Dish Pit and Servers

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Joined Jan 20, 2015
Hello fellow chefs,
I'm wondering what the situation is like in your restaurants and your expectations of the service staff when it comes to dirty plates.

My situation: We are a fairly large restaurant (300 seats). I've been in a battle with the F.O.H. for a couple of years now (yes years :lol:). The staff stack their dishes like: plate, silverware, plate, silverware..etc. and then sticks that into the pit to get washed, sometimes with paper garbage as well. I have been asking them (for years) to separate their silverware into the soaking bin, and to throw the garbage away (not even asking them to scrape the food in the bin, just the paper). The managers find this unreasonable. They say that the staff will get dirty. Not only do I want the service staff to do this to make the dishwashers job easier, as it is a thankless job for not enough money, but because we also have so much breakage just from the teetering of the wares.

My question is: 1) am I being unreasonable in expecting the staff to separate their silverware from their plates and place the silverware in the soaking bin?
2) what is your situation like? Do servers separate their dishes in your restaurant?
3) How do you get your managers to get on board?

Thanks all.
Drew
 
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Unless you have termination authority over the wait staff, there's really very little you can do to get them to comply with what you want, unless, of course, they do so willingly.

I'm retired now, but, when I was active, the entire restaurant was my domain. I didn't have the bureaucratic dissonance that often arises between kitchen management and restaurant "managers." So, if I wanted something a certain way, I made it happen.

However, to my mind, I think your situation screams of a much larger problem. If you are the executive chef as your profile indicates, why are you not the final word in what happens in your kitchen? If the restaurant managers are not allowing you to have that proper authority, perhaps you should think about working somewhere else?

Good luck. :)
 
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You are absolutely correct. FOH managers should know this and fully support the system. Every decent successful restaurant I've worked in does this in one form or another. I'm wondering where the owners are and how FOH explain the need to constantly buy new plates and silverware. Somewhere there is an appropriate area for quickly scraping the dishes clean into a trash can, placing all silverware in a separate container and stacking dishes correctly. If there isn't, then they should be helping set up such an area. This isn't just about the dishwashers.
The silverware can be put into a dry empty container if the soak is splashing up on the staff but separating if from the plates isn't a big a deal and helps keep the silverware from ending up in the trash. Broken dishes are everyone's concern so they get stacked. This should be very obvious.
Everyone needs to recognize any ongoing problems faced by any other members of the team and work together to improve the overall operation, especially management.
 
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That's abhorrent, honestly. Your FoH are a bunch of monsters. I bet if any of them spent an hour in the dish pit of that place they'd be crying.

I would frame it as a respect issue. The dishwashers are here to do a job, yes, but they aren't your slaves. They need to be respected as much as anyone else in the restaurant (as any chef will tell you a good dishwasher is paramount to a smooth running restaurant) and stacking dirty, unsorted plates with trash on them is unacceptable. Imagine what it would be like if they switched roles for a shift?

To me, that is like, fundamental type stuff for a restaurant.
 
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Sorry but I do not agree at all. Wait staff have a hard enough time as it is waiting tables, that is their job.
Bus staff or servers clear tables and the dish pit washes dishes. Man I can't believe this OP is whining about their job.
 
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From what I remember we always set up the bus stations with a garbage can for scraps and paper napkins. There we also bus tubs for plates, a 5 gal bucket for beverage/liquid waste and glass racks for dirty glasses. We also had a smaller container with soaking liquid for silverware. This is the right way of doing things and would be set-up this way when the restaurant opened.
Now teach an old dog new tricks is another thing. If you haven't changed it by now it's not going to happen. There is a lot of running and moving fast in a 300 seat busy restaurant. If the FOH doesn't see this as a problem then there isn't a problem. You can only manage the people under you. Don't get frustrated over things you can't control. In a perfect world your request would be adhered to......

P.S. don't go to the company Christmas party. Take your dishwasher out for a steak dinner.

Another P.S. This is why there is only one Boss on a farm. If I Managed the back of the house and the Bull managed the front, I would get nothing but Bullshit.
 
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My question is: 1) am I being unreasonable in expecting the staff to separate their silverware from their plates and place the silverware in the soaking bin? no
2) what is your situation like? Do servers separate their dishes in your restaurant? every place I have worked
3) How do you get your managers to get on board? directive from managers boss
 
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Joined Nov 2, 2016
Hello fellow chefs,
I'm wondering what the situation is like in your restaurants and your expectations of the service staff when it comes to dirty plates.

My situation: We are a fairly large restaurant (300 seats). I've been in a battle with the F.O.H. for a couple of years now (yes years :lol:). The staff stack their dishes like: plate, silverware, plate, silverware..etc. and then sticks that into the pit to get washed, sometimes with paper garbage as well. I have been asking them (for years) to separate their silverware into the soaking bin, and to throw the garbage away (not even asking them to scrape the food in the bin, just the paper). The managers find this unreasonable. They say that the staff will get dirty. Not only do I want the service staff to do this to make the dishwashers job easier, as it is a thankless job for not enough money, but because we also have so much breakage just from the teetering of the wares.

My question is: 1) am I being unreasonable in expecting the staff to separate their silverware from their plates and place the silverware in the soaking bin?
2) what is your situation like? Do servers separate their dishes in your restaurant?
3) How do you get your managers to get on board?

Thanks all.
Drew

Sounds like you need to have a "Coming to Jesus" meeting. Who runs the Kitchen, the Chef or FOH staff? If someone comes into the kitchen, and thinks they "run" things, it is a recipe for disaster. I can't imagine telling the Chef "sorry, I might get my hands dirty by DOING MY JOB....."

Having worked on both sides, Line and FOH, I learned that the Chef runs the kitchen, period. If the management won't back that, then they can find another person to run the back of house.
 
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Is it only servers or do you have bussers? For 300 seats it would seem like you would have staff specifically for this task.
 
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An internecine conflict has been the downfall of every empire, and most restaurants.
Couldn't agree more, especially since I googled internecine, and now know what it means. Cool... new word... expanding my vocabulary...love it, thanks (sincerely). Now returning to our regular programming...the conflict is doing nothing but driving home the idea of a division between FOH/BOH. There isn't a we in sight.
 

pete

Moderator
Staff member
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Joined Oct 7, 2001
In every place I have ever worked the Chef was either the top dog, or second only to the GM. That meant that any and all managers were underneath the Chef, in the hierarchy, and thus did what he requested.

Also every place I ever worked it was the responsibility of FOH (either busser, or if we didn't have bussers, the server) to properly stack their plateware at the dish pit. That meant, silverware went into the tub and, at the very least, paper goods were put into the trash. In some places, servers/bussers even scraped plates, but I don't feel that is there job.
 
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It is absolutely someone in the front of house's responsibility to clear plates of any debris and stack them, as well as separating silverware to another container. Each restaurant has their own system but I've never worked anywhere that it wasn't expected.
 
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Joined Mar 18, 2008
That's abhorrent, honestly. Your FoH are a bunch of monsters. I bet if any of them spent an hour in the dish pit of that place they'd be crying.

I would frame it as a respect issue. The dishwashers are here to do a job, yes, but they aren't your slaves. They need to be respected as much as anyone else in the restaurant (as any chef will tell you a good dishwasher is paramount to a smooth running restaurant) and stacking dirty, unsorted plates with trash on them is unacceptable. Imagine what it would be like if they switched roles for a shift?

To me, that is like, fundamental type stuff for a restaurant.
I think the servers should rotate in 1 day a week rotation for each so 30 days 1 shift or 2 shifts but make it sure they get a lynch or dinner on varied days so each person will get a busy day or not and a slow one as well.
Just my b $.02 Matt
 
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even with bus help, it's inevitable that wait staff will bus tables now and then. In my restaurants, I valued all the various job categories, and worked with my staff and management to insure that no one was abused. A good dish man is worth his weight in gold, as are good wait staff and bussers. Team work, helping others, and not so many rules help. A well run restaurant should be fun to work in and financially rewarding to all. Having as little conflict as possible goes a long way toward achieving those goals.
 
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