By CHARLES FERRUZZA
As an ex-waiter, I still have the occasional server’s nightmare: In my dream, I’m standing in the middle of a well-appointed dining room of a restaurant that I’ve never seen before. It’s a Saturday night, every table is full and I don’t see another waiter in the joint. A strange manager hands me a waiter’s pad and a pen, points off to a remote spot in the room and says, “You’re in Station Five.” Then he vanishes.
Station Five? Where’s that? Where’s the kitchen? What kind of restaurant is this anyway? As I stand there, totally confused, a customer yells at me: “There’s a cockroach on my plate!”
At that point I wake up in a cold sweat. Thank God it’s only a dream.
Ironically, I tend to forget the real nightmares that I experienced in two decades as a waiter, including the half-dozen times I worked in a busy dining room on a steamy summer night when the air-conditioning went on the fritz. I’ll never forget that certain midtown Italian restaurant where the owners promised us that a “repairman was on his way.” I’m convinced they never made a call.
By the end of my shift, my white shirt and black pants were drenched in sweat and my wet hair was plastered to my skull. The customers complained about the heat by leaving crummy tips – as if the heat was my fault! One patron even looked up at me and said in the most withering tone: “Didn’t you bring an extra shirt?”
The kitchen, as you can imagine, was Dante’s Inferno. The sneaky crew behind the line was able to convince a clueless manager to bring them pitchers filled with cold beer, so of course they were bombed by 8 p.m. But the real horror of the night was that customers kept coming in and sitting down, in a friggin’ steambath, for a plate of pasta.
As sweat began pooling in my shoes, my attitude became increasingly awful. Finally, a bowl of penne alfredo slipped out of my sodden hands and into a customer’s lap. She screamed bloody murder as I pulled off my soggy apron and walked out the front door. I still shudder at the memory.
That’s why I must congratulate the owners of Café Trio at 3535 Broadway for sending this announcement yesterday, June 9:
“We received notice this morning from our landlord that the air conditioning cooling tower for the Congress Bldg. has failed. Unfortunately this prevents us from operating in our space in a way that would be comfortable for guests, so Café Trio will be closed until Thursday (or perhaps Friday) of this week. Repairs are expected to be completed by Thursday but please check our web page www.kansascitymenus.com/cafetrio/ or call before making a trip. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.”