By RICH FOLEY
I suppose it’s a sign of the economy that I found out Saturday morning that one of my favorite restaurants had changed hands, then discovered later that evening that another one had closed for good.
It’s not like I’m going to starve as I have hangouts both in Fayette and Bryan to get my tater tot fix, plus another local eatery if the urge for a taco salad hits between Wednesday and Saturday. But my choices for a restaurant with waitresses took a nosedive.
The first restaurant was a family-run affair which just won’t be the same with the family gone. The closing of the second, located in Defiance, was a real surprise as I had just eaten there about a month ago. When my dining companion and I arrived there Saturday night, the sign at the road said “Dinner buffet w/beverage, $7.99,” the same special we enjoyed the last time we visited. We noticed the parking lot in front was empty, then that there were no vehicles behind the building, either.
Sure enough, there was a professionally made sign in the door announcing the restaurant would be closed on Easter, then another, hand scrawled one saying simply, “Sorry, Out of Business.” Apparently, our last visit came just before they shut the doors. My friend turned to me and asked, “Do you think we ate too much last time?” Possibly, but we weren’t the only ones. I’m really going to miss their meatloaf.
Now, where to go? There’s another similar family-type chain restaurant in Defiance I vowed I’d never go to again. When we went there the first time, they waited until they served my friend’s meal to mention they were out of the special I had ordered. I watched my friend eat while they made my replacement choice, then she got to watch me eat. And the food wasn’t that great, either.
Instead, we returned to another restaurant I’ve written about before, one I thought was populated by zombies the way they kept coming back and asking a series of questions about the food as if they had memorized a script (which they probably had).
This time, we had a waitress I’ll call Audrey. She seemed to be pretty nice and when she brought our orders, she apologized for putting both our dinner rolls on the same plate. My friend said that was all right because it would save someone from washing a dish. Audrey laughed and replied that she didn’t care if the dishwasher had to work extra. This was obviously the same thinking of the party dining next to us and served by a different waitress.
The group of nine or ten people were just finishing their dinner when they asked their waitress for plates to serve a birthday cake they had brought with them. They had been rather demanding during the time we were there and now they wanted plates to serve their own dessert? I thought that took a lot of nerve, but at least they might leave the waitress an extra tip. Yeah, right.
When they got up to leave, the person closest to us left two one dollar bills on the table and the rest left nothing. The waitress came by a couple of minutes later, picked up the two bucks and took a long look around the rest of the table. She left with an expression on her face of both sadness and barely concealed rage. I don’t blame her. There is another restaurant just down the street for customers who don’t like to tip to patronize. It’s called Burger King. Maybe next time, they’ll go there.
No such trouble at our table, however. ”Audrey” was right on top of things all night and was suitably rewarded for her efforts. After I returned to the table from a visit to the rest room, she came back and asked if I wanted another drink refill before I left. “No,” I told her, “it’s probably time we got out of your way.”
“Oh, no,” she replied. “Sometimes I feel like telling people that they should be thinking about heading home, but I like you guys.” I told her that we had a bit of a drive yet and she asked where we were from. After we told her, she said she understood if we wanted to get going and to be careful on the road.
As I was paying the bill, the cashier asked if everything was all right and I told her we had had a great waitress. “Only the best one!” Audrey laughed as she popped up behind me, walking toward the kitchen. And you know what? I think she may be right.