Pandemic notwithstanding, one of my own personal metaphors for the restaurant business has long been that Hanna-Barbera trademark scramble. Be it Fred Flintstone or Scooby Doo, that xylophone clatter is played under spinning legs propelling no one forward for a moment or two before traction is suddenly gained and one of our cute, two-dimensional friends speeds off into the ether. That, my friends, is the restaurant business: a frenzied free-for-all just to stay in place, followed by frenetic progress that in the nick of time just barely gets us where we need to be.
That’s been us for twenty years, and especially, of course, for the past twenty-two months or so: an agitated tizzy that nearly keeps us up with what we need to accomplish, and a spasm that somehow gets us there in toto.
Tomorrow being the end of another year that’s dumped no small amount of pain, fear, stress and polarization into all of our lives, I’m hoping for one last mad, frantic xylophone solo played while my legs scramble and I go nowhere, only to find myself suddenly with the ground beneath me so I can speed off into 2022, where I’ll find this all behind me. Until then, I’ve been interrupted half a dozen times as I tried to get this written, and now I’m in the office listening to the whine of a mixer beating Italian meringue, a painfully loud kitchen radio, and the chatter of half a dozen voices, each attached to someone with a different objective, some intersecting and others at odds.
I’m hoping that enough people have read this far to know some of tomorrow’s ground rules:
-the cutoff to order carryout hors d’oeuvres, with or without wine pairings, was Tuesday;
-tomorrow, to ready ourselves for New Year’s Eve, we’ll actually close between lunch and dinner, so we won’t be seating anyone between 2 and 4 pm in the dining room;
-we won’t be able to keep up with the New Year’s Eve menu if we attempt normal service at the same time, so we won’t be able to offer carryout past 2 pm, and carryout options will only include the regular menu; the New Year’s Prix Fixe menu wouldn’t be done justice if you tried to carry it out anyhow..
-our last seating in the dining room is at 9:00 pm, and unless we get cancellations, which we likely will, we are, as they say, fully committed.
Then, next week, when our Flintstone legs do make contact with the ground in January, we’ll get back to what we’d been doing before we found ourselves busy with catering and a fuller holiday dining room at the same time we found ourselves lacking experienced staff to meet the demand. We’re back to our donation runs, feeding people who could use a good meal, and we’ll kick it off with a run with three days’ worth of food to Sister Jose Women’s Center:
Yes, there will be a new menu on January 4, and yes, there’ll be wine tastings again, virtual and in-person, barring unforeseen (or let’s be honest, fairly foreseen) circumstances that push us back into a remote an virtual world again for a while. Fingers crossed that that’s not the case.
Yes, there will be more donation runs, more wine dinners, more whiny emails and more triumphant ones. There’ll be more clinking of glasses, more loving and trusting one another, more give and take, more tolerance of what we disagree with. There’ll be hugs for the people we love, and the filling of bellies, and there’ll be olive branches and acts of kindness small and large, for friends and strangers alike. And, God and all of us willing, there’ll be a better year.
Love from every person here at Feast, and sincere wishes for a much better year for all of you, and for all of us.