Yesterday was the busiest our restaurant has been since our first two weeks of being open. In fact, our late lunch rush brought me to tears.
It was about 2 o’clock, and 40 people walked in. This is not an exaggeration.
Typically, I’m by myself in the kitchen after 1:30, finishing the lunch crowd and doing prep for that night’s dinner. It’s calm; relaxing, almost.
So at 2 o’clock I’m still swamped with about 50% capacity in the dining room, and I’m already stressed about getting a late start on prep. Then the chime starts “FRONT DOOR. DING. FRONT DOOR. DING. FRONT DOOR.”
I looked out of our pop-out window and saw a huge caravan of cars parking, and groups of people lining up to walk inside. Front gal walked into the kitchen and said, “We’ve got a couple of softball teams coming in.”
I spun a pie in the oven while calling Whitey: HELP! He answered the phone in a whisper, as he was golfing and someone was up to putt. Please, I begged, please help me!
He called Chuck Norris (our other ovens guy) who happened to be two blocks away. Norris arrived moments later in swim shorts and flip-flops, apologizing about his appearance. Are you kidding me? I could care less if you were wearing a dress – just get to work!
There were so many tickets coming one after the other; we ran out of room on the make line to hang them and just left them spitting out on the printer.
In the end, in just one hour, we did twice as much business than we normally do all 5 hours of lunch. It was ridiculous.
When our 3pm crew showed up, they stood in shock at the nightmare that the tidal wave of customers had left behind. The kitchen was a disaster. The make line was empty of toppings, dough trays were scattered in the dish hole, aluminum foil pieces were everywhere.
The dining room stood empty; yet every table was covered in debris of empty trays, pitchers, glasses and plates. The PM crew looked at me with confusion as I hastily explained the insane lunch, and then announced that if we didn’t get to work fast on the clean-up, that we’d be playing catch-up for the rest of the night.
It took a half and hour to get the dining room back in order, another twenty minutes of washing dishes, and ten minutes of re-stocking the make line before 5 o’clock arrived.
“Kitchen!?! How long on deliveries?” she asked while covering the mouthpiece of the phone.
“We’re caught up,” I answered. “So 45-minutes or less.”
She then proceeded to send THIS ticket back:
You can’t see the top of the ticket, but trust me, it’s impressive.
ARE YOU KIDDING ME? JC and I looked at each other, and started slinging dough so fast you would have thought we were in an Iron Chef competition.
It was all in the oven in 22 minutes (with both JC and I working the make line & Norris on ovens) – Out of the oven 8 minutes later – On the road with 6 minutes to spare! Arrived in? 45 MINUTES! WOO HOO!
The rest of the night was fairly smooth, but pretty busy. When it was finally time to close, we had no idea that four hours had just flown by. And when we did our reports at the end of the night, we realized why everyone was so tired. We had sold more food in one day than we had any other day this year. *** High-fives all around *** yet everyone was so tired that it was a limp hand slap without any enthusiasm.
(and in my head I’m saying, “Shoot. I’ve been working all day — you’re 20-years-old and you’re tired? Baloney. You guys are going to end up cruising downtown, getting some slurpees or Rockstars or some sugar-loaded drink and then going home to play online before finally going to sleep in the wee hours of the morning.”)
I went straight home and passed out on the dining room chair while updating my Facebook status. Minutes later, I dragged myself to the bedroom and barely remember falling asleep. My age is showing.
What a Thursday.