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Sunday, November 17, 2013

expert mama - Sarah Gammon - bartender/server

Thanks to Sarah Gammon for sharing her awesome tips for surviving restaurant outings with your little ones, as she's an Expert Mama working in the field as a bartender (wish all servers would get the bill ready ASAP, great ideas!)

1. How many kids do you have and what are their names? 
We have three beautiful children. Nathaniel will be 4 in January, MacKenzie will be 3 in May, and Janelle is 7 months old as of the 10th of November  

2. Where do you work? 
I work at the Texas Roadhouse in Newington, NH as a bartender. However I have served there and at many other great, and not so great, restaurants in the seacoast. 

3. What are some great things about your job? 

I LOVE my job. I love the fact that I get paid to literally talk to people. 

As a bartender, generally people actually want to talk to you and get to know you. That is the whole point of making regulars I have people that come in to chat about my kids and theirs and the challenges we face in daily life. 

It's a great way to vent about a rough day, but also humble you and realize that your life isn't the only difficult one...others just have different issues, but everyone's lives are challenging for them. 

4. What are some challenging things about your job? 
People are always the most challenging aspect of my job. Making drinks and serving dinners are not exactly rocket science, however they are vital and have to be done while wearing a huge smile on your face...even when you want to punch said person in the face because they have nitpicked every aspect of their experience...right down to the appropriate amount of peanuts in their HUGE bucket. 

5. What is your advice to everyday parents going out to a meal in a restaurant with their children? What can they do to make it go smoothly? 
Don't allow your children to dictate what happens at dinner. I hate it that parents allow certain behaviors out in public that would NEVER fly at home. Maybe you really do allow Jim Bob to throw his mac and cheese all over the floor at home, but out in civilization it is rude. 

Also don't get offended when the server brings you the child's drink in a restaurant issued kid cup because it is against health codes for the server to fill your cup out back. Some servers will do it, but it isn't allowed and I will blatantly refuse to do so. 

Also, 99% of restaurants don't carry the special vegan organic food that you are told you NEED to feed your child. We mainly carry hot dogs, mac and cheese, grilled cheese, and chicken fingers. If you want special food then either eat at home or a restaurant that caters to that. 

Also don't ignore your child while you are out to eat. That is the easiest way to have a temper tantrum meltdown of epic proportions. 

Also a simple please and thank you from the PARENTS goes a long shows the kids what is polite and correct, but also will make the server happy to get you the 90000 napkins you asked for. 

6. Are there things you as a server try to do to make sure parents with kids enjoy their meal out in public? 

I always treat their child like a person. I don't like it when I go out to eat and my kids get ignored and neither do they. I always talk to the child directly and will defer to the parents if the kids want something that is not allowed. 

I will NOT serve your child soda unless the parent okays it. Kids are not to be ignored, but parents also need to step up and guide them in healthy choices. 

I also ALWAYS have a check printed for the table as soon as I ring in the meals because I know that sometimes the children will have a meltdown and it sucks waiting for a busy server to deliver the bill when you have 3 kids pulling in 3 different directions. 

7. What is your advice for meals parents should choose for their kids while dining out? (stick with same old, try something new, share a meal between siblings, etc.)? 
If you are going to share food with your child that is fine. However, inform the server of the choice. That way the server can bring extra plates and other things needed so that the child can eat too. I think if the child is adventurous with food then trying new things is good, however my kids love the normal routine foods. 

 8. Do most servers think parents should clean up their kids' messes (under high chairs, on table, etc.) before they leave, or leave that all for the server? (I ALWAYS try to pick up after my kids while out, just wondered if servers notice or care?) 
If you are going to leave a huge mess under your table, PLEASE tip accordingly. If I receive a 20% tip, or more, and there is a huge mess I am not going to complain. However if you leave a 10% tip or less and expect us to clean up the mountain that you left, then I guarantee that you will be remembered and your service will probably not be as prompt next time. I have never done that, but I know many servers that will. We are not stupid and we are not your servants. 

We make 3.00 an hour so we survive on your tips...please remember that when it takes us an extra 30 minutes to clean your table after the huge mess where we could have had another table sat in that time frame. 

9. What do you hope working as a mom teaches your own kids about what type of person you are? 
I hope that my kids will continue to understand that it takes work to get the things they need. I bust my ass, as does my husband, to make sure that they have everything. I just don't want them to think that they will have a free ride. I knew the value of work at a young age and I'm hoping that they will too. Would I rather be a stay at home mom? ABSOLUTELY!!! But that is not in the cards that was dealt for my family and I am okay with that. 

10. Do you enjoy your job and want to stay there for a while, or do you have other job interests for your future? 
I would love to use my degree eventually and teach, but we made the decision when we had our children that we would be the ones raising them. I am not talking down to people who opt for daycare. I am just saying what works for my family. I don't have a job that pays me $60,000 a yr so I can afford daycare even if it was an option. I make way less than that and would be working solely for childcare. That doesn't work in my house so I work nights and my husband works days. Our families are gracious enough to help out for the overlap of a couple hours so our family is helping us raise our angels. Once they are all in school I plan on finding a day job to take care of them, but still be able to go to all of their sport/music events.

11. Anything else you want to add?  
Enjoy every second, even the bad ones, because it all goes by way too fast

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