Sunday, November 26, 2006


The day itself—Thanksgiving Day—was the one thing about the week that wasn’t a disaster. Assorted family arrived in good order, though they had to drive through some pretty soupy weather. Husband took over the cooking tasks; I gladly relinquished that responsibility. It was the most I could do to set up a wine bar and munchies in strategic places around the dining room. We had a tv to keep the men happy, a video game to keep the kids happy, and plenty of wine to keep us sisters happy.

Dinner was a delight. And holding that private family celebration at the restaurant seemed to seal the deal. A new, strong sense of ownership washed over me. At last it has become real: For better or for worse, this is MY restaurant. It felt amazing. For about twenty-four hours.

Determined to catch a breather from my 24/7 focus on the café, I scheduled myself to have Friday off. Judging from last year’s numbers, it was NOT going to be a busy day, so I figured I could trust my crew to hold the place together for a day while I indulged in our annual Day-After-Thanksgiving trip to what is billed as "The World’s Largest Christmas Bazaar" in North Portland. Every year, we spend five or six hours trundling Mom around in her wheelchair, oohing and aahing over the various sparklies and doo-dads, and spending more money than we should on things we don’t really need. A good time is had by all.

So, Friday morning, I get up at about 8:30 (unforgivably letting my houseful of guests fend for themselves until I am damned good and ready to roll out of bed.) I pour myself some coffee, watch a few minutes of tv… By 9:30, everyone is awake and hungry, and of course I have no food in the house, being as how I had not had time to actually shop for this event. I decide I will call in an order to the café and go pick it up…voila—a good free breakfast that I do not have to cook. Kind of a no-brainer, no?

I whip out the phone and call the restaurant. After two and a half rings, I get sent to voice mail. Ah, someone must be taking a phone order. I’ll call back.

Ten minutes elapse, I dial again…same result. Wait another five minutes. No change. I’m a little irritated now. I am still in my pajamas, so I ask the husband if he will please drive over to the café and see if someone has left the phone off the hook (or is having a long personal conversation on the business line…)

Five minutes later, the phone rings. It is the husband. "I just let myself into the restaurant. The place is dark and there’s no one here." It is 10:00 am. We are supposed to open at 8:00. "You have got to be kidding me!!!!!"

Seems my best, most trustworthy employee didn’t actually read the schedule…she simply assumed she was supposed to work at 2:00 pm, which is when she usually (but by no means always) is scheduled to work on Fridays. And she is the one with the key.

A heart attack, an ulcer, and a nervous breakdown later, the restaurant is open, customers are being served, and my family and I are sitting down to the meal that we had planned to bring home and enjoy in a leisurely manner seated around the fire in my family room. Except we are all at the restaurant…and I am exhausted. I am, however, now able to leave the place in the hastily reassembled hands of my not-so-capable crew and resume my previously planned holiday activities with my family. We will go to that Christmas Bazaar. And we will have fun, goddammit.

I'll finish this tomorrow...


  1. Ok, from now on, everybody initials the schedule when it's posted. Oh my, what a holiday. I'm lighting candles all over the place.


  2. Oh wow!!  Sounds like you handled the crisis very well!!  Love the last line... hope ya had a great time at the bazaar.  Sounds like it would be fun.  I would be frustrated about the schedule mishap too, and especially on the family holiday of all things.   Hugs,

  3. It could have been worse... At least you got your crew together to run the restaurant the rest of the day.

  4. Despite the bumps, you really are rolling with it now.  Hope the shopping trip is great.

  5. Yep, the ups, the downs, the miscreant employees!  Have had 'em all and well, can't seem to give them up!

  6. Those d*mn employees.  How they let us down time and again.  I remember my most "trusted" employee used to call in sick at the last minute many times.  I did have a good friend with a spare key who used to work out at 5:30 a.m....if none of my employees were there, she would just open up for me, turn on the lights, and away they'd go.

  7. Initialling the schedule is a good idea ~ employees who are accustomed to regular hours get into the habit of not checking, especially if they're not expecting otherwise.

    I am certain you had fun at the Christmas Bazaar, goddammit!  ;D

  8. I knew there was a reason why meals are just not my usual thing... .