Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New Year's Eve

Veal Osso Buco on Risotto Milanese
A few weeks ago, I was wrestling with whether or not to open the restaurant for New Year's Eve. You wouldn't think that there would be anything to think about: of course, a restaurant should be open on New Year's Eve. But in recent years, business on New Year's Eve has been slim and this year, it was on a Monday night, normally a glacially slow evening and a night on which we are normally closed.

To make matters worse, we didn't even have an inkling of an inquiry about New Year's Eve from customers until the week before Christmas. It wasn't like the phone was ringing off the hook for reservations. And so I waffled for a few weeks and this waffling caused Ann to hope that I might be able to celebrate the new year with her. But after talking with other restaurant owners, sticking my finger in the air to test the winds, uttering a few incantations, and finally, listening to my gut, I decided to open.

Ann was extremely disappointed in this. I think the 'we might be able to celebrate together' morphed into 'we are going to celebrate together' in her mind. Such is the restaurant business that we don't get to spend these occasions together. She knows it; I know it. But it doesn't make it any easier. At least I am at work and my mind is fully occupied. She is at home being a restaurant widow.

By way of compromise, however, I promised her that we would have a late dinner and ring in the new year together. I have noted in years past that in our town, people dine at my restaurant before heading to wherever they are going to ring in the new year. While in many big cities and towns, customers are fighting for the 9 and 10pm tables, here in Funchester, they all want to dine from 6:30 to 7:30pm. And so I took advantage of that by closing reservations at 8:30, which let me get out by 10:30, though my poor staff were there much later. Guys, sorry about that, but rank has its privileges. I'm not all about pulling rank, but sometimes it has just got to be done.

Well, holy crap! New Year's Eve was the busiest night of 2012! I came staggering in the door closer to 11 than to 10:30 and all I wanted to do was collapse. But when I saw the table was set, candles were lit, and New Year's streamers were hanging from the balcony above the living room, I couldn't collapse. What a great suprise that was! A glass of Prosecco and a fifteen-minute sit in a chair and I was ready to put dinner on the table.

Ann had mentioned the day before that she would like osso buco on risotto milanese for our dinner and unbeknownst to her, we had both osso buco and lobster on risotto milanese on our New Year's menu at the restaurant. Score! So I brought home two pieces of osso buco and some risotto base. All I had to do was nuke the veal to reheat it and give the risotto its final five minutes of cooking.

We had a great dinner with another glass of wine, tidied up, went upstairs, watched the ball drop, kissed and wished each other Happy New Year, and I promptly passed out in what Ann terms "1.3 seconds." Such is the restaurant life!

But how lucky am I to have had New Year's dinner with my wife on New Year's Eve? That never happens in my business! What a great start to 2013!

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