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Customer reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
13
4.3 out of 5 stars


on 15 March 2017
It is the FOH (Front of House) version of Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential.

In short, a brilliant book about the trials and tribulations of an American waiter and those around him, both customers and staff. With his own personal story and point of view thrown in.

Anyone within the catering industry will relate to this book, and those who want a better understanding of what they put waiters and chefs through when you dine out SHOULD read this book.
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on 10 September 2008
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. To cap it all off, the book ends with a hilarious (but mandatory) list of "do's and don'ts". An emotional roller-coaster with humor and human insight en masse, this book is a real joy. It screams HBO special all over the place.
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on 3 January 2012
Really enjoyed this. I recently read Garlic and Sapphires, which is about the New York Times food critic's experiences of dining out. So this book told by an anonymous waiter was the obvious follow up. He started writing a blog, which got really popular and led to a book deal, but the book starts the story from the beginning; how he got into waiting tables and the characters he met along the way. I know almost nothing about restaurants, but it all sounds very believable. Waiters must get a whole world of grief and abuse from the general public, though arguing with a waiter is, as he points out, a risky game(!)

The only bit I didn't really like was where he tore into people for not tipping enough. I appreciate that is a cultural thing and that tipping written into the American constitution somewhere, but the sob story about them not being paid enough unless you add a 20% tip didn't cut it with me. Why should it fall to the people who are effectively already paying your wages by eating in the restaurant to make up the wages that your employer is too mean to pay you!? I was amazed to read that if I'd tipped him 8% he'd actually challenge me because it is not enough.

That said, it was a good read and I would recommend it to anyone interested in food or eating out.
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VINE VOICEon 27 September 2008
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?

The Waiter is one of those serving warriors who has done for this a long time. No, he doesn't plan to act on Broadway. No, it isn't a second job to support his family (he's unmarried and unattached). No, he isn't going to grad school. He does it to earn a living.

How did he get there? The Waiter started out in seminary, wanting to be a Catholic priest. He got angry about the way things were run in the church (and didn't realize that Catholics don't have a monopoly on inappropriate behavior) and quit. He earned a college degree in psychology and worked in a series of forgettable health care environments run by very sleazy people.

After losing a mental health job, he realized that he needed work to tide him over and avoid depression while he looked for a "good" job. Since his brother was working as a waiter part-time while he was in school, his brother suggested that The Waiter join him at Amici's, a suburban New York Italian restaurant. In the process, he learned that he had jumped out of the frying pan into the fire because Amici's was a very emotionally toxic environment, one where the survival of the fittest would have impressed Darwin.

I won't tell more of the story, but you'll get your share of ugly customer behavior, callousness, poor management, bad hygiene, and ripping off the customer. These are portrayed in calendar order, interspaced with the seasonal challenges of various holidays (Mother's Day is the worst for servers and customers) illustrated by horror stories.

The writing is extremely slick in the beginning, so much so that it seems like the stories are likely to have been "improved" as new journalism stories often are to be a "better" story. Amici's isn't quite to be believed, but you can make up your mind for yourself on that point.

The bulk of the book is sited at The Bistro where The Waiter doubles as the restaurant's manager whenever Fluvio, the owner, is away (which seems to be all of the time). The squabbles between The Waiter and the rest of the staff and with Fluvio are straight from sit-com heaven. When Ken Blanchard is looking for his next coauthor to write a parable about what not to do in business, he should look up The Waiter.

The craziness moves on nicely from episode to episode, but eventually focuses in on The Waiter's desire to escape waiting by becoming a writer. He begins to pay more and more attention to the Waiter Rant blog and dreams of writing a book. Well, you know how that turned out.

I thought the most interesting parts of the book came in how he came to understand himself better through being a waiter. Think of that part of the book as "Confessions of a Snippy Waiter."

Because of his psychology training, he's very good at explaining why waiting appeals to some people . . . despite the horrible drawbacks.

You'll probably cut back on your fine dining after you read this book. There's a tendency to make all customers seem like infants who lack motherly love and are willing to spend ridiculous sums to get a little attention from someone who is willing to pander to get tips.

Some (especially those from New York City) will be offended by the various guidelines for being a customer.

I was shocked to learn that I was demeaning servers whenever I gave them a tip over 25 percent. Who knew?

I would wish you bon appetit, but this book will probably spoil your appetite with its various stories about hygiene and getting revenge on customers.
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on 27 March 2014
An easy book to race through , being English it helped to explain why so many waiters in states want to rush you through your meal and still expect a big tip [ and its not as if the food is cheaper than here] . Why it works is how towards the end seeing all the drunks and miserable and those who were if only people who had lost their dreams to the bottle, he decides he has to stop being a waiter and actually do what he wants to do . And so he writes. Inspiring for all caught in a dull job they never meant to do .
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on 21 October 2009
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I was a waiter many years ago so I was keen to see what the author had to say. Anyone who has worked in hospitality would lap this book up (and anyone who has been a restaurant customer should read this too).

Very well written, funny, touching, insightful. I would wholly recommend this.
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on 26 September 2015
Was a little disappointed because a great deal of space is taken up with the author's accounts of his own life rather than material about customers.
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on 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.
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on 4 September 2013
A great read from start to finish-all waiters will empathise with this guy! Laugh out loud funny at a great price as well.
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on 27 March 2013
knew its was a good book via a friend of mine in the trade good laugh and true to real life
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