What and what not to care about

Dear Feastlings,

As much as I know my industry has taken a beating for the past seventeen months and is likely to keep taking a beating for another- what? Seven? Eight? Twelve?- I’m also acutely aware, as I make my rounds dropping food off for people who really need it, that Feast’s problems, unpleasant as they may be, are still ultimately First World problems. Sure, we’ve had no internet all day, which means we can’t manage our cloud-based reservation software, or our internet-enabled credit card authorizations, but if you’ve gotten this message, it means that we’ve got all that nonsense up and running again, and if that’s the worst thing that happens today, I’ll likely be in a better mood than I was yesterday, when I was still rolled up in not really caring anymore.

Today, I do care a bit more, though with enough distance to be able to see that there’s likely some small virtue in caring a bit less. Not so much in caring less about your experience here when you join us, but perhaps caring less about whether we take in enough revenue to cover payroll on a day-by-day basis. As long as we can bring in enough on a biweekly basis, I probably don’t need to pace the floor on a slow night panicking about what we’ll do. Little by little, I’m learning to let things work themselves out and keep the jitters to a minimum until I know they’re merited. What if we don’t get squash blossoms tomorrow? No one will suffer more than a mild disappointment. There won’t be anyone who won’t make it to the airport in Kabul, or who doesn’t get a ventilator, or who’ll suffer some other grave repercussion over it, so if I’m upbraided for ten minutes, I’ll nod with earnest sympathy but also with the ultimate understanding that really, we’re just making people lunch and dinner, and if that’s worth a tirade to anyone- here’s where that healthy bit of not caring comes in- they’re welcome to leave and never return.
Time was, I lived in fear of upsetting a guest. I still do. Maybe there’ll be a cutting review published on some platform I dread, with a personal attack thrown in, or maybe I’ll get a comment made years later about having run out of food at a catered event for which the host wouldn’t spend more that six or eight dollars a person. The difference now is that I’m ready to care somewhat less.

When Feast first opened, the most freeing experience I had was going two years without a paycheck, and two more with a dramatic boost to a salary of $10,000 a year. I discovered what I could really, truly live on. Now I’m learning that, just like there’s enough money for me to get by, there are enough people who are happy with what we do here, and if someone doesn’t like it, we won’t collapse without their blessing, or even their patronage. We may even be okay if they tell the world in all caps what a terrible restaurant this is.

So no internet for a few hours seems pretty good to me. I’d rather have it working this weekend, when we have two virtual wine tastings that depend on it. And if, God forbid, we don’t have it then, we can talk wine from my kitchen table at home, or a coffee shop with Wi-Fi, or some alternative. After all, you’ve gotten this message, so we must have internet access again, at least for the moment. I do have someone to recommend if you’re in the market for spotty service, though.

Those wine tastings, at least, should be great fun- the first one on Saturday an exploration of varietals from slightly different places that you’d expect, and with slightly different names to designate it,

By any other name

and the second one, on Sunday, a tribute to the strength, tenacity and talent of the people of Southern Arizona.

Local boy does good

I’m off now to get some food pairings written for that Sunday tasting, so with any luck, I’ll have the pairings posted late tomorrow (I’m still waiting for one more of the wines to come in tomorrow morning.) But I can tell you this: there’ll be potstickers.

See you soon, everyone.

Your friend,

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