My friend John Burke used to say, “there are two businesses that everyone knows how to run: their own, and a restaurant.” He’d mutter that under his breath periodically thirty years ago when we worked together at Boccata, and it’s held true as long as I’ve been working in the industry. People have been telling me how to run Feast for twenty years, and it only turned nineteen this month.
Last night, as we were winding down from a now-typical Saturday night (that is, at about 7:30) a woman came in, maskless, with her nineteyish mother, also maskless, and told us they’d be two for dinner. She was confounded when we told her that we weren’t yet seating people in the dining room, and a little bit surly and indignant.
“How do expect to stay open just doing takeout?” she asked.
“Your guess is as good as mine,” I said, “but honestly, I don’t think feeding people indoors here would be sustainable either, so we’re just taking our time and seeing what happens after everyone who’s gone out to restaurants and gyms this week does in another week or two. Reopening will be very expensive, so we’d prefer to just do it once.”
“You need to reopen,” she told me, “and I’ll tell you something else: you don’t need that mask. Wearing a mask is actually harming your immune system. I’ve read EVERYthing that ALL the doctors have to say, and you should too. You shouldn’t just listen to what they’re telling you. You know what this mask and six feet apart thing is for? They just want to see what they can make you do. Next thing they’ll be marching right over you.”
“Well,” I said, “I’ll read up. Nothing would make me happier than to be wrong and discover that I should have opened three weeks earlier than I did. I’m hoping you’re right. I hope you enjoy dinner out, wherever it is you end up, and thanks for trying here.”
And I do hope she’s right. I hope we don’t need masks and gloves and I hope that life goes back to normal nearly instantaneously. God knows I’ve been wrong a million times before, and of all the things I’ve been wrong about, this is one of the big ones I’d LOVE to be wrong about. But today, with my patience worn thin and my will threadbare alongside it, I’m really ready for people to stop telling me how to run a restaurant.
I’ve been ready for ages, from the guy who told me I needed to purchase a separate grill for vegetables so that they were never contaminated by being on a “meat grill” to the various souls who’ve told me that we need a burger, or a Caesar salad, or a creme brulee on the menu, to the guy who told me he should have a high volume discount for buying four lobster bread puddings at once,to the guy who called the night before last and told Aly “that sh*t’s all fake,” when she said we still weren’t open for service in the dining room-today’s a day where I’m taking a break from listening. And tomorrow, too, when we’re closed. With any luck, by Tuesday I’ll be ready again, because if it’s normality I’m seeking, I need to embrace being told how to run Feast- it’s been the norm since long before we opened.
I know, however, that the reason you read this now-nearly-daily note isn’t to watch me having my patience tested, so I’ll give you a spot of good news: once again, your generosity as a group has gotten us to our goal. You’ve purchased the requisite 234 meals, and we’re giving away another 63 of them, for the staff at St. Joseph’s hospital this Tuesday.
You’re still welcome, of course, to make a donation for any of our future delivery runs, though I should note here that we’re extending our reach a bit further- soon you’ll be seeing food donations and events to benefit people at nursing homes and rehab centers, and we’re working with the Primavera Foundation on something since we won’t be able to do the Primavera Cooks event with them that we do each year to help the homeless population in Tucson. You’ll see more about that here as we figure out how to structure it. In the meanwhile, whatever non-profit or front line workers are important to you, I’ll remind you yet again that all the independent businesses- you know, the ones you come to when you need a donation for that board you’re on?- need your support in order to give to your causes. Obviously, I mention this because we need your support, but I also mention it because every other shuttered or semi-shuttered independent business needs it too. So I’d urge you to think of the place you’ve been missing and go out and support them, whether it’s with a purchase, a follow or a like on their social media, or just spreading the word about them to your friends and neighbors.
Meanwhile, we’re open today, taking orders until 7:30, and you can call us at 326-9363 to place one. The menu is here, and, having left my neighborhood restaurant supply feeling nostalgic and with a case of pizza boxes under my arm, I started making sauceless pizzas with shaved Brussels sprouts, house-cured pork belly, mustard oil and house-made ricotta cheese. I’m just sayin’.
You friend who’ll be willing to listen again come Tuesday,