All throughout Shitshow Week 2012, restaurant industry professionals will be sharing stories about working in shitshows, and the shitshow moments that they've experienced in otherwise solid establishments. Right now: Aaron Lefkove, the restaurateur behind Littleneck.
At the second job I ever had in a restaurant, they gave me a knife. I don’t think it was some rite of passage or because the chef saw a spark of natural talent that needed to be nurtured or was impressed in the savant-like way I could chiffonade. Far from it actually (although the part about an impressive chiffonade is true, but I only picked up that skill later in life). And they didn’t really “give” me the knife.
This particular job was waiting tables at a chicken wing place that was kind of like a Hooters-lite. There wasn’t anyone slinging Coors Lite in short shorts or anything, but the bathroom of every location had the foldout poster of the naked girl bicycle race from Queen’s Jazz LP above the urinal. (I worked at one location but ate at several others and made sure to check — I'm still not sure where they found so many of those posters.) The job was also my only real FOH training ever, which was actually rather thorough: tyrannical waitresses hopped up on who knows what threatening loss of life or limb for dropping the check before the rest of the table was cleared...stuff like that. Curious little flourishes that I have much more tactfully tried to bring to my own management style.
Now, I’ll just stop for a second to preface this by saying that obviously no one coming here to read Eater’s Shitshow Week 2012 coverage is naive enough to think that drugs don’t run rampant in this business.
It is no great revelation or anything so stop acting so surprised. But during my brief tenure there was some next level shit going down. I’ll just put it to you this way: the last time I came in for a shift I was greeted by the sight of two detectives and the greasy manager having a rather squirmy conversation in a booth. The cooks were standing around watching a rather animated conversation in a back booth and, I shit you not, the manager had pissed his pants. Not like a figure of speech or anything, he was actually pissing his pants. None of the other employees were present.
For obvious reasons, I no-showed for the next shift, and so the details are still somewhat nebulous. But from what I could gather, the manager of the place was both selling methamphetamine and, in a much more lurid turn, feeding rails of crank to the waitresses and screwing them in the back of his car (because meth sex??? Yeah, I don’t get it either), which explains why everyone was so amped up all the time and aggro about the checks. Romances are made every day in the most unlikely of places — hey, it happens — but this was way beyond dipping a pen into the company ink.
Oh yeah, and about the knife. As they were walking the guy out in one of those perp walk things that you think only really happens on Law & Order SVU (and which they did in front of the staff, pissy pants and all), he dropped something out of his pocket, a small Swiss Army knife — the kind that has a knife and scissor and nail file on it, which is otherwise typically referred to as a "drug knife." Those things can be really handy, actually, and to this day I still use it for personal grooming despite its nefarious past.
I worked the rest of the incredibly uncomfortable and understaffed shift, left with no plans on ever returning save to collect my final check, and ate dinner at an IHOP up the street that was very clearly a front for a successful cocaine dealing operation...but that is another story entirely.
· All Coverage of Shitshow Week [~ENY~]
· All Coverage of Aaron Lefkove [~ENY~]