May 13, 2008
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Well I woke up Sunday Morning
With a dream that's in my head that wouldn't stop
That the mugs I'd bought for moms
Had got mixed up and they were handing out the pops
So I crawled over to my closet
Dug around and found my best Hawaiian shirt
And I brushed my teeth and combed my hair
And stumbled down the stairs to meet the day
I had racked my brain the night before
To attempt to solve the problems of the day
Cause this Sunday was different
It was special, it was Mothers Day
As I rolled up to the diner
I caught that sweet sweet smell
of someone frying bacon
I went through the door, threw off my coat
And dove into the problems of the day
For it's Sunday at the diner
But it's not like other days
We are closing this one early
To prepare a brunch for Mothers Day
But morning sales come first this Sunday
And theres nothing like this sound
It's the sound of people eating
It's Sunday morning going down
I just love Kristofferson. And I am sorry if butchered up his Lyrics a little.
I awoke Sunday morning to the phone ringing. Ricci was calling. "Aren't we suppose to be handing out mugs for Mothers Day?", she asked. "That's a no brainer.", I quipped, "Why do they think I brought them out for?". "They seem to think that they are for your brunch this afternoon.", she said. "I've got mugs put aside for that already. Please start handing them out immediately.", I ordered. It was our second Mothers Day of handing out mugs and the crew was the same as last year so I just thought that they would figure to do the same. That is what I get for thinking.
After a shower, I dug around my closet to find one of my more pretty shirts. I wanted one that the Mothers would like. Judy said the yellow one looked good so I pulled that one on. Judy was staying behind to pack her bags for her trip up the afternoon to Portland to spend the rest of Mothers Day with Trinity. I was happy she was doing it as I knew that it would help her with the blues of Casey leaving. I didn't expect to have her at the diner at all that morning.
Arriving early, I found the diner full and not all the serving staff. Fortunately, a couple of the bussers had come in early, so I quickly gave them assignments and had them come on the clock. It was not even 8:30 and we already had a line. I called in Toni to get the back room going and stepped into the main dining room. With a quick sweep of the floor, I observed what every restaurateur hopes for. Happy faces, laughter, and that sweet sweet sound of clinking silverware. I grabbed up a hand full of cups and looked for Mothers that might not have their special mug of the day.
At one table, I handed out a couple and then was told that they needed one more. The mother looked so young that I thought she almost needed a kids menu but she assured me that she was of drinking age. I apologised and went on to the next. "Are you a mother?", I asked. "I am the mother of my dogs.", she giggled. "That is good enough for me.", I quipped and gave her a mug.
Toni arrived and with a full crew, I opened up the back room and reduced the line that was now out the door into the parking lot. Large group after large group rolled in and it became quite a puzzle to fit them in. Meanwhile, I kept me ear out for the dings in the kitchen that meant that the waitresses were not picking up their food. upon hearing one, I stepped into the waitress station with the pass bar crammed full of food and tickets up for nearly every waitress there. I began lining up the food and barking out to get their food out to the diners. This is the station that my wife usually mans and the girls don't always like me there because I am a little more demonstrative than she.
As I took out one of the girls orders, I took note that there were vacant tables and knew that I needed to help the our youngest member who was manning the greet station. "Will you take out two milks to my corner booth?", Ricci asked, "And I need a coffee run. Can you handle that one also." "No, I cant.", I returned calmly, "You are on your own today, kid.".
Heading to the greet station, I found a somewhat confused Catrina. I looked at her list and told her that she needed to seat Bob for two. She said, "I cant find them.". "Go through the people that are inside first and then the ones in the foyer. If you cant find them there, check the parking lot.". I watched her as she walked right past Bob twice. Her voice was so quite that no one could hear her.
As she walked outside, I got Bob seated and gave him his menus and then returned to the even more confused Catrina. "You need to speak up.", I told her. "Now, lets find the Browns for six.". I think the only way the Browns knew that they were up was from hearing me talk to her as her soft voice could still not be heard. After seating them and returning, I asked her if she was angry with one of her sisters, did she ever raise her voice. "Well", she said, "Not my sisters but I do get angry with my Brother and yell at him.". "OK, that is the same volume that I want you to use but with a happy tone of voice. Do you think you can do that?", I asked. "Sure" was the reply and immediately, people began to hear her.
I then took note that the line at the cashier was longer than expected and realized that there was no cashier there. She had ducked out probably asking a waitress to cover her for a second and the waitress got busy so I jumped in and began ringing up sales. There are certain wait times in a dining experience that if you can reduce will make the experience better thus making a happier diner. The first is getting seated. Then getting greeted. Then getting their order. Then getting their food. Then getting their ticket. And sometimes the most important is getting their bill paid so they can leave. The cashier showed back up so I was able to break away to help out in other places as needed.
Walking through the waitress area, I heard a couple of the waitresses calling out toast that they needed. Looking into the kitchen, I noted that that particular cook was quite busy with his grill so I quickly dropped the items called for into the toaster and went on with my rounds.
I was elated when Judy showed up to help for a couple of hours before her flight and left the waitress area knowing that I would not have to worry about the food getting out for a while. I knew that the waitresses would be happy also. I think every one of them had asked me if she was coming in. Either they missed her or they were tired of my barking out orders.....maybe both.
There are usually three rushes on a Sunday. The first breakfast rush, the first service rush around 10:30, and the second service rush around noon. Those last two coinciding with the ending of church services. Today, they all blended in together. Large party after large party seemed to change the dynamics of the room making it almost a living breathing entity of its own. With the line very long, people began to ask how long they were going to have to wait. I would tell them that I had no idea but everything was moving pretty fast. In the most intense part of the morning, this wasn't fast enough for some of them and I lost quite a few groups during that time. I wondered if they would be able to find a restaurant in town that didn't have a line today.
Close to noon, Jimmy came in to begin preparing for the People to People brunch that afternoon. We were talking about what was needed when a young lady walked in the front door and asked if we had room for a party of 20. The line had worked its way down considerably and I took a quick assessment of the floor. There were two tables sitting side by side in the back of the middle section. With a small table between them that would sit 10. I looked at the two fold outs to each side of them and took note that they were close to finishing. The two foldouts could fit five each so I said, "yes, we can handle 20.". Normally about this time, the back room starts to slow down and we shut it down and get ready to have the bussers clean it up but with the large party in the front and more large groups coming in, the back room remained packed. The party of 20 grew even more and before long took up half of the main dining room.
Carrie and Jay showed up and took Judy out to lunch somewhere else before she was to take off to Portland so I was back to keeping an eye on the waitress station again. We had brought another cook in at 11 to give the three line cooks a break and the afternoon cook started at 1. So, around one, I was walking through the waitress station and noticed some of the girls waiting on things on their orders. With five cooks on the line and Jimmy off to the side making six, they seemed to be bumping in to one another and instead of speeding up the line had slowed it down. "Come on guys, there are six of you back there, can we get this food out!", I barked. "I need white toast!", one waitress called. "So do I!" called another. "Me too!" yet another. The cook by the toaster looked at me with a helpless type of look. "That's three white toasts.", I said. "And one side!" Fran yelled as she passed through. "and one side of white toast." , I added to the frustrated cook.
I ducked out to the office to get some change for the cashier when someone let me know that the people to people group had arrived. "Tell them they are going to have to wait a little.", I said. Later, another waitress came to me and said that there were kids in her section there to decorate for the brunch. "Ask them to wait outside.", I ordered.
Around 2:30, I began to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The back room was nearly empty and I had the bussers start the clean up with the bathrooms first. As they finished and began cleaning the back room, the people to people crew came right in behind them and began decorating. I placed signs on the front doors and the main floor quickly emptied after the large party had been happily fed. Many of them thanked us as they left the building.
As quickly as they left, we began preparing for the brunch. With two of the swing crews help, Jimmy quickly cleared off the counter areas and began setting up the buffet. We moved all of the counter chairs out to the deck area. A couple of ladies were the only left over diners from the day and as I brought them cups, I told them not to rush as the brunch was over an hour away. They thanked me and relaxed down to finish their meal.
We started training the kids on what they needed to do to serve and I quickly realized that I had forgotten to get cups for the event. We had gone with paper plates and plastic silveware to make the event clean up easier. I rushed down to Costco to get some cups and when I returned, the brunch was in full swing. I walked around from one section to the other looking for any problems to solve but all was going well. So, I grabbed a cleaning towel and wiped down areas like the salad bar that was being well used. I took note that people were using our trays to carry their one plate of salad back to their table so I quickly moved the trays away to save that extra clean up.
I enjoyed talking and teasing the various kids that were working. They all seemed like such a happy group. One young lady in particular, Lacy, told me that she had never had a paying job. She was 18. "Why?", I asked. "I don't think I could hold a job.", she quipped. " I am too lazy.". I marveled at her honesty so I dove in further. "Everyone has to work sooner or later. What do you want to do?". "I don't know", she stated. "Something Artistic but Scientific.". "A scientific artist or a artistic scientist?", I asked. "I don't know", she said, "Either, both, or neither.". I later met her scientific dad and her artistic mom.
With their event winding down, the kids cleaning up, and the people to people crew leaving, I got stuck into helping out my crew with their final clean up. Jay called me up and asked me if I would come over and have a brownie with him at his house. Exhausted, I asked Jimmy if he was OK with closing up and he said sure.
I drove over to Jays house and walked in as my little buddy Carlos and his sister Carmen were leaving. "Hiya Hippie!", greeted Carlos. "Hiya Carlos Santana!", I greeted back. They both grinned and giggled and Carlos came back in when Carrie invited him to look at the pictures that she had done of Jayden when he was the guest of the Blazers. Carlos had a Greg Oden Tshirt on. "Who is that?", he would ask. "Greg Oden.", I would say before Carrie had a chance to tell him who it really was. "And who is that?", he asked again. "Greg Odens brother.", I said. Carlos gave me one of those funny quizzical looks. Carrie assured him that I was just teasing. "Who is that?", Carlos asked of a young man who was sweeping off the floor. "Greg Odens son.", I answered. "Really?" came Carlos's question. "Yup and that is his Mom and Dad right there.". "You are teasing me, Hippie.", came back Carlos.
Jay and I shared a brownie and I headed back to the house. On the way, Nancy from People to People was trying to get a final count on the tickets so I detoured back to the diner and arrived just as they were leaving. A quick count of what we had sold for them and a quick sweep of the building, and I was back on my way home.
I cracked open a beer and began to watch "the Office" on TV. I awoke an hour or so later and drug myself back to bed. Sunday evening was going down.