The first time I brought my daughter to the restaurant she was in a car carrier and I placed her into a steam well in the kitchen while I prepped. She was three weeks old. She slept and I was euphoric that I could roll out pastry dough, bake tarts, cut meat and put soup on the stove. I can’t remember how long it lasted that afternoon, but I don’t remember doing it again.
Over the years she has washed dishes: only once and was a bit overwhelmed, young and couldn’t do it physically.
She has bussed tables which she used to hate. She cried when she dropped a tray of wine glasses. I won’t lie, I cried a little too. But then I showed her how to carry ten in one hand and one more in the other. No tray. Much easier. She whined about all the stairs that need to be climbed to do set ups and bring everything to the floor.
She has hosted and complained about the waiters hassling her about not getting enough covers and was frustrated by the computer system.
She has run food for banquets and pointed out every spot on every dish.
She has never worked in the kitchen, which I can’t understand. When she was a teenager she hated the thought of putting her hair up into a baseball cap and wearing an unflattering kitchen apron. Both of which I particularly love about working in the kitchen.
But she wanted to wait tables. All this bitching made me reluctant to put her on the floor as a server. I reasoned, I didn’t need this! But then I did. I was caught short without a server last summer and we gave it a try. It takes several weeks to find a great server so I put her on until I could hire one and she would go back to college. Lo and behold she got it. She did OK.
I went through the menu and ingredients and special orders while we were together one afternoon for a car drive and it stuck. She knew all about Babette’s and me, of course, and the my longtime servers backed her up. The guests who remembered her growing up and hadn’t known about all the bitching thought she was cute (she is) and it was great that she was working there (it really was). She made a gross amount of money. Turns out there was no complaining about that!
The last time I brought her to the restaurant was this New Year’s Eve. She was supposed to be a “floater,” helping both the host and the busser. The busser was sick so she was on her own. Maybe it was because her teenage years were behind her now – we’re all happy to say – she just buckled down and did the job. She could hardly walk the next day because her legs were so sore, but she gets it. She respects the enormous physical strength it takes to do any of the jobs in the restaurant. She realizes the importance of each person and how the team needs to work together. She knows not to bother me with little stuff. She loves our guests.
It’s a good thing because she’s on call for Valentine’s weekend!