Restaurants Cut Busboys to Save

At least one chain in California has eliminated busboys to save money

Here's one more reason it's probably a bad time for an actors strike in Los Angeles, or anywhere else for that matter.

In an effort to cut costs, many restaurants are doing away with busboys, employment that surely ranks high as the off-set job type for many members of the Screen Actors Guild.

Yeah, yeah. Tom Cruise only played a waiter. I know. But, besides Tom Cruise there are more than 122,000 members of SAG, many of whom spend their time between gigs working in actual restaurants, far from the glare of klieg lights and cameras.

The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that at least one restaurant chain in California and Nevada -- Sammy's Woodfired Pizza -- has already eliminated each and every busboy position, which was no small task considering the chain reportedly staffed its restaurants with as many as three busboys a night.

T.G.I.Friday's restaurants in three other states have done the same.

The WSJ quotes a Miami consultant, a guy named Mark Godward, as saying that "The busser is a luxury that, in this environment, is very difficult to justify."

As a former busboy, I can say without reservation that Mr. Godward has obviously never worked as a busboy, which is perhaps the dirtiest most demeaning job a person can do in public without taking off their clothes. Perhaps what Mr. Godward should have said is that hiring consultants is a luxury that, in this environment, is very difficult to justify, for what he fails to understand is that you can take the busser away from the bus tub, you can't expect the bus tub to bus the tables.

That's where the servers come in, and are told that they have to bus the tables, and then promptly submit their resignations, or just walk out.

Either that, or, as the WSJ reports, the servers go ahead and bus the tables and scrape the silverware into the garbage.

A Bob Evans restaurant found this to be the case after an enterprising manager set out to discover why all the spoons began to disappear after all the bussers had been let go.

Then there are the other things that bussers do, like sweeping floors. Or how about the things they don't do, like handle food before it's chewed.

Yep, servers who handle plates both before and after people eat off them, sometimes forget to wash their hands.

Mmmm. Yummy thought. Relax. Enjoy your meal.

-- TJ Sullivan

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