chapter deals with his entrance into a Catholic seminary, his disillusionment with a potential life as a priest, his job working in a psychiatric facility, the death of a very close friend, the break-up of a long-term relationship, his disillusionment with the job in the psychiatric facility, and his subsequent firing from the psychiatric facility.
Each of these topics is a life-altering event. Each of these topics deserves time for explanation, for the author to describe the impact. Here's my problem with the way the book is written: chapter two is a little over eight and a half pages long. There is absolutely no time for reflection; we simply jump right into the next sketchy event.
Entering into the substance of the book, the actual anecdotes all seem to fall into a very similar formula (rude customer asks for something ridiculous; waiter stares at him for a bit; customer doesn't get his way and mutters, "Unacceptable"). Unfortunately, the repetitive nature of the storytelling and the lack of genuinely interesting stories hurts. For comparison, I read Anthony Bourdain's KITCHEN CONFIDENTIAL years ago, and I can still recall several of the funny tales. It's only been a few days since I read WAITER RANT and already the memories are fading quickly.
The writing style itself doesn't help make the stories memorable either. Many interactions between himself and others are presented as dialogs (the passages are placed within quotation marks, however I must assume that he is only paraphrasing; I can't believe that anyone actually speaks the way they are written here). These sections appear in two basic formats: him patiently explaining something simple to a disgruntled customer (usually accompanied by a "thousand-yard stare" which the author must believe renders well on the printed page) and him patiently (and smugly) dispensing some simple wisdom to a less experienced co-worker. Every person the author interacts with has an extremely similar voice, which is unfortunate given that the actual people span both genders, several ethnic/cultural groups and many age ranges.
I was bored and disappointed by WAITER RANT, especially in comparison to a book like KITCHEN CONFIDENTIAL or even compared to the mental image I had created based on the description. The book feels like it should have more meat to it. It promises dirt, but the best is can deliver is a waiter who gets back at customers by meekly pretending that their credit card has been declined before giving up on the joke and making the charge.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
A look inside the thoughts of a waiter.17 July 2008
I am sure we all like to eat and it is nice to go out to a restaurant as well. Well if you do go out, you may just want to read this memoir that will give you an insight on your restaurant staff and especially waiters. Now before I received this book I must admit that I had never heard of the blog WaiterRant by The Waiter. But when I saw this book, I went to the blog and read only the last two posts and knew that the book would at least flow and be a fast read. And to my pleasant surprise, that assumption was correct.
The author, known only as The Waiter, gives us a brief introduction on his college life in Seminary and how he earned his degree is psychology. And then over a set of circumstances outside of his control ends up working as a waiter for the first time at a restaurant called Amici's, where his brother the waiter gets him the job. In this restaurant we are introduced to a dysfunctional manager and owner, his fellow waiters, and the kitchen staff. He is inducted into the hallow halls of the restaurant business in a very cutthroat environment where he learns fast how to survive and keep his job...for a while.
We start to pick up the tips one would like to learn from The Waiters work at The Bistro as Head Waiter for years. He learn how he handles the everyday stress of working at a upper mid-range restaurant where he waits on people from a couple who cannot really afford to eat there but are nice to celebrities and those he even drives out regardless of the potential tips he forgoes. And on top of waiting tables he has to be the buffer between the explosive owner Fluvio who has a way of going into spontaneous rants with anyone, staff or customer, and a video camera system set up to watch the staff and not aid them in providing better service.
The author not only explains how waiters look at the different customers, but the categories they place them in and how they tip. He also shares some of the secrets on how waiters get bigger tips out of customers. I do not know how much of the book is from his blog postings, but I enjoyed the book. And having worked a couple years in this industry I can tell you he is right on the mark. Especially when he states that a restaurant may be a business, but money is not always the bottom line. If you are rich and obnoxious you will find a harder and harder time fining a table at fine restaurants.
The book is filled with a lot of useful tips, like gentleman you should be aware that your date my judge you by watching how you compensate your waiter, of course this is an easy dilemma to avoid, but you should not have to. Your waiter services are his job and he or she should be compensated for them. The author has also added appendices on how to be a better customer, on how to tell you're at a bad restaurant, and tips for waiters. It was a fast and fun read. One warning, there is some strong language.