Sunday, April 1, 2018

Joe's Easter Story ©2018 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

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     I guess it was two, maybe three weeks before Easter. It was a busy weekend night, of that I'm certain. The kitchen had closed. The bar still had a little something going on and a few straggling tables occupied one of the dining rooms. I'd had a pretty good night.
     We'd been busy but nothing we couldn't handle. My clients were nice and everything went smoothly. If I could hustle up with the broom, me and my $250 (!) could get out of there before 11:00.
     I was sweeping a dining area that had closed and subsequently emptied out. And I swept the shit out of it. I tidied up some real estate that wasn't even in my jurisdiction. When I got through, I had a heaping mound of detritus, too much to ethically put in the little trash can at the hostess podium (c'mon, you know you've done it). I scooped it all into a cardboard box and headed toward the big dumpster out back.
     But I wound up making other arrangements. Standing face to face by the garbage area were the owner/GM of Chez Swanky™, Donny J, and the chef, whose name, like mine, is Joe. He usually goes by Chef and there hasn't been any confusion.
     Anyway, I couldn't quite hear Chef Joe's angry words and didn't want to, but Chef Joe, the younger, taller and imminently more fatass of the two, was staring down Donny J and obviously giving the owner verbal hell. Donny J just seemed to stand there and take it. As soon as I realized what was going on I went elsewhere. It might have been my imagination but I think I saw Donny J flinch a little under the wrath of Chef Joe.
     There often seemed to be some tension between those two. Sometimes it was kind of jokey, but not usually. When spoken to by his boss, Chef Joe answered back kind of sharpish. Chef Joe calls everybody "dude." Chef Joe'd had custody of his daughter the previous Christmas and had taken off on Christmas Eve, the busiest night of the year at Chez Swanky. Donny J was pretty unhappy about that. I'd seen a few minor, testy exchanges between owner and chef before that evening and a couple afterwards. I only witnessed the bitch-out by the garbage bins briefly and didn't hear what was said, er, shouted. But I was a little taken aback. I'm real sure their confrontation never turned truly physical, but to me it was redolent of the threat of impending violence.
     Now, unless it's Christmas Eve, Valentine's Day, Mother's Day or New Years Eve, Chez Swanky is closed on Sunday. And since Chez Swanky is a dinner-only restaurant, we're closed every day. Except we serve brunch on Mother's Day. And Easter Sunday. We do decent on Mother's Day but it's nothing to write home (or a blog post) about. But our Easter brunch rocks balls.
     Brunch service starts at 11:00. We open the doors at ten of. Last year, as usual, everything went well. None of my co-workers seemed hungover or pissed off about working Sunday morning. Most of our guests were in a good mood, and besides a couple of weirdos who sat in stations other than mine, were real nice and tipped well.
     We were real busy for a good couple of hours and then business didn't die but just began to kind of peter out. This would have been about 1:30. We'd advertised seating until 3:00. Chef Joe was very adamant that there'd better not be any entrée orders rung up after 3:30.
     A little before 2:00, owner/GM Donny J and his co-owner/occasional assistant manager the (no shit) very lovely Mrs J, sat down at Table #24 to enjoy some Easter brunch their own selves. I remember thinking that it'd be real cool if they'd hold off  for about a ½ hour before they ate. The wave had crested but it was still breaking on the shore some and maybe we could still use their help, but oh well. A couple of my co-workers, Mikey B and the lovely Shannon, also expressed that sentiment.
     You know who else had that opinion? Chef Joe. Mr and Ms J had sat in cute blonde waitress Shannon's station. As she'd rung in their order, she told Chef Joe who the food was for. That's good restaurant protocol, by the way, alerting the kitchen when chow is for managers, owners, VIP's and the like. But on that Easter, it didn't work out so well.
     Chef Joe went batshit livid. "That motherfucker ain't eating until shit around here blah blah blah whatevs!" said the angry chef. He instructed his crew not to make any orders for Table #24. After awhile, Donny J figured out, or was told, what was up. He got Mikey B to ring in their order, still on Table #24. I don't know if using another table number was contemplated or would have worked out any better. Chef Joe wouldn't allow that order to be prepared, either. I don't know if they ever got to eat.
     Brunch eventually ended. The clientele left, we cleaned up and moved a few tables and things around so we'd be ready to start serving dinner in about 25 hours. Several of us were at the booths in the upstairs dining room, rolling silver, when Donny J sidled up and bade us join him out back on the benches by the parking lot. "I wanted to tell all of you that I just fired Joe. Maybe you know that he wouldn't make our food a little while ago. I wouldn't have fired him just over that. This has been coming for awhile," said Donny J. Then he paused.
     That's when I announced to the assembled crew, "Anybody have a bet on me being the first Joe canned out of here? Better pay up, motherfuckers!"

     Have a happy Easter, everybody.


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