Wow. I don’t know how it’s been for you, but the past week or two has been bonkers over here. Like years past, the holiday season has been intense. Unlike years past, not necessarily just with volume.
In a normal year, if I recall correctly what a normal year was at this point, we were just plain busy. Full tilt. Christmas parties, wine shopping, catering- it was all maxed out- there’d be sixteen or seventeen events to cater each weekend, the restaurant full to the rafters. Now we’re just over half capacity, my garage still stacked, twenty-one months later, with tables and chairs. We have six caterings booked this Saturday. Still, feel as busy as we’ve ever felt.
We still can’t solidify a crew- those we’ve lost to attrition have been replaced by fewer people, and those , in turn, have already come and gone, if they’ve even shown up for their first day of work. And then comes Covid. A boyfriend tests positive; a child picks it up at school. So suddenly, the skeleton crew shrinks even further, and it’s exacerbated beyond that. We’ve had a couple of staff member quarantine until they can test negative, another have to move in with a friend until the boyfriend is Covid-free, and yet another who won’t come in to work despite the fact that only those exposed employees who’ve tested negative are back in action. I’ve always bussed tables at Feast, and so has everyone else, but I can assure you, we’re doing a lot more of it than we were.
You’ve likely noticed that the emails from me that used to jam your inbox daily have slowed back down from their regular deluge to a weekly drizzle, and it’s not because I don’t want to write- on the contrary, I need this to purge some of the stress that ricochets around my brain all day. I’m just plain swamped, and not the kind of swamped we used to be- the kind of swamped that still means bailing water as fast as I can from this half-submerged dinghy, scrambling for the ingredients that didn’t arrive yesterday for the new menu, or to cover for the staff that isn’t when circumstance snuck up behind them, or by their own choice.
I’ve been awash in the now-familiar combination of stress and self-pity, wondering how we’ll make it through this next miserable month after the past twenty-one other miserable months, when I began to notice things yesterday:
We seemed fully booked, and Mary Ann, who runs the dining room, and Kevin, who runs the wine shop, were both gracious enough to come in for the staff menu tasting we do despite the fact that is was a day off for each of them. They both offered to work, but I’m bound and determined not to be the person I’ve worked for in the past who demands that people come in on their day off. As it turns out, our evening was spread out enough that we were just fine without them.
And being short several people? The rest of the staff has stepped in to pick up the pieces left by those who can’t work until they’re in the clear and those whose comfort level won’t allow them to.
It was nice to be able to pause and reevaluate. I can look at the stress and the mayhem and all the moving parts, or, like my brother, whom I’ve mentioned before faces all the same hardships I do, historically, but while I fall into a maelstrom of fear and dread, he always manages to land, catlike, on his feet. It was a bit of an epiphany yesterday that frankly, so do I. I just usually focus on the fear and dread part while I watch him walk away unscathed, never realizing that he might have experienced all the fear and dread that I have, but far more fleetingly. Evidently, he’s smarter than I am. Which he probably knows already.
So today, we’ll just get ready for the wine dinner (sold out, I’m happy and sad to say)
at the same time we’re offering you new dishes from the new menu (yesterday was the first Tuesday in December, so the new menu’s begun,)
and preparing for this Saturday’s wine tasting,
all while we put together half a dozen holiday parties, a trip to Youth on Their Own
and offer up a Christmas menu full of treats you can pick up on Christmas Eve with heating instructions.
And we’ll land, catlike, or Mitchlike, on our feet. Just like we have for twenty years. If you come in and see me looking frazzled, remind me of that.