Is it wrong to miss the pandemic?

Dear Feastlings,

Things are decidedly better in a number of respects: the staff is managing to call in sick if they’re not going to make it, and for the most part, they’re healthy and showing up for work, a new habit we haven’t seen for a couple of years now. Do we have enough people? Still not so much, but we have a new guy who showed up for his stage, and another interview scheduled for tomorrow. Little by little, the kitchen staff is beginning to fill in, and less and less are my trips through the dining room a tour of apologies and mea culpas. Sure, we still make mistakes, but they’re not as grave as they have been, nor as frequent.

That said, there are other ways that we’re inching back toward normalcy: The other night I walked out to a guest whose arms were folded before her while she stared me down. The difficulty? She’d ordered the cauliflower, which she says gives her gastric distress, and her ordering it was exacerbated by the fact that she then ate it. She has a number of dietary restrictions, one of which she mentioned in the notes on her reservation: she’s a vegan, but can’t eat any raw vegetables. Her server checked with me- anything raw in the cauliflower dish? Nope. Any animal products? Again, no. So he served it to her, and she, knowing she can’t eat cauliflower, well, ate cauliflower. She needed to speak to me on her way out to tell me how disappointed she was, as last time she was in, we made her something different and everything was fine.

This, I’m afraid, is normal. The couple we 86ed ten years ago returned that same night to send back their tacos without touching them- too small- and complain that the half of a pound-and-a-quarter lobster in their dish was not, in fact, half a pound-and-a-quarter lobster. I was scolded for not having weighed this particular lobster to assure that the fishmonger wasn’t shorting our guests.

So while we’re returning to the times when we had enough of a staff to run a restaurant without burning everyone out and putting everyone into overtime- who knows? we may even be able to reopen on Sundays at some point- we’re also returning to the times when guests are not always easy to work with. While the pandemic was terrifying from a number of perspectives, I must say that people sure were a lot more pleasant to us. Our patrons were patient and kind, tipping was generous, and people understood if there was a shortage of ingredients (pea tendrils today, which I hope won’t put anyone in a dither.) They were kind rather than indignant when we were short-handed, and they were gracious and warm when mistakes were made, whether they were our mistakes or those of our purveyors.

Now, we’re back to occasional normalcy. I should note that far and away the majority of our guests really are a joy- you’re mostly regulars, and you know our names and treat us as fellow human beings in what continues to be a weird and awkward environment. We’re lucky, lucky people to have guests who regard us a service professionals rather than servants. But boy, do I miss manners writ large.

We’re still not open on Sundays, but we essentially require Sundays and Mondays to wash off whatever entitlement, ill-mannered snark and outright hostility have accumulated on our slowly re-thickening skins throughout the week.

Mercifully, most of you really are people we’re happy to see, and mercifully, we have something that cheers us up each day: food and drink. Today, we start our new menu,

and while not every ingredient has yet arrived, we’re close enough to set up shop today, and if all goes well, we’ll be fully stocked tomorrow.

Saturday, we’ll host our weekly wine tasting, which bodes well- these are crowd-pleasing wines from the distant South.

Further south of the border

We’re also very nearly through our multi-week corning process to ready ourselves for St. Patrick’s Day with voluminous amounts of corned beef and cabbage, and despite our staffing shortcomings, we still plan on kicking open the doors a week from Sunday for St. Patrick’s Day, in our annual observation of deliciousness and a snake-free Ireland. Heck, we’ll even make Guinness chocolate cake.

And tomorrow, I’ll do something else that lifts my spirits, despite the fact that I’ll have to drag myself out of bed before the sun is up: I’ll go and interrupt programming on NPR tomorrow morning from 7:00 am to 9:00 am, with the intention of convincing people of the value of supporting public radio in general, and Arizona Public Media specifically. I’ll sweeten the deal with a couple of gift certificates, so if you donate during my stint, you’ll be entered in a drawing to win one of them. You can call in your support at (520) 621-1600 or type it in at

Then you can put your feet up until it’s time to come in for one more lobster bread pudding before it comes off the menu. Thanks, everyone, for being the guests we enjoy.


Doug and everyone else at Feast

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