Don’t Forget the Fork

Last Friday at 4:39 A.M. my phone alerted me that it had received a text message. I’m a pretty unpopular lady these days (at least in the adult world), and have also sucked at sleeping (for the past year and change); so it doesn’t take much to wake, or intrigue me…

Of course, it was my dad.

You know it’s been a busy night at The Brunswick (and that he has stayed in), when this happens. His texts were long, MOSTLY rational, and completely misspelled… I was impressed with the logic behind his rant, but found it more interesting that it wasn’t a group text. “This was meant just for me!?” I must respond, I thought!

I complimented him on the execution of his point, and asked if we had gotten a new negative review.  He assured me that all was good on the most recent of FB rating scales, and got clear; he needed me to relay his message to “our” employees.

It’s beautiful to notice the ways that we have grown (together but seperately), over the past 36 years… It wasn’t long ago that he would have sent this as a mass text to every employee, whose name he remembered, (therefore ensuring that he would offend them all)… But here we were, on this parallel continuum of softness and strength.  And as the universe would have it, he was just as much in need of my spell check and thesoraus skills, as I was of distraction and writing…

He spoke in a less eloquent, but equally “powerful” way about the importance of every position at our family bar/restaraunt. He talked of the value of each move that each employee makes, and how our operation is undeniably, the sum of each of its parts. Not without profanity he figuratively spoke of how the smallest of “leaks” could ultimately sink the “ship…” He painted the picture using the analogy/or reality of a waitress; after taking an order, forgetting to set her table up with utensils. Perhaps this waitress has six tables and it seems like its not the end of the day if the expediter has to deliver the silverware for her; but the dark and exhausting reality is that the mentioned expediter is delivering food to a total of forty tables… Running back forth and delivering the missing fork only ensures that the crispy french fries (going to b2) now arrive cold. As a result not only does the waitresses tip suffer, but the kitchen runs out of room under the heat lamp for the other orders and they arrive late and/or cold.

The cooks behind the line are pissed that they have to remake fries, and take it out on the expeditor; who is now pretending that she has to pee, while she cries in the employee bathroom.

Meanwhile, the waitress is now internalizing her 10% tip; tying to her worth as a person… She is now wishing that she hadn’t paid for child care or missed a beach day.  She would have gladly paid someone $100 at this point, to just TAKE her shift.  She orders a vodka soda, but the bartender misunderstands her deflated voice and hears “a vodka sprite.”

Now another table is pissed off because they got the wrong drink… They bring it to the bar and snap at the bartender because it’s not what they ordered. The bartender is three deep at the bar and confused/frustrated about why a customer (she doesn’t even have a tab with), is mad at her for a mistake that (in her mind) she didn’t even make…

The bartender needs extra ice in her drink well to compensate for the “mistake” beverages she has served, which results in less ice being thrown into the beer coolers.  Another customer is now annoyed about how the beer at the deck bar is “warm!” The bartender is so frustrated that she snaps at the barback for not doing his job.

The barback bumps into the door man while he is lugging four buckets of ice, which he interprets as an intentional and cocky maneuver.  Now instead of politely approaching a customer (that is exiting the patio with a drink in their hand), to explain our liquor policy, he flexes his verbal muscle by yelling at them. Now they know how powerful his position is…

Meanwhile, the next morning my dad is in his window office catching up on the latest 2 star review.  He is grinding his teeth and his blood pressure is rising as he reads about the cold french fries, bad drinks, and rude door man… It doesn’t take a psychic to predict how he responds to the sales rep that is approaching the “confession window” (to explain what product we were expecting and they are out of)…

So what is the point behind (what was intended to be) a humorous example of how quickly things can go wrong in a restaraunt environment? It is that our actions and energy are far more interconnected than we often take time to consider… We live in a world that is now driven by technology and media, which is precisely why we have to care so much about things like two star reviews! These collective reviews have substantial power in propelling businesses into greatness, or not. The trickle down effect of a business expanding or collapsing impacts both individuals and the economy.  It’s all relative, but a small dose of perspective would be knowing that our two establishments employee two hundred people in the peak season, and couple dozen year round. I personally make more money in this profession than I do when I’m using my master’s degree (which put me $100,000 in the hole).

Money isn’t everything though… More important to me (and maybe you) is happiness… The Brunswick and The Sunset aren’t in danger of closing, but still “Father Tom’s” texts served as reminder to me that I am responsible for the energy and effort I put out into the world; regardless of where I am! And so are you…

In writing this I recalled a conversation that I had with my father seventeen years ago when we first took over The Brunswick. We were talking about what makes a bar successful. Amongst the ideas we spoke of what I like to call the“cheers effect.” The ability to remember names, drinks, or stories; the skill of allowing people feel important… Nothing is more authentic or awesome than that!

People have bad days, busy days, people make mistakes, it happens… This is meant only to serve as a reminder that regardless of our job(s) and the multiple roles that we play in the world we should hold ourselves accountable more often. We tend to qualify “hard” things as being negative, when really they are merely a catalyst for change.

Take a breath in the morning, at night, or in the middle of the day. Take a breath, and ask yourself if you showed up and did your best. Ask yourself if your actions at work and home have emulated the person that you want to be. If they don’t or didn’t, then simply begin again. Remind yourself why you started. Remember that the little things truly are the big things. The only thing that spreads quicker than negativity is positive energy! Annnnnd please whatever you do, don’t forget the fork.

8 thoughts on “Don’t Forget the Fork

  1. The world gets a little crazy and difficult when the summer bar and restaurant business goes in to overload with so many tourists in town. I have witnessed the mayhem at both restaurants and found that the employees always work very hard and go out of their way to be sure the customers are happy. People are going to make mistakes and when everyone is stressed tempers are going to fly. Tom works very hard to be sure things go right. I think that people who think they can just give a bad review to get even restaurants should first call next day before trashing business on internet sites . The owner is very proud and spends a lot of money to be sure his customers have the best experience possible when visiting the Brunswick or Sunset Grille.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a great story! I couldn’t agree more with everything, especially with the “cheers effect”. This is why The Swick is my favorite place to be while in Old Orchard. The atmosphere there is like no other, simply amazing. Last weekend you even went above and beyond. We had planned on going home that Sunday, after staying the weekend with our 4 kids & friends, but after a wonderful afternoon at The Brunswick we decided we had to stay one more night ( mostly because we should not have been driving at that point). The wonderful lady at the desk inside listened to our concerns and promptly found us a condo to accommodate everyone! She went out of her way at the last minute, something she did not have to do, but did it with care & a smile. I always have and always will speak wonderfully about your establishment. Thank you for giving us a great place to enjoy great music , food & accommodations!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a husband and I frequent both of your establishments when we visit and are amazed at the superb service at such a busy venue. Keep up the good work…you all do an amazing job!! And remember…you are only human 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This was amazing to read!!! Thank you for making me think. I’ve been going to the Brunswick for years. Often enough that when I type bru into my phone it automatically thinks Brunswick. I love the staff!! You are all amazing and do the best you can to make sure a crazy bunch people have a safe fun night.
    See you all soon!!

    Liked by 1 person

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