Black Tuesday. You may not remember it, but it will live in infamy amongst the alumni of Liquid Lunch class of ’04.
Fred and I were young parents at the time and we couldn’t afford childcare, so he had Tuesdays off to watch our boys. We had only been open about 3 weeks and we were getting into the swing of running a luncheonette. It was my job to run the kitchen when Fred was gone and I thought it wouldn’t be too bad. I could hold my own with a knife.
At first, it was pretty chill- I was prepping for the day and my cousin Antionette took a few phone calls for specials and such.
All of a sudden, the phones started ringing and they wouldn’t stop. People started streaming through the door for lunch and very quickly we found ourselves in the proverbial weeds. Tickets stacked up, deliveries became later and later, angry mobs stormed the castle walls…ok my recollection has become a tad epic. The point is, we were slammed! I was making 7 layer salads, sobbing and cutting, cutting and sobbing. I thought “What am I doing?? How could I possibly think that I could do this? I could get a job at Starbucks and be just fine. I can’t. I can’t. I just can’t. “
But really, what was I going to do? Drop the knife like a mic and walk out the door? As easy as it would be to give up, I took a deep breath, looked at my next ticket and just made it. Then the next one. And the next. One at a time. Before we knew it, lunch was over and everything returned to its semi-normal state. There was a lot of clean up and a couple of apology phone calls which needed to be made, but we had gotten through it together.
We as a fledgling restaurant learned a lot from that day. We implemented a set delivery schedule, hired kitchen staff who could handle a knife better than me and prepared ourselves earlier in the day for the rush among other things. We had become better at what we do through experiencing how badly things can go wrong.
Black Tuesday serves as a reminder to me that no matter how bad a situation seems, it is temporary and will pass. If you are lucky, you might even learn something useful and improve from it. After 12 years of being in this business, I still have “those days”. But I try to get through them as gracefully as possible and take the lessons in stride. It is, after all, what I have chosen to do!