The rants and raves of a career restaurant owner, ‘still waiting on fries’
“Where’s Henry? He’s been seated.”
Way (way) back in the day, I used to wear different, occasional operational hats:
Kitchen expo (my favorite!), food runner (does anyone want to see the owner actually delivering their food?), service bartender (until staff kicked me out), and host—where my skills were best served and I didn’t get in the staff’s way—Happily greeting guests, controlling the seating “flow” of the floor, answering the phones and (almost always politely) even the most inane questions!
(IE “Do you serve Coke or Pepsi products?”)
“Seriously, has anyone seen Henry?
Can someone please greet table 32 while I check the bathroom.”
Although our front waiter was not in the bathroom, there were several indicators that he had passed through just recently. Henry’s (empty) sales envelope and server’s apron were resting on the edge of the sink. This, and the blinds were raised, with the window wide open. I looked out and down, left and right into the bathroom alley, seeing no signs of the now missing waiter.
I recall being as intrigued as I was annoyed at the time. He was a good waiter, a good looking and affable fellow but also, I had already been in the biz long enough to not sweat a missing employee. Such stories abound, including the dishwasher whose grandmother sadly passed away. Twice in one year.
Eventually our network reported the following:
Three local police came through the front door, hungry for lunch.
Henry, with a warrant for his arrest from some petty crime committed in Colorado didn’t wait around to discuss that day’s specials.
It was this story that compelled my wife Kathy to suggest that if I ever wrote a book about the endless exploits of the restaurant business, it would be called: “Out the Bathroom Window.”
Some 10 years later, Kathy and I were in Boston’s Back Bay and decided to have dinner at The Atlantic Fish Company on Boylston St. As our waiter introduced himself as “Henri” (On-ree) and read the specials, Kathy’s investigative antennae went to work. When he next returned to our table with the drinks, I shared with him that he looked good with the extra 20lbs, and that he still owed us $25 from his lunch receipts back at Cobblestones!
We chuckled, the food was good, the service was better, and Henri made it all the way through the end of the meal!