It’s not the end of the world. It’s not even the end of Feast, though I can’t say I don’t wonder a couple of times a week whether it might be. Last week found us with two dishwashers nearly coming to blows, one of whom was dismissed and the other of whom received a special dispensation, given whom the quarrel was with and why. A third simply stopped showing up, answered no texts or calls, and now, eight days later, still hasn’t indicated his whereabouts or a reason for his disappearance. I’d be concerned for him if he’d demonstrated at any point during his tenure that he was the sort of person who wouldn’t eventually decide he just didn’t feel like coming in and go with that feeling. He hadn’t. I’m not.
Add to it some melodrama with a few dark moments from staff members’ personal lives seeping into their work lives and a cook who this morning decided there wasn’t much to do so he’d live without asking anyone if that would be suitable, follow it up with an ailing Phoenix grandfather who’ll keep his Tucson line cook grandson out for an unspecific amount of time, and you’ve got Feast right now. Then add someone right outside my office door singing along with the radio at alta voce. I don’t necessarily believe that misery loves company, but I do believe it abhors someone singing along with 4 Non Blondes. It’s also not particularly fond of 4 Non Blondes.
The difficulty isn’t that one person or another is taking a powder without warning; that’s happened in restaurants since long before the forty years that I’ve sunk into this industry. The difficulty is that now we’re doing it every day, without a safety net. We don’t have three other people to call in. We don’t have one other person to call in. Someone will go into overtime covering this absenteeism, and our labor cost will scoot higher again, with food cost in hot pursuit.
So the trapeze act we have where someone disappears and another swoops in just in time to catch that bar is followed by the tightrope act of raising prices enough to keep the doors open but not so much that another guest folds their dining-out cards saying, “too rich for my blood,”
and the doors close anyway.
I know- it looks like another complainathon from Doug. And while my weekly catharsis is probably more than any of you needs or wants to know, I feel, aside from my personal compulsion to let people know what we’re going through at Feast, a moral compulsion to let people know what I assume are tens of thousands of small businesses (and large ones, for that matter) are going through. Yes, it’s all I can do sometimes to be polite to the clueless kid at the grocery store, but at least the clueless kid at the grocery store showed up to work and to take his daily drubbing with quiet forbearing. Well done, Clueless Kid at the Grocery Store.
As my diatribes frequently do, this one winds up extolling the virtues of a good glass of wine. Not the best plan for everyone to deal with pain, stress and fear, I know, but it’s also my bread and butter, so I’ll segue here into two events that I intend to market in hope that we can keep those prices from inching up any further, by selling in volume.
First, there’s a tasting, entirely in person now, on Saturday,
and you’re invited. Give us a buzz at (520) 326-9363 and we’ll save you a seat and a sip. Next, there’s another tasting, entirely virtual until we can pry the door back open on Sundays here, the day after.
Again, a phone call saves you tastes and snacks that you can pick up on Saturday and enjoy with me and my guests, an assortment of winemakers, importers and distributors who’ll tell you the story of grapes you may not have ever met. And, of course, you’re always welcome to join us for a bite, or to pick up a bottle, and to say hello to someone who showed up for work.
Thank you all, yet again, for reading any of the emails I send.