Opening the dining room at Feast has been a mixed bag. Just like everywhere and everyone else, the crew at Feast has varying levels of comfort with all of it. Some would have been content to open mid-pandemic, pre-vaccine, and maskless. Others are still not entirely comfortable, and we see the same spread with our guests. In a dream world, we’d have waited until every last guest was comfortable dining in, but frankly, we finally got to the point where if we hadn’t opened, we’d have had to sell the farm, as it were. We still have guests who aren’t comfortable dining in, despite what precautions we take, and we already have guests who are , if not incensed, at the very least miffed that they’re being asked to wear a mask to and from their table, or to the restroom.
All I can say is this: Lucky us(?) that we didn’t open until it was in the upper nineties outside and everyone who summers in cooler climes has run away to their respective elsewhere. Fewer difficulties to deal with in terms of space, number of surly guests, and, well, income. Just a reminder for those of you who aren’t in the hospitality industry: it’s not over yet. I have every confidence that Feast will survive the pandemic in the end, but this finger-wag isn’t just about coming in here; it’s about an important fact to remember. Those of us in the industry know the pattern, and if you’re on a tight budget and need a new reach-in refrigerator, or a 20-quart mixer, or a convection oven, you make do to the best of your ability until about September.
Why? Because the summer is the decision maker. When restaurants close in Arizona and you suddenly find yourself able to pick up equipment for a fraction of its value, it’s because that’s when restaurants run out of money. People go to their summer homes, and people who leave here go on vacation. And when they come back to their credit card statement, they take a hiatus from dining out. So Arizona restaurants find themselves on the ropes about now. Sure, there are those who run out of money during the busy season, sure, but those are people who likely never should have gotten into the business to begin with. The summer, though, will piggyback this year onto the past weak fourteen months to give us a weak sixteen or seventeen months. Again, we at Feast will be okay in the end, but many of our colleagues won’t. And while we could use a new mixer, capitalizing on the downfall of a fellow restaurateur makes me feel queasy.
So the finger-wag is a reminder that your little neighborhood spot needs love, and when I say love, I don’t mean just your patronage. I mean love. Kindness. Patience. I know that I’m getting the email out four hours later than I wanted to today because I’m up to my eyeballs, even though there aren’t even forty people on the books for tonight, and I’m one of the lucky ones(?) because at least I have people to do the ordering and write the schedules and answer the phone and run across the street to buy a new broom or some double A batteries. I can assure you that when Feast was down the street and half its current size, I didn’t have that luxury, and there are scores of restaurants and other small businesses in Tucson who’ve made it through the pandemic only to be confronted with the summer heat and its effects on the populace here- the Grim Reaper in a Speedo. So I’ll say to you again what I said early on in the pandemic: crank up the air conditioner in your car, and get out there and find a business that means something to you. It doesn’t have to be a restaurant. It could be anyone who relies on the people of Tucson to keep their business afloat. A retailer, a tea house, a boutique or just about any business whose shareholders are the proprietors and the staff. Think of a place you want to take your friends when they visit you, and now, while your friends aren’t visiting you, go anyway, and show them some support.
We’ve got the June menu up and running today, and you may notice that it doesn’t have a spot on it for summer requests this time around. Again, coming out of the pandemic and wondering how much of anything is going to sell and how many people might or might not come in for dinner tonight, we’re simply in no position to offer those requests just yet. Time for that love and patience. We’ll get there, and we’ll eventually open for lunch, and the world will eventually shake the mud off of itself like a dog does, but until then, we’ll just roll up our sleeves and do our level best, and we’ll thank you for whatever love, patience and support you offer. The menu, in case you’re curious what June will look like around here, is thus:
And this Saturday’s wine tasting is thus:
And your buddies at Feast will be here waiting to welcome you to an air-conditioned escape from those Summertime Blues.
Those selfsame buddies at Feast