Thursday, November 30, 2006 by Ospite.
7 notations

He was called into work on a day off. Early. One of his managers was in the office waiting. The news was not good.

Several times, our culinary manager has been warned about hanging out with our waitstaff outside the restaurant. Apparently it crosses some invisible line. The problem is that the waitstaff love this guy. Not because he lets them get away with murder, but because he knows how to run the restaurant well. His judgement is wonderful, and he commands the respect of 98% of the staff. We are willing to do his every bidding. Partly because he comes out from time to time and has a beer with us responsibly, has a good time, and we enjoy his company.

The office meeting ended his 10 year stint at our trattoria.

There was an uproar amongst the employees. Many of them owe him for their jobs. There are now only two competent managers, both with their hands quite full. This means the two relatively useless managers will pick up the slack. There's talk of a mutiny. I myself have already begun the quest.
Monday, November 27, 2006 by Ospite.
0 notations

The Jackal is moving to the floor. Whose decision it was and how it was made are unknown, but either way, I'm fairly interested to see the result.

The table she was at was getting under way. She was approaching with wine, oil, and bread, as is standard fare for the trattoria. For those of you who don't eat Italian food, extra virgin olive oil/herbs/pepper/sometimes cheese, are poured into a shallow dish for the dipping of bread.

The Jackal was chatting with the table, making small talk as she reached for the bottle to pour into the dish. Reaching right, she retrieved the open wine bottle and proceeded to pour a fine chianti into the oil dish.

As she went for the spices, a shocked look came upon her face. The guests laughed.

"No no, go ahead. We usually like pepper in our chianti."

She desperately grabbed for a fresh dish and tried to play it off as if nothing had happened.
Friday, November 24, 2006 by Ospite.
0 notations

Sick and tired. Not the phrase, but actually suffering from both. All last week I was trying to figure out my ailments. I never get sick for long, only a matter of days. Usually 4 or 5. So rather than shell out for a bloody doctor visit I decided to wait it out. On top of that, I had to call in sick for several days straight. Immediately following, my wife and I meandered to Harrisburg and Philly for assorted parties.

Monday. Double shift at the trattoria. Tuesday, flight to sister-in-law's for Thanksgiving.

Let me tell you that spending Thanksgiving in the home of two professional chefs requires that you bring a good pair of stretchy pants. The spread for the turkey day was exquisite.

Tomorrow, it's away from traditional American fare, to tradition Italian. Due to the horrid amount of consumerism that takes place this weekend, I pretty much guarantee some quality updates here.
Thursday, November 16, 2006 by Ospite.
9 notations

Typical busy night and I'm boxing up food in the kitchen.

"Hey, check out table 61."
"Why?"
"It's a surprise, but do a walk-by. It'll be worth it."

Now, normally when people tell me to do this I end up talking to a long lost friend of the family and I get roped into a conversation that lasts 10 minutes, which can kill any waiter's groove.

I grab a bev tray and some glasses and step briskly by this relatively secluded booth in the trattoria. What I see slows me almost to a halt.

3 later-middle-aged women were chatting loudly. They had decorated the table with lace and doilies, three pictures of their late friend who had died on the anniversary of that evening, and a candle to represent his presence in spirit. I felt very bad for their waitress. It was clear they'd be there for awhile.
Friday, November 10, 2006 by Ospite.
12 notations

I approached the table seeing a toddler, mother, and her mother. These 3-generation tables are always tough to call. Sometimes they're ornery and sometimes they're remarkably sweet. As I walked forward, I noticed the child's head inder the mother's shirt. I was approaching from a good distance, so I observed this far before they observed me.

My first thought was that this child was far too old to be breast-feeding. My second thought was that she was doing this in front of everyone. My third thought was that as they noticed me, the mother removed the child, placed her in the child seat, didn't fix her shirt, and did she not realize that her right breast was still showing, nipple and all?

I did my greet, mostly facing the grandmother, so as not to appear as though I was staring. When the mother talked I made strict eye contact. It's hard to say something in this case, because you don't want to act as though you are watching her chest. at the same time, it's mildly inappropriate for topless wome to be in the restaurant...even if subtle. By the time I had procured bread and drinks, the shirt was down a bit more except the nipple on the right side. The shirt was bunched just above it. This woman was short enough that as she leaned near the table, you'd have to be looking directly to notice it. How she didn't notice that her stomach and chest were showing is a bit of a surprise. I took the orders and walked away. I noticed Nicolai about to seat several young gentlemen directly nearby and came to the realization that I needed to say something.

Turning around, I began playing over the conversation in my head. It had been several minutes since she had stopped nursing. How do I explain the fact I let her bare breast go on so long unmentioned? How do I bring up the topic? Ma'am you're nipple is sticking out?

Just when I was ready to open my mouth, she stood up to go to the washroom. It was then that she noticed her shirt. She looked up at me with a sheepish look and several shades of red on her face. I smiled and mouthed "It's ok."

As she walked out of the bathroom on her way back to the table, she passed me, saying

"I'm sorry. I didn't realize. Nursing's so much of a habit, I forget to check myself afterwards."

"No worries, I don't think anyone else noticed."

Their tip ran around 30%.
Monday, November 06, 2006 by Ospite.
2 notations

They've just opened down the street. It's a similar place to ours. Traditional Italian. A tad smaller than ours, open kitchen, and a bar twice the size of the one stretching on our west wall. And a staff that's brand spanking new.

The problem for us is that the owner's got a bit of a reputation...a good one.

Tonight was dead. Particularly dead. I walked away with 4 tables. Total. For the entire night. When I left I decided to ditch the uniform and check out the competition to see if that is where our business had gone.

I strolled up the sidewalk, prepared for the worst, so I pulled out my mobile, set it to silent, and pretended to have a conversation. First off, let me tell you how beneficial the fake phone call can be. You chatter aimlessly into space while surveying the landscape for details and important facts. Not to mention, most restauranteurs will acknowledge you, but not serve you while on your phone. It paid off doubly when I was almost attacked by the over-zealous, seemingly 12 year old hostess. The door was flung into me and I had to grab it with my non-phone hand to keep the handle from breaking my ribs. "HI!!"

Pulling the phone from my face.. "Got a take out menu?"

"SURE!" Seriously. She was almost yelling. She then thrust the to-go menu at me. I waved towards a chair to note that I'd be sitting there while chatting and deciding. "OK. Just let me know when you're ready." The first words she spoke ather than yelped.

I scoped the place out. Their waitstaff was young, and had a feeling of immaturity, similar to the host staff. Their wine list was small, and their menu equally small in ratio. The atmosphere was, sadly, more charming than ours. If I looked at the two floors, juxtaposed them and had to decide based on aesthetic alone, I'd have chosen theirs. Not to mention, the food smelled delicious. But then again, maybe I'm tainted because I spend all day, four days a week at our trattoria. Either way, I was tempted to order food on the spot, but their menu is pricier than ours and I didn't feel like attacking the meal alone for the sake of scrutiny.

On my way out the door, I realized I have waited on their assistant manager. Hoping to sneak out and not look as though I was sizing the place up, I hear a "Hey." that shattered that hope. It was Milhouse, who was dining with Gwen. He dragged me back to his table where he introduced me to his waiter as another Trattoria employee. Friggin brilliant Milhouse. Cover blown.

I stopped and chatted for no longer than 5 minutes. I exited. As I did, I couldn't help but wonder how much our business would be effected. They were on a 30 minute wait. But that could simply because the staff is incompetent. Or it could be because they took our Monday dinner rush. We shall see. I silently hoped that the Crutchmaster, who has been unseen for over a month now, would find a new lair there.

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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