On January 21, 2006, I posted my first entry as Restaurant Gal. I called it “First Course,” and all subsequent posts that are more about me than about the industry are filed under that heading in my archives. I had forgotten that I had titled my first post as such until I decided to undertake an introspective look at the winding path that both I and this blog have taken since 2006.
If anyone had told me then where and who I would be now, I’d have told them they’d written me quite the vivid dream about which I would laugh when I woke up. Thing is, I never did–wake up, that is. Thus, here I am, and here is RG, and here are you whomever of you remains out there as my beloved readers. If, by some quirk, there are those of you who have been with me since the beginning, I would love to heard from you in the comments. God love you.
I took time these past few weeks to look back at the beginning of a writing project I never thought would last a month, much less years. I was at once struck by my energy to write so often as I was by how differently I might write many of those stories today. Over the next few weeks, I’ll revisit each year of RG before offering a look forward. Enjoy this post’s 2006 retrospective.
2006: First Year’s Firsts
Without knowing it, I talked myself into my first adult hospitality job in decades in D.C. with one simple answer to a simple question asked by the GM who was interviewing me:
“What do you know about Cy’s?” he asked.
I knew I was supposed to answer that their outlets offered great food for a great value. I also knew I was supposed to remark on the beauty of the various locations, about the incredibly on-point combination of casual “Cheers” saloon ambiance that meshed “just so” with with a certain Georgetown fine-dining decor that those folks hauled out of their attic and barn collections to create a look no one will ever replicate. If you know this highly successful group, you know exactly what I am talking about.
Instead, an answer came to me out of a clueless nowhere, something I had heard from a teenager I’d been tutoring who was applying for a job as a Cy’s host.
“Well,” I said, “I know that if you are a kid applying to Cornell University’s hospitality program and you have the grades, and you say you worked at Cy’s, you are pretty much in. Your training program is legendary.”
With that, a man who’d previously paid no attention to me whatsoever turned around and stared at me. I stared back. I would later find out he was the regional manager.
“I went to Cornell,” he said, almost glaring, but seeming more surprised than anything else.
“I’d appreciate the opportunity to take advantage of your training,” I replied, wondering how dumb luck had found its way into this interview.
With that, I was hired.
I was also in over my head, which I am sure all the managers knew when they hired me. But I finally managed to “get it” as a maitre d’, and I never looked back at the office life from which I’d merrily escaped.
Favorite 2006 post: Where You Can Get Anything You Want (Check out the comments, too, because I heard from a very special someone.)
Runner-up 2006: Ladies Who Lunch (For the record, I almost got fired from my fine-dining job for writing this. Not long after, I simply got got fired/given a chance to resign for writing RG, period.)
My next post will remember 2007–the year of life changes, endings and beginnings. For now, enjoy readings from when this blog first took shape.