Not exactly a hobby, but....

In the late '70s and early '80s, I spent time working in restaurants.  Loved it.  For me it was several years of PARTY TIME.   Le Bourguignon, Zoli's, the Sundancer.  We got great reviews, and I'm forever ruined because I know how good restaurant chow can be.  



Me and 3 of my associates, 1981


In the photo above I'm the tallest of the group, and at the time this was taken, I wasn't amused.  I'd been set up for a gag shot out on the floor and the ladies had left their assigned stations to come in and help harass me.  Two cocktail waitresses and a chick singer.  How's a guy going to maintain his dignity when even his staff doesn't respect him?  Without discipline, pretty soon our patrons would've been demanding crackers with their bouillabaisse. 

Oh, yeah, that was a little something about our restaurants: we didn't stock ketchup, A-1 Sauce, or crackers.  We also didn't serve fried fish, fried chicken or french fries.  We didn't carry items like that, and we didn't cotton to customers who wanted to crap up their digestive systems with that stuff while sitting at our tables.  

We also didn't carry a lot of domestic wines, and we certainly didn't have any New York wines.  Wines from anywhere near New York State have a foxy taste, and are generally nasty and disagreeable.  I might add, much like the wine companies' sales reps, who mistakenly thought they could con me into buying into their shameless scams.  Sheesh!  Thinking about it still steams my croutons.

Before we close the door on the subject of what we didn't have, well, we didn't have bouillabaisse either.  Don't ever order bouillabaisse in a restaurant -- it's like the butcher's hamburger.  With regard to bouillabaisse, all that seafood that didn't make it out to the tables gets thrown into a big pot of boiling water.  Voila'.  Zee bouillabaisse. Understand?  Good.  Just say, no.

A note of interest: Zoli’s was a restaurant and a discotheque, and was designed as a near-work-of-art by a cat named Zoltan out of Los Angeles.  I worked there as manager after the Spring Flood of ’79 and on through January of ‘80.  The picture below is an elaborate doodle done by my bored but artsy DJ, Mike Whassisface.  The cartoon jock you see below is supposed to be me.  At the time, I did have a moustache, but I was never the cool guy depicted here.  Heck, the way I figure it, I had the job of manager precisely because I'm uncool, and maybe also because I’d earned a reputation for being honest with other people’s money.




Mike C's fancy doodle, 1979



I disliked disco going in, and, by the time I left, I was going ape-crazy in my skull.  I calculated I heard that thumping disco beat over 50,000 times in an evening.  Oy vey.  And those groovy threads our customers wore.  Oy gavalt.  There were times I thought I was gonna curl toes and hurl.

By the way, restaurant managers don’t really manage.  Whether you’re talking about McDonald’s or the upscale places I worked, restaurant managers have little authority and there’s almost always a “someone” behind the scenes.  In my case, in each restaurant I was associated with, it was a flamboyant impresario by the name of Bernard.  The Maestro. He's one of the few people I've ever met who I'd call brilliant.  Eventually he tired of this part of the world and left for the Caribbean, where he now manages hotels and casinos.  

I left the restaurant scene, too.  That was about 36 hours after the Maestro said he was leaving.  Or maybe I got canned by the new owners.  Whatever -- it was way past time to be moving on.  

Still, I miss our old restaurants.  

On the other hand, I have a profound loathing of disco.

Yeah, ring my bell, bell, bell -- ring my bell.  Uh huh, uh huh.




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