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Thoughts, observations, and introspections from an art student waiter/bartender in South Beach. Arcane humor ensues.
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:: Sunday, August 10, 2008 ::

:: Job Hunting. Again. ::
Didn't it just feel like I was out looking for a job and trying to get acclimated to working at a new restaurant?

Well the rumors about Swanky Trendy Restaurant closing proved to be true, only it happened much later than any of us expected. We all knew it was coming. The owners are planning on putting all their resources into opening a new high-end steakhouse just across the street and they didn't want to the competition. When I first heard the rumor, it was early May, then late May, then it became late June. Some of the staff found other jobs, few of the guys stayed. Jed stuck around since his employment is guaranteed at this new place and he'll be grandfathered in as the head waiter.

Otherwise, the few of us left kept working as if nothing happened. There was a lot of talk about when we'll close and whether or not we wanted to help open the new place. A few wanted in. I was split, though leaning towards "nah" mostly because the GM is a colossal douchbag and I can't stand the idiot. What most of us were worried about was the amount of time between the old place closing and the new place opening. Ideally there wouldn't be more than two weeks so we wouldn't be strapped for cash but construction in Miami is perpetually delayed. I finally heard that there would be a three-week gap, which anyone who's familiar with the area would know that translates to four weeks to three months.

Management tried to keep this under wraps but this was the worst kept secret in a long history of worst kept secrets. The thinking was just in case the staff might be tempted to snatch a bottle of wine or something, which was utter bullshit (I prefer Scotch). I had a feeling that night was close to being our last since we were 86 half the wine list, Bacardi, several high-end vodkas and we were down to four bottles of sparkling water. The timing was a little odd since we had over 300 covers the night before, and we were consistently busy. That Sunday, I sold over $2000 without breaking a sweat and walked home with almost half my rent.

The asshole GM, who knew we were closing, went so far as to print out fake schedules for the following week. I couldn't help but laugh at this but I'm just happy not to be working for that pile of human garbage any more so I wasn't too broken up when I got the call from him the next day that Swank was "officially closed for business." He said he'd call me and let me know when the new place is ready but in the meantime I have a "three week vacation." Great, I thought. He's gonna call me in September. I had about three months worth of savings so I wasn't too worried.

Right after he called I went on Craigslist and started looking. I found a few postings for good places, one of those being a well-established steakhouse. They were holding interviews the next day at 2pm. I updated my resume and printed some out that night. I looked up steakhouse's website and did a little research about the history, menu, wine list, etc.

I get dressed and show up at 2:00 exactly. There's already about eight people ahead of me and I wonder if I should have arrived sooner. I start filling out my application, which didn't include a food and wine quiz (which I hoped for since I now know wine regions in France and Italy... thanks again Joo). The GM starts the interviews about 5 minutes later and the first few applicants are in and out in less than three minutes each. I was a little worried at first since I'm not sure if I'll be able to sell myself in such short a time. I find out later that the first few were fresh off the boat girls who were either under-qualified or tried to get hired by showing a lot of cleavage.

It's finally my turn. I'm nervous. I introduce myself, and he looks over my resume. You worked at [Swank]? That's a good place, why are leaving?” Because they closed. "Really?!"

We talk a little about my experience there, and I give him the highlights. He scans further down and sees I have bar experience which is good because he expects me to pick up a bar shifts, which would be really cool. We discuss my wine knowledge, which is decent. I know my Californians, some Australian, New Zealand and a little French, but they have an extensive Italian selection. No problem, I could learn.

He asks if I could come back later in the day to talk to the floor manager so he could get an impression of me which I'm fine with, since any sort of second interview is a good step (though I've been asked back before and that didn't work out so I wasn't overly enthralled). Just then the floor manager walks in. The GM asks me to hang out for a little bit to see if we can just do it now. Of course. (What else was I gonna say?)

After a few minutes, the FM introduces himself and we talk. He goes a little more in-depth with the food - I passed the impromptu steak quiz - and wine but he's also responsible for the bar so he ask me questions about liquor and mixed drinks. I know how to make all the popular drinks (cosmos, mjoitos, manhattans, etc.) but he seemed impressed with my knowledge of whiskies. "I'm glad you mentioned this because I've worked with some people who were waiters for over five years and they couldn't name me one Single-malt Scotch."

The interview ends and we all shake hands and they tell me that I'll hear from them by Friday. Great, I think. Solid interview, but I've heard that before. I'm only one of the first few applicants. They're doing interviews until four and then they'll do it all again Thursday so with all the available help out there, they might find someone more qualified. Still, I'm cautiously optimistic and I feel pretty good the rest of the day. I spend the rest of the week looking mostly online since this time of year it's hard to find work because it's slow everywhere. I interview at a sports bar and I send out my resume to several places but most of them don't seem promising.

I get a call Friday and it's the GM of the steakhouse. I'm in. I start my training on Monday at 4pm sharp. When I hang up, I clap my hands and do a couple of fist pumps. AWESOME. I don't have to look for a job any more and I missed only one week of work (well, two if you count training).

I enjoy the rest of the weekend and look forward to my new job. That's in the next post.

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:: Miscellaneous Ramblings by Dan-E at 9:20 PM [+] :: | 0 comments

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