I once made mention of the fact that my then-amazed brother swore that foul-mouthed chef Gordon Ramsay copied my act. After seeing Ramsay on TV, I asked Wifey, “Was I really that bad?” She answered in the affirmative. Yeah, I guess.
After 26 years, Friendly's closes its Dallas location
In 1983 I was transferred to that restaurant and charged with a mission: by any and all means possible, bring the out-of-control food cost back down where it should be.
After less than a week, I targeted the short order staff which did next to nothing according to specifications. And being my predictable self--vulgar and theatrical--I called out the kitchen manager right in front of his horrified minions. Well, that is, after I had smudged into his chest an undercooked burger that he had served to a customer.
Anyway, I brutalized this staff for months on end. And some members of that kitchen staff complained. Some quit. One even cried as he quit. And many complained to the general manager and also to his boss, the district manager, all of which I summarily dismissed with the cost of food still so incredibly out of whack.
Months passed. I was literally hated by most of the staff, many of which were complaining about me to the customers. And after the passage of those months, it finally occurred to me that the kitchen staff was vastly improved since first I set foot in this store. But the food cost didn’t budge from it’s lofty perch.
So one night, that kitchen manager (who’s respect and trust I had earned) and I grabbed two six-packs and set about spying on the store after it had closed for the night. Nothing.
So we tried it again the next night. And the next night. And then the night after that. Lo and behold, during the dead of night the back door swung open and the janitor proceeded to load cases of frozen food into his vehicle. Had his own key, he did. Food cost problem solved. Bang!!!
But when I thought back about all of the endless grief I treated that kitchen staff to, all I could think was, Oops! Sorry, guys. And girl. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Right?
And with that, I was off on my next improve-or-else mission: Edwardsville. Franklin’s culinary version of The Bronx/Fort Apache, where no manager ought dare tell the short orders what to do.
You don’t want to know about that carnage. The police reports are probably still on file, though.