Fishing For Answers That Will Never Come

, , , , | Right | October 28, 2020

It is just before the lockdown goes into effect in my state back in March. The restaurant has been dead all day with a few takeout orders and maybe three dine-in tables. We’ve all been constantly monitoring the situation and rapidly implementing safety protocols as corporate sends them to our general manager.

I’m the last front-of-house person to leave since our only server had to go get her daughter from school and we’re closing early anyway. I’m a host, two line cooks and one dishwasher left, and I have just finished closing down the takeout register when the phone rings. It’s literally one minute until we close and while I don’t want to answer, I have enough experience to know it’s better if I do. 

Me: “Thank you for calling [Restaurant]. This is [My Name]; how can I help you?”

Customer: “I was wondering if you could tell me what your specials are?”

Me: “Sure. This month we are featuring [Special Sandwich]. Also, due to circumstances beyond our control, we are about to close for the day.”

Customer: “Hmm, that sounds nice. I was wondering what kind of white fish you have on your menu.”

Me: “Well, we do have a seared halibut entree as well as fish and chips on our regular menu, but because of health and safety concerns, we are strictly limited to soups, salads, and sandwiches, for takeout only, starting tomorrow.”

Customer: “I see. Well, my husband and I were there this past fall and you had this amazing special on the menu we absolutely loved. Our friends are coming to town, so we wanted to bring them there to try it. I don’t remember what it was, just that it was white fish.”

I am trying VERY hard to be patient and not let my annoyance show through.

Me: “Okay, well, like I said, because we are limited to lunch options, we won’t have fish on the menu until further notice. Even then, it’s very unlikely we would be able to recreate that dish without knowing exactly what the entree was. If it was our Lemon Grilled Halibut, I know for a fact that we can’t make it because we no longer have risotto on the new menu.”

Customer: “No, it didn’t have risotto. I definitely remember that.”

She continues to describe her dinner — everything but what she was eating, mind you. I’m talking server, drinks, what she was wearing, and who she was with, but no more detail about her fish entree that is helpful.

I turn around to check the clock and see that one of our line cooks has come off the line to check on me. From his facial expression, he’s been listening for a bit and is speechless.

Customer: “I wish I could remember more about the dish. Is it coming back on the menu any time soon?”

I have more patience than most. And hey, she sounds like someone who maybe doesn’t get out much and just wants someone to talk to. Normally, I’d be fine with it, but given what’s happening, I’ve had it.

Me: “I’m afraid not, ma’am, for a number of reasons. First, our head chef and our corporate chef encourage creativity so we don’t repeat specials. Second, even if I knew which special you are referring to, we can only use the ingredients we already have available in house. Third, we are only serving soups, salads, and sandwiches, to go, starting tomorrow. And finally, given that we just launched a new menu last month and given the state of emergency around the country, making changes to that menu is not exactly at the top of anyone’s list of priorities.”

Customer: “Oh, well, that makes sense. I’ll just call back tomorrow. Maybe my husband will remember what I ordered. Thank you.”

She hangs up and I just shake my head. Both line cooks are behind me with shocked expressions on their faces. 

Line Cook: “I’m glad you dealt with that. I wouldn’t have been nearly as nice.”

Other Line Cook: “Seriously. Who calls a minute before we close and asks something like that?”

Once I finally got home, that’s when news broke that we were closed until further notice! I still haven’t been back, so I have no idea if she ever figured out what she had for dinner that night.

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Fishing For Answers That Will Never Come

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