Category Archives: Food

I’d Like the Table Near the Outhouse Please.

     It’s inevitable. Whenever my wife and I take precious time out of our collectively busy lives and put our stomachs’ trust in the hands of other restaurant people, without fail, we always fall victim to bad dining experiences. Ok, so yes I must exaggerate for the sake of the story, but I have to honestly say that 70% of the time that we eat out at a full-service restaurant something bad that’s worth sharing with my restaurant friends always seems to happen. It is obvious that I hold the bar a little higher because I have grown up in restaurants, but I do always give benefit of the doubt to any situation, not just food related situations. Hey, if you worked in a high-end clothing store and had pride in the valuable products that you sold for a living, would you be pleased if you walked into another store looking to drop some cash and your experience wasn’t 100%?

      If I am spending more than $75 on a casual dinner for my wife and myself it isn’t out of the realm of normalcy to expect good to great to exceptional service from a server or bartender, etc. who is hoping or hopefully working hard for a 20% grat (gratuity/tip). And if i get receive that service, whether friendly and consistent or formal and appropriate to the dining situation, I always hook it up, like 25%+.   

     That said, when I eat out I always seem to land the awkward table in the middle of the dining room or the server who is fresh off of their initial training week who can barely get a nervous word out of their mouth, or a “veteran” who just got out of the bathroom stall and seemed to have just shoved a good portion of a bag of coke up their nose. And why do I get mad about these situations? Well, It’s more than not having a good dining experience. It makes me look really bad because if I’m getting poor service then others are too. And this definitely dishonors people who take my line of work seriously. I’m not cocky, but confidant in what I do for a living. What I do, I do well. I am a good server; And I’m a good guy, a good manager, husband, dad, son, brother, drummer, joker. People like me, they really like me! haha. But just like the regulars I take great care of everyday, I expect great fucking service. And when it’s received my server will know it.

     I do love to eat out, but my wife finds it a tad annoying dining out with me. Basically, I end up paying attention to the servers’ interactions, the dining room decor, I always try to make note to find the manager and God forbid there’s an open kitchen because my wife will have to kick me to get my attention. I always try to dissect the hierarchy of the kitchen and dining room because I love to see who the real rock stars are out front and in the back of the house. This is when we are sitting in a well organized and managed restaurant mostly. I’m always studying the details, if any are notable, for the place I plan to open for myself one day. If our server makes my experience pleasant and I leave having felt that we had fun and want to come back the next time hoping to be in their section again, then I am certain to tip very well. However if you suck at taking care of me, the diner and customer not the career server, and I want another beer or my wife another glass of wine, if you disappeared for 15 minutes and return with no pupils and cocaine crusting your nostrils like salt on a margarita glass, or if we’re ready to roll out and I’m having to wait a long time as opposed to them waiting for me if I want to take my time leaving, then I will most definitely tip you deservingly. I work my ass off ensuring that I, hopefully seamlessly, make every new table I take care of regulars because that’s exactly how we have been successful for years. And that is how I make a nice living. So if you ever want to see me sitting at your table again, even regularly, you better kiss my fucking ass the way I ever-so-subtly and tactfully kiss ass six days a week because I will tip you better than any of the weekend amateurs will any day of the week. Slainte`


Write It All Down, You Indignant Prick.

     If you let your guard down as a server, show a hint of hesitation or vulnerability-that you aren’t in control of the dining situation-you are so easily screwed and easily taken advantage of by that certain type of people who are on the hunt for hand-outs.  (Disclaimer: The vast majority of my customers/diners/regulars are awesome people and don’t give us the run-around) There are just some diners that love the little amount of control and power that comes with “ordering” [from] a “server” (around). Well guess what control freaks? I already know what you’re going to order and that your lunch table wants to split seven checks and I’ll be back every thirty-five seconds while you’re here to refill your diet coke because apparently you are really thirsty and love that sweet bubbly shit. Please forgive me if it’s been forty-five seconds before you see me table-side again, but I am a tad busy with my other thirteen tables. I definitely manage my time well and think in term of “economy of motion” to improve my efficiency to better take care of my people. My actions are all broken down in terms of the seconds needed to complete them. So I might be carrying someone’s wrapped up next day goodies while dropping a check off for the next deuce. I spin and my mind spins brilliantly together to get things done, and it’s a head rush when you’re able to multitask so many things together.

     Yet (not so) funny enough, to my disadvantage my memory sucks in almost every aspect of my life except for the ever-revolving list of hundreds of people whose favorite tables, drinks, salad dressings, bottle of wine and meal happens to be stored for swift retrieval on the outer surface of my brain. So I must WRITE IT ALL DOWN. Uh hey Wifey? What did you need me to pick up at the store on my way home? Where’s the store anyway? I think I forgot to transfer my laundry. Did I even put my clothes in there after starting the washer? Shit! Whose birthday is it? Damn it! Yeah, I know. Sorry, whatever. [Who didn’t smoke tons of really good pot as a teenager? Oh, I’m the only one?] Oops! Ok, well…I’m doing just fine now. What was I about to tell you? I seemed to have forgotten.

   Oh yeah, so there are these people who feel out witted in very simple, yet hardly noticeable ways that it might just annoy them a bit because they realize that they aren’t totally in control of the situation. Even if I drop off their soda without asking if they would like a diet soda today, they want to TELL ME that they want a diet coke. I know what you want, so let’s cut to the chase because you’re going to want your check 30 minutes from the time you waltz through door, when your lunch isn’t going to be on the table for ten to twenty minutes depending on how busy we are. That leaves you ten minutes at most for me to pack up any leftovers, clear you table, get change for your 100 dollar bill (is that really all you have? Your check is $21.10!) and get back to you all while juggling 15 other tables during lunch.

     I really get a kick out of people telling me during our busy lunch rush that they “Really have to get back to work” and I keenly reply that “Everyone here has to go back to work, but I’m still stuck there!” Some laugh, some sneer. But hey, I’d rather my people feel cared for, maybe a little coddled and carried as well. I know what you want and I’m gonna do it without you telling me, silly child. Daddy knows what you want.  Oh and when someone isn’t enjoying what they ordered, I might get a little offended. It’s easy for us to take negative feedback personally. Most of our employees have invested years, YEARS!, of their lives in this institution. “Not a problem, I will have that remade for you and out to you as soon as I possibly can. Can I bring you something else while you wait? Can I have a small appetizer made up for you or bring you something more to drink in the mean time? We appreciate your understanding. This glass of wine is on me.” Basically because I know that everything on our menu is awesome, except the lasagna. It tastes good, a veal Bolognese, but it’s greasy and cheesy. It’s not for everyone.

     When someone orders our “Homemade Lasagna (meat and cheese)” They most likely envision a pillowy, stacked concoction with red sauce and spinach oozing out of the sides. Nope, not here. We make a large batch with the Bolognese and it’s sliced up and heated in the oven before it’s served more as a long slice, rather than the side-viewed stack. It tastes good to me but just not what people expect.  And here’s the thing…I don’t really back down if someone thinks their dinner wasn’t prepared correctly because I know how every dish on our very large menu is prepared, I can describe in detail down to where we source our products from what you might want to or are planning to eat. So please don’t tell me that you don’t see any JUMBO LUMP crabmeat in your pasta when I watched my brother drop a fifth of a pound of it in the cream sauce and plate it on top of the veal cutlets myself. I’m here to take care of you and make sure you ENJOY your time here!

    I once got in a confrontation with a middle-aged woman who, I later learned, claimed to have worked as an Italian chef in Baltimore for 25 years (she envisioned her egglpant parm) and the eggplant parmesan we served her did not in any manner resemble how she had  witnessed it in the past. In fact, she claims, it was not the way that eggplant parmesan is to be prepared in the traditional, Italian style at all, period! It was mushy and thinly sliced and probably smelled bad (to her) even. Need I mention…I think she is in insurance sales now.    

     I beg your pardon Miss, I just want to let you know that we’ve been making the eggplant the same way since the first location of our small privately owned restaurant group was opened like 25 years ago lady and everyone but you loves it. Oh and she didn’t even order it, her daughter did! Anyways, I described in full detail to this “experienced Italian chef” how we cut, lightly batter and flash fry our extremely fresh, daily sliced eggplant before topping it with house made tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese before finishing it in a baking dish in the oven. And that’s how it has always been made.

     I’m not lying to you lady, I have no reason to. What am I gonna get out of this confrontation? You’re already pissed, even as I walked over to the table I could tell on your face that you were picturing crimson-tipped ivory devil horns sprouting through my brown curls. No one is trying to poison you or your daughter. I am not evil! We want you to eat here and to eat here often, so what the fuck is your problem? I’m not an MVA (DMV) employee, your health insurance policy representative or a pushy police officer. I’m the good guy. I bring you food and drink! I’m smiley and charming! (?). So what does this lady do after I offer to have another eggplant parm made for her daughter then offered her a menu to review after she turned that down? I chat with my brother’s business partner, let’s call him Craig, about having an unpleasable diner. It was especially strange because we had never seen her and I know everyone who regularly walks through our front door.  So after all of this, (wait for it)

…this menopausal bitch gets up from her table in a half-empty dining room while I am speaking to Craig and walks directly up to our front counter to my brother of all people, and funny enough he was standing there watching me handle the situation in our front dining room just fine by myself minutes before, and tells him that I am “an indignant prick” and should be fired immediately because I was rude and not receptive to her needs. Ha ha ha. Go fuck yourself right in the toosh lady! I’m not getting fired. In my brother’s own words, “I’m sorry dear, but I would be happy to make you something else to eat, whatever you want. But I’m not firing him. He’s my little brother and he’s really good at what he does and he’s not going anywhere.”  So she sits back down after he defuses the situation, I void the eggplant from their check and drop it off. They give me no tip at all, nothing, only to return the following night for dinner.

     This oh so charming woman, whose image has been permanently seared into my memory along with the other usual suspects happens to have walked in the restaurant and was sitting in my section. Shit…really?!?! I basically wanted to punch her in her Leno-sized chin as soon as I spy her mug across the dining room.  I’m certain she requested me, and so what does she do? Orders eggplant parmesan, claims it is delicious and leaves an appropriate tip. Seriously? What’s wrong with some people? She may have just wanted to announce her arrival. I might be a bit of an indignant prick though, I’ll admit it. I know it doesn’t sound good but I took it as a small compliment and my servers thought it was awesome. She hit the nail on the head.  But I’m only such because I am confident in this consumer-vs-service provider situation that is usually perceived to be controlled by the consumer that I call my job. I regretfully report that the customer is not always right.


Ahhh Monday, I dislike you as much as the next stiff, but my Monday stings a little less than my corporate brethren. Your Monday is my Friday and it has been for years. Beers get chugged for fun on Monday night at my house!

     Who likes Mondays? You guessed it! No one does, well at least the overwhelming majority of our population does not. I guess you gotta give a little bit of credit to the douche who walks into the office on Monday morning with a huge, almost creepy smile plastered on his face who walks around singing “Good Morning!” to everyone whose path he crosses as if he finally lost his virginity or maybe like his underwear is just a little too tight, thus the nervous smile! But let’s get real…Who is really excited to turn the switch that they turned off at clock out time on Friday afternoon back on (to full-steam!!!) first thing Monday morning?!?! Uh uh, not I, says most.

     Well, to shed some light on others’ (my) situation, I have the pleasure of dealing with all the grumpy I-Hate-My-Life-After-Sunday duds during lunch service from about 11 to 2:30 every single Monday. And it gets much worse during football season. Though it’s usually a selective group of “where did my weekend go?” grievers and butt-kissing employees. These squeeky youngbloods sit there flailing their hand jestures and over-jabbering trying to butter-up their stiffly pressed (F-off stop kissing my ass) superiors looking to get into their pockets while their senses might still be fresh. But I can look across the diningroom and tell who partied a little too hard over the weekend. It usually tends to be the young, underplayed and over-worked “professionals” from the national event planning company from around the corner. We catered their Christmas, oh excuse me-their Holiday-party the end of 2010 and they get fucked up!

     Well they enjoyed their Friday, so it’s time for me to enjoy mine! TGIM! Eh, that statement’s lost a bit of its gusto over the last year but I try every once in a while to get a little crazy! Haha. Today just so happens to be  a huge mile marker for my wife and me also because our little boy turned ONE today! We shared a few drinks after I got home from the restaurant to celebrate making it through our first year of parenthood and retaining our healthy relationship and somewhat collected sanity! Ha.  Yes, we know there is much ahead of us! 

     So as far as beer getting chugged at my house on Monday nights?…Yes I do have a designated “Beer Drawer” in the fridge that gets restocked every third day (or night), but after the year and week I have had, I’m ready to finish the two cold cans of Miller Lite sitting on the coffee table and call it a day, or week…or whatever. Until next Monday! TGIM!

The Eater

     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!

Dear Plastic Place Mat Ladies,,,,

     My morning at the restaurant starts with me barreling through the back door of the restaurant five to ten minutes late usually, clocking in then starting to set up our back service station if the other lunch server hasn’t already started everything. I work six days a week and my older brother, who also happens to be my best friend,  is the chef and one of two of the managing owners of our busy Italian restaurant that has been opened six years as of last week! So I guess you could say I have a pretty “cushy” job. Over the last six years, I have been able to nuzzle myself into a very nice and lucrative position.

     I guess I could include a little background info as to what my work environment entails. The restaurant is bistro style, from casual and quick service lunches to upscale dinner service with refined specials, wine dinners and catering etc. We seat 90-100 people at capacity and there are only two servers during lunch. We only have 5 servers maximum at night. The last server we hired was the son of another server who had worked for the company (we have 7  other restaurant locations in the metropolitan area) for over ten years. Four of us have been their since day one! That s how good we have it i guess. Anyways, I tend to run things in the front of house, day and night, so you might say I have a little pull.

     The dining room has an open, rectangular floor plan. So as customers walk in to seat themselves during lunch, after a greeting from behind our massive granite take-out counter, they have the option to sit in the front dinning room or the  larger back dining room. The two servers split the restaurant down the middle, right and left. I’m always right, as I like to joke. Some don’t think it’s too funny. Let’s just say i haven’t worked my ass off  here during the last six years for nothing. After all, we don’t go to work to make friends. Why do we first and foremost WORK?  You got it! $Ding$ $Ding$  $Ding$  

     Our morning can, like any restaurant, start slow as we ease into the day talking and revving up on the caffeine source of our choice and they can (the diners), as they do when we seem to be least prepared sometimes, come quickly at us,  minutes after tucking our black button down dress shirts into our black pants and tieing on our short black “aprons”.

     Today our lunch rush came quickly. Don’t get me wrong, I would much rather be running my tired-eyed ass off without having so much as a sip of coffee at 11:00 than standing around getting wound up while talking about new phone apps or the grammy’s. I was quickly reminded that we had a call ahead for a party of 25 for lunch this morning. Shit! Ok, the busboys are pulling the tables together on the right, my side, of the restaurant as I suck an iced coffee down as if my life depended on it. And repeat. I dump the old ice, top off the empty glass with fresh ice, fill with piping hot dark roasted Italian coffee and stab the ice cubes violently with a straw to quickly chill my coffee before drainig it and approaching 25 careless and starving people. I keep in mind that they walked in the door with the intention of getting fully taken care of, having their needs met. I have to give them anything they want that’s available! So I approach them casually at first. It’s not like I can get on a loud speaker to great everyone at once, as their table probably measures an easy 75 feet. I first had to locate their leader and feel out how the check would be paid for because, as proficient and detail oriented as I can be, it still would have taken me all afternoon to get them back to work if they even mentioned me separating (and making change for, then closing) 25 checks. One check! Thank God!

     I find myself in the middle of our lunch rush, which today includes the long table of 25, (keep in mind that means 25 drinks to keep filled and probably at least a dozen dishes to wrap up to go while the rest of their empty plates must also be pre-bussed) and another 8 or so tables to take care of, without delay of course.

     At the worst moment possible, I see the most high maintenance young moms I may have ever encountered walk through the front door and bee line to the biggest booth in my section. I remember them well! Damn it! There are 2 women and 3 children under the age of 5. Oh here come the plastic place mat ladies. First of all, I know they will (seriously) only have a $20 check to pay before they leave, but will require me to put more miles on my new Dansko clogs than the party of 25 has already!
     The over caffeinated mothers (there’s a starbucks and little gym in very close proximity) start by blasting open their super-duper diaper bags and sanitizing our 10 foot square table, then drying it off while holding their younger children on their hips. Then the high chairs, which we keep very clean already, get the padded high chair/shopping chart treatment because God forbid your child sit on a hard surface! I am surprized they didn’t bubble wrap their children before sitting them in the HIGH chairs! And out come their ultimate sanitary tool of sickness prevension: the adhesive plastic place mat! The plastic place mat is sure to soon be covered with yogurt and smashed fig bars and little squares of pizza. I see the moms standing table-side peeling off the strips and slapping these things on the tables as if it makes mine or our busboys’ lives easier or more convenient when cleaning is concerned after they are gone. But guess what plastic place mat ladies?….you are ridiculous! Here we go. Extra dressing on the side, another diet coke, double cut the

    boy’s slice of pizza, an extra plate and more napkins, I’d like an eighth diet coke please, more bread? Really???? The best part is that they so conveniently stayed all afternoon not having to be elsewhere so I can’t steal a window of down time! And thank you for helping to pay one-three thousanths of my mortgage this afternoon while i just exhausted myself of all energy! Have a wonderful afternoon and I can’t wait to see you soon.

     I can’t complain much because i know and accept that my (our) line of work is the most unpredictable/unpreventable of careers, but I also know that I expended less energy on my 25-top this morning than I did on the little gym moms! I only hoped to steal a few minutes of personal time to have a substantial lunch and maybe read more than a few pages of my book this afternoon?

I love that my wife is not a plastic place mat lady!!!!!!!!!

It’s consumption that consumes me…

     It’s my only full day off of the week and the baby is napping peacefully upstairs while my wife is  preoccupied by some crafting project for our boy’s first birthday party. And where do I find myself during that sacred window of quiet free time? Well in my kitchen, of course! It’s a place of comfort for me i guess, as it is for many. But i’m always in and out of a kitchen at home and moreso at work. I just can’t ever be too far from food and what’s needed to prepare it I guess. Ha. I had to take a step back to realize that I am always preoccupied by consumption of one kind or another. My work finds me constantly staring at people while they eat and drink, some of them with horrible table manners, and I’m okay with it for some reason. And while constantly running from table to table to kitchen and back to dining room, in the back of my mind I’m always strategizing when I can steal another sip of my coffee (or in the past a quick smoke. i miss those moments at times!) or sneak in some lunch and later maybe a small dinner for myself. 

      I catch myself sharpening a few of my knives while waiting for coffee to brew and pondering what I should make for dinner later this evening.  Without getting too introspective, what is this passive preoccupation with consumption that rules my life? I don’t know, but I can’t wait to chug some beers later. Haha. Ahhh, and that fresh pot of coffee is ready for me to drain. It’s a small batch of locally roasted Viennese Columbian from the Baltimore Coffee Company to be exact. *gulp* Another cup please.

     So, while millions of others around the world enjoy another Tuesday night dinner with chopsticks sticking out of their Chinese takeout box watching the anticipated oh-so-exciting edition of (cue Ryan Seacrest) “This is American Idol”, I will be putting my newly honed knives’ edges to work  filling my precious time preparing a delicious gourmet dinner, while consuming many beers and probably a nice glass of wine with my wife of course.  

     And tomorrow is yet another day sure to be filled with many sips and bites.

Strung Out in Atlantic City…Valentine’s Day 2011

     It’s Monday, the last day of my work week, and I am dragging ass. Aaaand it just so happens to also be beloved St. Valentine’s Day. Joy! But I’m feeling good because this seems to be a very appropriate time for me to start writing. It has been a long week and I, among others (confirmed by “ugh, i can’t wait to go on my spring break Caribbean cruise”), am not looking forward to the dinner service ahead of me. And, yes, I am already planning when my feet hit the sand too! 

     Oh sweet, romantic Valentine’s Day…It’s so fun to see our tables hold hands and smooching so lovey-dovey, or witnessing  the squeeky ones looking so nervous and sweating bullets next to the one they long to be with. I, we,  take care of the masses here and Valentines Day is one of the few days of the year that we can all safely call amateur hour… others to be included in such a catgory are Mother’s Day, Prom and Homecoming Nights (btw I wish i could take off that whole week!), Christmas eve and yes most Saturday nights. 

     The dining room fills with people we don’t at all recognize. Or I greet tables I haven’t seen in months, but know well  enough to at least shake hands with and ask them how things have been…And of course i ask where they have been and add that there is no excuse for their extended absence! Ha.

     Tonight is a night sure to be filled with horrid public displays of affection narrated by the swooning vibrato of the one and only Andrea Bocelli rattling the speakers above. I am sure to see the bitter and single i-hate-men ladies, the middle aged rekindling their passions, and let’s not forget to mention the often seen and way too obvious cheaters who whisper face to face like high school lovers, make me puke! (beer break)    

     Dinner went as expected, seemless and busy! Actually, we were crazy busy. Why, I don’t know, but I see more than a fair share of crazy shit in the dining room. Tonight alone: an older dad literally dragged his enraged and curse-spitting son from their table (which sits inches from others having romantic Vday dates) as dad was being screamed at and punched by the ten or so year old boy! They left without ordering.  

     And then there’s that guy! Oh yeah, I remember you. One of my last few tables is an unassuming, thirty-something odd couple who fit the bill of the 4 times a year regulars. i know and remember them and they remember me, and act to know me. Many do feel as if they can get close to me because they have a 85% chance of seeing me when they eat in my restaurant. Well, what the aforementioned goofs don’t realize is that they turn into an instant topic of conversation when they walk in the restaurant…the ultimate od couple, they must have met a a used book store or something.  There’s got to be more to the story than we know. In the past they have  usually come in late and I almost always take care of them. Tonight they ate well,  and they had coffee and hung out for a bit after they were done. We get to talking as I bring them their check and they recall that i got married a few years back. Then I mention to the guy, “Hey, do you remember when I saw you in Atlantic City randomly like 3 years ago?” His wife’s eyebrows raise and her mouth mashes with irritation. He asks “Uh what was I doing there?” (insert nervous chuckle) I remind him that I almost walked right by without noticing him except that what caught my attention was the fact that some guy,this guy, was teetering on the edge of his seat with his face inches from a video poker machine. “Uh, yeah I used to play a little poker”, he tells me. His wife is looking a little pissed at this point. I continue to ask if he recalls himself pacing back and forth nervously in the valet drop-off area outside the casino about three hours later then asking me for a ride back home, which is over 3 hours away from Atlantic City. (more nervous heh hehs). “Yeah, well you have a grrreat night man. Thanks so much!”, he says. Wife storms out of the restaurant, I just ruined their Valentine’s Day I think. Seems to me my old buddy used to have a bit of a gambling problem and lost his car and more while strung out in the dregs of Atlantic City. “Oops, uh….yeah, uh see ya next time.”