Monday, April 24, 2006 by Ospite.

There are certain consumer products here in the us that we know have significant mark-ups and when we purchase them, the sale price can be rearranged from the sticker price. Cars. Musical Instruments. Some electronics. I was unaware that restaurant food had been added to the list.

Thursday evening has become our new Saturday night. We've been running outrageous wait times on Thursdays starting around 7pm. Apparently daylight savings time is beneficial in some way. This late setting Sun drives hungry patrons through our doors.

We've been running an estimated 60-minute wait for a party of 3 or less and it seems as though everyone wants to wait for our seemingly legitimate Italian cuisine. I'm not going to argue with them...the more that wait, the better we do, the more my boss is happy, the more money I make. A well-dressed, very polite couple saunters in, places their name on the list and waits patiently for their turn at our table. They end up passing c. 75 minutes without even venturing to the bar to warm up first. They are sat. Begin Act the Second.

The waiter approaches, runs the evening spiel and takes orders for two waters while the couple decides on an antipasta. (for those not well-versed in ITACuisine 101, that's code for appetizer). He brings water and house bread, which they begin digging into immediately. We predict bargain shoppers at this 2top. The waiter stops by again.

"Have we settled on anything to begin with?"
"Actually, we've decided to attack the main course right away."
"Splendid, sir."
"But I have a question. This dish here, the chicken with the mushrooms and artichokes, etc...well, I'd like that, but can you give it to me for the price of the penne?"
"I'm sorry, but we cannot substitue pricing."
"Well, it's not much...just drop about $5 from the price. I'll take it for the price of the penne."
"The menu is set. I am not allowed to alter it."
"Hmm...not even if you rang it in as the penne but told the kitchen to cook up the chicken instead?"

Clearly enjoying his humorous guests, he replies with a smile, "First of all, I don't have the power to haggle our dinner prices. You would have to talk to the owner, and seeing that he set them himself, I doubt you'll get much give out of him. Second, sir, we have a 60 minute wait on dinner tonight, do you really think the kitchen cares about a non-ticketed alteration 'on the fly' on a short-staffed, busy Thursday night?"

"Well said. Give us just a couple minutes."

The couple passed me on their way out the restaurant. I couldn't help but laugh to myself thinking about the 90 minute ordeal that got them only bread and water. I strolled over to talk to their waiter.

"Well, at least it gave you a little entertainment for the evening."
"You kidding? They left me a $5 tip on bread and water!"


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At your service, Ospite

I am not in the restaurant business, I am in the people business. I use every opportunity to people watch, because to me, even the most mundane is fascinating.

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