Thursday, May 30, 2013

Weekly Update

Can't really say it's a "Wednesday" report, because we were not able to produce our prix-fixe menu as per usual for our Wednesday night special, but I think we can still manage a report of some kind.

It's been an interesting week or so.

Memorial Day weekend, aka Tea Party Weekend, proved to be very busy, including Saturday lunch for a change.  I don't know if it was the chilly temperatures or my sister who sent everyone who came to her Shiloh Pottery booth down town to go to lunch at her sister's restaurant.  What ever the reason, we had a surprisingly busy noon, which was a nice change of pace from our usual Tea Party Saturday.  Friday and Saturday night dinner were also both quite busy, Friday a bit more so than Saturday, although Saturday had challenges all of its own. 

You could say that this gentleman pictured above is "Mr. Friday Night".  He was the casualty of a mistake by a server which resulted in not only missing his meal altogether, but running out of his selection after the fact.  In other words, when the food for his table went out, his dinner was AWOL.  The bigger problem was that he had ordered the SBF rib-eye steak special, of which there were no more.  When I was made aware of this problem I hustled to the table to explain the situation, that we could substitute the regular menu NY Strip steak, at no charge of course.  This fellow was so frigging nice about the whole thing - I was entirely grateful for that.  And then, when I invited him into the kitchen to witness his steak being cooked, he agreed with enthusiasm.  I thought he must be a professional cook himself, but no, just an interested diner.  He carried his own plate out to the table, proudly, and rejoined his group in a relatively timely fashion.

That was only one of several fires we contained on Friday night, as we tried our best to accommodate the potential diners at the door.  Friday was fun, actually, with a lot of locals on the scene to witness our insanity.  I developed a line of patter as the night went on.  I would go up to a party, either at the door or at their table, whether I knew them or not, and say "Please.  Just take your hands, put your fingers around my throat and squeeze hard."  Ha!  I said this over and over.  Ha!  Luckily or not, I got no takers.  

There were a few glitches in the kitchen as well.  At one point, in my frustration with the salad cook who was struggling to keep up with the desserts and salads, I lost my cool and spoke in a less than gentle manner to advise Keontrey to step it up and not make me have to do his job and mine as well.  I told him I had a million and one things to do and I could not do everything for him too.

Thus, it should come as no surprise, in the waning hours of service, when I told the kitchen crew my line about asking for a volunteer in the dining room to put me out of my misery by putting their fingers around my throat, Keontrey's hand shot up and he said "I'll do it!"  Ha!

Saturday night was only a little less busy, but a hundred times more stressful.  At 4:20, just before the start of his shift, the bartender called out.  As I hung up the phone, uttering a few choice expletives for everyone around me, I could barely keep myself together.  This was not good.  He felt badly about it, Patrick, but there was no way he could work.  I went into the office and immediately started making calls.  I texted Jenn to advise her that she would have to do the bar instead of the floor.  I called a sub busser in to take the place of Kaitlyn who would have to stand in for Teverly and run trays.  And I put Teverly on the floor as a server - her first time.   Memorial Day Saturday night - whoopee!

And while it was stressful, especially with Teverly being an inexperienced third server, it went fine.  Teverly did fine.  She could have handled a whole station, as opposed to the limited number of tables I gave her.  And of course everyone else was fine.  It was not as hectic as Friday, with fewer fires to contain. A dozen less customers than the previous night made all the difference, it seems.

Best of all this Memorial Day weekend, Kevin and I went to two cook-outs, meaning we had two solid days of no cooking and no cleaning up!

And now, part two, our last week in May begins with Jay - our main man at night - calling out with strep throat.  He's going to be out for a couple more days at least.  We're already short a cook during the day, so Jay's absence is like a blast from the past - that summer at Kennedyville when the only cook we had was a pot washer we promoted to line cook in a spirit of desperation.  Anthony Bourdain - who knows it all - was quoted recently as saying that if you are 32 and you're working the deep fryer, you are a grand pa.  He obviously has never been a small business owner.  Kevin is 58 and he is doing everything.  What does that make him?  An ancestor, if this were to keep up.  Luckily, not only do we have a new (real) cook lined up to start the day shift next week, we have a very cooperative and somewhat understanding kitchen crew to help  pull off this increase in the work load.  We also have flexibility and the internet.  

First we "dumbed" down the menu, taking out anything that was Jay's responsibility, replacing it with a somewhat easier presentation.  The scallops went on a salad, the rainbow trout skipped the risotto, and so on.  Then we sent out an email to our customers to say we would not be doing the Wednesday night prix-fixe.  No way could Kevin come up with a special Wednesday night menu, let alone get the prep work done for it.  The same goes for Burger Night tonight - no burger night means two batches of burger rolls that don't have to be made and meat that doesn't have to be ground and shaped into hamburgers.  Several hours worth of work that can be postponed.

You do what you have to do.

Anyway, we've been through worse.  Haven't we?

Here's some photos of what's being served:

The scallops, instead of being paired with pasta, sausage and sundried tomatoes, are being placed on a mixed green salad.  Considering the mini-heat wave we are entering into this weekend, I would bet that this would be a more popular selection anyway.

The duck confit is also taking a back seat, with a more simple duck sausage presentation taking its place. 

Look at this swordfish.  Capers, olives and tomatoes.  And Eric manages to cook that fish to just done, keeping it moist and flavorful.  People have been raving about it.

Redman's asparagus last night took the form of a warm salad with melted mozzarella on top.

And finally, in keeping with tradition, we began serving our strawberry short cakes.  Cherelle made her first ever batch of biscuits, which turned out perfectly.  Last night we added it to Keontrey's repertoire.  It is my favorite strawberry dessert, and maybe I'll get one this week.  If I don't yell at Keontrey too much that is.

Peace out!

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