The Keg, Downtown Calgary

Now - having a couple of posts ago recounted a friend's ordeal I'll compare it with my own application to the Keg Downtown. Typically I avoid chains, preferring the quality and uniqueness of owner/operated restaurants, but beggars can't be choosers and if I had to move up in a restaurant my research indicated that The Keg treats it's management pretty well.

So I pop in and drop off a resume. The hostess takes it and invites me to complete an application. This, I find generally, a bit repetitive, but I understand they need it for their paperwork, and so I sit on a bench and fill it in, then return to the front desk to submit it. 

The hostess is on the phone, a well groomed/dressed young waiter takes over and receives my resume, asks me to wait a moment while he finds a manager. The manager introduces himself, walks me into a quiet corner, sits down, reviews my resume. Well dressed as well, perhaps half my age. It's short, there's nothing to ask, my experience and qualifications are apparent, he'll pass it on, thanks me for my interest.

Now - simple things, small things, the smallest of attentions paid by the people you're "prospectively" going to work with/for. Done right, and it's remarkable - because - in all the places I've applied - so seldom has it been done right, and I appreciate it. Maybe 5 minutes of their time, yet not the complete devaluation of your interest that most other employers dismiss you with.

Compare this to Joey Tomatoes. 

The Keg. Hospitality done right.

Which recounts one other good story in Calgary - I applied once to a job in Bridgeland, locally famous (now defunct I believe) Italian Trattoria. The hostess took the resume to the owner, who returned and walked me upstairs to his office. Now, I didn't know the owner, only his reputation, which was formidable (think of the last Italian place I worked at), yet he was hospitable, offered me coffee, then apologized - he wasn't hiring at the moment, but then took the time to get on the phone and call a few other Italian restaurants he knew of in the neighborhood to see if they were looking. 

Again, Hospitality done right. You notice it because in Calgary - and the world at large, in general, - it isn't.

Hospitality, the one industry where experience counts against you...

Almost 5 months now and nary a nibble, it's harder and harder to pound the streets looking for work, being interviewed by people who have less experience in life - period, than I do in the industry. No industry counts age as a disadvantage as much as customer service, and the online recruiters sending me jobs at mall kiosks and minimum wage isn't boosting my ego much either. I'm definitely an underachiever, but it isn't that bad, not yet, not with the lucrative fall-back in April.

The daughter, just landed her second serving job, 18 years old with all of the attendant life and serving experience, but she's pretty, "we'll train her...".

In the last 20 years I haven't had a job that hasn't offered to have me back, wouldn't be happy to have me back, and given that I have a job guaranteed in April, but not what I want, so I keep looking. 


I'm not one to answer cattle calls, I got the email, the "GROUP INTERVIEW", gave it a miss, then talked to someone I knew who actually needed a job and attended.

Hospitality - it's about people - it's not exactly like most other businesses, where you sell a product, no, hospitality the people that you're ordering from, the servers, staff, they're part of the product. Group interviews - I get that they're great for the company - but - frankly - they're lousy for the prospective employee - and give a fair indication of the treatment you can expect on the slight chance you're chosen to work from them. Which is why I don't attend. 

The cattle-call at Joey Tomatoes - as recounted to me - (and I'm pretty sure there's no elaboration or embellishment here). 3 Groups of 12, each being "interviewed" for 10 minutes apiece by the manager and the "Chef". 

A tangent here. I've worked with some pretty competent and talented chefs. If you're at Joey's cooking pizzas and pastas from the recipes the company provides you don't call yourself a chef. You're a cook. And if you for a moment believe the wall of canned tomatoes are an advertisement for "Fresh" I suggest you refer to your dictionary. 

Back to the interview. 10 minutes for each group of 12 - 10 minutes cut short by the 2 minutes the manager and chef take to introduce themselves. That leaves 8 minutes for 12 people to make the best impression possible answering the questions the manager/chef lobs at them. Neither the manager or Chef make notes, so there's a bit of a mystery as to how they know who's who.

Between the manager and chef - 30 minutes apiece - 1 hour total, to "interview" 35 prospective candidates. People are conscious of the time, and everyone tries to "hoard the mike". They have 1 position to fill. And they have three more sessions scheduled - a total of 105 people "interviewed" for 1 position. The people being interviewed - probably largely unemployed, some maybe looking to upgrade or switch their employment - conservatively they've each invested an hour and a half to be here - attend the interview, transport, apply, etc. Conservatively. Between the candidates - easily 150 hours plus invested to attend the interviews. Joeys management - outside total of 3 hours between manager and chef to interview these candidates. At the end they advise the interviewees that they'll only contact the candidate they select, "Don't call us, we'll call you...", fair return for your interest in working there. They set the bar for their self-importance, and you fed into it by attending.

Frankly, I hear the story and I feel the pain - the fact that Joey's is playing upon the bad economy, the desperation of job seekers, and the "Well, isn't it great for them" mentality doesn't cut it - we should probably think about what's great for us, and that might be burning Joey Tomatoes down. 

In any event - it would be better to get a job in Calgary - but not on those terms, Calgary, it's right about now got the politicians, the mayor, the premier it deserves, it's a tire-fire of late stage capitalism and if I have to leave to get employment there won't be any tears shed. 

NY Eve at the High Fi Club. Without a doubt - without a doubt - the worst Bar service I've ever come across. Ever. Having Tattoos doesn't make you a bartender. 3, 4, 5 bartenders behind the bar, tattooed girl, fitness top girl, tattooed guy. Not one of them fucking has a clue. Serve people out of order. Don't make eye contact. Don't know who's next, don't care. Make a drink, turn your back to the line, take a drink for yourself. Talk to your fellow barmen. Walk around, look busy, ignore line-up. Take another drink. Someone comes behind the bar and empties the tip buckets - one solitary clink, one coin, I mean, I get it, you guys are so fucking clueless you're not even inept, you'd have to at least be trying. And they'll tell the owners nobody tips...turn around, pretend to smile, accidentally serve someone. First time - in my life - that I kept the change from a drink. Hi Fi Club Calgary - worst - service - ever!!!

That said, once you accepted you wouldn't be drinking at a bar on NY Eve, and that the staff were there to save you money, the music was good, and the crowd, as close to the Kootenays as you could get in Calgary, which is something but not much. Summers coming...

These trips, only in town for a couple of days, it's cheaper to eat out than stock the fridge with stuff that will be off the next time I make it back. So I make the rounds of favorite places - Mucho Burrito, Fat Burger. And an Indian place not far from the apartment, for an ethnic restaurant well furnished - by which I mean in a bland, modern, antiseptic way, but an amazing lunch buffet, a couple of dozen items, a mere $15.70, the food, tasty, delicious even, and an easy way to balance the diet. Given that I generally only eat 1 meal a day, this is a great place to do it. And a shame, because every time I've been there it's empty, or close enough to empty, and you know it can't last, and what is it about Calgary that a reasonable restaurant with good prices can't last? Anywhere else this place would be packed every day of the week...