Ever prepared for battle, Chef girded his loins with some tasty but easy to plate up options designed to get him out of the shit, whilst yours truly fuelled up with a bit of sausage action in the form of full English and a mug of builders tea.
Surprisingly,despite the onslaught of hungry day trippers seeking out their first beer garden action of the season,in what may only be described as a rare but welcome fluke we managed to retain control ALL DAY,helped in no small part by the consideration of the diners who kindly booked and spread themselves conveniently out over the course of the afternoon.
There were a couple of minor glitches,one in the form of the the party of seven who managed to commandeer the last remaining table which somewhat inconveniently only seated six.As we all know seven into six don't go so helpfully I whipped a spare chair from an adjacent table and placed at the end of the table to accommodate the seventh guest.The extra chair now being sited in the main route through the dining area,a course of action I would not normally have taken and borne out of my uncommonly generous demeanour due to the fact that proceedings were going so swimmingly well,a decision which would later prove ill advised.
This was in fact a schoolboy error.Any waiter will know about checking distances between tables or to be precise spaces between chairs.You have no idea how far away from the table some diners like to pull out their chairs.Personally I cant see the attraction with eating ones food at arms length but back to back chairs and no space to pass through is an occupational hazard of the diligent waiter.Diners,however are completely oblivious to the problems this causes.Rarely will they tuck themselves neatly under the tables,preferring to be bumped and squeezed,but ever determined to hold their ground.
I digress,by my next foray from kitchen,plates in hand, The Seventh Guest was comfortably in situ at the table. We had no prior knowledge that Jabba the Hut was making a short promotional tour of provincial cinemas and would drop by for a spot of light lunch and barricading.
There was no point in asking that the chair be pushed in,the mass was filling the void completely.
Chef peered inquisitively through the regulation fire retardant door that delineates Front of House from kitchen territory:
'I don't think have enough food for him'
'Her' I promptly corrected.
There was now a no through route from kitchen to bar with plated food destined for that area travelling out via the dining room fire exit, and amusingly re-ntering via the front door.
Hey-ho,one could do with trimming off a few pounds..
Later in the day I encountered possibly the rudest individual yet to grace our humble hostelry.
Perhaps you would allow me to provide a little background information first..
There exists in nearby *small market town* an initiative to encourage shoppers to support small independent shops.To be precise the scheme involves a loyalty card through which local businesses can offer discounts or incentives to shoppers.A regular customer of ours approached us and asked if we would participate in the scheme as they were short of eating out venues and wanted to provide a good range of outlets to generate sales of the card.Being upstanding pillars of the community and recognising the value of supporting the local economy we agreed to get onboard.
Chef however,had a much better idea to keep business in town:
'Why don't they just get rid of the parking charges'.
I keep telling him he should go into politics.
Anyhoo,back to the tale.
A couple approached the bar fairly late in the afternoon,just prior to last orders.The Cynical One politely enquired were they wanting to eat.
The tweed jacketed fellow stared blankly at her then with some force replied 'Yes'.The tone of his voice negating the necessity to tag 'of course' on to his reply.
Admittedly we are a food driven pub, but oddly we do on occasion manage to attract those of the 'drinking only' mindset.
'How many are you?'
Victor Meldrews brother frowned and channelling his very best Marcel Marceau looked pointedly behind himself and his wife,raised his eyebrows with contempt before replying brusquely 'two'.
To the inexperienced onlooker,the enquiry for the number of diners may have seemed pointless,but actually what a shame it would have been if the assumption had been made that the table was for two and then unbeknownst to ourselves he had proceeded to extract his elderly and infirm mother in law from the car only to find there was in fact no room at the inn? and you know its not actually unheard of for a single individual to request a table prior to unloading the entire cast of 15 kids and Counting from the car.
As they were shown to the table,the blackboard menus were pointed out to-whit more raised eyebrows and muttering culminating in 'YES I CAN SEE'
Id forgotten about him until I was serving a nearby table and as I glanced over,I could see him sitting arms folded,brow furrowed with an uneaten bread and butter pudding sitting on the table directly in front of him.
'Is everything ok?'
'No-Im not enjoying this at all.The top is crunchy and its swimming in COLD CREAM'
This is a tricky one,did Sir expect the cream to be hot perhaps?
I looked down at the plate,there was no more than a smidgeon of cream,I would even go so far as to say the depth of cream was as shallow as a worms grave.
Best just accept defeat.
'Would you like me to get you something else instead?'
'NO- JUST GET ME THE BILL'
Shortly afterwards I was aware of a minor altercation at the bar.
As I approached I overheard The Cynical One say:
'No its not a discount'
I could see him clasping his *small market town* loyalty card.
'Is there a problem?'
'Yes,Im trying to use this card and the girl wont accept it'
'AH yes let me explain,our offer is a glass of house wine with your main course'
'but I didn't get a glass of house wine'
'Did you ask for one'
'No I had a J20,but i wasn't told I could have one'
'Did you mention you had a *small market town card*'
'No-but you should have asked me if I had one and told me what I could have'
And presumably run through any other discount cards and vouchers you might have collected just in case?Oh and what about American Express Sir ? That will do nicely and you can rack up some air miles at the same time..
This is a typical shopping at the sale mentality:I don't really want it but Ill get it anyway coz its cheap/free.
'Would you like your free glass of wine now'
'NO ITS TOO LATE'
At this point I thought Id try and divert the conversation,focus on any positives,usually a winning smile confuses the hell out of complainers..
'But did you enjoy your meal??'( beaming and nodding encouragingly)
'It was all right.....It wasn't great'(with vigour)
The wife standing two paces behind displayed a vacant and despondent expression.
'Well Im very sorry but usually holders of the card mention they have one and then ask what offer we have'
'Well I'll know for next time then wont I?????? EXCEPT THERE WONT BE A NEXT TIME..!!'
Later when I repeated the conversation to the kitchen, Chef politely enquired:
'with respect to that last statement 'except there wont be a next time' I trust you got him to put that in writing...'
Readers of the previous post may be interested to learn that the Custard Woman paid us an unannounced visit yesterday to claim her gratis luncheon.Can you believe she viewed the pudding menu then asked for some custard,despite there being none on the menu??
This goes to show that there is no point in inviting disgruntled customers back for freebies,chances are if they haven't liked it the first time around,they're unlikely to enjoy a repeat performance.
Next time I'm going to follow Chefs recommended Modus Operandi: