Since he was in his teens, Chris Ortiz has worked as a server, climbing the restaurant ladder. From senior centers to local favorites like El Torito and Monterey’s Fish House, Ortiz, now 36, has spent time in a variety of dining rooms.
He now waits tables in a restaurant with one of Monterey’s most beautiful views: California Market at Pacific’s Edge in the Carmel Highlands Hyatt – poised, as the name suggests, over the ocean. But Ortiz doesn’t get to bask in the scenery during dinner rush.
Weekly: What is your secret to making it so long in the service industry?
Ortiz: Tips and all are nice, but you have to be passionate about being a part of a team. And it sounds cheesy, but you have to be passionate about making everyone’s night special as well.
How hard is it to learn your job at your level?
You don’t need a diploma. It’s all about flow and staying organized. I write everything down, from allergies to side orders. It’s all important.
Do you get to try all of the dishes?
We go through menu changes and the chef will make a plate for the servers to try. We discuss what wines pair best. Then you go out there and sling!
What’s the oddest thing you’ve seen on the job?
Mostly people who are either too intimate or arguing. But that’s not my problem, and I try to focus on the task at hand.
Come on, there’s got to be at least one good story.
OK – there was this one guy who invited a young lady out to a first date at our restaurant. Wined and dined her, and when the check came he told her he wanted to split it with her. Apparently, he didn’t see their relationship going anywhere. We were all stunned.