Category Archives: Moms

TGIM!

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!!!!!!!!!