Sunday, January 10, 2010

4am, and no one wants to leave 10/01/2010

Last night began well with several tables of returned customers who came to dine. The kitchen ran smoothly, and all the customers dined well. I was delighted to advise some vegetarian customers and see that they enjoyed my bessara Moroccan soup. Just before midnight the place started filling up; the sideroom was taken over by a table of 15 – regulars who had been in during the week and whose drinks I am beginning to know, and groups of 4 and 6 starting taking up the tables in the room upstairs and in front of the bar. But as usual, they all arrived together, and the waiters had to go into overdrive finding tables and chairs and rearranging seating as people lingered in any free space available hoping we would find them a table out of nowhere. At one point when a table of 6 was hanging on for a table, a girl asked if we had a table for 17! A stressful two hours of keeping an eye on tables in the three rooms, reserving tables as soon as they became available, lifting chair over heads ... making sure the bar kept dealing with the orders as well as the customers down at the bar. Complete chaos. So different to the booth kind of seating in most Irish pubs where table service simply doesn’t exist.

In the middle of trying to do bills for the two waiters and mio marito, all requested at the same time, Mad Max appears with his usual aggressive charge. I said, hang on a sec, which no doubt tweaked his non-existent patience. He had misunderstood something that had happened earlier in the evening, twisted it in his head to suit his agro, and come to seek revenge. He started shouting and his face went pink then purple. I explained what I had said, but he said I’m not deaf I heard you! And I said well then you are accusing me of being a liar and I am no liar; this is what I said. His eyes popped out of his head, almost. Ricorda, he hissed, che qui io sono un principe e tu non sei nessuno. (remember that I am a prince here and you are no one)! Charming. What is he on? And he moved off, satisfied he had had the final word.

Due to huge efforts by all involved the night went well and customers were happy, in fact I think they love the fact that the place is so busy and bursting at the seams. But at 2.30 the night was still in full swing and at 3am large parties were still seated in all three rooms. So the waiters started putting up chairs in the sideroom and upstairs and the lights went on downstairs and the music stopped.

But downstairs all went haywire. Several people were smoking and the waiters and mio marito asked them to go outside. It is as if the rules don't apply after 3am. Our friends didn't help either as some were smoking too and all were drunk. There was something in the air last night, everyone seemed determined to drink as much as possible. Anyway I let it go for a while but then the mafioso at the large table downstairs caught my eye - they were the last table, and were not in a hurry to leave. He said, putting on a fake pleading look and slimy smile, 'Just me, just let me smoke!' What a mafia thought, he is king and gets to bend the rules. 'But the others will see and think they can too,' I pointed out. He obviously thought they would know he should be allowed to bend the rules! He said, 'Your husband says I can smoke.' As if. I said, 'Ah, but sure you know it is the woman who decides,' thinking - this is their kind of mentality, best joke about it. Anything to get rid of them, it was 4am. But then there was a near fight outside - mio marito had to close the door as they wanted to bring it inside - and this Mafioso got involved (not before sneering at mio marito - 'your wife says it is she who decides' - ) and then stormed off without paying. And of course he had done the whole ‘offro io’ business of offering to pay for two bottles of prosecco and drinks at another table ... I don’t imagine he will be back tonight to pay. Mafiosi don’t lose honour or face by not settling their debts.


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