Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Tale of Two Restaurants

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Okay, maybe that's a bit of exaggeration. As life would have it, for some unapparent reason I decided to help open, not one, but two new restaurants last year. Oh yeah, at the same time! Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you Graffiato and Jack Rose Dining Saloon.

I always appreciate when people tell me that the restaurant business is hard work. What they don't know, and what I've spent nearly two decades discovering, is that this business borders on insanity. It's not in the handbook, but my job consists of the following: barista, comedian, acrobat, childcare provider, bellhop, mathematician, public relations, wine expert, whiskey expert, nutritionalist, alcohol management enforcer, actor, student, food and beverage pairing expert, linguist, photographer, anger management specialist, tour guide, and yes... I do windows. Imagine having to satiate a basic human need, while tailoring to individual preferences, trying to make as many people happy as possible, with perfect timing, while not allowing anyone to ingest anything that might make them ill or die, all while trying to extract as much money as possible from them in an ethical fashion. All of this we must do on our feet, with a smile, for many whom will not even give us the time of day. We are critiqued several times per hour (and that's if there is no manager breathing down our necks), and our mistakes are many times difficult to hide. Repeat. Madness.

Luckily, my two newest restaurant endeavors have become quite popular, respectively. Upon my decision last May to undertake the responsibilities that come with two different places of business, I thought one might in fact win out and I would leave the other. However, both have kept me engaged in learning and challenged in my craft. Therefore I continue, damn the madness! In the words of Frasier Crane to close, although not entirely accurate, "It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better butt-kicking I give than I have ever butt-kicked!"

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Welcome Madeleine

Facing the Sea with Spring Blossoms

    By Hai Zi

"From tomorrow on,
I will be a happy man;
Grooming, chopping,
and traveling all over the world.
From tomorrow on,
I will care foodstuff and vegetable,
Living in a house towards the sea,
with spring blossoms.
From tomorrow on,
write to each of my dear ones,
Telling them of my happiness,
What the lightening of happiness has told me,
I will spread it to each of them.
Give a warm name for every river and every mountain, Strangers, I will also wish you happy.
May you have a brilliant future!
May you lovers eventually become spouses!
May you enjoy happiness in this earthly world!
I only wish to face the sea, with spring flowers blossoming."

My photo was one of many taken on an afternoon spring walk through several neighborhoods in Washington, DC from Penn Quarter to Dupont Circle. It was March 25th - a peaceful, lovely day - and I later discovered that at the same time my friend Jennifer was bringing her daughter Madeleine into this world. She made her debut the following morning and shares a birthday with the Chinese poet Hai Zi quoted above. I thought it a happy coincidence.