Bruce Buschel, you are a douche of the first order



Freddie deBoer used to blog at, and may again someday. Now he blogs here.

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102 Responses

  1. Avatar Sonny Bunch says:

    Dude … calm down. As someone who worked in the food services industry for three years in high school and college, I can honestly say I don’t have a huge problem with most of the items on that list. Do you really want someone touching the rim of your glass with their dirty hands? The human hand is freaking filthy. I don’t want to see someone’s dirty fingerprints right where I’m about to put my mouth. That is gross.

    I agree that waiters and waitresses have a tough job. I loved “Waiter Rant” (the book, not the blog) because I can totally empathize with that job. I’ve been there. It sucks. I’m not looking forward to going back to that gig when the newspaper industry finally collapses into a black hole of financial crapitude. I always tip 20%, even when service is shitty because I know that’s how these folks make a living.

    But c’mon…just because being a waiter is difficult, that doesn’t mean there aren’t basic rules that attend the duty. And I would say “Don’t get smudgy handprints where the customer is going to put his lips to drink a free water/$5 soda/$15 glass of wine” is about as basic as it gets. It doesn’t have anything to do with not wanting “a poor to touch your glass.”

    In short, Bruce Buschel isn’t the worst person in the world. I think we all know that title is still held by Brett Favre. And whatever douche at Fox decided to create the “Favre cam” this weekend. Eff that guy.Report

  2. Avatar Sonny Bunch says:

    Not sure if it changes things, but this Buschel isn’t just some random customer complaining. He’s “building a seafood restaurant,” whatever that means. I think it means that this list is a set of rules for his employees. Does that make it better or worse in your eyes? Shouldn’t a boss — esp. one in the service industry — have a right to dictate how his employees behave while they’re representing his establishment?Report

    • Avatar Freddie says:

      I think it’s pretty clear from his piece that he’s speaking about waiters serving him as well. Sure, he can have his rules as an owner. That doesn’t mean some of them aren’t incredibly distasteful. You aren’t allowed to tell someone your name? You aren’t allowed to compliment people? That is class antagonism, I think. And I also do really think that it is a kind of poverty to be so unable to handle little things that you have to freak out on people who are just trying to work.

      But, you know, polemic. Who knows.Report

      • Avatar Trevor says:

        I am in 100% agreement with you. You hit the nail on the head about this being more about class antagonism than about simple rules by which servers should abide. It’s bloviation to the most nauseating degree.Report

  3. Avatar Ian M. says:

    Bushel is in fact a douche. “Don’t hustle the lobsters.” What if four tables just got seated, everyone has been ordering lobsters and there are only two left? It is professional to give your customers an edge if they want lobsters. The flip side is “Sorry, we have no lobsters tonight.” – that’s just awesome to tell a customer. “Don’t not inject your personal favorites into the specials.” Unless of course the chef has ordered you to move the damn turkey special because they’ve got a pile of it that needs to be eaten or spoil. “Do not announce your name.” Because “Hey, you” is so effective at catching one’s attention. Most of the cleanliness stuff is common sense, but the maintenance of obsequiousness really grates.Report

  4. Avatar Mark says:


    I had a friend who worked in a coffee shop as a busboy when he was a teenager. He never washed his hands, and when he would bring people coffee, he would put his hand right over top of the rim of the mug to get the maximum contact between dirty hands and ultimately, the customer’s mouth. Somebody called him out on it eventually – it’s pretty gross!

    I agree that this Buschel guy would be horrible to work for, and many of the rules I find odd and precious, particularly those relating to wine. I’ve been to restaurants where the staff follow some strange service edict from management that really creeps me out and they refuse to stop when asked – but from a customer’s perspective, Buschel’s rules seem to err on the side of trying to be inoffensive. (Not that they wouldn’t offend an employee.)

    I guess I’m just saying I agree that this guy is a prick, but if I was going to go all double-barrel middle fingers on anyone, it would be someone who thinks it’s ok for restaurant employees in the US to 1) not be paid a living wage; 2) not receive paid vacation or sick days; 3) not have health insurance. It would be someone who is unaware of his own race and class privilege and uses it to attack those without it. It would be someone who cheerleads for foreign wars, knowing full well that he will never have to risk his life.

    Ross Douthat, to pick just one example, is a vastly worse human being for what he believes than Buschel is for what he believes.Report

    • Avatar Freddie says:

      I guess what I think, Mark, is that the cleanliness stuff should go without saying, but that they don’t have to be expressed in a context that treats waiters as if they aren’t people. Perhaps I’m reading in too much, I dunno.Report

      • Avatar Mark says:

        I have no less of a nose for classism than you do, Freddie…But Ross Douthat treats most of the people in this country like they aren’t people. Yet, instead of the “Douchebag of the Day” Award, which has thus far been awarded just once on your site, Ross’ talking points get debated as though they have merit. The “serious” columnist needs to get taken down first, followed by the guy who owns a seafood restaurant in Binghamton.Report

        • Avatar Art Deco says:

          But Ross Douthat treats most of the people in this country like they aren’t people.

          It is unlikely Mr. Douthat has met ‘most of the people in this country’, or you.Report

      • Avatar Rob says:

        No you are not reading into it to much. This response to this douchebag is priceless, I actually found this because I was looking for his email so I can tell him I will be coming to his restaurant and seeing if they follow all of these rules. So you did my job for me, thanks. I applaud you at this response to this @&*!. I also applaud you that you were able to be this enraged and you have not worked in a restaurant. I was a waiter for years, and this guy has no understanding what it is to be a waiter or to run a restaurant. A restaurant is a business, and they are in the business of making money. Ex: If a “singleton” comes in, you have to find out if he is waiting for people, because you have to know whether to sit him at a “two top” table or a “four top”. If a restaurant wastes a four top table on one person, because they have to walk on eggshells, they will not be able to stay in business. I can go on and on, on some of the “elitist” rules this fucking guy has that are illogical and not practical.

        Please apologize to no one for what you wrote. You hit it dead on, this guy is the kind of customer I couldn’t stand.

        Lastly, in reply to Sonny Bunch telling you to “calm down”. WTF man, I mean you said you were a waiter? Of course some of this guy’s rules apply and are common sense, but focus on the ridiculous ones, and understand that the overall context and tone of this @%$^’s 100 rules article is condescending and elitist. It displays a clear picture that he has no insight into what it takes to be a waiter and run a restaurant, which is one of the reasons why it is so offensive aside from the fact that he is just an asshole. Sonny, you piss me off almost as much as BruceDoucheReport

  5. Avatar Eric says:

    I agree with Freddie. Yeah, the guy put in about 20 rules that should be “duh” for a wait staff and even a few that are personal peeves of mine. But he elevates each one to almost felony type importance. And the overall article tone was arrogant and pompus to the extreme. This guy doesn’t want wait staff, he wants dehumanized drone slaves.Report

  6. Avatar Art Deco says:

    Freddie, this is the introduction:

    “Herewith is a modest list of dos and don’ts for servers at the seafood restaurant I am building.”
    The heading of the column is “The Art of Running a Small Business”. He is reporting for the reader the contents of his own employee manual.

    A number of his points are picayune, but for the most part it adds up to an admonishment to be affable and keep a civil distance from the clientele, while maintaining sanitary conditions. People should acquire that from the general education they get in manners while growing up, but they often do not and so have to be told explicitly.

    1) not be paid a living wage; 2) not receive paid vacation or sick days; 3) not have health insurance. It would be someone who is unaware of his own race and class privilege and uses it to attack those without it. It would be someone who cheerleads for foreign wars, knowing full well that he will never have to risk his life.

    People who engage in obnoxious posturing are an irritant, as are those who fancy that small businessmen should be dragooned by the state department of labor into paying other people’s medical bills, paying people who are not working, and paying them in excess of what they would prefer to engage people for and in excess of what prospective workers will accept. If you want short-term supplementary employment, restaurant work is there. If you are seeking to earn a living, there are other options. If you are concerned about social security, one can make use of taxation, subsidy, public services, and philanthropy toward that end. Restauranteurs, in their capacity as restauranteurs, are not engaged in any of these things. (And not everyone has a vocation as a soldier, either).Report

    • Avatar Mark says:

      I think this speaks to my larger point, Freddie. Who deserves the ‘Douchebag of the Day’ Award? The jerk restaurant owner who demeans his staff? Or one of the many guys out there who truly believes that business owners owe no basic benefits to their staffs?

      I’m going to vote for the latter, and his cruel heart of stone that knows no morality other than what’s written in an Ayn Rand tome.Report

      • Avatar Art Deco says:

        I am not an admirer of Ayn Rand. Whether or not I have a heart of stone I leave to thems that know me.Report

        • Avatar Mark says:

          No matter how you see your worldview, what you’ve written here is just a sneer at working people. Restaurant owners hire illegals, pay cash off-the-books and make people work unpaid overtime. But if that’s what the market dictates – what desperate prospective workers will “accept,” as you wrote – then who is anyone to argue that perhaps the restaurant owner is treating his employees unfairly and should be held to a higher standard?Report

          • Avatar Art Deco says:

            Sneering is not one of my hobbies. To the extent I am making use of a stiletto, it is being thrust not into ‘working people’, but into you. Since your comments have included two rather odd and malicious non sequirturs directed at a columnist for the New York Times, I think you can be expected to manage.

            The restauranteur should, of course, follow the law. The law will impose a baseline of costs which are borne jointly by the proprietor, his employees, the customer (or the general public if it renders the establishment economically nonviable). The question at hand is whether it is socially optimal to impose your preferred costs and whether it is appropriate for you to feel entitled to these benefits. (No and no).Report

            • Avatar Mark says:

              You referred to restaurant work as “short-term supplementary employment.” That is certainly a sneer at a lot of working people in this country.

              And Ross Douthat comes into play because Freddie is reading the NY Times and getting angry at a restaurant owner from Binghamton who, prior to his blog post on Friday, had averaged 7 comments a week. But he is not getting mad at a “Serious Columnist” who still loves Sarah Palin.Report

    • Avatar E.D. Kain says:

      Hey I drove pizzas for a long time and my wife was a waitress for years. Customers can be total pricks to waitstaff and the worst kind are the ones who condescend and then don’t tip. If you’re a good tipper you can condescend all you like as far as I’m concerned.

      Anyways, I’m mostly with Freddie, here. This may have been more palatable if it were two lists juxtaposed – one for servers and one for their customers, who often as not have very poor etiquette and treat waiters like second-class citizens.Report

  7. Avatar Dan says:


    Don’t backtrack!

    I couldn’t agree more that Bruce Buschel’s article oozes odiousness. Yes, the cleanliness/hygiene stuff should go without saying, and it is hard to grumble with at least, say, 80% of these “rules”, but the dude’s character shines through and “douche” seems a fitting description of it. I mean it becomes apparent early on with “herewith is a modest list…” before he makes his (first) Fifty Commandments.

    You’re right that the list, even if most of its commandments are manifestly obvious, serves to reinforce the notion that the server’s role is exclusively servile, and that they should perform this role as anonymous beings who pander to every whim of the glorious patron. Fuck that. I reckon BB is only writing so many of these rules that would be self-explanatory to the people he’d presumably be looking to hire for his seafood restaurant in the Hamptons, to assuage any conceivable concerns of even the most precious Times reader who might dine at his place. I tell you something: I’d feel super uncomfortable eating at a place that seems so contemptuous of its staff.

    It’d be way more enjoyable, for me at least, to be addressed as “dude”, flirted with, told the server’s name, what she likes from the specials, that there’s not much of a certain dish left as a heads up. I could care less about a “No problem” (seriously, it has a tone of insincerity? what the fuck yo?), think it’d be amusing to hear that the bartender was, say, boning the hostess, would totally understand that if I asked how a meat dish was the server responded they were vegetarian or whatever and so didn’t know (better than a lie claiming it’s great).

    But that would be in contravention of (at least) rules 7, 1o, 41, 43 and 44 of Mein Rules or whatever he calls his proclamations. Quelle douche.

    P.S. Initially I just wanted to write a comment under the original NYT article saying “this guys sounds like a cunt”.Report

  8. Avatar Sam M says:

    What I don’t get is this:

    “Veteran waiters, moonlighting actresses, libertarians and baristas will no doubt protest some or most of what follows. ”

    Um… libertarians? Is there any reason to think Ron Paul or David Boaz think it’s OK to touch guests or smell like cigarettes?

    I am just not at all sure how “libertarians” made it onto the list at all. Moonlighting actresses. And… libertarians? What the…???Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      Freddie is under the impression that Libertarians are more likely to be “born on third and think they hit a triple” types than not. He isn’t likely to assume that people who work their way through college by working in food service would become Libertarians as much as people who would ask the government for more Pell Grants and, more importantly, see the people who are opposed to more Pell Grants as people who hate waiters who are working their way through college and, perhaps, want them to die.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Oh, is my face red.

        I apologize.

        I saw the swipe against Libertarians and I assumed (TO MY SHAME!! I APOLOGIZE) that Freddie made it.

        As it stands, it’s yet another reason to sigh at Bruce Buschel’s asinine column.

        Again. I apologize.

        My face is red.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          In my defense, I have been drinking.Report

        • Avatar zic says:

          Do libertarians tip well, or are they as anxious to hold on to their hard earned cash after dinner as they are on April 15?

          Tipping well could, if made a national libertarian vogue, change the libertarian tightwad image.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            It depends if the Libertarians have had experience in food service.

            If they do, they can use it as an opportunity to discuss the implied contract our culture has wrt tipping as manifested in the disparity between “minimum wage” and “waitpeople minimum wage” and they can talk about how, if they didn’t believe in tipping, they’d make their own food at home and not have to tip anyone.

            If they don’t have experience in food service, they can be like Mr. Pink.

            “I bought the meal, you chip in for the tip.”
            “But I don’t believe in tipping.”

            • Avatar E.D. Kain says:

              Isn’t there some bad analogy to income-redistribution involving not tipping a waiter and giving it to a bum outside instead?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Some Republican website told a story about how their waitperson was wearing an Obama button and talked about how goods/services would be taken from people who don’t need it and given to people who do and the guy told the waiter about how he didn’t leave the waiter a tip but instead gave the couple of bucks to a hobo.

                I walked away from the story thinking that the Republican probably solidified support for Obama rather than, you know, actually changed anybody’s mind.

                Additionally, I doubted that the hobo got so much as a dime.Report

  9. Avatar Bob says:

    I don’t give a big wet smelly pile of crap about this topic, waitstaff, but eat me before I pay the tip or I won’t be back you douche.

    What I do give a big wet smelly pile of crap about is some semblance of fairness on this site, so a question, what the fuck is the fucking deal regarding allowable language or here?

    The Ordinary Gentlemen = no standards.

    Commenter’s = careful or you will be cast into the darkness.

    Do I have it somewhat correct?

    Freddie, save it for the “Other McCain.”Report

    • Avatar Freddie says:

      You’re right, I’ll get our highly paid blog intern on it right away.Report

      • Avatar Bob says:

        Where may one apply and what are the qualifications for the highly paid internship(s) at the League?

        BTW, I have never been a waitperson, well a bartender in college for a short time if that counts, but the waiters I do know, and that be several, like the job and find the money well above what they could earn at salaried positions. And yes, they kiss a lot of ass, tongue right up the rosebud, but they return for more.

        We are all “wage slaves.”Report

    • Avatar E.D. Kain says:

      Freddie would have been in big trouble with the gods if he had directed this post at a commenter. Our standards apply to interactions between people on the site. If you want to call somebody off-site names have at it. This is a rule which governs on-site interaction only.Report

      • Avatar Bob says:

        Given Freddie’s opening, it seems he is aware that he may be abusing the “rule.” Freddie writes,”I know that, here at the League, and among most decent people, we’d like to believe that the true strength of argument comes from mutual respect, argumentative decorum and a dedication to the exchange of ideas.” But fuck it. He is pissed and he is going to have his say. To hell with “mutual respect” and the other stuff.

        But if vulgar language is allowable when it is directed at those outside the League all well and good. Now I know and any misunderstanding Freddie might have had is also cleared.Report

        • Avatar Freddie says:

          Perhaps you should let it go.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          I suspect that this is “really” about Matoko.

          I’m not a fan of bannings myself but… if there is a line to be drawn, I suppose I could see why Matoko might have fallen on one side of it but Freddie isn’t anywhere near close to it.

          Matoko’s responses wandered to the incoherent far too often for comfort. Now, this isn’t because I felt particularly insulted by her insults, but because I was feeling something akin to “you poor kid” along the continuum between “well, I’m sure her English is my Japanese… wait, English is her first language?” and “Perhaps we do need Socialized Health Care, if only to ensure that those who need meds will always have access to them.”

          It may have a great deal to do with my upbringing but when I read a post filled with abuse that is also filled with grammar errors, spelling errors, and generalized uncanny valley syntax, I feel kind of uncomfortable for the person who posted it. When the abuse is of the nature that the rednecky people in the south (to pick one of her punching bags at random) are oh-so-stupid, I absolutely cringe inside.

          I get the feeling that I was not alone in this.

          Don’t get me wrong. I know that I can be kind of obnoxious with the whole “well, let’s look at this through a libertarian lens” knee jerk response that I tend towards so I can appreciate responding to any given essay with a general thought template with various blanks filled in here or there or whathaveyou… but I like to think that, on occasion, I come up with something that someone else wouldn’t be able to parody. An analogy, an anecdote, an alliteration.

          Matoko’s posts, certainly recently, took the form of “The Republican Party is Dead, They are Racists, They are UAs*, they are Gone and Good Riddance!” which, I suppose, would have been well enough on its own but that eventually turned into pointing out that those who disagreed must be doing so because they were members of those categories as well… which ceases to be fun to watch once the foine, foine hosts of this site get categorized as such despite their own protestations.

          I know from experience that it is possible to ram heads with the Gentlepeeps. I have done so. I look forward to doing so again. Perhaps even tomorrow. Tonight! She wasn’t banned for merely butting heads.

          She was banned for butting heads in such a way that made people wonder if she had actually read their words before she picked up a full head of steam. On top of that, if someone is screaming at you and you aren’t thinking about what they’re saying but “my god, you don’t even have the sense to be ashamed of what you’re doing” after discovering very little meat to the spittle-flecked rant, the banning could well be seen as defense of the quality of the comments… and, let’s face it, there is nothing worse than feeling pity for one’s intellectual sparring partner. It’s fine to feel anger, indignation, even hate. Pity? Oh, lord save us from adversaries that we pity.

          All that to say that I don’t agree with Matoko’s banning… but I think I understand it.

          Or, maybe I overanalyzed it like everything else out there and she got banned for calling the boss a dick after he said “don’t call me a dick”. It could be that too. (It’s a good idea to not call the boss a dick after he tells you to cool down and knock it off.)

          If E.D. could clarify whether Matoko would be, if not welcomed back, allowed back if she endeavored to engage in some light copy editing before hitting submit, I’d like him to explicitly say so.

          At which point… I don’t know what the fundamental problem would be.

          *Unexplained AcronymsReport

  10. Avatar Katherine says:

    I second this. I worked in a restaurant once (dishwasher) and the wait staff there were among the nicest people I have ever met. Obviously you have to be nice and smiley to customers to get tips – one reason I could never do that job – but they were all really friendly to me too, always asking if everything was going okay and trying to cheer me up when I was overworked, even when they must have been walked off their feet.
    And the restaurant I was at shared tips between all the staff. That never really seemed fair – I mean, the wait staff they ones that have to deal with the customers, I figure that’s what they get tips for. I’d prefer manual labour over having to be nice to unpleasant people when I’m worn out or having a bad day.

    And that loophole in the minimum wage laws is truly atrocious. I don’t think Canada has that.Report

    • Avatar Mark says:

      you’re right, they don’t have it in Canada. In Canada, a minimum wage server gets…minimum wage. Plus health care. Plus tips (though they are a bit less generous than tips in the US.) On balance, it works out very much in their favor. In England, waitstaff are often unionized and make real wages – limiting the need to tip; in France, working in a restaurant is most definitely a career. It’s only in the US that “serious people” sneer at the notion that the person who waits on them should make enough money to feed their kids or go to the hospital.Report

    • Avatar Peter Orlov says:

      But then nowhere in the world tips like the US does – and nowhere in the world would staff have the audacity to challenge you about not leaving enough of a tip. So swings and roundabouts, eh?
      Were tips in the US to be truly optional, I’d agree with you. Since they are not, I’m not sure what your point is (other than feeling somehow automatically entitled to a 12-20% uplift to your salary).Report

  11. Avatar Katherine says:

    Reasons why this guy is an asshole:

    1. Waiters and waitresses do not have unlimited time. Maybe they won’t manage to make sure the table is perfectly level, because they’ll have been busy serving people. If they help out when the problem is noticed, that’s good service.

    2. It takes a special kind of pickiness to bother about the precise way a waiter or waitress phrases something. Or the tone of voice in which they name the specials. Or the mentions of their personal favorites (and why the heck not? They’re people, it’s nice to know what other people thinks is good. Of course, this guy clearly doesn’t think the wait staff are people, which is the top reason why he’s an ASSHOLE.)

    How are the wait staff supposed to fix what wasn’t right about a meal? They’re not the cooks, they don’t control things.

    There’s just loads and loads of these – the vast majority of them are NOT sanitary concerns and do NOT concern people being unpleasant or discourteous, and would not be objected to by most of the people in the world, or by 100% of decent people how possess any empathy. The entire list displays a belief that service workers anywhere are not real people with real lives and do not exist for any other reason than your personal gratification.Report

    • Avatar MikeF says:

      Yes, he really does sound like an asshole. That said, I think many of the rules would improve the dining experience – I’d never feel entitled to receive the treatment Buschel lays out, and I’d certainly never ever complain about its absence… but if I knew a restaurant had those rules, it would make me more likely to eat there. Also, more likely to tip extra-generously in recognition that the staff has to deal with an asshole boss.Report

  12. Avatar Marvin says:

    Fight the power Freddie. And in the spirit of what’s fair is fair, I once composed a much shorter list (only four items!) of Things Restaurant Customers Should Never Do:

    • Avatar Katherine says:

      From the article: In most states, we only make $2.13 per hour.

      $2.13 per hour.
      $2.13 per hour.
      $2.13 per hour!

      I hate to generalize about a whole country this way, but what the hell is wrong with America? Couldn’t the Democrats have passed some kind of loophole-less min. wage law by now? Even a ridiculously low one (say, $6/hr) sounds like it would be better than the status quo.

      In BC, btw, the minimum wage is $8/hr (and there’s a $6/hr “training wage” for people without much work experience), and it’s the lowest in Canada. Because here, we tend to think folks other than the “John Galts” of the world are actually human beings and deserve to be treated decently.Report

      • Avatar Katherine says:

        Okay, having done some calculations: if you’re working a full-time job as a waiter/waitress, 52 weeks a year, that’s $4430/yr. If you add on a 15% average tip (which is what I think the normal tip is here, but not that everyone would pay that), that’s $5095/yr. That’s barely enough to eat, never mind rent.Report

        • Your calculation of tip wages is way off the mark; you don’t calculate tips based on the minimum wage, but based on the average customer’s bill. Tips are thus going to pretty much always be the vast majority of any tipped employee’s wages.

          Additionally, the way wage and hour laws work, the $2.13 is not really the minimum wage. Instead, by law a tipped employee’s combined tips+employer wages must equal a minimum $7.25/hour. In determining whether an employee makes minimum wage, the employer is not allowed to count more than $5.12/hour in tips (i.e., the employer must contribute a minimum$2.13/hour of the minimum $7.25/hour).Report

          • Avatar Katherine says:

            Oh, right. That was a dumb mistake. That’s still a ridiculously low amount of money to pay someone, though, in my opinion.Report

            • Avatar E.D. Kain says:

              Katherine – servers often make a great deal more than people in retail or other industries. My wife didn’t make anywhere near great money compared to a lot of other servers in this town, but she often brought home between $15 and $20/hour though this depended on the season, and of course she was only working part time w/out benefits. Still, this isn’t bad compared to a lot of other jobs. Some waiters here only work half the year and spend the other half travelling. At a good restaurant they’re pulling in $600 a night over the weekend plus whatever they make in the week. It really just depends on where you work and seniority. But it’s much, much more lucrative than your calculations would have it. This is why they’re not paid minimum wage. If they were paid minimum wage plus tips people would probably tip them worse.Report

            • Avatar Scott says:

              If they don’t like it, they can always leave and get a new job. I always find it amusing that folks with no skills always complain about their low wages which is why I stayed in school. Not to mention how many wait staff under report their tips and cheat on their taxes?Report

              • Avatar E.D. Kain says:

                Scott – plenty of waiters are highly-educated, actually. And they all cheat on their taxes. Every single one.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Word. I’ve never met one who didn’t.

                You’d think that there would be more Libertarians out there in restaurant-worker land.

                They probably do the thing where they say “the government should provide more services to people who need them” in the left side of their mouth and “the government is not entitled to this money, I earned it!” with their right side of their mouth.Report

              • Avatar Ian M. says:

                Every person cheats on taxes – use tax anyone?Report

              • Avatar Bob says:

                I don’t but more to the point I can’t. Every penny of income is reported and I am unable to itemize so whatever the tax table shows I pay. This is a common situation.

                Would I cheat if I could? “Signs point to yes.”Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Do you fill out the “barter” portion? You know, your bud gives you a case of homebrew in exchange for dogsitting for a week when he goes up to Alaska?

                You realize that you’re ripping off the government when you do stuff like that, right?Report

              • Avatar Bob says:

                I’m not familiar with that provision but does it have a threshold level?

                But no. When I cat sit or clean out the litter box it is done without reward of any sort, well it’s appreciated, by the cat. Is that taxable?

                Oh, wait, I did water a friends garden this summer while he was in Italy. I did take several really tasty tomatoes. Should I declare that as income? But remember I can’t itemize.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I know that there is a “barter” section in the tax code.

                Are you trying to say that those tomatoes would not qualify as “income” as an exchange of goods/services?

                I don’t know that itemizing would preclude you from declaring any income at all.

                Now, I’m one of those crazy libertarians who believes in such things as “a Right to Privacy” and, as such, don’t think that “barter” really qualifies as income.

                I have been told that if I don’t like it, I could move to Somalia.

                Which brings us to the question of whether you plan on declaring those tomatoes as income now that you know that there is a barter section on the tax form.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Er, to clarify, I believe that it is income but I do not believe that my income is any of the government’s business (any more than your non-tomato income is my business).Report

              • Avatar Scott says:

                Then I guess those highly educated waiters can find a new job and stop whining about the low wages, especially if they cheat on their taxes.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                There is nothing worse than insufficiently subservient help.Report

      • Avatar Orion Ferreira says:

        Who is John Galt? 🙂Report

  13. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Within two minutes of meeting a complete stranger at a restaurant, I can usually tell if they have food service experience.

    Or, more precisely, I can tell if they have none whatsoever.

    This guy? None.


  14. Avatar Jill says:

    Why can’t you be the editor at the NY Times? If you were, that piece of crap that Mr. Buschel wrote would never have been published. Well, we cannot undo what has been done, but at least I can derive pleasure from reading your response to BB.

    I hope his restaurant flops!Report

  15. Avatar Ian M. says:

    You know, I would not want to be served by waitstaff under these rules. I like bullshitting with service employees if they’re game. It’s a fine line – they are essentially trapped by the job in a situation where they have to be nice, so it’s easy to force your way into a conversation. But I like talking with my waiter – I like knowing what they think. If I come in repeatedly, we’ve had some discussions and they actually know what I want and should be capable of making personalized recommendations. The list of rules is not trying to improve the restaurant experience, it’s trying to normalize it into one experience with no possibility of actual rapport. I think Freddie was offended by the notion that we all want a sterile dining experience and the tone of the author. The smugness and surety with which he delivers these dehumanizing rules are truly galling.Report

  16. Avatar Ken says:

    As Dave Barry says, “a person who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person.”Report

  17. Avatar Reason60 says:

    Speaking as a former busboy and waiter, I don’t so much have a problem with the rules (who could argue with being clean and courteous?) but one item caught my attention, #7 (“Do not announce your name. No jokes, no flirting, no cuteness”.)
    On a slightly off-topic comment, this is part of the American ambivalence about class and position; we need and want people to serve us, yet feel ashamed and awkward at the reality of class and power and status.
    In fact, waiters aren’t naturally chipper and don’t as a rule get a thrill at telling you that their name is Phil and my don’t you look marvelous today! No, you really don’t inspire that degree of friendliness. Sorry, you really don’t. You are the plate of linguini in table 7.

    The sudden familiarity is an artful facade based on the reasoning that by flirting with the patrons they will get a bigger tip.
    In practice though, this feigned intimacy, this cafe version of the “girlfriend experience” has the subtle effect of tilting the balance of power towards the served, and away from the server.
    It allows the served to feel magnanimous and noble, while forcing the server at the pain of unemployment to return the familiarity.
    When you are serving others, the most difficult thing to maintain is your dignity and control over your circumstances- you are literally at another person’s mercy, and the more the boundaries are erased, the more it feels like your sense of control is robbed from you. The more we pretend that class and power are not real, the more insidious and painful they become.
    In such a world, I believe the British have it right- wearing the stiff uniform of formality, of being called by only your last name, of possessing the power to veil and conceal your personal joys and aches and be able to pick and chose when and to whom you share intimacy is what you crave most.

    So now when I eat out, I don’t chat with the waiter, I don’t pretend that we are friends, I don’t force him to entertain me with clever repartee for the 20th time that night; I simply ask him to get my order correct (which is all I really want), and in return leave a 15% tip (which is all he really wants).Report

    • Avatar Bob says:

      A first time experience with waitstaff is much as you describe. Repeated visits can bring about a closer relationship between patron and server. Yeah, weird, I know. Maybe a mid-west/plains state sort of thing but I bet it is a common experience. And 15% for a tip is downright niggardly, they want at least 20%. I tip 50% because I know what a fucking job it is and the “kids” appreciate it and need it.Report

    • Avatar Orion Ferreira says:

      20 percent these days dude. inflation if you will but most places I’ve worked for charge us waitstaff at least 4 percent of food sales to pay for the busser’s salary. I know it doesn’t sound like a lot but it means that when you should have made $80 in 7 hours of work, you really only walk with $55. (plus, you’re going to spend a good chunk of that 55 bucks on booze to deal with the crap you had to deal with to make that 55 anyhow. On that note: OFF TO THE LIQUOR STORE!Report

  18. I’d like to say that I am shocked, but I’m not. Of course, that doesn’t mean this guy isn’t a douche who deserves to have a stinky finger shoved into his souffle.Report

  19. Avatar Cascadian says:

    I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary in the list for a restaurant oriented toward a business clientele. If it were an upscale restaurant or a family restaurant, no doubt the list would be different.Report

  20. Avatar Peter Orlov says:

    The list is great and – were all waiting staff to follow its recommendations, they’d make a hell of a lot more than they currently do.
    Do not confuse the situation as it really is (I am out with my friends/ clients and want to talk to them (not you) and I am paying you (paying you very well, actually) to provide a service, not be my buddy) with issues of class or anything else. I do not know you and don’t really care for your taste – I am delighted that you love the grouse, but you might also love “Battlefield Earth” and Lifetime movies; there is at least a chance that we have different tastes. If I want companionship, I will go to an escort. If I want food, I’d like to go to a restaurant that is clean, that accomodates my wishes and that serves great food and drink. The service is not the main event – I did not turn up here because of Bob the waiter who likes the shrimp and loves tiramisu; the service is a foil to the food and, as such, it would be great if I didn’t notice it at all. That being impossible, a guide to minimising disruption is appreciated, doubly so since some people seem to find some of these suggestions somehow controversial.Report

    • Avatar Orion Ferreira says:

      I agree with you. We servers should by and large be seen and not heard. However, some customers (like Bruce) are over the top arrogant bastards and will not be tolerated. I am more than happy to provide you and your friends with whatever you require so long as you don’t treat me like a dog turd. Or, if you must spit in my face, give me %30. We’re all professional beggars and whores so pay us as such. If we give you what you want, give us what we want (at least an %18 tip) and if you have to burn us with cigarettes or beat us with a tire iron to get off then give us %30.Report

  21. Hello,
    I just came across your blog and enjoyed it very much. You gave it to that Bruce guy.
    I’m a banquet manager & hope you will enjoy mine. Please visit and let me know what you think.
    So You Want To Be a Banquet Manager
    P.S. I’m NOT gonna piss YOU off.Report

  22. Avatar Dave says:

    I agree with Freddie. Yeah, the guy put in about 20 rules that should be “duh” for a wait staff and even a few that are personal peeves of mine. But he elevates each one to almost felony type importance. And the overall article tone was arrogant and pompus to the extreme. This guy doesn’t want wait staff, he wants dehumanized drone slaves.


    Have you considered the possibility that these rules may be geared to serve a certain type of clientele who expect the waitstaff to perform the functions in this way?

    Nothing on this list seems too far out of whack for upscale NYC restaurants, and this is exactly how I’ve seen the staff do their job when I’ve been in them.

    FWIW, I tip 20% and I’m EXTREMELY courteous to the people who serve me.

    Sure, he can have his rules as an owner. That doesn’t mean some of them aren’t incredibly distasteful. You aren’t allowed to tell someone your name? You aren’t allowed to compliment people? That is class antagonism, I think. And I also do really think that it is a kind of poverty to be so unable to handle little things that you have to freak out on people who are just trying to work.

    Freddie, blame the customer.Report

  23. Avatar Scott says:

    After reading the list, I don’t see what the fuss is about. The restaurant business is hard and everything the staff does can can make a big difference to the patron. I’ll add my own pet peeve which is, if the wait or kitchen staff is short just say so upfront instead of leaving me to wonder what happened to you. I understand that things happen and will not mind if you communicate. That and don’t reach over my plate to grab the drink glass.Report

  24. Avatar Xin Xin says:

    Skimming his list, it’s obvious that Mr. Buschel has not worked in the restaurant industry. Several of his “do-nots” were “must-dos” from restaurant managers whom I’ve worked for. Others are so stupidly silly — do you think we bump into customers’ chairs on purpose, or do you think that by blogging about it we’ll suddenly all gain better balance, and clientele will stop pushing their chairs back?! His ignorance of what it’s actually like to work in a restaurant does not bode well for his new business. Investors beware.Report

  25. Avatar mike says:

    wow…I’m guessing that the fact that you used the word retarded as slang makes you a douche also.Report

  26. Avatar Steve says:

    Bruce Buschel is a fucken turd.Report

  27. Avatar Brian J. says:

    I was employed to a server position for about 2 days. The first day was memorizing the tables location by number along with a few menu items. The second day was live training. During this process, I was accosted with just about the most hideous and dehumanizing treatment no societally contributing human being should have to endure. I quit immediately. I’m here because somehow this chap’s article made it to the front page of Yahoo! (Who decided that?) Unfortunately, I’m not saying all of his advice was bad, yet two points do irk me. Foremost is the fact that he entered in a lot of pet peeves as “rules” and secondly, he was obviously miffed (by a waiter I’d guess, if not simply a result of stewing alone in a dark room somewhere in New York rehashing his every bad restaurant sojourn) soon before he writ it. If someone hasn’t sent him this article, I’d really like to know he has read it. Anyone with an overt bias on a topic is nearly always best to experience the issue from the opposition’s seat. God help us all, we’re all after “legitimate power” and all we wind up getting is a lot of petty authority and miniature power battles to feel better than the next fellow.Report

  28. Avatar Brian J. says:

    P.S. With mention of God, I’m using the term figuratively.

    P.P.S. What’s ironic about power is that it’s only really attainable when functioning as a subordinate. Those who serve, in the sense of benefiting others, are liked by more people, are more supported in that sense and effectively more powerful than the gent who must always be top dog and consequently is silently hated by most everyone.Report

  29. Avatar Gwen says:

    The absolute NERVE of this guy. Let me enlighten you on a few things bruce baby.
    At some places like IHOP (i asked) and many other restaurants you are REQUIRED to say your name. Its a rule or your fired.
    You honestly think servers have TIME to be running in the back steaming labels off of bottles ??
    I HATE the waffle house where the entire staff stops what theyre doing looks up and says WELCOME !! I refuse to go there just because of that .
    Offer a free drink ? We dont OWN the place ! I’ve never worked anywhere including even lousy pizza hut where they let you give away anything for free for something like waiting.
    Two lobsters left ? I dont eat lobster but believe me , if there are 4 of us and only 2 items left Id rather be told than to , when the server comes, be told we have to change our orders . TWO left ? great tell us.
    Never refuse to serve one veg for another ??? If we are not ALLOWED to do that what do you suggest we do ? Beat up the owner ?
    I dont WANT an empy plate sitting in front of me I dont care if there are 10 other people , take my plate.
    If I used a new glass for every customer at pizza hut where I worked where we had LIMITED glasses, NO one would even GET a glass after 5pm.
    Move your chair in or lose weight , if I bump your chair it was an ACCIDENT I didnt do it ON PURPOSE , shoot me !!
    Never reek from perfume or cigarettes ? How about telling patrons that. And how about telling them NOT to blow smoke into a pregnant servers face.
    Sometimes NO PROBLEM fits the situation.
    Sometimes you get the customer an item QUICKER if you dont have to CONSULT the order. Alot of times if 3 people had birch beer and one had pespsi , its impossible to remember who had what by looking at the order, especially if its NOT your table and you are refilling a glass for another server.
    Mentioning a fav dessert is small talk chatter, customers have no problem chatting me up Im going to chat them right back up. Sometimes it fits the conversation. NOT everyone works in FORMAL resaurants.
    Sorry bruce but what you dont know about servers is ALOT and these posters here I cant even say all names scott, brian, etcc…. because they are ALL intelligent posts deserve a pat on the back . I hope no one will be hurt by this article, you could have done alot of damage here bruce . Ever see this guy ? Hes old and I doubt hes EVER worked in the business in the present day.Report

    • Avatar Orion Ferreira says:

      The more of these I read, the more I’m inclined to track down Bruce and wait on him… just for the sheer pleasure of wiping his steak on the bottom of my calloused foot.Report

  30. Avatar texas says:

    Bruce is a turd. Some of the shit in his manifesto is common knowledge in the art of executing service in a fine dining restaurant. Some of what he’s demanding is flat out wrong. Great service is an art form, and is full of tiny details. Professional servers know all of the intricate details that make for a fantastic dinner service, and we know how to finesse each of them according to each guests needs. The point of the ‘steps of service’ is that it puts your guests at ease so they can relax, enjoy their dinner and their friends.

    Any professional server worth her salt will run as far away from this jackass as fast as possible because he has no idea what the hell he’s talking about. Steaming a label from a wine bottle is absurd and any sommelier would agree. Selling a bottle of water increases revenue for both the owner and the server; why wouldn’t he want that? A good waiter knows how to sell these things in such a way that the guest is quite happy to part with his money.

    A successful restaurant needs professionals who know what they are doing, and no professional server would put up with this kind of condescending tripe. They have put years into honing their craft, and they have the knowledge and experience to do their jobs well. A great server also knows how to enjoy the work, it can be quite rewarding in ways beyond the money. Serious, professional servers are in demand. Bruce doesn’t stand a chance of employing a single one of them. Why would they want to work for such a disrespectful cocksucker who’s trying to reinvent the wheel with this list of demands that are hurtful to the flow of dinner service, decrease profit margin, and create a hostile work environment?Report

  31. Avatar Eugene says:

    Found this blog via the miracle of Google blog search!

    You may be pleased to hear that it comes right at the top of the search rankings. I can’t begin to say how happy and grateful I am. Freddie you nailed it sir!

    Your rant made my day. That, and re-reading the restaurant scene (“DEATH NEW YORK STYLE”) in Tom Wolfe’s Bonfire of the Vanities.Report

  32. Avatar Dave B says:

    bravo. what an absolute fucking tool. he realizes that we will never eat again without spit or worse in his food. hey bruce, you ass, you are in an industry where YOU DON’T HAVE TO PAY YOUR WORKERS. the customer takes care of it. so why don’t you go fuck yourself.Report

  33. Avatar Orion Ferreira says:

    I’ve (sadly) worked in the food service industry for 7 years now. I have done it all: short order cook, bar back, busser, waiter, expediter, disher, manager, delivery driver, supervisor, bar tender…. etc. You name it, I’ve slinged it. This @$$hole that thinks he can come into my EMPIRE and tell me how to do my job is a prick. Granted, I am one of the most sanitary, unobtrusive, and well mannered people you will ever have the pleasure of carrying food too you that you are too boring to cook for yourself; but I have a mean streak (and I’m not alone here) that stretches for miles when a douche bag like this floats through the door of the establishment that employs me. I personally extend not only great service to any guest that is not a complete tool, but I fully encourage any co-worker of mine to do the same. If someone gets stressed I remind them that “hey, it’s only food so chill out.” and they immediately calm down and provide a better quality of service to their guests. 9 times out of 10 this is the case.
    Not only do I wash my hands religiously I never handle food and money at the same time. I recommend to my guests the specials only when they allow me to do so. Yes I do push desert because if you’re going out to have a nice meal, you might as well sit at my table a little longer, have some superfluous sugar-laden treat and indulge yourself. I do if I can.
    All in all eating out is expensive and everyone knows this no matter what you buy. The cheapest thing on the menu is still marked up 300%. Hell, to fill a glass with soda literally costs any establishment 8 cents and we sell it to you for 2.50. A pint of beer costs us 37 cents and you pay 4 or 5 bucks. It’s a known fact. Now, why do people pay obscene amounts of money for things they can get at any grocery store? Because someone is going to kiss your ass and hope you give them a tip for it.
    Yes, I will tell you my name, it makes the experience more personal. Hell, I’ve had guests hug me before and in future visits ASK FOR ME BY MY GODDAMN NAME! Why? Because I made your boring, plastic life more fun with my mere presence. Did I save your child from a burning car? No. Did my suggestion that you try the seafood really destroy your night because it costs $5 more than the crap you were going to order that I know personally, as someone that eats everything on the menu nightly? No. What I did was to direct you into a better night of dining. More bang for your buck if you will.
    I’ve got an IQ of 133, I’m a master carpenters apprentice, I understand and play with metallurgy, leather working, and small engine repair. I’ve been reading books on physics and mechanics since the age of 5 and graduated to quantum physics when I was 13. In high school I was the director of shipping for a multi-million dollar corporation (that will remain nameless) and in college I was told by a professor that I was more well read than she could ever be (although, she did teach and continued to teach honors level classes at one of the BIG 12 schools for 20 years prior and God knows how long since).
    Suffice it to say I am working below my true potential. However, I do love what I do and anyone and everyone that I have ever spoken to that works in the industry has a couple of things in common:
    1) They know or will quickly learn what the f*** they are doing to make their guests happy.
    2) Some of the most interesting people I have ever met, with the best stories, the most life experience, and general good will have been those that have had to suffer through carrying food to boring and mediocre clowns like Bruce. That fake “gimmie a tip” smile we all know isn’t practice or a facade. It’s a suit of armor. And like our common chimp ancestor if you piss us off we’re not opposed to biting through your femoral artery. Which brings me to point #3.
    3) DON’T EVER SCREW WITH SOMEONE IN FOOD SERVICE!!!! Yes we will treat you above and beyond reproach. As long as you agree to treat us with some small modicum of respect. If you decide to behave like some four year old screaming child, don’t be surprised if your drink stays empty through your meal. We already know you’re useless to us and we’re not getting a tip so you can take a flying leap. We bust our asses tending to you along side 4 other tables full of monkeys for 2.13 an hour in the hopes that you’ll be gracious enough to give us a little boost because you were too tired/ run down by the world / had had enough / take a mini vacation… whatever. You come to my place of WORK to escape from your drudgery and I’ll literally wait on you hand and foot for an hour or so if you’ll only be kind enough to give me a couple of dollars, and not be a COMPLETE AND UTTER TWAT!
    My current place of employment is a no-nonsense upscale establishment that treats me very well and the guests, expecting a high caliber of service provide me with amicably easy people to serve to with very little B.S. There is only a very tiny amount of screwing with the guests if they are obtrusive, needy, pathetic, maggots. This is not the case at all places of dining. In fact I have worked at many of these that do not take kindly to those that will subject the workers to unnecessary machinations and have personally partaken in the almost orgiastic joy of doing despicable things to the “food” you ingest. So keep that in mind Bruce. Along with the rest of you.

    The industry is full of people eager to please you for a couple of bucks a head, but if you are going to upset us to the Nth degree, we’re ultimately in charge of EVERY LAST THING YOU TOUCH AND EAT WHILE YOU’RE IN OUR KINGDOM!

    Thank you and have a nice day.Report

  34. Avatar Valerie says:

    “Few things are more frustrating than a bowl of hot soup with no spoon.” Wow. What a clueless miserable POS. Why don’t you get out in the real world, “resto-blogger”, where there are numerous things more frustrating than a momentary pause between shoveling gobs of freshly prepared food into your maw, like perhaps an empty bowl, because you’re starving in a hellish, drought-ridden corner of the world utterly forgotten about resto-bloggers who require 100 rules in order to enjoy a meal. I hope this guy gets food poisoning and dies. Seriously. Dear Santa, Kill Bruce Buschel.Report

  35. Avatar HKK says:

    This is a fantastic list of “rules” that any server/bartender/host/sommelier should follow in a AAA Five Diamond restaurant. This would be ridiculous at a chain restaurant/bistro, I agree. A diner that pays upwards of $100 a head should expect all of these things and more. Wouldn’t you? These are basic etiquette, gracious serving tips to consider. And BTW, many staffers that work in environments that abide by these guidelines do extend health benefits, 401K, and make a considerable weekly income. The best servers have worked very hard to earn this.Report

  36. Avatar Scott says:

    I saw this today and had to dredge this thread up:

    I guess some college students refused to pay the extra tip for large parties after the poor service.

  37. Avatar R.O. says:

    I have been waiting tables for over 23 years and work in a high end restaurant in the Hamptons. The cleanliness rules are automatic. There are some rules that are utterly ridiculous. We have customers that come in 2-3 times a week and pay us for the attention. They request their favorite servers, treat us like family. We know about their lives, and they can’t wait to introduce their friends and family to us. THAT is good business. Make people feel at ease and they become repeat customers, generation after generation. We are professional throughout. There is a difference between a side job for drinking money and a “professional”. A man tonight actually tried to ‘school’ me on service because he had read this idiots’ blog. *Never ask if the customer wants change, just bring it.* Well, I always ask because sometimes they want one third in cash the rest on a card. Or, cash as the tip, the bill on a card. Sometimes they want you to take it all, and if you bring back the change, they think it is a comment on how much they tipped. This isn’t speculation, this is 23 years of hard labor talking. I had to put this customer right, because he came in 25 minutes late for his reservation, didn’t call and we had already closed the kitchen. The chef decided to keep it open just until he ordered and then he sat and ate as slow as possible (no exaggeration) with NO ONE in the dining room for 2 hours. He held us hostage and then tried to make himself feel better by trying to be elitist. We are servers, we suggest, we deliver, we try to make your meal comfortable, effortless and enjoyable. What isn’t our job is to take abuse because you feel impotent in your life. So, before you criticize our service, take a look at your own conduct first. And, please, chew with your mouth closed!Report

  38. Avatar peter matthiessen says:

    This is an absurd post. Bruce Buschel is a hard working writer. If anyone did their reserach they would know he was in fact a waiter for many years. That he got this restauraunt off the ground, in the town where he lives year round, is a credit to a decade of dilligence on his part.Report

    • Avatar tom van dyke says:

      Dunno who Bruce Buschel is, but I hate to see anybody douchebagged. It’s the sort of thing douchebags do to people who have something to say.

      There’s a teabagging analogy to be drawn here, that only a douchebag would teabag, etc.

      I googled “Bruce Buschel” for meself to see what this is all about, but if I stick 2 links in, my post gets douchebagged by the anti-spam filter. So google Bruce Buschel for yrself. Seems like an OK fellow, not a douchebag.Report

    • Avatar Ian M. says:

      This makes it so much more surprising that he wrote such a douchey article.Report