Being one of the gatekeepers to one of the city’s hottest, most coveted nosh spots has a certain cachet, but try remembering that at somethinghideous o’clock in the bloody morning. I feel very fortunate that I don’t work at one of those other DC brunchy places – the kind with all-you-can-stuff-in-your-gob greasefests and unlimited Sunny D and Korbel to help you forget the absurdity of what you’re doing. Nope. Our brunch is a beautiful, civilized affair with gorgeously plated creations, a specially curated wine list, and fresh watermelon mimosas for those who need the splash of juice to justify day-drinking. But these delicate, pink beauties aren’t bottomless, thank-you-very-much. Quality over quantity every time, Baby.
All that artistry aside, there are inherent frustrations that plague my job. For one, brunch is so wonderfully relaxed that people just kind of get to their tables and live there. Seriously. I sometimes have to check to see if they’re filling out Change of Address forms over beef brisket.
Don’t get me wrong – I would probably do the same exact thing. Okay, maybe not 4 or 5 hours, but close. I’d set up camp, chill, talk to my friends, poke on Instagram, sling back a few pinky drinkies, and indulge my way through a weekend afternoon. But on my end, chaos ensues.
Imagine, if you will, that you have a wee cafe with 10 tables that seat 20. You have 4.5 hours to feed 40 people. Years of experience and industry standards say that the average “romantic dinner” is about 2 hours, then you have a solid 30 minutes between to get the tables cleared, cleaned, reset, and ready for the next people. Easy-peasy, right? Wrong. Because what if 6 couples just don’t get up? What if they spend 3, 4, or even 5 hours (till after you’re really closed) staring at each other and not moving?
It’s not like you can ask them to move. Sure, there are little things, like dropping the bill, but it’s called the “hospitality industry” for a reason. Unfortunately, though, if those people don’t want to move, we end up being inadvertently inhospitable to all those other guests who also have reservations, but can’t be seated. We can’t make more tables, we can’t extemporaneously contstruct a new wing of the dining room; we’re screwed.
And that’s what brunch is. It’s one long, relaxed, easygoing shift of getting royally screwed. And all I want to do is make people happy and brunchy, help them relax, and maybe even be part of soothing some of those notorious DC hangovers.
And all these feel-good huggle-vibes are coming from a woman who is usually heading to bed around this time, not already almost to work. That says a lot about how much I love my job. Even brunch.