We had our first dining out for life on Thursday. How did it go? On the one hand it wasn’t our finest hour. On so many other hands it was incredible.
We weren’t open last year when it was time to sign up and DOFL happened without our really being aware of it since we were so new. This year we signed up at the earliest opportunity and were honored to participate. We knew we’d be busier than usual for a Thursday and expected maybe twice the number of customers we usually have on a Thursday – perhaps we’d have 60 people? We thought we had staffed appropriately. However we had four times the number of customers that we have on any Thursday. In fact, we had 114 customers – there have been only a handful of nights in our year being open that have had that many people in our restaurant. We didn’t anticipate that and were woefully understaffed. That’s the bad news
The amazing news: I cannot even begin to find words to describe the way that people came together. Staff, friends, neighbors, and first time customers created a team of many that, here, two days later, I am still blown away. Folks came together to help, to be patient, to celebrate and, literally, to cheer us on when we were flagging.
I want to thank some folks: Adam Lough – our incredible front of house manager, the friendly and humble guy behind the bar who handled a variety of set backs with his temper intact and explained to customers our situation honestly and with empathy; Donald Cross – our amazing back of house manager, incredible cook, tremendously dedicated and such nice guy who stepped away from the burners to expedite, to patiently teach me how to read tickets, and kept it together under enormous pressure. Becca was out front, taking such good care of folks and keeping things straight while simultaneously teaching me how to use our POS system. We also had Sarah out front – our brand new bartender who put out quality drinks and still smiled; and Shayna – our brand new cook who smiles all the time, even under extraordinary pressure. And many high fives to Jimmy – who had more dishes than he’s had in his time with us and still was so nice and enthusiastic.
Some more on the “amazing” front – more “I can’t believe I get to live in St. Louis” – our neighbors. Our neighbor (and resident photographer) Sara Levin walked in after the neighborhood meeting, saw how in the weeds we were, and proceeded to walk behind the bar and washed all the glassware that was accumulating, took out the garbage, and bussed and cleaned tables. Our Alderwoman, Christine Ingrassia, walked in with her children and entered tickets, printed tickets, expedited orders, and soothed waiting customers. And our Neighborhood – this was the night of the Fox Park neighborhood meeting and the folks came in after and literally cheered us on. As Adam and Sarah made drinks – a cheer. As Becca got a table fed – more cheering.
And the customers – oh my. Such incredible kindness. And understanding. And just friendliness. Just a general happiness to be out, with neighbors, enjoying a nice evening and supporting a worthy cause. I don’t know who most of them are, but they were pretty wonderful.
Everyone’s exhausted. But I think they are as proud of themselves as I am of them. They are amazing people individually – I’m grateful to know them – and about as generous a team to each other as I imagine. Thank you to them, to the neighbors and to the kind people who come in to see us.
Best – Brooke