Neither new nor normal

Dear Feastlings,

There have been certain constants in Tucson restaurants, just like in restaurants anywhere. Human behavior in general is fairly predictable, and when we select for behaviors even further by looking at situations where we demonstrate our herd instincts, it’s fairly easy to call.

Some might be more animal in nature- the person who arrives already uncomfortably hungry will be more difficult than the one who’s come to socialize. Some are more cultural: people feel an obligation to go out on Valentine’s Day (I’m working on that menu as we speak, by the way.) But as a rule, we know that January will be quiet, since people have spent a month and a half eating and drinking like Roman emperors, and spending like they had the money to afford it all. In January, the chickens come home to roost, and people roost at home and eat chicken.

This January, though, is filled with wild pendulum swings, making us desolately slow, with people canceling so quickly we can’t answer the phone fast enough; and the next day we’re up to our collarbones in walk-ins. As much as I’ve complained about the number of tables and chairs in my garage while we keep tables distant, I’m almost grateful we can’t seat that many people at once right now, especially as I cross my fingers that what staff we don’t have quarantining remains as such.

And this seems to be not only how the pandemic has treated us, but how it will continue to treat us. To those of you who knowingly informed me that the reason we couldn’t find people to come work because restaurant people were laying atop their piles of unemployment benefits, um, that appears not to be the case. Those benefits came to an end well over four months ago, and in an industry dominated by people who live check to check, I can assure you, they weren’t squirreling away those benefits to live off of in the Grand Caymans. I frankly have no idea where they are- call centers, maybe, or less grueling jobs, like roofing.

Whatever the case, the jury’s still out on how restaurants will weather this mess, alongside our compatriots in the travel industry, theatre, salons, or any retail business that isn’t selling through Amazon.

For now, we’re dividing our eggs between a couple of baskets: relying on us all to either live a little better or numb ourselves, depending on our personal outlook, with beverage; and harnessing kindness in those who have some left to offer.

As to the alcohol, the bottle shop here seems to be chugging along more steadily than the restaurant, and today we’ll be running our Saturday wine tasting

Field trip

for both those who feel comfortable going out, and those who prefer to remain at home. There’s still time to hop in to either segment of the tasting, and for those at home, here’s your login information:

Doug Levy is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Field trip
Time: Jan 15, 2022 02:00 PM Arizona

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 854 6278 2284
Passcode: 820816

As to the harnessing of kindness, we’re still making our donation runs, next week to some of the people living at properties run by Compass Affordable Housing:

Making the rounds

And we’ll keep going from there; I’ll keep you up to date if you want to donate to a favorite charity. Or even if you don’t. Meanwhile, though, I’m ready to taste a little wine and see if I can’t choose the Live Better option over the Numb Myself option today. See you soon.

Your confounded friend,


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