Tales of a “Restaurant Regular”…Grey-ish Gardens.
I have a love/hate relationship with “regulars”. I love the half smile they have when they walk through the door. A smile that says something like, “Yeah, sorry it’s ME again. I know, I know, I eat here a LOT, don’t I? I walk in unannounced and demand a corner table. I’m a pain, aren’t I? Teeheehee. But look at my apologetic little smile! Doesn’t this make you like me? I just NEED to have that fish dish I get 3 times a week…for the past 6 years.” Teeheehee my ass. You’ve become so entitled I wanna throw that fucking fish on your perfectly salon-blow-dryed hair. Did that come out of my mouth? PHEW NO. Seriously, too many of these people exist. Restaurant regulars are the equivalent of monsters. And it’s sad but true to say, that we have totally created them! We are the enablers. Whatever, nothing I can do about that but smile and BITCH.
ONTO TALES OF A RESTAURANT REGULAR, #2…
Once upon a time I was working at this fancy steakhouse, and we had some pretty pretentious clientele. I take that back: EVERYONE was pretentious, or “VIP” as we deem them. And my favorite was an elderly mother/daughter duo that could paint the town CHANEL. Everytime they walked in, it felt like I was breathing in designer. They never repeated an item of clothing. Ever. Now that’s impressive. We will call the daughter SuzieQ and the mother, Clara. SuzieQ was about 70 and Clara was about 90, both in age and weight. They made a reservation for EVERY Weds/Sat of EVERY week at 8:30. I like that- old women who eat at 8:30, way cooler than the 5:30 walker-crowd. Right? Though their order never really changed, they still wanted to be presented with menus every time so they could read them to see if they were in the mood for something else. I guess it was the thrill of dining out that entertained them. My issue at the front door was really about making sure I had the ONE TABLE that they sat on. That’s right, they would not sit ANYWHERE else. Table 20. I will never forget it. According to SuzieQ, it was the perfect table to see what was going on, not too close to the kitchen, and to be able to hear one another because it was a corner table. I think I tried so hard to get them table 20 every time because part of me thought I’d get put in the will for a few Chanel blazers or a bag. One can only dream! Anyway, it was always hard because EVERY couple I would seat in that booth would take their sweet fucking time and not let backwaiters clear their food and I would walk by a million times and then they’d still sit longer. Annoying. Or I’d seat a deuce who would eat in 35 minutes and then the table would sit open until 8:30 and my boss would flip a shit on me. Glorious. I’d say 1 out of 3 times I’d have their table for them though because I’m THAT good.
SuzieQ and Clara had a great routine. They only liked ONE server, and if she wasn’t there they liked one of the managers. If for some reason both of them were not there, she trusted me to take her order at the front door. They were “highly uncomfortable” if someone who they did not trust was going to take their order. I knew the order because about 2-3 nights when they weren’t in, they’d order take out! They lived around the corner in an entire floor apartment together. Have you seen Grey Gardens? Picture them, only skinnier. Their order was great too- SuzieQ would have steamed fish with about 6 sides of steamed vegetables: NO SALT, NO BUTTER whatsoever. Countless times she sent back things because she could “sense some salt in there”. We would have to tell her that the chef blanched her vegetables before she came in, separate from the salt-blanched-veggies for the rest of the service. She believed it, though I highly doubt that was true! Who is allergic to salt anyway, right? A 70 pound woman, that’s who ;) Clara was even better. She would have a huge double-chop, fatty, rack of lamb with all of the sides SuzieQ would never even touch: fries, mashed potatoes, creamy spinach, cheesey potatoes, onion rings; really anything that was coated in a layer of fatty cream/salt/butter. I guess when I’m 90 I’m gonna let it all go too. They only drank bottled flat water, and never had dessert. Throughout dinner SuzieQ would write down notes on a notepad and make these mysterious lists. And this is great, they both worked! Together, too…like real work in an office. They’d come in late because they were in “meetings.” I plan to retire at like 45 so that’s extremely admirable that these 2 wealthy ladies still work! They should relax and take a fucking trip to Fiji! (Ok, they probably do that too, let’s be honest…) I felt so bad for their driver Enrique- a lovely man from Ecuador who once was a surgeon and now answers to their beckon call. He drives them half a block to and from the restaurant every night. He picks up their take-out orders every other night. On the nights when they’d send their take-out back because something wasn’t “hot” enough, I’d ask Enrique if they had an oven. He’d answer with “Yes, many ovens, and 7 bedrooms. They don’t cook.” These women made me smile. I swear, when I’m dripping in Chanel pearls, I will use an oven! (…who am I kidding. I’m dripping in H&M and I barely make cereal…)
As high maintenance as they were, they were also always so nice to me. The only time I ever heard Clara speak was when she let out a soft yelp and touched my dress. I was wearing leopard, and SuzieQ walked up to me and said, “OH MY, CHEETAH is Clara’s favorite print!” It was amazing. Maybe I was just lucky because they didn’t even acknowledge the rest of the staff. Everyone was so irritated by them too! How can you not love 2 cute old ladies who spend 5 nights between take-out and reservations eating the food from our restaurant? You can’t! Unless you dont have table 20, you don’t have any server on that night who they like, you don’t have rack of lamb in house, you drop a pinch of salt on the food, the air conditioning isn’t working, the table is reserved by a president, and the list goes on… then shit might go down. BADLY. This has totally happened to me many times, but I survived.
I adored SuzieQ and Clara so much so that I check my mailbox everyday for a package slip with hopes of receiving a fabulous Chanel blazer with my name on it. **Wishful thinking**
Until next time, with Tales of a Restaurant Regular…