The kitchen here, and the inside of my head, are two respective beehives today. We have a group here for a private luncheon, for which we’re supremely grateful. The exciting beehive of activity in the kitchen as we ready things for the luncheon, though, as we aim to get our guests fed in a timely fashion and then reset the room for today’s wine tasting
is undercut by the beehive inside my head, as we scramble to cover the line cook who no-call/no-showed three days ago, then texted to say that he’d be willing to come in the next day, but not if he was just going to be fired for not showing multiple times over the past several weeks. Likewise, there’s the dishwasher who graciously stayed to work a double yesterday who let it wipe him out, either physically or spiritually or both, who’s now called in sick today, so we have that to cover as well, a catering that’s going out within the hour and another this afternoon all to cover. Aly, who’s covering for the saute cook this morning, will take an hour or two off this afternoon and then come back to work tonight while we train someone who may or may not work out; we’ll cross our fingers and see.
If he does work out, and one of the other two who are coming in to stage this week works out as well, we’ll be right back where we were before this week started: slightly, rather than seriously, shorthanded.
There are days when the cumulative effect of two years of Covid-related semi-shutdown and another six months of staffing-related partial paralysis could easily tip the scales to the point at which it’s easier to stop throwing good money after bad into Feast, but then in my peripheral vision a little glimmer of hope will manifest itself like a shiny object to a crow, and I pluck it from the dirt and tell myself that this will be the moment that things finally turn around and we start back to normal. It certainly FEELS like it’s getting closer- the dining room is fuller than it was all summer, and there’s a buzzy energy suffusing Feast in the kitchen and dining room alike, but it’s not near the intensity of full season, and we couldn’t handle it if it were. Each resume that gets emailed in response to our ad is another shiny object, though, and my corvid outlook beats the tar out of my Covid outlook, so I’m sticking with it.
People are behaving discernably more kindly as a general rule, both in the restaurant and elsewhere- I’d posit that the return of 65-degree mornings correlates directly to the number of people who said “good morning” to me on the Loop today, as we’re freed enough from our self-absorbed misery to pause and acknowledge the rest of humanity with a little politeness, if not outright warmth and friendliness. Even as I lately make my rounds through the dining room after changing into a clean apron and a hat that isn’t ringer with sweat to make apologies for the wait or the mistake, or worse, the wait for a mistake, people have responded with the patience that I hope I have when I arrive at an understaffed coffee shop in the morning, or an understaffed hardware store in the afternoon between the lunch and dinner rushes.
That said, it’s still a rough time out there, and when we don’t spy the shiny object of a potentially full staff out of the corner of our collective eye, we’re apt to be bogged down by the world’s new affliction of too few people trying to accomplish what we were doing before with rather more of us. My proposed solution: telling you, the people who dine here, a few tricks of the trade. If Resy tells you that 6:30 is booked, don’t call and try to circumvent the process with one of those “do-you-know-who-I-am” calls, or the equally bad, “let-me-talk-to-Doug” calls where you’re convinced that we’re somehow hiding a table that I’ll personally pull out of hiding once I know it’s you who’s coming. Instead, try another time. Everyone I came out to apologize to last night after the gruesome bottleneck in the kitchen that slowed service to a crawl waved me away as if it were nothing. Why? Because by the time I was able to get out of the kitchen to check on them, it was the end of the night. Likewise with those who’d arrived at the beginning of service. It was only those who felt compelled to eat in the thick of it who suffered. So consider an early or a late reservation to make your experience a better one, be it here at Feast or elsewhere. Just throwing it out there. I know, you’re having a bit before you go to theater, or a sporting event, or whatever the evening’s activities are, but if you dine to dine in a leisurely way, try a Tuesday, or try 7:45, and see what it feels like. You may be pleasantly surprised. Then the only decision isn’t whether to demand the manager, but what to order. Here, for October, are your choices:
We hope you’ll check it out.
Doug and all your other friends at Feast