Last night, I overcame my urge to throw a temper tantrum and behave recklessly--at the sheer knuckle-head-edness of intoxicated guests, who showed up after the UMASS hockey game, then decided, when no one was looking, to light a fire in the fire place. As the building filled with smoke, and the alarms went off, and we had to clear the bar and building, and the cooks and bartenders had to stop cooking and bartending, and the entire building of guests and staff had to stand outside in the cold, while the fire department rushed down, in two trucks and on foot (I love those guys...seriously!)a dozen at least, with axes and hoses and boots and face-masks...all for a false alarm, created by two guys who;
1. Denied at first, knowing anything.
2. Tried to sneak out and get in their pick up when no one was looking.
3. Allowed others to get blamed until they were identified.
4. THEN, claimed to have "meant no harm"
5. THEN, claimed to be good customers,
6. THEN, claimed to be "a Lowell fire fighter"
7. THEN, claimed to have lit "100 fires in my life"
(But, apparently, "thought the flue was open", and, tried to light two huge oak logs with...newspaper!)
8. THEN, once the smoke had cleared, apologies offered, fire department departed, returned to the building to request to be served drinks!
Knucklehead #1 had no response when I asked; "Don't you think it's pretty stupid to try and light a fire in someone else's place?"
For the record...They arrived drunk. (We may have been suspicious when they asked for a lighter...)
For the record...We are withholding names. Knuckleheads will be knuckleheads.
For the record...There is such a thing as being TOO hospitable...It's NOT YOUR HOUSE!
For the record...The staff was great, and cooler heads prevailed.
My mom would be proud.
Freshly home from her European bus-train-hike-couch-surfing-cow-milking tour, my daughter Tara and I jaunted to Boston on a quiet Monday night, for dinner and a movie.
12 Years a Slave. For starters, what a GREAT movie. Of course, it could not exist if not for the vileness of some of our own, humankind, and coming to terms--having to look in the eye--the recurring theme that we are STILL not nearly as evolved as we like to think. Through rich cinematography, excellent acting and dialogue, great love and hatred, Director Steve Mcqueen challenges you to look hard, to not turn away, from the true evil of us, of man, as our brothers and sisters are treated in the most inhumane way possible; A movie based on the autobiography of a free black man, kidnapped, and placed into sadistic slavery in South Carolina. I dare you.
Afterwards, a much lighter mood at Eastern Standard, Kenmore Square--and much more bustle than the City as a whole, and then Union in the South End. I love Monday nights--No traffic, lots of parking, so easy to get a seat, and you can still find "busy" if you go to the right places. And, it's easy to have apps and wine in multiple spots, in different neighborhoods! (Did I say I love Boston?) Eastern Standard SETS the standard, for all things right in restaurants--Grand design, and bustling because: The servers are friendly and well trained, the food is excellent but approachable and hearty, the drinks excellent, always. They even have a "one off" Monday night Wine List! What I DO NOT like about ES is...they make it hard to go elsewhere! That good. We then headed to Union, on Washington St, owned by the incredible Aquitaine Group (and a friend...) for Duck Perogies, an incredible glass of wine, and more attentive, hospitable service. Union is, like sister-spots around the corner; The Gaslight and Cinquecento, always excellent!
Have I mentioned before how I wish I could be more regular on this blog? Welcome to my irreegular world!
So, Happy Thanksgiving. I'm grateful that despite my irregularities, you still read this shit.
We had a nice holiday surprise...Daughter Tara, after two months of traveling Europe by herself, flew home to surprise us, without letting anyone know but her sister. Well done! (While visiting a table in the bar on Thanksgiving eve, I heard a woman screech behind me. I mentioned to the table, how I HATE when people screech in bars, and turned to look and realized it was my wife Kathy--and--she was hugging my daughter! I did NOT have Kathy removed)
Last night, after the Lowell City of Lights parade ended, I met a nice lady as I was tending the roaring fire in the lobby. As we were speaking, friend and regular customer Karen Dolan passed through the lobby. I watched as she stopped, turned slowly towards the woman, and after a couple seconds of staring asked "Pamela?" And, Pamela, "Karen?". Then they hugged like friends, who hadn't seen each other in 45 years, yet recognized each other! In fact, it was Pamela's 1st visit back to Lowell since moving to Atlanta...45 years ago!
It was nice to see former Lowell-then-Boston police chief, Ed Davis at COBBLESTONES last night, to celebrate the City of Lights and attend a party on our 2nd floor for NEW LPD head-honcho, Billy Taylor. Good luck Bill, and Ed, who has left is top-cop post to do some private sector work at MIT.
My public apology goes to Corey Belanger, my friend and new city councilor. My "tweak" of Corey's celebratory gathering in one of "Lowell's suburbs" was COMPLETELY in fun. For those, I have heard, who are making a stink of it, I assure you--I could rail all day on politics and politicians and political junkies and junkets, and people who fight battles online about politics and government and food and other people, and kissing ass, and hypocrites and liars and gaming the system for pension pay and wasted funds and horrible political appointments and wasted resources and those who pretend to be fixing shit they have no idea about, because they don't know about anything worthwhile! And don't EVEN get me started on those who write budgets and make fiscal decisions who have never, ever had to put their own money in the bank to make a payroll. Seriously...I could piss people off ALL DAY if I wasn't so damned busy trying so hard NOT TO!
So, for anyone who would suggest that I was out of line, teasing my friend...I truly apologize for misleading you or being vague in my poke. Here's my position; Corey is a good guy. Corey loves Lowell. Corey can support any business he chooses, and can celebrate in any town he chooses, and f*$# me or anyone else who questions him. There are MUCH more serious issues to get worked up about! I was only teasing for shits and giggles...and am only writing this here, because I was never "invited" to the apparent Lowell political forum, that I know/knew nothing about. (And, I'm pretty ok with that. In general, politics suck)Have at it, for sure. I just want to be certain that nobody thinks I think, that I know better than Corey!)
I can't wait to see all the terrific things Corey and the new City council will achieve on behalf of Lowell and downtown. How about we start with expanding the commercial base, so when many of these new students sober up and graduate, they can actually get jobs close to home and afford my restaurants!! (There you go...some new material...)
We get by with a little help from our friends. OK...a LOT of help from our friends. Training, feed back, teamwork, referrals, etc. It all circles back around...
* It's pretty badass to have TWO developers offering us money and "benefits" to develop a restaurant in their site developments. Each a beautiful project, each wanting EITHER a COBBLESTONES or moonstones. We are not convinced yet...but it's fun to consider. (BTW...if you know someone with space-- 3000 to 5500 square feet--in either a bustling, or under-served location please let us know!...)
* We just hired two more excellent chefs/cooks to join our growing team of amazing talent. We have NEVER been so loaded. (Though we ARE looking for another full time manager--so again--if you know someone who wants to be a part of "great"--with integrity, mental health (mostly, but not absolutely required), a quick smile, and comfortable with saying; "If I see your cell phone again during service hours I will batter and deep fry it"...please send him/her our way!
* We have a well-liked employee who wanted to make the jump to server. We gave said employee study material, and test scores were solid. During a "practical service" session--when prospective trainees wait on management to evidence readiness--the chef felt something was not right. In "testing" the trainee, Chef pointed to the Petit filet and crab cake and asked; "What is this on the plate?" The trainee responded, apparently in all seriousness; "Polenta." (We don't even have polenta on our menu. Anywhere.) Back to hitting the books youngin'! And, maybe, go out to dinner and order some polenta! With a steak. Note the similarities...
* COBBLESTONES was slammed last night! Full house, full lobby. I had intended to head to moonstones following afternoon meetings. Instead, I remained to help out during that early "pre game" rush. I'm glad I did--I WAS able to help, and I looove those nights when we are crushed! Finally, it calmed down a bit around 8PM and I headed to the lower west side (Chelmsford!) To my delight, private room was full, chef's table full, dining room full, lounge full-plus, raw bar full, and the drink rail slash lobby was full of people waiting for tables. I didn't help this time. Instead, I stood in a corner, with a cold Smuttynose, and stayed out of the way as I enjoyed watching a second incredible staff do what they do. Thrill our guests--wall to wall, 'soup to nuts'!
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