Welcome to Eater Dream Journal, where we ask chefs and restaurateurs to write down their dreams for a week and share them with us. Today, Jonathan Rubinstein, the proprietor of the wildly popular Joe coffee shops.
[Original artwork by Eric Lebofsky]
I'm at the Columbus Avenue Joe.... somehow watching business from a floorboard under the refrigerator. I'm watching the staff try and serve a bus full of foreign tourists who have come in wanting espresso drinks, but they don't speak English so they can't order. The barista on bar is trying to speak to them in every language under the sun, but they are not understanding her and she can't communicate. I CAN understand what they want and I am trying to translate the orders but of course when I speak, no sound comes out of my mouth and I am stuck under the floor. Suddenly the barista sprouts six arms and starts making cappuccinos with all of them, and angrily forces them into the tourists' hands who look confused and then walk out with their drinks, but without paying or tipping.
REALITY: I tend to sweat the small stuff, so I'm sure this came from a conversation I had last week with some baristas about how foreign tourists often don't tip, and my trying to brainstorm how we can educate and change that.
I'm in a candy store with my two-year-old daughter when a store manager calls to say the Health Department is inspecting "my Times Square store" — the truth is, I don't have a Times Square store, but a recurring nightmare I have is that I have opened too many shops (we have six, with a seventh Brooklyn shop opening this summer) and Joes have opened which I have never been to, and I have lost count of how many locations we have and how they are running. The only other part of the dream I remember is running with my daughter in my arms all over Times Square searching for this Joe before the Health Department shuts us down and passing Broadway theaters where the marquees name other shops like Ninth Street Espresso, Dora, and Cafe Grumpy but I can't find the Joe. I did wake up in a cold sweat.
REALITY: We were inspected twice last week and the Health Department really IS my nightmare, even with A grades at all of our shops.
Not appropriate for print! Surprisingly unrelated to The Rapture which was to have happened that night.
Big Bird and I are diving into a swimming pool looking for coffee beans, in the way that divers look for oysters. Apparently, in this alternate universe this is how people (and puppets?) pick coffee beans and Big Bird is using his beak to bring one bean at a time up from the bottom of the pool. While I am underwater, I realize that I can breath and stay down as long as I need. I pick these beautiful coffee beans from the coffee trees and discover that when I taste one, they taste just like candy from Willy Wonka's factory. Maybe snozberries? I start yelling for Willy Wonka to come and try them, and then my dream is cut short by my real life daughter yelling from her crib.
REALITY: It rained a lot this weekend so my two-year-old and I watched a lot of Sesame Street. A lot.
I'm on my college (Skidmore) campus, surrounded by all my friends, though in my dream it is all the people from high school in Cleveland. Everyone is drinking tea from white porcelain tea cups. They are specifically not drinking coffee and I remember wondering why they aren't drinking Joe from Joe paper cups, but then I look at what everyone is wearing and it's all very circa 1991 (French cuffed Girbaud jeans, gelled hair, neon shirts), and thus I remember that Joe won't be open for another twelve years and I start wondering if coffee has even been invented yet.
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