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Friday, August 22, 2003

I got caught up on my taped episodes of The Restaurant last night; all that remains is this coming Sunday's finale, in which I expect Rocco (the chef and restaurant owner) to rip the mask off his head and reveal himself to be Old Man Carruthers. "I would have gotten away with it too, if it wasn't for you meddlin' kids!"

In the fifth episode, anyway, there are three line cooks who get together and decide to screw Rocco by claiming to have been involved in a bar fight after work, with one of them going to the hospital. Thus, of course, they don't show up for work. Believe me, even in a large kitchen like this place, having three cooks not show up for work is a major headache. But later, Rocco learns of their deception when he actually tries to call the hospital to check on his employee and learns they've never heard of him. Surprise!

This little incident brought back all the unpleasantness I ever experienced in the restaurant business. There are always employees who are lousy, and who pull stunts like this; they always think they are stickin' it to the man. What they never realized is that the restaurant's doors were going to open the next day at 11:00 or whatever, whether they were there or not, and that the only people they were screwing were the coworkers who were about to show up for their shifts and then find out that they now have to work two or three times as hard.

A constant fact of restaurant management was that good people tended to move on, by virtue of the fact that they are good people; and the restaurant business tends to attract the bottom-feeders of the job market. You try to minimize this, as a manager, by staying attuned to your people and keeping the good ones happy. On this score, Rocco seems to be pretty piss-poor as a manager. Now, obviously this show probably isn't giving the total picture since they are distilling multiple days of business into 42 minutes or whatever of a prime-time show, but on the basis of what I am seeing, about the only way Rocco could be more divorced from what his people are experiencing is if he actually wasn't in the restaurant at all during the business hours.

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