Graduation = smelly + busy

The Baker City High School class of ’08 graduated this afternoon. The ceremony began at 1pm, and after a slightly slow lunch crowd, we were dead. MIL and our kitchen manager went home at 3:30, and Whitey and I took over.

I don’t pretend to know anything about owning a restaurant (we’ve only been open for about 8 months, so it will take a while before I feel like I can speak “knowingly”), but a tiny voice told me to get prepared for a busy night. We prepped a bunch of breadstick doughs, stocked the front with plates and condiments, and even pushed a few tables together anticipating a larger group of people later in the evening.

We didn’t have to wait long.

Raindrops the size of fists pounded on our leaking roof, and at about 4:30, we were bombarded with customers. The first group walked in, and announced that another 6 people would be joining them. No problem.

Then, another group walked in and pushed a 2-top onto a 4-top and added an extra chair. As I helped them, Whitey answered the phone and after hanging up, walked into the dining room and put RESERVED signs on the entire wall-bench area — seating for 20.

BOOM! Our dining room was full within 10-minutes; and all of a sudden we were Suh-Lamb-Duh. Sweat formed on my upper lip, instructions were yelled back and forth between myself and the 2 people in the kitchen, and the three of us had just enough time to lock eyes at one point and share a knowing “holy crap” look.

I have no idea how we pulled it off, but everyone was served in timely fashion, and every item I took out of the kitchen looked amazing.

Honestly, when it’s that busy, I’m always afraid that something will leave the kitchen not perfect. The kitchen staff gives me a hard time because I’m always straightening the garnish, or adding a shake of cheese on an appetizer. Tonight, I had nothing to fear. Every menu item looked awesome. No need for my OCD to kick in — those guys had it dialed!

The group of 20+ were awestruck at the size of their pizzas – a 2-foot pizza makes an impact. The 7-top were pleased that I talked them into a 1/2 n’ 1/2 pizza, and the 9-top asked if they could make reservations for Tuesday night because they loved their food and wanted to try other items before they left town. My heart beamed! Yes, you can come in Tuesday night… you can camp out here if you want.

Our last table during the rush (4 ladies) had to wait 35 minutes for their 2-foot Lumberjack pizza. When they were leaving, they all stood by the front counter for a minute. I finished clearing a table, and when I walked towards the front I asked if everything was okay…

“Yes,” replied one of the ladies. “We just wanted to tell you how good everything was.”

“Thanks,” I replied.

“No, really,” she said. “We all talked about how great it was, and we can’t wait to come back and try something else.”


By the end of our rush, I was high on the compliments, yet felt like I needed a shower. Who needs a treadmill when you run for an hour straight on a concrete slab covered in industrial carpet?

Nights like tonight make me so thankful. Really, really grateful for everything I have.

You don’t have to remind me that we’re in business to make money… but sometimes I think I work just for the compliments we receive. I guess they’re one and the same.

The more compliments we receive, the more successful we’ll be.

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One Response to Graduation = smelly + busy

  1. fiveforefun says:

    When you were totally slammed, the two ladies only had to wait 35 minutes for their food? Wow… some of the pizza places in Bend should take lessons from you and your crew.

    Last night we went to that pizza place downtown and it took 50 (FIFTY!!) minutes for our order to arrive, and there were only 3-4 other people there.

    Sounds like you are doing it right. I can hardly wait to give it a try!

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