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I’m Not Taking My Metal Detector To The Beach, I’m Taking It To Dinner!

| June 23, 2010, 11:51 AM | 0 Comments

I received an email from one of my readers who seems a little irked by some of the new “fashion trends” sported by the hipsters and the more brazen of today’s youth. Here’s what he wrote:

Dear Bar Bitch–

While you are good at dishing the dirt about customers that rub you the wrong way, what about servers that rub the customers the wrong way?

When I go out to eat and plan on spending a hundred dollars or more on a nice dinner, the last thing in the world I want to look at is some punk waiter (or waitress) with this huge doughnut in their ear, a big ball on their tongue so you can’t understand them, or some obscene tattoo on their neck.

I have noticed more and more of these “decorations” everywhere I go. As a manager, do your customers complain? I am to the point that the next time a tattooed freak with a hole in his ear so large that I can see through it asks me what I want, I may just ask for directions to the nearest exit.

Alright, so this is definitely a popular topic of conversation amongst the restaurant crowd. I have very conflicting opinions. I have countless friends, in and out of the industry, that are pierced and tattooed. I have a tattoo, granted it’s not visible, and I have more than the average amount of piercings, so I’d be a huge hypocrite to say that these “decorations” are not appropriate.

Many corporate restaurants, like the Catholic school I attended, have very specific dress codes. These can include no visible tattoos, no metal of any kind on your face, no earrings larger than a dime, etc. etc. Some places may loosen up on their strict policies the longer the restaurant is open, but there is a general understanding that, as a representative of their establishment, you are required to look a certain way. Typically the point is to blend in to the background, not stand out. If you are drawing attention to yourself, it is being drawn away from your customer’s meal and making their whole experience less desirable.

I work in a privately owned restaurant where some of our employees almost seem encouraged to express themselves in the form of body art. I think it all depends on what sort of “crowd” you’re trying to draw to your establishment. We aim for the hip, late 20’s to 40’s crowd who enjoy good, different, and reasonably priced food. If I were going to drop more than $30 a plate, then I should hit a fine dining restaurant, which would most likely have a strict uniform policy for their employees. Close-minded, judgmental customers whoa re offended may want to check out the Cheesecake Factory or any of the other restaurants Westfield Annapolis has to offer.

Tattoos and piercings are the way our generation has decided to express itself, so who are we to discriminate against someone based on self-expression? Granted, there is always that small percentage of the population that is in it for the “shock value”, the offensive tattoos or piercings in places no needle should ever go, but most of my friends have beautiful, meaningful artwork on their bodies. I asked a few of them if they have ever been confronted by a customer about their (visible) tattoos and they said “all the time! But by people who are curious about the design and appreciate the time and craftsmanship of the work.”

As a manager I feel the need to always put our best foot forward when it comes to the overall atmosphere of our restaurant. The host or hostess, the first person you see upon entering any restaurant, should always have a smile on their face, be well groomed and have generally a nice demeanor. If you want to have tattoos or piercings, fine, but they should not be the first thing noticed. When hiring new employees, I tend to judge first by their personality and experience and then by their appearance.  If you feel the need to gauge your ears (stretch them out like crazy African tribesmen) please make sure you wear your jewelry; there’s nothing more unattractive that saggy ear lobes!

After polling several acquaintances about their feelings on this matter, they all said hygiene was the most important issue; tattoos and piercings, as long as they were well taken care of, were OK with them. I understand that seeing someone who has mutilated their body with obscene piercings or offensive ink will most likely cause you to lose your appetite, but I think that we need to be able to accept the new trends that are becoming more and more popular every day.

I’d like to end with another thought of the day from our long-winded friend Springs:

3. Bring extra napkins always. MOST people, especially kids or if a person orders messy foods such as ribs, will more than likely need extra napkins.

So it’s okay to bring extra napkins without asking, but not refill a water glass? I get offended when servers bring me napkins without asking, it’s the same when people bagging my groceries assume I didn’t bring my own bags or I want 25 plastic bags for 10 items. I’m all about saving the environment, one paper napkin at a time! Reduce, re-use, recycle my friend!

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About the Author - The Bar Bitch

I graduated with an Art degree from a small liberal arts college, did a bit of traveling and moved to Annapolis from Baltimore about seven years ago. I currently manage a well-known Annapolis restaurant, serve and bartend. I live downtown and I like sunsets and long walks on the beach :)

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