Hey, it’s only 30%.

Dear Feastlings,

I’d imagine a few of you heard it this morning as well: a story on the radio about the fact that emergency dispatchers- the people who answer the phone when you call 911- are missing in droves. There are rural regions whose emergency phone service has been shut down because they simply have no one to do the job. People in the industry estimate they’re short about 30% of the personnel they need to operate.

I don’t begin to pretend that what we’re dealing with is as life-or-death as having to shut down an emergency call center, but I’ll say this: 30% doesn’t seem all that far off to me in terms of what we’re coming up short, and while no one will die as a result, most days feel like there’ll be an infarction in there somewhere. It’s worked out for the past couple of months, as business for us is slow, but the past few weekend nights have seen business inching up, a bitter irony to people who’ve watched the number of their coworkers inching down. Opening on Sunday for Ferragosto a week and a half ago still finds us recovering from its pushing some of our staff into overtime, and that’s with someone who left us coming back to help out for a couple of days.

It’s time for another round of help wanted ads, though the past few have only generated interviews punctuated with lists of untenable demands: dishwashers who feel they should make more than line cooks; servers who’ll only consider working the busy and more lucrative weekend nights but can’t be bothered with a weeknight, or- heaven forfend- a lunch shift; and bussers who’ve worked in the industry for three months and feel they’ve paid their dues and should be servers now, despite the fact they’ve never timed courses for a table, don’t know the difference between Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon, and have never heard of arugula.

And I know it’s the same everywhere. If you’re in auto parts or ballet, shoes or pet care, you’re wondering where in God’s name everyone has gone. I had a guest last night demand over and over to know why everyone is so short-handed, angry that my guesses and explanations were unsatisfactory. Evidently, if you’re short-staffed, you should know the answer to the question that’s been stumping economists and sociologists alike for months now.

Here’s my answer: we’re all exhausted- those of us who moved on, only to be snookered by some charlatan who promised us the moon and stars, only to be delivered a bowl of Lucky Charms, and those of us who’ve remained in place, now doing the jobs of the 30% who’ve left for greener pastures. We’re tired, and each day, whatever promise of a better day we saw has been preempted by another coworker disappearing.

Are we keeping it together here at Feast? Kind of. We still have a wine tasting- two wine tastings- this week. There’s Saturday’s tasting, which is fairly well set up,

Old friends

and Sunday’s tasting, the fourth wine for which has only just arrived despite the request from our rep that it arrive before noon. My hope is that I can taste it and write the fourth food pairing before our 3:30 interview with someone who may or may not show up, and then I’ll help catch the line up since one of today’s cooks showed up his customary 15 minutes late and the other showed up 40 minutes late, after his bus paused to wait for the police to arrive after a drug-fueled altercation on the route. Once I’ve tasted it and figured out what we’re serving with it, tomorrow morning we’ll hit the ground running to prep food pairings you can pick up on Saturday with the wine samples.

The Four Winds

And then we’ll get ready for next week’s wine dinner with Jerry Seps of Storybook Mountain Vineyards (sorry, this one’s already sold out:)

Storybook Mountain Vineyards dinner with Jerry Seps

It’s a lot, and I’m hoping good wine does the trick, and I mention that not only to promote this weekend’s wine tastings, since I imagine more than one of you is having a week like we’re having over here, but also to remind you that there’s barely over a week left to round up wine for home at a summertime discount:

Your summertime bargains

And there it is: after two and half days of attempting to get an email out to you all, I’ve gotten it written at last, and if you’re reading this, it’s in your inbox, so mission accomplished.

I hope you’ll join us, or send us a prep cook, or a busser, and I hope you’ll avail yourself of any or all of the wine-related benefits to being a regular guest of Feast this week.

In the meantime, stay well and happy, and know we’d be delighted to see you, as long as we have enough of our crew here.


Your sleepy friend Doug

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