During lunch service the other day I was reminded of one of the infamous characters we have seen throughout our years of business here at the restaurant. The gentleman whom jogged this particular memory was laidback and didn’t seem to be in any hurry as he unpacked his breifcase onto the table capable of seating four people comfortably. He started by ordering an entree-sized seafood salad as an appetizer, then a dinner sized portion of a seafood and pasta entree including its accompanying side salad (yes, more salad!) and drank a bath tub of iced tea while consuming it all! But that was really nothing compared to who you’re about to meet.
There was a man who came in one evening with his parents; he was in his early thirties and his parents appropriately in their late 50’s to early 60’s. The parents we had seen regularly throughout the few previous years, so after I approached them with the familiar “Hey how are we doin’ tonight? Good to see everyone.” they introduced their son who was here visiting from New York City. I immediately noticed that there was definitely something a little different about this guy when I first settled in to taking care of them. He was a bit small and frail even and had big white teeth jammed into his oversized bobble head. The parents even acted differently while he was present, but it was a weird kind of different. It was as if they were trying to hint at or warn me and preparing themselves for whatever was about to happen. They explained the entire menu to their son and made multiple suggestions and played up our homemade desserts big time. Well, the older married couple orders their typical dinner of one pasta entrée and Greek salad with chicken then proceeds to close their menus and hand both of them to me. There was an uncomfortable pause.
This peculiar little man visiting from New York City was a Broadway actor and dancer I soon learned, and based on the amount of time he combed over our carbohydrate-saturated menu I expected him to order a salad and maybe a side of vegetables to avoid a fatty, heavy Italian dinner. And he did. He started with a Large Greek salad with chicken as his mother had ordered and a couple sides of vegetables, not surprising. One side of sautéed asparagus, one side of sautéed mushrooms, and one side of sautéed spinach started his order. I expected that to be all for him as I shut my order keeping book and reached for his menu. He asked to hold onto it until later because this guy also wanted to take advantage of the oh-so-popular Monday night pasta special. When his dad’s side salad and the sides of vegetables arrived, he proceeded to order two of our overflowing pasta entrees, each accompanied by a side salad. For the record, I want to say they that sat down at about 7:35pm on a slower than usual pasta night Monday. I am definitely expecting him to tell me that he’s taking most of this order to go home for him and his boyfriend to eat tomorrow, but he informs me it will all be for here. He instructed me to have his side salads, two: one side garden salad and one side Caesar salad, brought out immediately to accompany all of the vegetables he ordered, then his Greek salad with Chicken while his parents received their entrees. Ok??? That’s as far as I got then. I walk away from table 15 a little bemused, yet very amused also! This guy just ordered dinner for four people, and I don’t dare hesitate to share this amazing phenomenon with the rest of the restaurant. Is he really planning on me to bring all of this food to the table for him to try? I might have to pull another table over to set up a buffet for the stranger. Hey, I’m pretty bad if I go to a restaurant I’ve heard great things about for the first time. I’ll drop like $30 on lunch just for me, but I certainly won’t finish everything.
OK, well I just can’t hold it back any longer, but the weird young man I have just introduced you to earned himself an infamous nickname among our entire staff. I give you The Eater. I start back to the table with the continuing first course of side salads and the sides of vegetables ordered by the Eater. They eat at a normal, unassuming pace. There’s nothing weird except the amount of food this guy just ordered. Well The Eater ate three sides of vegetables and two side salads before I placed his very large Greek salad in front of him piled with 2 grilled chicken breasts. His mom had her also very big salad before her and dad was enjoying a Bolognese I believe, and things are going well. I am still a little confused what this guy plans on doing with the other two pasta dishes he ordered. Well, I soon found out when his dad informed me than he was going to leave me his credit card to pay for dinner and they were going to be leaving while their son was going to sit and continue to eat. What?!?! Did I hear that correctly? I have never heard of such a thing in my entire life! Ok well daddy wasn’t kidding because he and his wife got up and left their chairs after the man gave me his credit card. Yet another strange part of the situation, the parents didn’t eat a lot of their dinners, but they left their plates without asking me to wrap anything up for them to take home and I barely had time to act if they wanted their leftovers wrapped. I’m suddenly the ringleader to a one-ring circus. My Eater had already consumed three sides of vegetables, two side salads and one large Greek salad with chicken before pulling his parents’ unfinished pasta and salad diners in front of him. I treat him as he should be, normally and attentively, but I am obviously relaying updates to the rest of the restaurant staff about my incredibly entertaining table by this point. As the Eater shovels down the remaining food on the table he informs me to have the two large pasta entrees he ordered an hour before be started and brought out. Holy Fuck! His eating pace increases while he eats alone. Could he be a competitive eater in training or something? This guy is not joking around. Let me just tell you that I haven’t seen so much food consumed since my friends and I discovered the gravity bong concept in our early teens. Uh, yeah and I’m almost sure my writing would be far more articulate if I had never participated in those brain and lung-punishing activities. So, wow, I clear the guy’s table for the third time and bring out two large and steaming bowls of pasta, and remember one of them only costs this guy $3.99. He is so excited, and I’m sure his excitement isn’t the only reason but, he looks like he’s gonna shit his pants when the pasta bowls hit the table. This guy is an animal, a machine, inhuman. What the fuck is wrong with this skinny little wack job? Funny thing: he sat close enough to the table that his chest was practically pressed up against the table cloth. My late Monday night regulars emptied out of the restaurant slowly, while my soldier carries on. I checked on him regularly and I notice he is eating with fervor and haste, but somehow he reserved his dignity throughout the entire meal. He literally cleaned every plate.
Let’s count it back down: The Eater ate three sides of vegetables, one and a half large Greek salads with two chicken breasts on each and two and a half huge entrée sized pasta dishes which alone could easily feed a family of 5. I could not believe the amount of food consumed by this guy. There’s really nothing to expand on there. It was unbelievable. The man had eaten constantly for two hours and I think I cleared his pasta plates at about 9:35. Naturally, I expected the guy to immediately go to the bathroom and empty his stomach into the toilet via self-inflicted gagging after binge eating for two hours, but what does this fucking animal do? He asks me to relist the evening’s dessert selections for him. HAHAHA This is incredible! His mom did speak very highly of our house made desserts after all, but just wait. He orders a tiramisu, a slice of cheesecake and a slice of chocolate cake. He topped off and politely asked for the check after leaving only a few bites of the rich chocolate cake laying on its side in crumbs on its plate. And the Eater never once left the table.
The Eater sat in the same chair in our dimly-lit front dining room from 7:35 until minutes before we closed at 10:00pm and never once stopped eating, and he did not leave the table to use the bathroom. This mystery man ate $90 worth of food not counting his parent’s leftovers and stood up very slowly and walked, no teatered, out the front door. The Eater has only been spotted once since buying desserts at the carry out counter very briefly, and lives as a local legend among the tables of our dining room, yet I must hold hopes high that he lives on in the jungle of restaurants that we call Manhattan and its surrounding boroughs.
Oh and what about the guy from the other day? He ordered more food to go and took good care of me after he finished his extensive lunch. So there might just be a new Eater in town!