Arbor Brewing Company

Around the time we went into hiatus, I began work at Arbor Brewing Company. ABC just celebrated it’s 20-year anniversary in downtown Ann Arbor, and rightfully so.

For our first ‘endorsement’ post, I’m going to be shameless and promote my workplace.

The brewpub has been a huge deal in the Michigan beer scene, not just for it’s amazing beer (I didn’t even drink beer prior to working here) but for it’s amazing work being eco-friendly and locally supportive. The owners are probably the kindest, most dedicated people I’ve worked for in the restaurant industry. Their hearts are just as invested in the business as their finances, and I’ve found that to be a rare occurrence in this line of work. They are constantly looking for ways to innovate and expand their reach, and they do it all with their many workers at the forefront of their minds. Their most recent announcement to renovate the restaurant came with a full-staff meeting and an open door for ideas and opinions, which was met with a more positive response than I’ve seen from any staff I’ve worked with when such an announcement was made.

The management team that has been chosen to lead the staff is just as amazing. The group of women that run the day-to-day functioning of the brewpub are all huge-hearted and just as dedicated to the cause as the owners. Seeing a functioning management staff is just as surprising to me as the owners are, and I can’t express how refreshing it is to work with competent individuals that actually take the time to interact with their customers – whether it’s a complaint or just a curiosity, there is no doubt that a manager will take time out of their day to ensure your needs are met. And beyond the actual managing duties, they shine in their capacity for compassion. I’ve witnessed more hugs and one-on-one chats between managers and staffers than I can count, and the follow-ups that display the true depth of their love for their workers. I’m so used to taking care of myself – on the floor and off – that I’ve had a hard time accepting the managers for what they are, and have only recently opened up to their support, but it’s been an eye-opening experience. Is this what good management really looks like? Can’t say I’m disappointed.

As for the servers and hosts I work with, I don’t have a single negative thing to say. Though it’s a bit difficult to establish yourself among them, once they befriend you they take care of you. I’ve been shown so much support and kindness by my colleagues…it’s outrageous. And every single one of them takes their job seriously. So many beer experts in the ranks, it’s crazy. Everyone is so eager to learn more, too. I can’t even tell you how many questions are asked when a new beer comes up, or how many opinions are offered when we update menus. The way they handle customers is just as passionate – the beer savants can recommend a brew to a new guest that will almost always be exactly what they want, and they’ll have no problem explaining it to them in depth. And the pride everyone shows for Arbor Brewing is wonderful – everyone really does their best to represent it, from staying up to date on the goings on to making sure that everyone is recycling properly.

Honestly, before working here I had no idea just how wonderful of a place it was – I knew the food was good, I knew the servers seemed like ‘alternative’ people, but I just couldn’t know the depth of passion behind that. I really do recommend everyone give it a try, whether you’re a beer snob or just have weird dietary requirements (we accommodate vegan and gluten-free like no other) you’ll find something to make you smile, from a staff that strives for that smile. Employed or not, I support Arbor Brewing Company from their rooftop solar panels to their soon-to-be renovated basement bathrooms.

Shamelessly Yours,
Tucker

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Just Sick About The Whole Thing

I’ve recently been sick, hence the lack of posts by yours truly. My illness, while exhausting and completely gross, did however make nice subject matter for this post. One of the most frustrating things about working in the service industry is that you have to be physically present to make money. There’s nothing I’m more jealous of than paid sick days and paid vacation time.

When your income relies on daily take-home cash, more than one day out of commission can be incredibly crippling. This is why you’ll often find your server with a case of the sniffles or surreptitiously coughing into their elbow as they bring you your coffee. We don’t like being there when we’re sick, only in very special cases is it rewarding to sneeze in the general vicinity of a customer’s food. Not to mention trying to keep yourself bouncing around from table to table with a smile on your face is a million times more difficult when you feel like your brain is wrapped up in cotton. Unfortunately, your measly 10% tips make up a vast portion of our rent so in we trudge, armed with painkillers and Mu***ex.

I’m lucky enough to work for and with people that are very understanding and would much rather you felt better than showed up to work dripping with snot. But we’ve all heard horror stories of people getting fired for being sick for a couple of days. There’s a surplus of people wanting your job, if you’re not there to perform it why bother keeping you around? And there’s always environments where your coworkers cherish their days off far too much to cover for you.

When I went from being a full-time student to being a full-time server this change in attitude toward being sick was a little disorienting. Never before in my life did I dread getting sick. And of course, as a nice little taunt from fate, never before in my life have I gotten sick so often (although that may have something to do with the fact that I’m young, dumb and full of…well…point is I don’t take care of myself very well yet.) When you’re working on a final project and you need a work day, you can fake being sick. When you’re on the verge of giving up the ghost, you need to go into work because you have to pay the water bill this month.

The other problem is that if you’re a server, your work probably doesn’t offer health insurance. Unless you’re a young ‘un like me and your parents still have you on their plan, chances are you’ll have to pay exorbitant fees for medical services (there’s a can of worms Arina doesn’t need to get into, health insurance and attitudes toward illness in this country.) Which sets you back on your money situation even further.

This is getting a bit repetitive. Suffice to say that illness and working in a restaurant are not the world’s best couple. If you’re a new server and haven’t had to deal with this yet here’s a few quick tips:

  • If you feel yourself getting sick, immediately shut down your social life and go to bed early
  • Fluids are your best friend
  • Make sure you have the phone number of everyone you work with, get your shift covered as far in advance as you can
  • Don’t take pain killers on an empty stomach and switch out your coffee for tea
  • Don’t get sick if possible

Very basic stuff, probably not very helpful, but there it is. Essentially, the job where you’re exposed to a million germs a day is the same one you can’t not go to if those germs start taking over your weak little body. If you have awesome coworkers like I do, they’ll bring you soup and send you nice texts with kissy face emojis. That’s pretty much the only upside to being a sick server.

Thanks for bearing with me,
Arina

Meet Your New MisManager

Today’s rant is brought to you by poor management!

 

But, seriously. We’ve all dealt with it, service industry or otherwise. We’ve all had that manager that just completely ruined a job for us. Personally, I’ve had more than my fair share and I’m about tired of it. Is it really that difficult to hire a manager that doesn’t just generally suck?

 

I didn’t encounter my first awful management experience until I had my first serving job. The restaurant was owned by a local dude, and he did most of the managing himself. He had a couple of lackeys, but they served the sole purpose of dealing with floor problems (discounting, taking complaints, closing shifts, etc.). This particular owner/manager liked to attach emails to our schedules that listed the many, many things he disapproved of over the previous week. Sure, I understand trying to let everyone know what they need to work on. Is it impossible to add some reaffirmation and back-patting amidst the blatantly rude, negative commentary? As an employee that directly handles the people paying your bills, you probably shouldn’t piss me off too much.

 

“Oh, wow, all of these servers look so miserable!”

“Hi, I’m not telling you my name and I’ll be handling your business today……Do you want something to drink? By the way, I hate my job.”

“Goodness, I won’t be returning to this establishment, everyone was so disgruntled!”

 

Like, why would you make it your personal goal to make sure the faces of your company were consistently painted with disdain?

 

After about a year of this, the restaurant was sold to another family. Hip-hip-hooray! Oh, wait, here comes THEIR version of bad management. Get this. The manager they bring in has never worked in a restaurant. Ever. Not as a server, cook, busboy, nothing. At least the last guy used to work in a kitchen.

 

So, new guy, never been in an eatery except to eat, promotes someone under me to manager. Great first impression. Next comes the overall disregard for the fact that I’ve been there longer than anyone, combined with the piling of meaningless tasks to quell my anger. No, running the Facebook and creating the specials menus because you’re a.)lazy and b.)unable to use proper grammar or even spelling (PEOPLE SEE THIS PAGE!!!!!!!!!) are not promotions, and sure, I’ll do it for free to make myself feel important. Meanwhile, said manager is standing in the kitchen eating a quesadilla and distracting the workers from the fourteen tickets waiting in the window. Oh the tacos for table twenty-three? They can wait another half hour, whatever. Keep joking with the line cooks. And the table that had to wait an hour for cold tacos (because instead of running food like a decent human you decide ringing the bell incessantly will get the job done) doesn’t need their meal comp’ed. Good thing I have to wait for you to finish your meal to void it out.

 

And, like the rest of us on the floor, you’re wondering why this other manager he promoted isn’t helping. Wanna know why? Because she is also the acting bartender and her rail is full. Not to mention I’m also waiting for her to muddle my lime and mint for that mojito I put in twenty-five minutes ago. Why, why, why would you make literally the only person not able to leave their post the floor manager? What the hell is wrong with you?

 

Moving on to the next restaurant. Three managers, plus the owner’s over-involvement. Wow that sounds so efficient I can’t wait for this! Wait, I have to wait until Sunday to find out if I work Monday morning? Oh my.

 

Finally quit the first restaurant due to the manager forcing us to serve people that had been kicked out (for good reason) and went for broke(r) at the second place. At least I like the managers on a personal level. And they treat the staff like family. But, wait, families don’t run businesses. Again, for good reason! Cue dysfunction, constant spats and still no schedule until Sunday! What is going on, seriously?

 

Now it’s time for the new general manager to take over. We imported him (from Chicago!). He used to work in restaurants, works in advertising or something of that nature. Actually has good ideas and a relatively high level of motivation. So, why did nothing change? Let’s revisit the owner’s overinvolvement. Did you not hire people to run this business for you? So why are you not letting them run it? Sit back and collect the cash like a real business owner! Ugh. Oh, wait, you’re gonna fire our promising new GM and replace him with the manager I quit my last job because of? Bye!

 

In short, the last two years of my life have been managed very poorly, and if that doesn’t taste like soy sauce I don’t know what does. It’s a ‘salty’ reference, laugh. I need it.

 

I Quit,

Tucker

Good Eggs

Although these posts are meant to be devoted to the people at our table, the customers that enlighten us or entertain us, this week I wanted to take a minute to talk about the people lurking behind the scenes with us. Coworkers can be a source of irritation, a fount of frustration and even anger sometimes. But they can also be the best support system, the best comedic relief, the best friends.

I’ve been lucky enough to encounter such good eggs at every one of the places I’ve worked. It seems to me that working in the service industry is a great bonding experience. No one will ever understand you breaking down in tears after some asshole yells at you in front of other customers like the people you serve with. We’ve all been there, and we’re all there for each other. Even rolling your eyes at each other after a brief encounter with an obviously ridiculous table gives a sense of belonging.

And it’s not just commiseration in the face of problematic customers or even your management. Spending almost every day of every week with the same group of people gives you no choice but to get to know them better.While that sounds a tad like Stockholm Syndrome, it’s far from it. More often than not, the people you work with end up being really cool. I’ve met some of my best friends through work. I met my roommates through work. I’ve laughed and bonded with so many of the people I’ve worked with, it’s hard to put the appreciation for that into words.

When I went to get my first (and as yet only but that’s inconsequential) tattoo, one of my coworkers at the time went with me to hold my hand and distract me with funny stories. Whenever I have something I need to get off my chest, I know there’s going to be at least one person at work I can confide in. If you’re looking for a place to live or someone to go to a concert with, there’s no one that will have the hookup quite like the people you work with. Smoke breaks wouldn’t be nearly as much fun if someone else (or four someones) didn’t come outside with you.

I’d like to mention that, especially in the industry, it’s important to become close not only to the people you share a workload with (in my case, front of house staff) but also to those that have entirely different duties (the back of house staff, for instance.) Too often there is a sense of hostility between the kitchen and the servers. Pointlessly so, as both parties can benefit from a good relationship with each other. You never know when it might come in handy, manipulative as that sounds, and in times of stress it’s always better to feel like you’re all in it together.

Whether it’s a quick hug when you come in looking bedraggled or an earnest word of praise when you do something right, coworkers provide bright pinpricks of light in what is ultimately a defeating and exhausting environment. Take a moment to think about the people you work with and let them know how much you appreciate them whenever you get a chance. And if you work or have worked with me and you’re reading this, you know who you are and I love you. Hit me up sometime, let’s hang out.

Mushily Yours,

Arina