Bit of a rough ride lately. My theory - if you sail through the green light on your way to work across Rt. 213, that will be the high point of your day.
We reached a high point on Saturday, or I guess it really was a low point. We had two cooks and a bartender AWOL. That's 50% of our dinner line cooks, missing in action. And then a no show bartender. I don't think I've felt more stressed out in decades. It's Saturday night, for Christ's sake. How are we going to manage? One cook, Eric, was reported missing by his wife, who called to say he had left that afternoon to go to the bank in Middletown and had yet to return. This was around 5 or so, when she called. (He's due to work by 3PM - when we spoke to her again at 10PM, she had still heard nothing.) Keontra, well, that was predictable, since Saturday night would have been his last shift anyway. He had nothing to lose from blowing us off, except our respect. We actually kind of figured he might not show up, although there had been hopeful signs to the contrary. As for the bartender, this would be the fourth weekend out of five that he'd had attendance issues, so while this one would prove to be valid, it still was not really what you would call a surprise.
So, as business owners, what do you do?
First of all, you call in your Calvary. Rayvon came in to take Keontra's place on the salads, working with the new guy who had come in to try out on Saturday night. And of course we hired the new guy - he turned out to be the real deal. Then Jay and Kevin decided how they would handle things if it got too busy on the line for them to do everything by themselves - first thing to go would be the piccolo frito, since the missing Eric is the one who is on the fryer end of the line. For the dining room, I put Lisa on double duty as tray runner and host, so I could attend to the bar. We'd make it work, even if we had to limit seating.
Thankfully, it never came down to that. Thankfully, we were on the slow side for Saturday night. And while I imagine we were probably the only restaurant in Kent County that was grateful to be slow, it wasn't that good for the servers. Still, it could have been a nightmare, had it been a more typical weekend evening. Thank goodness for June weddings I guess!
And where were Eric and Patrick? We finally got hold of Eric's wife on Tuesday - his truck had broken down in Middletown, and being without minutes on his phone, he found himself walking home to Church Hill. Patrick had been busy mutilating his hand somehow, and in the ensuing emergency had not been able to call out and his friend had missed making the requested call as well. He'll be out for the foreseeable future, while Eric was back on the line Tuesday night.
But it didn't end there. On Tuesday - the day we sailed through that green light - Ashley called out with a sick child, so she couldn't work lunch. Neither could anyone else, including Teverly who came to work with her little girl, in search of a baby sitter.
My line during lunch on Tuesday - after I'd called in emergency help in the form of Kaitlyn, who took Teverly's spot on the host stand - was "Hello. My name is Barbara and I'll be your server today". Took me back to my youth. And the two girls who helped me - Becca bussing and Kaitlyn hosting and serving most of the food - made some extra cash they wouldn't have made ordinarily.
Whew. I sure hope that light is red every morning from now on. Thank goodness we love life here in the land of pleasant living. And thank goodness for wine!
The menu last night was not the most popular one we've ever had. Who would have thought that head cheese would not bring people out in droves??
In the weekly email describing the prix-fixe, I explained that head cheese was basically pork pate, but it didn't seem to work. We had maybe ten takers. And when we have no prix-fixe guests on Wednesday night, we have virtually no guests. We did get a little busier after 7:00, but still, it was obviously a slow night. And the head cheese was good, with its mustard barbeque sauce. Try it, you'll like it!
And there was more pork to come.
Pork belly, on pasta primavera. Linguine, with fresh basil, zucchini and broccoli, under a cap of tomato sauce, a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and a few slices of griddled pork belly. What's not to like?
Dessert was not going to alarm anyone.
Cherelle's cornmeal pound cake, baked in a loaf pan so we could slice it and top it with fresh blueberries and whipped cream. That dessert will continue onto the lunch dessert list today. And you can bet you will see the pork pate and the belly come around too. After all, we did have a few takers. And one person even ordered the head cheese a la carte! So there!
In other news, here's another one of our restaurant babies -
Jenn's pink baby girl Hayley, come for a visit in the office. She looks sort of nervous...
This "shrimp salad" plate at lunch on Saturday was a big hit. Take cold poached shrimp, wrap them in a pickle, put them on a splash of recently re-discovered Thousand Island dressing and accompany them with wax beans tossed with Dijon vinaigrette, and you've got a nice composed salad for a hot Saturday lunch. I think wrapping the shrimp in a slice of pickle was truly inspired.
Sausage plays a large role in Kevin's work. I think the thing he misses most, when we are short help and he is consequently short of time, is that he can't fool around with his sausage recipes. Right now, his favorite is on the dinner menu - pork with provolone cheese. But any sausage we serve here at Brooks Tavern, from the andouille to the Italian, in made by Kevin. Some results are better than others, but he is always seeking out new combinations or freshening up old favorites to make his own. Much to your delight!
Until next time, Peace Out!