I blog by day and wait tables by night. I'm excited to bring you Served, dispatches from the front of the house. Enjoy!
When I bring the dude at Bar-10 a menu and a wine list, he is talking intently on his cell. When I come back to pour him a glass of spicy Portuguese red, he is again parleying tense, intense conversation loudly into his phone.
So I go talk to someone else, then return to B-10. The man dramatically snaps his phone shut. "Whew, sorry. That was my ex-wife."
I splash some wine into a glass for him to taste.
"She still loves me." Uh oh. A bit too much information from a perfect stranger.
"Do you like the wine?"
"Yes. My girlfriend wants me to stop talking to the ex-wife. But we used to be married! And my ex-girlfriend is back in the picture. She still loves me, too. But I have a girlfriend. And we're living together."
This man wants nothing more than to deliver a gory play-by-play of his soap opera life. There's no stopping him. I learn all about the girlfriend, who loves nothing more than to cook for him. She makes quality pasta.
He goes on. His ex-girlfriend is in desperate need of cash. Yesterday, he left a few hundred bucks in an envelope with her name on it with his doorman. She came to pick it up and had a breakdown in the lobby of his building—tears, screaming, and all. Her heart was broken. She was broke. What a sad story!
The man at B-10, according to his tale, is rich as can be. His troubles are with this trio of women vying for his heart, not with his bank account. But I, like the rest of the world, am thinking about money more than usual these days. And of course I'm thinking that this guy is nuts.
No one talks about the economy at my place, really. It's depressing. Instead, we talk about our new boar sausage, and what pairs best with the pumpkin oatmeal cookie ice cream sandwich. I vote for Elysian Night Owl Pumpkin Ale, hands down. We chat about which jerky wine director got the boot at a place across town, and J.'s great new playlist, and Obama.
We're lucky. My place is thriving.
Last weekend, we didn't just beat our record for money made in a night—and for most pieces of cheese and glasses of wine sold—we smashed it. If you walk by my place, you will most likely find it packed, people spilling out the door and into the unfriendly cold. In these shaky times, we might worry, but we have nothing to complain about.
As of late, we have seen an interesting shift in our business. There are more people coming in. But the multitudes of drinkers and diners are spending a bit less money. With more checks and slightly lower check averages, we're holding more than steady.
If you believe general sentiment, my restaurant is an ideal sport for scary economic times. It's reasonably priced and comfy. Not exactly a spot for two buck beers, but there are no forty dollar entrees on our menu, either. You can buy yourself a great glass of wine and a sandwich without making a major financial commitment. You can have a night out without doling out a month of rent for several courses that still leave you wanting a slice of pizza and/or a giant bowl of spaghetti.
Last night, I talked with a couple who had just finished work at their respective fine dining restaurants. He is a maître d'; she, a wine director.
"How's business?" I asked.
His place has been crowded, he said, and people are still spending plenty of money. But they are tipping less. A lot less.
Her restaurant, even fancier, was really suffering. The weekends still rocked, but weeknights were uncomfortably slow. "It's awful," she said, "we're scratching at the walls."
Everyone who has worked at a restaurant knows that the only thing worse than being in the weeds is having nothing to do. An empty restaurant is an unnerving place, both for diners and for staff.
They stayed for a second bottle of wine, and dessert. They were the last to leave as we closed things up at 3 in the morning. "If you want a three hundred dollar truffle tasting," she said by way of goodnight, "come on by. I'll hook you up."
The Party's Off
At the spot where I used to cook, bar business is at an all-time high. This was confirmed when I came by for a drink the other night and had to wedge myself between disgruntled businessmen to order a glass of prosecco.
This place makes a sizable chunk of their money from special events and private parties, and that's where they're feeling the pain. The plug is being pulled on holiday celebrations left and right. No one wants to throw a lavish bash. Those who can still afford it worry their soiree would be in bad taste.
So people are left on their own to drown their sorrows in food and drink. And trust me, there is still plenty of revelry going on. I see it every night in my place.
All products linked here have been independently selected by our editors. We may earn a commission on purchases, as described in our affiliate policy.