“…I want to make sure you are treated well,” said the GM who had hired me, but for whom I had not gone to work five months ago. But over these five months months, we had bonded over a few phone calls about the larger private parties he wanted to book at my place, and his place’s always recurring great reviews, and my great job at my great new place.
In an odd way, we were were almost peers, practically friends. Even though I hadn’t taken his hourly job five months ago, when, in my life-defining burned-out state, I couldn’t conjure up the words–not one single word–to tell him why I had left the fine-dining place.
He was busy this night, when I finally alerted him–as he had requested that I do so many times before–that my Wonderful Friend and I were coming to his place after work. Not long after we arrived, he kissed my cheek, even when I extended my hand for a shake. He was extremely gracious. And he said he was sending over “an appetizer from the chef.” Which was the only reason we ordered a second glass of wine instead of calling it a night. But the appetizer never arrived. So we ended up being almost-drunk girls on too little food and too much wine. Still, we vowed to go back to this place every few weeks, because we actually had made friends with the bartenders, several weeks ago, when this GM almost-my-boss-now-my-almost-peer-friend never knew we were at his place.
No, on this non-appetizer night, we paid our full, nothing-comped bar bill, and we giggled and were stupid because the promised appetizer had not landed in our tired, empty stomachs. In desperation, we decided we had to go somewhere else to eat. But being slightly tipsy, we only managed a walk three blocks up and one block over to another upscale place we vowed we never could afford. But we were hungry, so there we were, ordering…
…a very expensive meal at the bar (“We can’t afford this–isn’t there a McDonald’s nearby?” my Wonderful Friend asked). We ordered our scallops entree as a second choice to the risotto special because, when I asked the sous chef who very nicely appeared at the bar, if the risotto, sauce-wise, was okay for the likes of me to eat, he said, “I wouldn’t eat it, because it’s rice.” What?
I figured he couldn’t tell a gluten stomach-ache-hive-producing allergy from a shellfish life-threatening-EpiPen allergy. And just when I was ready to add this place to my ever-growing list of never-return-to-restaurants, this sous chef returned to us and presented me with a just-printed-out ream of Google information about gluten allergies as they relate to rice. I was astounded that he had taken the time and thought to do this, even when he didn’t know me from any other slightly silly girl at the bar.
And now my Wonderful Friend and I have vowed to return to this place every few weeks, if only for a quick hello and a glass of wine, because everyone who didn’t know us, and who probably won’t know us again, had taken the time to get to know us on this night.
Even when we split an entree and clearly were the least of the big spenders.
It’s not always who you know. It’s who tries hardest to get to know you, while you are there.