We were on the drive back from our mini-vacay and received a frantic phone call from Calhoun.
The walk-in (refrigerator) had jumped 10-degrees in temperature and he had no idea why. We were a good three-hours from Baker City, so we asked him to call a heating/AC place in town and tell them that it was an emergency. Our cell phone reception then cut out, almost on cue.
We drove over the many mountain passes, anxious to find a phone signal to call and find out what was going on.
Finally, only thirty-minutes outside of town, we were able to get a hold of Calhoun again.
The walk-in was officially out. Done. Kaput. Broke.
And it was getting hot.
Calhoun had busted his hump to get all of our perishables into buckets and pans filled with ice, trying desperately to save our most expensive dairy and meat products. The regular guys that we have hired in the past to fix our AC/Heating was on-site, but had told Calhoun that the outlook was bleak. Please keep in mind that this walk-in was bought BRAND SPANKIN’ NEW less than three years ago, so I was sitting shotgun on our way home with ants in my pants and profanity in my lungs.
We pulled into town and drove straight to the restaurant. Tired, starving, and on a road-trip high we arrived to a busy kitchen with way too many people milling around. Tickets were piled up on the line, Calhoun was directing the kitchen and pies were stacking up in the ovens.
The regular AC guys were now sitting in the dining room having dinner while watching Monday Night Football, and they told Whitey the bad news.
Whitey would need to drive to Boise at 4 a.m. the next morning and await instructions. They would call around Idaho and try to find the part needed to fix it, but there were no guarantees that anyone would have it. If they did have it, and Whitey picked it up and got it back to Baker by noon, they might be able to install it and have us up and running by 5 o’clock.
I was near tears, Whitey was pacing frantically, and the crew kept their heads down and comments short. They knew we were upset.
The dough began to blow up — meaning it would be unusable by the next day. Whitey and I walked into the office and hugged. Alright. Man up. What do we do?
I walked outside to get some fresh air, and our neighbor (who has a fast-food place next door) questioned me as to what was going on. I gave him the short, snippy, pissy version and he asked if we had called ****.
**** I asked?
Yeah, he said. Call him. He can fix anything.
I gave the phone number to Whitey with a script of “I am SO sorry to call you in the middle of the night… here’s what’s happening… can you help?” and the guy showed up ten minutes later. He said he liked our pizza, liked our business, and he’d do what he could to help.
He crawled up on the walk-in and fiddled with a flashlight. It was serious, he said, but fixable… and not by driving to Boise in a few hours.
The regular AC guys had watched **** walk in the front door, and so they wandered into the kitchen after eating dinner to see what was happening. **** drove off to get the part needed, and showed back up to install it. The regular “fixers” sat alongside of him and Whitey and eventually, the refrigeration kicked on.
This was at about midnight.
The dough was spent, and had to be thrown out. Whitey had sent me home (after all, it was my birthday and all) and he decided that he needed to stay to replace the bad dough with an emergency dough recipe. That’s fancy talk for using warmer water in the mix, so that the dough balls rise faster.
He came home just before sunrise, and yet had to wake up a few hours later to drive to Boise to replace our cheese.
That’s a good 4.5 to 5-hour road trip on top of everything else.
**** refused to bill us — he said that he was happy to help. The regular guys (who weren’t able to fix it, remember) sent me an invoice for upwards of a thousand dollars.
Such is life, eh? Yet, we now know who to call when something breaks down.
And yes, I sent a very heartfelt thank you card and gift certificate to ****. He’s the epitome of a hero to me. And so is our Calhoun, who worked non-stop to keep the kitchen on track, our spendy inventory chilled, and still managed to give me a hug and a “happy birthday?” with a sad smile.