Friday, September 24, 2010
The Beginning of The End.
June 11 is a day we will always remember. I don’t need to remind anyone what happened on that date in Belgrade in 1903. It’s the story of what went down 106 years and one week later that I’ve come to relate. June 12, 2009: The day when it all turned to lobster poop at Smugglers’ Inn.
To be fair, the whole buccaneer theme seafood restaurant concept may have been on the wane for some time. Possibly 21 or 22 years. We got a big bump in 2001 with Pirates of the
Carribean, and when Pirates 2 came out in 2008. Pirates 3 (did anyone see pirates 3?) didn’t do anything for us, though. But you should have seen the place in the day. When Smug’s opened in ’72, business was gangbusters and we were printing money for most of the 70’s and early 80’s. In '76 we stumbled a bit when we redesigned our menu to take advantage of the bicentennial.Renaming the surf ‘n turf to the “One if by land, two by sea” just confused everybody; I was forever having to answer some wise-ass who wanted to know where his second lobster tail was. Customers! Can’t live with ‘em. Can’t hock lugies on their oysters. All right, so our gross was nothing like it had been. Our food costs were a respectable 32%. We were viable. Then, we got a visit from “The ‘Stache.”
If you think that you can operate a kitchen in this day and age hiring only graduates from your junior college food sciences program, you’re sadly, pathetically mistaken. Our old health inspector understood that.Our old health inspector would never have asked our prep cook what table he used to determine safe cooking times for pork. At least, he would have known enough not to ask in English.
That the new health inspector sported some of the most unsettling facial hair since Frida Kahlo is not the only reason he was hateful, but it did look like one of those fuzzy caterpillars had started crawling across his lip and died there. Not content to merely site us for 24 separate code violations ranging from an unplugged refrigerator to dirty fingernails, Captain Mold Spore thought it would be merry fun to invite his friends from ICE over. So, on Saturday night, our busiest time, we were visited by two SUV-loads of people whose civil service test score wasn’t high enough to let them be cops or firemen.
Can I say that I consider myself a people person? I believe in people. When someone tells me that their name is Dick Cheney, I assume that they just happen to have the same name as the then vice president. I do not say, “Gee, how come it says “Paco” on your neck?” Who could have known that my head cook was a member of the MS 13 street gang? Or that the broiler chef had wounded a U.S. Customs agent in Calexico, California? It just goes to show how little you really know people.
TO BE CONTINUED