September 2005

In September, I was back in Rochester, New York to shoot another version of CORK, an on-premise training DVD from Constellation. A truly humble name, eh, Constellation? Oh, well, if you’re that big…

Working on this project made me consider the meaning of the word Constellation. So I did a wall sculpture called Constellation that some of you might someday see…But I really enjoy the people I work with on the CORK project. And I like being in Rochester and visiting Wegman’s, one of the best grocery groups there is. It must be living proof that I am a hopeless geek that I’m actually excited to visit a Wegman’s and see what they’re up to.

But once again I’m in Rochester and I want to go to Tastings, Wegman’s on-premise venue, and they’re closed both nights I’m in town. One of these days…

I visit another local restaurant instead. Nice place, I’ve had a good meal there before. I show up at 8:40 pm though they close at 9 pm. On a Sunday night, that’s not such a good idea in most restaurants. Here too the service issue becomes amusing, if nothing else.

I seat myself at the bar and shout a hearty “hi there” to the bartender. She grunts something like hi. “May I see a menu and order some dinner?” I ask. “Oh. Yeah.” Menu comes out, I peruse quickly, order quickly, I mean I know the kitchen wants to close soon, though there must still be about thirty customers dining.

I order a beer, and order a glass of red wine to go with my entrée. I figure, let’s be nice, let her get things arranged in advance, and it lets her know that I’m cognizant that she may want to clear out fairly quickly after close. The appetizer arrives; it’s good. About one minute later, my entrée arrives. “I don’t know why he did that,” she mumbles, “I told him you were having your appetizer first.” Suuuuure, you don’t know, I’m suuuure.

Oh, well, it’s good too. I eat them both, finish my wine, and wonder why I haven’t seen the bartender in a while. It’s 8:55pm. Twenty minutes later, I finally found a manager. He was helping someone with a ringout at the host stand, of course. I always find it gratifying to watch people count money at the front door, don’t you?

He disappears for a few minutes, then the bartender is back. She drops the check down. No comment, turns on her heels and walks back to the kitchen. There was a table behind me, laughing about their own situation. They were seated by the kitchen which was OBVIOUSLY closing down for the day, I mean, it was OBVIOUS. Crash! Bang! A few pans are dropped. The table started yelling at the kitchen, “Hey, you guys aren’t loud enough!” I’m serious, that’s what they were saying.

I sign my check and wait a few more minutes. Nobody in sight. I wonder to the front door and stand for a few minutes, hoping at least somebody could manage a “Goodbye”; I’ll live without a “Thank you.” Nothing.

I’m beginning to think that restaurants should be evaluated only on Sunday nights. That’s when you find out what they’re really up to. Everything else is just for show…