After working in the restaurant world for over 10 years I know a thing or two about the business. I worked for world-class chefs who had world-class rules for their wait staff and the quality of their food. Pay attention to the smallest detail because it is the soil that will give your eatery (I dislike that word) longevity. Just because she is young and cute doesn’t mean you should hire her. Capice? At the very least, hire ONE person who is older than 30 or has extensive experience because someone has to keep an eye on the kids.
I am so tired of spending my very hard-earned money on bad food, worse wine and wait staff with attitude. Honestly in California there is NO reason to have a bad wine on a wine list. I repeat, NO reason. I can walk out the door right now and buy a decent Cabernet for under $20 at Ralph’s; so if I’m going to spend $12 a glass your selection better be good. And another thing, I don’t want to have to tell the insipid 22-year-old behind the bar how to make a margarita, okay? God’s teeth people! Quit using a whole bottle of bleach to clean the floor!! How can I eat if a place smells like the Pirate’s Of The Caribbean?
This particular rant is aimed at a restaurant/bar in Santa Monica that shall go nameless…until I decide to out them. The owners are rumored to have a couple of seedy bars in Venice that do great business because they are seedy bars in Venice. (They only sell 40’s if you want a beer – get it?) Nowadays a cocktail is at least $10 a pop, (cheaper if you are in the high desert) and finding a well seasoned bartender in Los Angeles is getting harder and harder to do. And I don’t mean the ones who have worked at the fanciest of places or trained extensively (I don’t need your Hard Rock Cafe attitude). Just because you went to school for something doesn’t make you good at it. We all know a good bartender is an art form. This is why I like the ones who are over 60, by then they probably don’t talk much but make a mean martini.
My mother always says, “be the labor great or small, do it right or not at all”. Good advice for anything we do. Take pride in your job, do the best you can or get the hell out of the way. Don’t make me come behind the bar to pull your hair in order to get another drink (especially when you aren’t busy), you should note the slight tilt of my head from your periphery and have the bottle ready before I’ve drained my glass. This is what a professional bartender does; they read your body language like Sherlock Holmes…or Detective Goran.
So in my effort to support a friend in his spinning endeavors I went to an establishment where he would be lulling people into his opiate world of music. Mark did not disappoint (because he loves and cares about what he does) but the establishment needs a great deal of help. I’m not even going to bother discussing the appetizer menu and the slop that came our way (seriously how do you screw up a cheese board?!!). If I hadn’t had a good companion with me I would have fled at the first sip of vinegar they were passing for wine. Yes, the staff were nice enough but calling them “staff” is being too kind.
Since I don’t go out often anymore, I should have known better but I had thrown all preconceived notions out the window. It just offends me to spend the money, while having to look at the haphazard way a place is decorated (if you are going for the bordello look do it properly or not at all), and the lack of care and attention to detail. Why? Because if the smallest of things is cared for, we humans take it in unconsciously, we feel comfortable and ultimately will stay longer, spend more money, and tell our friends, etc.
The whole experience made me want to jump into my truck and drive to Spec’s in San Francisco; now thats a proper bar. I miss the respect of the job. What has happened to Los Angeles? We used to be able to compete in this arena without batting an eyelash.
No matter what I do I try to do my best so it would be nice if others at least tried. I know I am not their target audience (too old) but the doors have to stay open and the young are fickle. It’s the older patrons that will keep a place running; that or the place is just laundering money.
- Bartender Wisdom: ‘I Smash the Hell Out of It’ (esquire.com)
- I wanted to live like a real Angeleno (theglobeandmail.com)
- Local Celebs’ Favorite Hidden Gems in LA (tarametblog.com)
- Top 10 Romatic Restaurant in Los Angeles (friendseat.com)
- You: The Tipsy Diaries: And Now for Our Special Tonight: The Bartender (nytimes.com)
- Trend Alert: Guest Bartending (thedizzyfizz.wordpress.com)
- Seven Strolls That Say ‘San Francisco’ ” CBS San Francisco (redbeardedoctopus.wordpress.com)