It's been a topsy-turvy week, mostly turvy. Very busy both Tuesday and Wednesday dinner, slow at lunch. Luckily I learned a lesson from Tuesday and brought in a tray runner for Wednesday night. Tuesday was mostly a challenge because not only did we have our typical skeletal crew, but I was the bartender aka host aka runner aka cocktail waitress aka busser aka server aka owner operator. That was fun. And actually it was, a lot of regulars to laugh with made the night more of a party than a job.
The other "interesting" aspect to Tuesday was that Kevin wasn't in the building until 4PM. He had gone to Florida to visit his dad for the weekend, and it was up to me to open up on Tuesday morning and hope for the best. Thank god for cell phones, eh? Cherelle called out first, then Mandrell and Tiffany called out late. We got Antwan to come in so Tif could help on the salads and Jay came in a bit earlier than scheduled to help out too. By the time Chef got here I was ready to hand over the reins. I cannot even begin to imagine how someone does this without a partner on the premises. It would not last long, if that sole proprietor was me!
We had one "disgruntled guest" issue to deal with last night, regarding the a la carte charge for bread that is listed on the menu. I understand that this is a bit of a touchy issue with some of our customers, who probably are right when they suggest that the bread could be priced in with the charge for the small plates in much the same way it is for the large, but with the number of people opting out of bread service, it just doesn't seem fair to make them pay for something they don't want to eat. In that frame of mind, bread service in included in the price of the large plates, but is 50 cents extra otherwise. And while that is the way we think, and the way we clearly have it stated on the menu, not everyone agrees that they should have to pay anything for the bread, let alone pay for the high quality butter (or olive oil) they expect to get with it. And it's not Sysco bread we are serving either. It is made here, every day, in several stages by several employees.
Last night's bread issue was particularly entertaining, in some ways. The couple on Table 12 ordered a small plate (her), and a large plate (him). The question of bread was raised and the gentleman responded that he would like bread, but when the lady agreed that "we can afford another 50 cents for bread, I'd like some too", he said no, they'd share his bread. Well, what he didn't make clear was that they weren't just going to share one piece of bread but several. The server added the bread charge to the check. Fifty Cents. And yes, the gentleman became quite agitated about that charge to his bill. Said it was a skimpy piece of bread to start with. Okay, fine. You know what? and you can learn here that you too can get "free bread", I'm never going to argue about a charge of 50 cents that a customer doesn't agree with, because 50 cents is never worth arguing over. That bread charge comes right off the check, no questions asked. That's because we truly can afford to pay Fifty Cents. Thank God...
But I digress...
Last night, with the help of Kaitlyn on the trays and the fact that we had a real bartender, was much more pleasant, and a lot smoother than Tuesday night! The menu was seasonally tasty. Prix-fixe diners began with a salad comprised of Redman's cantaloupe, Redman's corn, Redman's cherry tomatoes, and black beans with a shallot vinaigrette. Refreshing start to the meal.
This cool course was followed by a fillet of catfish under a mound of avocado and tomato salsa. Or, as Ralph called it, "gato pescado", which sounds a lot fancier for catfish!
We got a lot of positive feedback on this dish, from regulars to summer guests.
Dessert was slightly over the top, although this photo makes it look more deadly than delicious. It was a flourless chocolate torte with whipped cream and chocolate sauce over the cream.
We had a nine-top come in at lunch yesterday, which served to liven up the dining room quite a bit. Not because of the size of the group, but because it was five little kids under the age of four and two pairs of adult parents. I don't know how they did it, but it was a riot. I had to take pictures:
Do you get the idea what it was like? I could barely get all five kids in one shot. They were so cute. The connection between the two families was tied into the age of the children - there were two sets of twins, born within hours of each other at the same hospital, which is where the parents met and became friends! One couple added another baby to the mix, to make 5 to 4 in favor of the kids. What a scream! To make it even funnier, just imagine the house they are all renting together???
Barbara Esmonde, my compatriot at the Chester River Yacht and Country Club, sent me a link to a list of "23 Life Lessons You Get From Working At A Restaurant". It's pretty damn true, especially if you are in the trenches. I can honestly say that I have learned all 23 of those lessons, including #17. I have experienced #16 at the ownership level, #4 at the server level and #5 possibly during every shift I have ever covered. There is no denying that life in the restaurant business - just like most any other business - has its own set of mores and norms, some which really aren't shared very often with the "outside" world. I agree that society would be a better place if everyone had to work at some lower level of any service industry for a part of their early working life. If this were the mandate, more people would treat more people a lot better.