Without boring everyone, there is a bi-annual party I like to attend. Lots of people from out of state, always held on the same approximate weekends, always the same schedule.
Friday night is the sushi run. Everyone heads out to a single restaurant and we order sushi, teriyaki dinners, what have you. Simple, except there are a LOT of us. This time there were about 40 of us, at least. Some phoned in their orders in advance, I was not that cool.
Now, we start to show up around 7:45. We're informed that the teppedan chef (think Bennihana-style show) is ill so everything must be ordered to the kitchen. Now the odd thing is: they say chef singular. There are four teppedan grills in the back. Shouldn't they have multiple chefs available? Ah well. Since that area wouldn't normally be used, we take over it so to 'keep out of the way.'
I should point out, we're a noisy, geeky bunch, but we all have day jobs, so for the most part, we try to be polite (with a few exceptions, but we police our own.)
As the night wears on, I notice something is very wrong. While they do have the phoned-in orders, they are coming out very slow, if at all. One person had ordered a steak and shrimp dinner which NEVER came out. Why? They didn't have the ingredients available. Wha? I asked the woman who made the original reservation if they were aware of the size of our party (we took up about half the space in the restaurant, so you get an idea of the size. Not a small place.) She had told them a week in advance of our arrival.
Not only did they not have the ingredients for an order phoned in several hours previous (cut off time was 1pm) but they had only one person working in the back kitchen, and one person working the sushi bar. They grabbed every available busboy to help the two normal wait staff, and the seating hostess helped out the sushi chef with the basic rolls and the like.
Eventually, I received all of my order, which consisted of one bowl of miso, one order of edamame, one order of tamago, and a specialty roll, called a crunchy roll (tempura shrimp in rice, sprinkled with tempura flakes and unagi sweet sauce.) I received my last roll about 11pm. People still didn't get their orders until 11:30. Some had to cancel because it was far too late (I think they stopped somewhere and got food on the way home.)
I can't really blame the staff on site. I honestly don't think it was their fault. They mucked up a couple of orders due to confusion and the large size of the crowd (though we did have one person with a loud voice helping the staff find who belonged to which order.) But running out of basic ingredients? Whomever managed the place really bungled it up.
According to the organisers, they're going to try it again in six months. Everyone is encouraged to call in the week before with their orders and their name, so all that needs to happen is the name called, and the orders delivered. The restaurant has also promised to staff more people on that night.
I still gave a tip to the poor wait staff. It wasn't their fault.