A Mind That Suits What doesn't kill me, makes me laugh... usually.

Monday, February 23, 2004 :::
What a Difference a Bad Restaurant Makes

Last night saw the sputtering demise of the neighborhood restaurant known on this distinguished blog as "Ye Olde Neighborhood Pub." It was, in fact, nothing more than a corporately owned pizza-and-burger place, but it was the only place that we older insomniacs could sit and watch TV together. Or get in arguments about the war. Or study Latin.

Or just sit.

The truth is, if you got above the burgers and pizza, the food was atrocious, and, as with nearly all corporate restaurants, they had a terrible time keeping waiters. Why that is, is something of a mystery, but it is true. The recently installed manager, while humorless and grim, did have a way of balancing shifts such that reliable waiters felt they could make a living wage, and so it had stabilized.

What will be most sorely missed is friend Jorge, a Bolivian, who, in keeping with the style of immigrants in nearly every restaurant in DC, ignored management bad or good and did his job up to the level of his own very high standards. He also hung on through thick and thin until he got "section one" every night, on the nights he wanted. Good service and a pleasant smile are the only way to make money as a waiter, and Jorge comes by those naturally. Jorge was also a remarkable artist, very well educated, and a good conversationalist when things were slow. When this writer wanted to read, he let him read, and when he wanted to talk, he talked. And his family is the beneficiary of the endless bounty that is possible when one family member has a good job in the United States.

Sorely missed too will be John and Young John, the bartenders. John was reserved and hard working, but could crack a good joke when things lightened up. He also kept the bar in good shape, and the waiters. Young John was bubbly and always on the move, a bundle of energy and ready with a joke. He had what the Greeks would call the " arete' " of youth--the virtues appropriate to his age and station in life. It's kids like him that make college teaching enjoyable, on the days when it is, though this writer may be the only English teacher who likes it when he comes into work and finds the furniture suspended from the ceilings. It shows initiative, and Young John is the kind of young man that the authorities go ask first when harmless pranks have been pulled.

The restaurant decor, typically for this chain, was dark and isolating, but the bar was brightly lit and pleasant. And, most importantly, the only place in Cleveland Park where bachelors and others who work until 10 could chill out before heading home. Everyone was heartbroken, at least if "everyone" had a Y-chromosome, though all admitted the food stunk. Where else is one likely to bump into one of the country's leading leftist economists, a ranking member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a brash young media consultant, various neighborhood characters, and A Mind That Suits?

Speaking of whom, he has spent a lot of time in Palo Alto in recent years, and the old stomping grounds resemble the neighborhood where he has setttled a lot. Neither has a good pub. Strange. For those crazy enough to go into restaurant management, it would seem to be a no-brainer.

But for A Mind That Suits, his life has been radically altered, and he has to do some rethinking. Like all males, he is a creature of habit. And a big one just got broken.

That actually happened once. The furniture thing. Done safely and expertly. And it was just a stool. But very funny.

The Invaluable MEMRI. A Mind That Suits altered his own style the last time he mentioned the indispensable MEMRI and referred to it as the "invaluable MEMRI." Indeed it is, and many others seem to think so. Googling "invaluable MEMRI" yields hundreds of hits. You should get a free e-mail subscription. You will hear translations of a whole range of Arabs, pro-Western and anti. The anti's will make your toes curl, but it beats out the feelgood treatment that that part of the world gets, and they really do cover "all sides." (Yes, mainstream coverage of the Middle East is as "feelgood" as it can possibly be.) So MEMRI: read it regularly. And A Mind That Suits will go back to calling it the "indispenable MEMRI," as it is also that.

::: posted by A Mind That Suits at 11:08 AM



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What doesn't kill me, makes me laugh... usually.

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