Free Cake and then Some
To quote the masters of the comedy troupe Monty Python, “I don’t like spam”. I’m not referring to the canned luncheon meat from the 40’s, I mean the annoying mass e-mails of today. I guess some people don’t find those e-mails annoying, just like there are folks out there that enjoy the taste of canned luncheon meat. Personally, I don’t need an inbox of unimportant electronic solicitations, so I tend not to give out my address, e-mail or otherwise without a really good reason to do so. Guests of the brewhouse are enticed to fork over their personal information with the lure of a complimentary dessert once they do so. I lump the brewhouse guests that sign up for monthly e-notifications into one of two categories: 1) they enjoy receiving spam and could care less about free cake or 2) they enjoy cake so much it is worth putting up with a little spam. I don’t get the appeal. Maybe it’s because I don’t care much for sweets, or for that matter, canned luncheon meats.
It was another shift at the brewhouse. Lunch was beginning to wind down as it does and the hustle of the restaurant became slow and relaxed. Katie came over to me, “Did you see that?”
Obviously I didn’t. I would certainly have made a mental note of ‘that’.
“Can you watch them for a moment?” I followed her finger over to table 502. There sat a partyof four gathering their things in anticipation of departure. No big deal, people depart all the time. Then I looked a little closer. I turned to ask Katie if I was actually seeing what I was seeing but she had left to find the general manager.
To the untrained eye, table 502 was just four people aged mid 30’s-50’s casually dressed concluding their meal. To professionals like Katie and myself, it was four people behaving in a manner that was not consistent with other brewhouse guests. Something was wrong: perhaps these diners were overly committed to leaving; they might have been distracted by their table’s conversation; the previous hour of carb loading could have clouded their judgment; maybe they hated the sight of dirty dishes. I rationalized because, somewhere along the line, as they gathered their things and readied to leave, the definition of ‘their things’ and ‘our things’ became blurred.
They were working with two canvas sacks, similar to those reusable grocery bags that are environmentally green, currently trendy and have no place being carried into a restaurant. The premeditated decision of sack possession led me to guess they had possibly done this before. I withdrew my earlier theories of departure commitment and conversation distraction. Clouded judgment was still winning as my first choice for unconventional restaurant behavior and I hadn’t yet discounted the visually offensive plate hypothesis either.
To be fair, the name of our establishment was etched onto the glassware and only the glassware. The flatware was not marked nor the salt and pepper shakers, both of which had disappeared from tabletop into sack. Was this simply a case of mistaken identity? Did table 502 identify the glasses as ours but were unsure about the ownership of the ramekins and sugar caddies. The glasses, at the moment, remained on the table. I could only imagine their dialog, “Did we, the hungry of party of four arrive with these steak knives in our possession? Clearly they are not owned by the restaurant otherwise it would say so much like the pint glasses. Can’t recall, our blood sugar was low when we stepped through the doors, we’d better play it safe and assume the serving spoons are ours too”. And then a Brewhouse pint glass joined the sack holding the soup bowls. Okay, new theory….
Maybe table 502 thought, when they purchased the food they also received the serving piece it came on. Our advertising could be misleading to some. The waiting area of the brewhouse lobby shows photos of signature dishes with the price listed underneath. There is no asterisk or disclaimer underneath these prices. Nothing to explain in tiny print at the bottom of the photo that price does not include the plate. Now that I think of it how do we as a restaurant expect guests to understand when we show a photo of a draft beer, we are selling the beer not the glass.
Clearly table 502 established we were doing just that. The care they took to wrap the glassware in our (but not for much longer) cloth napkins implied they indeed bought the glass. Surely the beer previously inside the glass was simply a demonstration of how one might use the glass once purchased. When I go to my wine shop and choose a lovely Riesling I am not forced to drink it in the store. They let me take the vessel home with me as well as the wine. I can understand how restaurant rules might be a tad misleading.
Come to think about it, these people must be frustrated going to restaurants to secure housewares and having the store’s policy dictate before sale is final the establishment must rest perishable items on/in/all over the purchased items. In our restaurant alone, it took table 502 a good hour to scrape off the edible visual aids. I feel bad for them really. It’s entirely our fault.
I’m guessing the GM was equally sympathetic to their shopping plight. He had arrived moments earlier and just stood and watched.
“Did they pay their bill?” he asked Katie.
“Yup, the change is sitting on the table”.
“Well, if they really need the plates that badly they can have em.” He shrugged and walked away.
Katie and I watched a little longer and followed them with our eyes as they headed out the restaurant. I continued to watch them walk to their car. Katie beelined to the table hoping they left a tip for her service. They did. Not an astonishingly good one. Far from it but, despite the low monetary gratuity they left her something far more priceless, (priceless to me that is) a great story to tell later.
As an added bonus, inside Katie’s check presenter was a e-mail registration card completely filled out by table 502, with name, address, phone number and e-mail. It was a fair trade. Table 502 knew they could come back for free dessert and we knew where to send the cops if we decided to press charges.
I swear you just can’t make this stuff up.