Smugglers' Inn started as a theme restaurant in Blaine, Minnesota and has become, if not a legitimate advertising agency, then a viable agency alternative with two dedicated ad employees, Carol Henderson, art director and Jarl Olsen, copywriter. Read the whole saga in these posts or click the pirate to follow the entertaining tweets of our dishwasher, Pongo. Who may or may not be an orangutan.!/PongoTryHard

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

It's Thanksgiving. Merrry Christmas!

Crap stacked to the ceiling.

By now, Christmas lights have replaced this year’s impressive selection of talking tombstones and animated rubber zombies at the local Walgreen’s.  The marked-down bags of “fun-sized” candy bars were broomed nearly as soon as the trick-or-treaters changed back into children.  Walgreen's, or maybe it’s just our branch at the Northtown shopping center, hardly bothers stocking Thanksgiving decorations at all,  preferring to leap right from Halloween to Christmas, or as the holiday is referred to in retail circles, “Hammer time”.

Not so your pals at Smugglers’ Inn.  We remember Thanksgiving and, if we don’t keep it holy, we make an effort.   We decorate.  One of our greens suppliers always hooks us up with an enormous selection of colorful gourds, squash and pumpkins every year.  These used to live in an oversized wicker cornucopia set up on a table by the front door, but the cornucopia walked off several Thanksgivings ago and we’ve never gotten around to replace it.  (It’s not the sort of item you can find at Walgreen’s.)  It falls to me or the other manager to place the fall vegetables in visible spots around our dining room and lounge.  One or two stay behind the bar, but the rest of them are deemed to be in the way and will be stacked into a neat, warty pyramid by the hostess desk, looking rather like something the Confederate artillery would have fired when they had run out of canon balls.

Smugglers’ will be serving a traditional brunch for those of our neighbors who either can’t or don’t want to cook.  Typically, these are lone middle-aged men or women with their elderly mothers.  The turkey and ham are what you’d expect, but our cook does a Belgian pumpkin galette that is quite special. It’s served with vanilla ice cream—the kind with the specks of vanilla that some ancient grandmother, released for the day from the old folks’ home will invariably refuse to eat. (“Really Grams, it’s NOT dirt.  See?  I’m eating it.  Mmm!”)

Those are all restaurant traditions, though.  Smugglers’ Inn is also an ad agency.  Agencies have their own Thanksgiving traditions.  Like, layoffs.

In keeping with a time-honored practice, Smug’s is choosing this holiday, where we acknowledge our blessings, to let go those who we deem no longer essential to our operation.  (Thank you, God, for this new, non-union America.)  Since the goal it to gin-up our balance sheet and start the new year with less debt on the books, we could have waited a month to dish out the curb sandwiches.  Firing people at Christmas, though, just looks bad.  Plus, then you have to pay Holiday bonuses.

So here, without further ado, is a list of people who have touched our lives in so many ways and who we now salute as they march off to pursue other interests away from us.  If you read your name remember: just because you own an assault rifle doesn’t mean anyone wants to see it.

Michelle Bachman.  Michelle, even though Blaine is not in your congressional district, we at Smugglers’ Inn find the fact that you are from Minnesota almost as disturbing as the fact that you are on anything called “The Intelligence Committee”.   We wish you every success in your next job as Ambassador to The Island of Forgotten Toys.

Tim Pawlenty.  Two years ago, the then-governor of Minnesota was pegged by pundits as the dark horse candidate who was going to snatch his party’s nomination after the entire front-running field of influence peddlers, liars, ditzes, know-nothings, health care socialists and serial sexual harassers had demonstrated their supreme non-electability over the course of six months of televised debate.  Then, TP was a shoo-in to be Mitt Romney’s running mate.  Instead the Mitten chose…well, it was somebody else.  Paw-paw then slipped from view, but has recently begun turning up on news and infotainment shows, dutifully  parroting whatever the current Republican party line is on any issue from gun control to immigration to whether the embassy attack in Benghazi is proof that Hillary Clinton doesn’t deserve to be president. 

Mr. Governor…Tim, give it up.  They just aren’t into you.  If you’re going to be president of anything, it’s going to be a college.   Carlton is nice.   Maybe they have a course on evolution.

Jesse Ventura.  Jesse, we loved you; you put our state on the map.  You stood up to religious bullies and the press and the political machines and forever changed the criteria required to hold high elected office in America.  “A pro wrestler governor?  That’s AWESOME!”   Yes, it was.  Sadly, the years on the beach seem to have fried your brain, judging from your most recent appearances on TV.  Conspiracy theories can’t be your response to everything.  And what’s with that hair?   Thank you for your service.
Peter Lundquist, owner, The Anoka County Shopper, AKA, “The Mystery Diner.”  Pete, here is a dollar.  Kindly review McDonald’s value meal and leave food criticism to people who don’t ask a mid-priced restaurant in Blaine, Minnesota if you can tour their wine cellar.  Or if said wine cellar has lambrusco.

Pongo the dishwasher.  No other employee who was not high on nitrous has ever asked me for a 100% raise before (and that person had been kidding). Nonetheless, Pongo, who had not been working at Smugglers’ Inn all that long, (OK, four years), got it into his head that he should have been making minimum wage all along and DEMANDED that his salary not just be brought up to that benchmark, but doubled.   I pointed out to Pongo that had he remained in his native Sumatra, he would be lucky to find a job outside of drug mule that paid $7.25 an hour, let alone $13 (See? We weren’t far of MW).  Plus here he never has to worry that we are going to kill him rather than pay him.
Perhaps that was insensitive.

Following my out-of-hand dismissal of his request, Pongo, who previously had to be reminded not to whistle while he worked, became sullen and withdrawn.  He stopped combing his bright orange hair and was given to long sighs, of the type ejaculated by nerdy school girls going through their Syvia Plath stages.  Pongo is one of our few employees who counts friends amongst both the kitchen and serving staff,  By playing the aggrieved party, he effectively drove a wedge between management and the staff as a whole.  Although he has continued to perform his duties at Smugglers’ Inn with machine-like efficiency, Pongo clearly would rather be doing something else.  

Well, I am happy to oblige.  Pongo, turn in your rubber apron.  You’ll never wash dishes in this town again.

You’ll need a different uniform from now on, maybe even a tie.   Pongo, you are henceforth Smugglers’ Inn’s first cook/assistant manager of operations.  I’ll be damned if I’m going to pay anyone $13 an hour to wash dishes.

Happy Thanksgiving, all.

The Management
Smugglers’ Inn