Come! Enjoy your movie in the luxury of a recliner! No sticky floors! $7 for a ticket! Unless you order it online to make sure you HAVE a seat when you get there, then it’s $13. Unless you have our rewards card so you can order on line and get it for $7. And that’s not all! In every theater before the previews start, you get an advertisement for the Bistro Theater…4 theaters in the complex where they bring the food TO you! You want to see an early movie, but you hesitate because you either have to have dinner at 4:00, buy dinner on the way in at 5:00 and hope they’re not so busy that you’re late and cannot get a ticket (unless, of course you already have your ticket…see above) or you wait until 10:00 when the movie gets out and have Taco Bell right before you go to bed. Taco Bell at 10 pm can have unfortunate consequences. The Bistro solves all those problems! TaDAAAA!
“Be sure to get here and order from our chef-inspired menu and have the wait staff bring the food to you in the theater! You want more to drink or another dessert? Push the call button and have your payment ready.” The food on the screen looks like something out of the gourmet chef shows on the food network. It’s beautifully plated on square plates and artfully drizzled with just the right amount of sauce. That’s a lot of effort for a chicken sandwich.
When you go to the ticket counter and pick out your seat, the cashier says, “Hey! and you’re in the Bistro so you can skip the concession lines and just order from your seat! Enjoy your movie!” Woohoo! So you go to the theater, find your seat, get comfy and wait for the server to get to you. Theater is nearly empty because you did arrive 30 min before the show as they suggest when going to a bistro movie.
Dum de dum de dum…no wait staff IN the theater. 7 guys and 2 old ladies are sitting there playing the screen games and they already have their food. Silly people. They do not have chef-inspired cuisine to munch on before the movies starts. Still no wait staff. Hmmm. Press the call button. The theater darkens. The two actions are not related, but seem ominous. The server sure enough comes to your chair and pushes your call button so it goes off and asks for your order. By this time, you’ve forgotten what you wanted to eat and it’s too dark to read the menu. “I’ll have chef-inspired popcorn with buttery topping please…small, and a bottle of your Blue Mountain Dew.” “What flavor is the blue mountain dew?” “I don’t know, it’s blue. I don’t buy it for the name. Find the Mountain Dew in your cooler and if it’s blue, that’s it.” “Do you have your rewards card?” “Yup and here’s my payment,” and I hand him my debit card. Why debit card? Because remember it’s dark and I cannot now see my money. He processes my card, prints out the receipt for me to sign, hands me his pen and runs off, leaving me with the receipt and the pen.
He doesn’t come back. “Yoo Hoo?” I must be in an action/adventure movie because all the previews are super heroes and dystopian futures and incredible rescues from disasters. Dum de dum de dum. 10 min into previews. Still hasn’t picked up the receipt or his pen. I hit the call button again. 2 servers walk by me and ignore me with food for other people. Remember those 7 guys and the 2 little old ladies? They are looking at me with pity and those eyes that say, “Silly person! You could have had your chef-inspired popcorn and your drink when you came in and would have consumed most of the popcorn by now…and it would have been HOT popcorn…” I’m so foolish. I press the call button again. He shows up and wants to know if I want to add to my order. I say no but here’s your pen and the receipt…thought you might need it.
It occurs to me that maybe the servers are on some sort of reality show. They have to get the orders from the patrons, go to the kitchen, prepare the chef-inspired delicious hamburgers, nachos, and fries to order (there are no substitutions) and get them out to the patrons Gordon Ramsey style. “You ^(*&%*&( idiot! You can’t plate that hamburger like that! Redo that!” and then throws the food on the floor. “But Gordon! It’s dark! They don’t even know if I got their orders right!” “Oh right then. Put the sloppy mess back on the plate and get it out of here…scrape off the dirt and such.” Meanwhile, the previews are over, and it’s last call for orders. One server in the whole theater, and call buttons lit up all over. It gives an eerie blue glow about the room. I have now been in the theater for 40 min.
Once again the screen lights up to tell us that next time we should arrive 30 min before the show so we can have our chef-inspired pizza and beer brought to us and I think, “It really doesn’t take that long to put popcorn in a bag and grab a bottle does it?” The movie starts. The ship is blown to smithereens, the bad guys are throwing debris about with a wave of their hands and monstrous mountains with vaguely human features are wielding building-sized weapons to threaten our heroes. At least I think so. In the first 15 min of the movie, there have been 8 servers walking between me and the screen delivering food to OTHER customers in the dark. How can they see the seat numbers? AHHHH! Finally! Here’s my chef-inspired popcorn and dew. It’s the latest in movie cuisine–like iced coffee and cold soup (Vichyssoise). Room temperature popcorn.
In a restaurant, 1 server can work with 12-16 customers. Ideally then, this bistro should have about 5-7 servers. They should stand near their sections and greet you when you find your seat. All the orders should be taken while the lights are still on. If you have a party of 4 with dinner-type orders and a person by himself with a small snack order, you put in the order to the kitchen for the dinners, and grab the snack and the drink on your way back to the theater and serve the single. As your section fills up, you take orders from the newcomers. Put in the dinner orders, check on previous orders and pick up the drinks and deliver those to the people who have ordered. Return to kitchen and pick up any dinner orders that have been completed. Take orders from recently seated people. Put in new orders at kitchen, check to see if any orders are filled and ready to deliver. If not, get the drinks out. Go back to kitchen grab filled orders and deliver, repeat. And as always, if you have a drink/snack order, get it out immediately. The only people you should be taking orders from after the lights go out are the latecomers.
If you are going to run 4 bistros in a theater, you’d DAM well better have a big kitchen and plenty of cooks. You have to serve 240 customers in 30 min or less.
I’m going to order my chef-inspired popcorn and Blue Dew at the counter from now on.