Dinner for 2 - The Story

So, well, as a typical high school kid growing up in Ann Arbor, when the summer of my sophmore year came around, it was time for me to get out and find a job. My dad’s old secretary was now a kitchen manager at the new Steak and Ale up on Washtenaw Ave, on your way over to Ypsilanti, where the old drive in movie theater called Way Side inn was :heart: … well It was close to the house, and as I had my learners permit, and soon a drivers license, the parents thought it would be a good location to work. So, i went in and filled out my application, and was hired… the stories you are about to hear, are fictional, the people mentioned were real people, some attributes of their personal nature are of course embellished simply to tell the story. Thanks for reading!!

Anyhow, on my first shift as a bus boy, i followed Wilfong around, and he was showing me the galley and bus room where we would clean and deliver the dirty dishes to. Was a little daunting. to think here i was just gonna clear the tables and keep em clean, and now i was flipping booths over, vaccuming etc. Basically all the stuff I hadnt thought of.

Well, near the end of my shift, Wilfong went into the back break room and somehow got into an arguement with one of hte prep cooks, I later found out his name was Eric. I sunno what was actually done, but the owner came around the corner and saw eric there holding a knife in an arguement with Wilfong and was fired…

That was my first exposure to how volitile the industry is, workers were treated as expendables, as there was a constant flow of applicants for jobs at this new resturant.

The next shift, I came in and was surprised, cuz as the day shift was beginning, Rachelle, who was a darling red head and sort of took me under her wing, since i was the only one on. I was still supposed to be trained by Wilfong, but i found out he was fired at the end of the next shift, as I guess the owner heard him bragging out he’d gotten Eric fired…

Anyhow, as often as Rachelle kept coming to check up on me, I thin she was actually trying to keep an eye on one of the other waitstaff, but every time she came to the back one of the kitchen cooks named Janice kepted grabbing her attention to complain about the waitstaff using too much kale as garnish… and to remind her to tell everyone when they would take their breaks at the bar after the lunch shift…

Eric the Mob (Oldie) has been Fired.
Wilfong the SK/Bus Boy has been Fired.

Night Shift will start 2-3 hours late as i will be entertaining guests tonight.

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So, as the summer progress, I slowly became more and more reliable, started to become sort of a fixture there on the weekends. We had a few regulars that recognized me, and as friendly as I was, didnt take much for them to want to get to know me. Well, one day, a 6 top came in, in the middle of a rush none-the-less and low and behold, it was one of these guys that would come in during the week with his family.

Well, we also had during that time, a new hostess, named Kim. She had the 80’s feathered hair, a pair of rockets and didnt mind flaunting her set of baby blues. Pretty much the whole package. But, she had all that going for her, but like any new hostess, had no understanding of what the word Triple sat means… So, i heard a commotion in the galley as the waiter, I cant remember his actual name, but we’ll call him Swagga today… arguing with the manager about getting some help to get waters out there etc. The manager had no idea he had been triple sat, and made some sort of remark, that it appeared that Swagga took offense to and just walked out…

Well, being the up and coming all-star bus boy I was, they had their order in, salads, waters and I was waiting for the bar order, before a new waitress was assigned… The guy slipped me a $20, on his way out… Thanked me for being there when he was in a hurry that night to get the family to the movies. I can tell you, back in 1984, a $20 dollar tip was awesome. Especially to a 15 year old.

Swagga, the Waiter (townie) was quit/fired.

So, as the summer was closing it, Wilfong would show up to pick his mom up. Even tho he was fired, he never was hated by the managers. They really loved his mom. His pretty girlfirend was long gone, of course, so he basically would sit at the end of the bar in the morning, have a coffee and then head out to his new job working for a construction company as a laborer. But, not this day. Today, we were meeting up to play some football, it was a resturant industry sort of rivalry. A couple of guys met up at a bar, and the game has turned into some sort of bragging rights thing. So, about 8 of us from the resturant all head over the Eastern Michigan’s practice field off Hogback road and get to playing.

Well, i might be one of hte smallest guys out there, seeing half these guys are in their 30’s, the other half in there 20’s, and here I am, out there as a new 16 year old. Well, it starts off great, as I caught a pass for the first touchdown, convience em I can kick the field goal for the second drive, and then on the third drive i jump over the top of a defender, literally, for a short 3 or 4 year play for the second touchdown. Its 17-0 and I’ve scored all the points… It was just me doing all the bragging rights… Then i did the next kick off, they figure if i can kick a 40 yard field goal, i can probably do that too…

If it went 20 yards down field, that would be a really big lie… but i did go a good 30 yards up in the air… It was in baseball, what you could call popcorn… Well, about 1/2 our team ran past where the ball was going, they just charge ddown to smear the poor guy who caught it, and over ran it lol… so that left me and Melvin, one of our other waitstaff, to tackle this 300 pound guy who cooked over at the Red Lobster, with the ball… Melvin didnt stand a chance. He literally was bent in two by the guys stiff arm and well… that was the last time i saw Melvin. Pretty sure he tried that to show off to Laura. She said she saw him a few days later with a cast on his right arm up to the shoulder. Guess he broke something at his elbow.

Laura has caused Melvin to quit.

Also the same weekend as the football game, the events also ended up in a big party. So, there were lots of watermelon, bbq’s and beer to be had. One of the older salty, but funny as they come waitresses gave me my first jello shooter… yeah, it was spiked… She just laughed at my expression… guess I made quite a face. But, i wasn’t allowed to have any more, because, well, i was 16, and half of all the people there were busy making sure i didnt get drunk. I was sort of a boy scout to these guys, and they wanted that to continue… Didnt want the lady, who i dont remember her name, but i can remember her face, corrupting good old little me, but it was sort of a celebration she said for my performance playing football earlier that day.

Well, someone else seemed to like the jello shooters. Tim. Tim just loved em, and his girlfriend Rachelle, being Irish, seemed to brag a bit what a light weight he was, and well at about 2 in the morning, Tim, Chuck and Rico were helping Rachelle load Tim into her car, to get him home… He apparently had just realized he was opening in the morning…

Sad this, is so was I… saturday morning, Michigan fortunately had an away game, so we werent expecting to be slammed, and as I was younger, and didnt nearly consume two thirds of a tray of jello shots… well, I was at work that day, Tim wasnt.

Rachelle blamed and yelled at the kitchen guys for a few weeks after that, for encouraging Tim to drink so much that night the he couldnt make it to work and got fired for it…

Tim (Goddess) has been fired, courtesy of Chuck and his boys bragging rights over who can eat the most green jello shooters. (Rico won hands down if you wanted to know)…

Well, football season was in full swing, Michigan was up against Purdue, who has some amazing gun slinger of a QB, that had gone to high school a suburb city of Troy on the North side of Detroit, which was maybe an hour and fifteen minutes from Ann Arbor. So, we got all these guys coming through the restaurant headed back to the “East Side” of Detroit that night, mostly college ages kids, and some of the alumni of Troy High School.

This is pretty typical around Ann Arbor. Being such a big college town with the University here, we always had local kids and families and friends roll through here on their way back to the Detroit area since we were right off the freeway back to Detroit’s north, west and East suburbs, which had about four million people there. It was not uncommon to have like 45 minute to hour waits after game times… even as big as our restaurant was.

Well, seems Howard, the mumbling savant we had in the back, the one all the other cooks in the area called “That Guy”, was just not having it. He was upset that we were getting our steaks from Oklahoma, and not Wyoming. He said too much chemicals in the steaks from Oklahoma. No one really wanted to argue with him… But in his mind, he was trying to ensure that everyone who ordered steaks that night, had them well done, to cook the chemicals out of them… Needless to say, most people like medium, or at least little pink in their steaks, so we were getting a huge return of food product and the waitstaff was just bitching, it was affecting their tip averages per table, and the galley was in an uproar…

Heck, even Chuck as on his case, and I guess Howard said the wrong thing at the right time, and Chuck just kicked him out of the kitchen. Howard through a fit and the manager and owner tried to settle him down, and even bought him dinner… but when the steak came to the break room, medium rare… he carried it out hte line and throw the plate and all at Chuck and stormed out…

It was glorious. Chuck standing there is half a baked potatoe dripping down his uniform, and a steak splatted to the wall. The manager didnt seem to appreciate the artwork like i did, so i was tasked with cleaning it up… didnt find it so funny after that…

Howard (That Guy… aka Thirdrock) has been lynched.

Well, thanksgiving was coming up soon, and it was surprising how many people on thanksgiving didnt want turkey…i mean, ok i get the ham thing, but we were baisically a steak and seafood place. Heck, the only burger on the menu was for kids… but we were about as busy as any football saturday rush, the entire day…

Well, seems that one of the cooks from the back kept teasing one of the new kids all day. He was a freshmen at Eastern Michigan and was suffering a good lead of homesickness… guess they got to him on thanksgiving something pretty bad… Kid started having a nervous breakdown and crying in the back breakroom. I imagine there was more to it than the kitchen picking on him, but he just walked out.

The Unknown (Plain Waitstaff) has quit


Well, it had been a while since Wilfong had left, but his antics had been picked up neatly and with some measure of tradition, by Laura. But in a sllightly different manner. The training for waitstaff was that thye were supposed to have the plates cleared once the table was finished eating, before the check was presented. Well, some of hte wait staff were getting lazy, and not doing the job, and Laura was taking her own initiative to make sure they started clearing tables… So when waiter would walk up and just pick up the tip, she wouldnt clear it… unless one of hte hostesses was out of tables to seat people… seems some of the wait staff caught on slower than others, and well, if you dont get new customers, you loose out cuz your tables are dirty… its all about throughput… well… seems one of the waitstaff was upset he wasnt making any money… and after a brief meeting with the manager, stormed out. Guess the manager telling the guy he needs to clear his own plates and tables if thats the problem why hes not getting new customers. The bus staff was always “behind”…

Nolio (Plain Waitstaff) has quit due to Laura (SK2)

Winter had come and gone, and we were rolling into the Easter Season. I was coming up on turning 17, and looking forward to the end of my Junior year. Summer meant boating, wiffle ball til the street lights would come on every night with the kids that lived at the end of the court, and of course, softball.

The restaurant league featured all of the larger local restaurants competing for the city wide trophy, so being a new team into the league, the restaurant manager wanted to make a big deal of it, so we held practices starting a couple weeks before the start of the season on Tuesdays and Thursdays (game days). I already was playing on my dad’s work team, so for me, it meant soccer 3 days a week and softball 4… it was great. I was driving now and stayed out of trouble…

Well we had a game the first week on the other side of town versus Zingermans Deli. They were a big national brand bakery and store who did training videos and had some really great sandwiches etc. They were a big deal, having a big student population working there, they had some pretty girls, some not so pretty girls, and some down right nasty ones. Blue hair, pierced noses etc… Rather the 80’s Mod look. You know, black turtle necks, dock martin boots, black trench coats… Like they were taken right outta the holy wood theaters and stuck here in the middle of Ann Arbor’s microcosm of the university and the town.

Well, we had one guy at Steak and Ale that sort of was like that. We didnt get many there, as the bosses didnt like that sort of look. So, when they showed up with their black lip stick, black this and black that… our waiter TheBigOne was like totally in awe of them. Envious to the nines…

So… Guess when he was on first, he struck up a conversation with their manager, who promptly offered him a job. None of us really liked the guy. He was depressing as hell.

TBO (The plain Waiter) has quit and works at Zingermans now…

The summer of 1987 was a great time to be in Ann Arbor. The Tigers were looking to repeat their run to the world series, Michigan had won the rose bowl, Pistons were repeat winners of the NBA, Red Wings were starting their dynasty, having recruited a guy named Stevie… But, I also was taking summer classes, basically to shore up my English for college prep tests like the SAT and ACT.

So, i had spent a lot of time in the bar end of the galley when i wasn’t working a split shift, and Lisa had basically taken me under her wing. She was an English major at Eastern Michigan, which was the top teacher school in the entity of the US… Not Harvard, not Yale, not even Michigan was better.

So one day, i came in, getting ready for the morning side to my split shift, and I knew she was supposed to be here, but the general manager was setting up the line. I just figured she was running late, so when i put my book bag down at the end of the bar, I got snapped at. He told me I should leave that out in my car, and bring it in between shifts and stay in the galley.

I find out later, that Lisa was fired last shift, seems there was some discrepancy between her and Chuck. Chuck had uncharacteristically come out from the kitchen to sit at the bar and Lisa had reminded him the no kitchen staff should be at the bar, as it was company rules. Something about appearances, as well as hygine… All that meat and seafood… i dunno, well, that seemed to have started a feud during the afternoon yesterday… and well, Chuck was here, and Lisa wasn’t.

Dunny why my Chuck has fired Lisa (Schniepel).

Well, Tuesdays are when the schedules are posted. So on my home from school I stopped in to get my schedule for the next weekend. I had a big soccer game against Sterling Heights Stevensen next Wednesday. So, of course, i was schuduled. I noticed we had 2 new hires to train for this weekend, and Laura was scratched off the schedule… I dunno why. So i go to find Kelly Jo to ask her why, and she said that Laura was fired. Guess she got into a screaming match with Rico the dishwasher at close last night. It had resulted in Rico walking about, and Laura said shes clean up after his big mess, but I guess Rico called this owner at 1 am and scuttled any chances Laura was gonna have to get outta this.

So the owner came in and made everyone stay really late, guess some folks got out later than 4 am. I heard the vaccum crew left before some of the wait staff did… And considering it was a weekday, alot of em had classes… Guess near the end of the night, they all were yelling and fighting with Laura, who was asking htem to clear their own tables so she could wash em…

Well… it was a mess… Cost me $20 bucks to get one of the waiters to pick up my shift. Sucked.

Rico (Aka Ordos) and Laura (aka Dukey) have been terminated for improper conduct.

Once again is was coming up on Thanksgiving, and everyone was talking about all the parties from Halloween. Well, Tina was as happy as the next, talking about a party she had with her new boy friend. Guess it was getting pretty serious, considering she was walking around with her head in the clouds most of the day. This was a start contrast from her normal no nonsense self. Well, seems Chuch had been sort of pursuing her all these years working together, and sort of had always assumed they would get together. Everyone could see he’d been in that dreaded friend zone… but him I guess.

So, anyhow, apparently this new boyfriend of hers was someone he had introduced her to. And well, from what I gathered, was just getting to be too much, so one day, while she was busy adding garnishes to the plates and traying up everyone’s order she made a little mistake and dropped the tray while the waitstaff has trying to pick it up. At first she was apologetic, but when she asked the new bus boy to clean it up, and not do it her self, while she stood there telling Chuck all about her new boyfriend… well, guess keeping someone in the friend zone for 15 years has its limits.

Chuck told her to clean it up, as she just scoffed at him… Well, “friend zone no more” Chuck had enough.

Chuck has fired Tina (Tishxo, back up cop) and is seeking love on some new internet site out of Russia.

So Janice had just been ragging on people all day. “Put your kale on, no no lemon with that, use a different dish for your drawn butter, no horserashish for you, thats extra!” Well the waitstaff was just sick of it. They new their jobs and Janice was just being one of those types … shed been like that for the past week. So, when the waitstaff started scoffing at her, ignoring her laments etc, it was just a matter of time.

She went in to the managers office and raged for about 15 minutes… followed by a little bit of tears an overflow of apologies to the manager, and well, seemed liked everything would settle down. She went back out to the line, and literally threw the plates at the waitstaff, called em a ton of names and walked out.

Janice (aka You Fool) The mob RB - has quit.

So Christmas 1987 season was upon us. Everyone was getting all dressed up for the Chirstmas party, which was being held up in Birminham, Michgian at the new shopping center/convention center. All the other Steak and Ales in the area were attending too. And I was lucky enough to have been given the night off, so i could attend this. There were about ten of us going up there, so we call got to carpool with each other up to dinner.

Well, turns out Chuck was planning on going, was supposed ot be Chuck, Kelly Jo, myself and Rachelle in one car… It was funny, never seen Rachelle so talkative, the entire night, she just chit chatted the entire night, Chuck was getting so miffed over something. Like there was something else he wanted to do that evening, but low and behold, Rachelle was there to stop whatever that was.

It is now day phase… Get your votes in! Good Luck

  • (yes, Doc healed the GF’s target)

Well it was coming up on Easter of 1988, and as usual, everyone was busy, anxious and hustling. Well, Tommy and one of the other waiters had been going back and forth for the last couple weeks. Something about a card game. That was “lingo” for a little bit of a binge of something… anyhow, Tommy had enough of the lip from this waiter and just stopped cooking any of his order, unless they were the only one. They guy just walked out, no food, cold food, whatever it was, meant no tip.

The manager literally beat the crap outta Tommy to tell him to get out of his damn restaurant. Was quite a spectacle…

Tommy (aka Kratom) and Jets (Waitstff) have been fired.

I was coming up on Graduation from High School!! In was may 1988 and I had been spending a good deal of time studying at the bar between shifts in the spring. Plus, i was happy, because half the time, I would do a favor for someone here or there, and end up with a free lunch. Usually was Kelly Jo who would hook me up…

So, in this whole process of doing the split shifts, study and all, sort of connected pretty good with Julie. She was always in and working hard. And alternating shifts here and there with Rachelle, allowed for her and I to get to talking. I had noticed over the past 2 weeks or so, she had had an extra spring in her step. Well, I found out why. The owner was opening a new Steak and Ale over in Plymouth Michigan, which was about 25 minutes or so from Ann Arbor, and he was hiring new staff, and wanted to promote from within.

Seems Chuck had put in a recommendation for Julie to be the new floor manager over there… So, the day before her last, she told me she accepted the offer.

Chuck (being a nice guy for a change) has helped Julie (aka ZoZ) get promoted to another store.