There weren’t many places I liked to drink after work when I was able to walk home. I’m not a social person, and find drinking alone at times to be perfectly acceptable given the right barkeep. After a busy and stressful dinner service in an over-booked restaurant it’s generally peace and quiet I like. I enjoy a bit of loneliness, and do my best to fend off attempts at conversation from fellow bar patrons.
I miss living in Saratoga and I miss leaving work and stopping at Wheatfields for a drink or two (certainly not for the food). What I liked about going to Wheatfields is that no one from the restaurant business went there, and the last thing I want to do after work is talk shop. Most restaurant people can’t function on any plane but the work plane, and that is intolerable. Another thing I liked about stopping at Wheatfields was not only were there no restaurant people there, but there were almost no people at the bar by the time I got there. The last thing I wanted when I got done with work was people around me.
Several years ago I left work early one evening when I was feeling particularly down about something and wanted to stop somewhere different for a drink. Feeling the need for some new scenery, I chose a spot whose bar I hadn’t been before but owed a visit to since the (partial) owners had been to the Wine Bar several times. I like to frequent businesses that come to my place of employment. I sat at the bar at this fine dining spot and was offered something to eat by one of the owners and I tried to decline as I wasn’t too hungry but it was sent anyway. It was the worst chicken liver pâté I’ve ever been obligated to eat. It was served microwaved. Over microwaved. Then, something else arrived, unwanted. Fried calamari with pre-made bottled Thai chili sauce. It was ok, but I just wasn’t hungry. I ate what I could, finished my cocktail and asked for the check from the bartender. The food was on the bill which I paid and left with a fake thank you and difficult smile. Ownership has changed, there’s a different chef now, and I believe it’s now worth a visit.
A couple of years ago I stopped by a restaurant after work for a drink and to say hello to the owner who I like very much. While enjoying an incredibly well-crafted cocktail the chef came out of the kitchen to say hello. I had never met this individual and the first think he said to me was “how many covers you do tonight?” In my head I said “I don’t know, it’s none of your damn business, but they were all good.” The reality is that I don’t count covers at the end of the night. I instead reflect on what was good, what may have been better. I think about how I performed, how the staff performed, and how we worked as a team. I think about any issues, address them, then move on to the business of the next day. That starts by checking tomorrow’s book, not reveling in doing more covers than the next guy. It was kind if a jerky question. McDonald’s counts how many burgers it sells with little regard for the quality of those burgers, and with little regard how your employees are treated.
One thing I’ve never been a big fan of is hanging around work after hours. The shift drink is nice, but when allowed it’s best in the form of a cold beer enjoyed in the kitchen during clean up. Sitting at the bar of your work place has never really appealed to me. What’s worse is hanging out at your work place on your day off. Your social group should not consist only of those people in your current job, if they do, get a better social life. Seriously, that’s not commitment to your job. If you’re doing it because you get free booze, you may in fact be stealing with the aid of the on-duty bartender. Owners, watch those employees that hang around too much as they are probably drinking your profits.
I once worked for a guy that forbid his service staff (almost all female) from sitting at the bar after their shift or on their days off. He asserted that it’s a space for customers, not employees I agree with that, but his reasoning was that he didn’t want them sleeping with the customers. While that may have been his reason, you just don’t say it to them. He didn’t last.
I sometimes miss my stroll home including a stop for a couple of pints or a solid Manhattan followed by a slice or two of pizza for the walk. After hours now I just drive home, pour a bourbon, and reflect in a typically quiet house which I really like because Jenny is there with me.