Welcome to Friday! I am thinking that everyone on our crew who worked last night slept very well when they went to bed. It was a crazy busy Burger Mania, made even busier by being somewhat understaffed in the dining room. It began when Ashley texted out sick. I was at home feeding the dog when I got the notice, so I called Kevin to see if anyone was off who could come in to run trays. He says that Jesse had just phoned to see if he was working, and he wasn't on the schedule so Kevin called him back to come in to work; meanwhile I texted Kaitlyn to see if she could come in earlier than scheduled and be the tray runner. She could. All set for burger night. Except at 6:30 when we are almost full I'm wondering where the 6:00 busser is. Jesse is way too inexperienced to be on his own on a busy night and I was worried about Mallory who is generally very punctual and reliable. I texted her. Bad news - she shouldn't have been scheduled because she has a regular gig at the softball diamond on Thursday nights, which I forgot about and put her our roster inadvertently. Oh c**p! (Don't ask me why she hadn't seen the schedule when it was first posted two weeks earlier and given me the chance to correct my mistake...) Anyway, it appeared that Jesse would be on his own, newbie or not. And he actually did a pretty good job of it, albeit with a lot of extra help from Kaitlyn and Jenn and the dishwashers. It was screaming busy and while we never actually got into the weeds, we were constantly one mishap away from it. All it would have taken would have been for an order to be screwed up or a tray of dishes to crash to the floor to send the whole thing spiraling down into a dark pit of madness. Whew. We got off lucky. And hopefully the guests didn't have any major issues that I will read about later on Trip Advisor...
Business has definitely been strange this summer. At the end of the second quarter, our sales are down almost 20% from last year. Prior to this, we've enjoyed annual steady growth. And it seems to be the weekends that are off the most. Lunches have been normal. Weeknights have been either average or extremely busy - see the paragraph above - but Friday and Saturday nights have been embarrassingly slow, for the most part. The extra business on the weekends is mostly due to tourists and other non-locals, so you have to wonder, is it the rumors of our closing frightening away this transient crowd that we depend on? Some have come in, surprised to find we are open, because that is not what they heard out on the street, at the marina, in the gift shop. I don't know. Charlie's theory is that it is due to the fact that every weekend this summer the weather has been phenomenal, which sends people out side to their boat or the porch or Waterman's deck, rather than into our dining room. That has some merit, although I find it hard to believe that it would have that dramatic affect. We'll find out this weekend perhaps, with rainy days predicted for the next several. What ever the reason, the kitchen has no complaints - their work is reduced while their pay is unchanged. The dining room staff, however, that is another story. They have taken a hit that the week day business cannot really cover.
Food is more fun to talk about.
This was followed by a new sausage Kevin has been working on - veal and pork, lightly cured and seasoned with smoked paprika, coriander, black pepper and nutmeg. The meal invoked a classic conflict of responses, at least from two customers. First report came from Table 7, when Nicole told me that they did not like it at all, because it tasted like a hot dog. They were very nice about it, they just didn't care for that flavor. Later Table 17 called me over. "Barbara!", she says, "This sausage is to die for!" See what I mean? After the first table complained, I had gone into the kitchen and told Kevin the remark, that they thought it tasted like a hot dog. "Perfect!" he responded. So, when the second opinion came in, I persuaded the guest to go into the kitchen and tell Kevin her feelings personally. She was happy to oblige, and proceeded to rave ecstatically to Kevin and Jay. So, what, you win some and lose some, right?
Dessert was a win-win:
A soft pavlova roll, filled with whipped cream and draped with blueberry sauce. I am pretty sure we will see this light dessert again before the season is out.
More summer on a plate, with the classic watermelon feta salad. I have been fulfilling my goal to eat Redman's sweet watermelon on a daily basis, which is made even easier when I can find it in these convenient chunks!
The picture above is not of something Kevin prepared for paying guests. It is a member of the squid family being grilled on our fire pit. A friend of ours went shopping at a Super H-Mart near her home in Virginia and brought us a big cuttlefish! Kevin simply seasoned it with salt and pepper and cooked it just for a few minutes over hot coals. It was very tasty - a lot more flavorful than your typical calamari but not as strong as octopus. Shopping at an H-Mart is a fabulous adventure; if ever you find yourself near one you definitely need to check it out. It is like no other grocery story experience.
We went shopping on Sunday to Mr. Harlan's peach orchard in Centreville. Next time we will call first. There were no ripe peaches, although plenty of beautiful specimens hanging from his numerous trees. They would probably be ripe in a few sunny days, but not while we were there.
Mr. Harlan must have at least a hundred peach trees on his White Marsh Farm. We make the trek annually to wander through the orchard and generally pick a bushel or more of his tree-ripened fruit. We were just too early this year.
And pears. Plus nectarines and several variety of plums. Some great scenery anyway, eh?
Well, I gotta go. It's the first of the month and inventory is calling. Have a great weekend, no matter the weather. There is so much to
eat do this time of year, from fairs to farmer's markets. Celebrate the summer with food no matter where you find yourself!