My Restaurant is Closing. Farewell, Quaint.

I have never stated on this blog where I work, but since the restaurant is closing in two weeks, it’s time. If you happen to be in Queens on a Thursday night, come see me before it’s too late. Quaint closes on June 23rd.–BW

If you have eaten at Quaint restaurant in Sunnyside, Queens on a Thursday night over the last eight years, I was probably your server. I started there on February 27, 2011, just a week after my grandmother died. On my first day at work, it seemed odd to not tell any of my new co-workers why I was so sad and distant, but as a new employee, I focused on table numbers and menu items instead of my emotions. In the beginning, no one at the restaurant knew I was a blogger called The Bitchy Waiter who was taking mental notes on what I may or may not blog about. Eventually, my alter ego became common knowledge and my boss recognized that the online personae was vastly different from the person who clocked in to work each week.

On June 23, Quaint will be closing its doors for good. The restaurant holds the distinction of  being the longest I have ever worked at one place, but it’s much more than that. It’s where so many of my stories came from, inspired by customers and co-workers and then heightened into a more entertaining version as I blogged about them. Those stories even turned into a book. I was at Quaint when I got the news that my manuscript had finally fallen into the right hands. Having ignored the “no cell phones on the floor” sign that hung in our locker area, my phone vibrated in my apron pocket. I recognized the number as being that of my agent so I ran outside to answer it.

“Congratulations, Darron,” he said. “I think I found you a publisher. You’re going to be a published author!”

I was on Skillman Avenue right in front of the dry cleaner next door, crying with excitement. When I hung up, I wanted to call my husband, my mom and everyone else I cared about, but instead I went back inside the restaurant to check on Table 9.

Quaint is three blocks from my apartment and working there for so long has made me feel like part of the fabric of my neighborhood. I see my customers at the grocery store, on the train, walking their dogs, and at the gym. I’ve gotten to know them and some of them have become close friends who are now a part of my life far beyond the restaurant. I’ve watched kids grow up there and even though I may have blogged about some of them in a less than positive light, I’ll never forget them. Charley, who was maybe four years old when I first met her and insisted on getting her own booster seat, is now almost a teenager. I saw her on the street a few months ago with some of her friends and a wave of nostalgia washed over me that parents must feel all the time when they see their children growing up. Another family with three daughters have been coming regularly for eight years. I don’t know all of their names, but I remember once how the girls had learned a bunch of knock-knock jokes and insisted on telling me every single one of them. When I saw the oldest daughter driving a car down Skillman Avenue earlier this year, the realization that so much time had passed almost knocked me over. Another couple comes in every Thursday at 5:00 and when I told them last week that we were closing, the sadness on their faces made me understand how much a restaurant can mean to some people. I hope Anne and Jerry find another restaurant they can look forward to as much as they look forward to coming to Quaint. I also hope whoever serves them next appreciates their kindness, their willingness to share stories about their lives and their openness to hearing stories about their server’s life. I will miss all of these people.

I will miss our line cook Juan who always has a smile on his face and relishes every opportunity to ring that damn bell if I’m not at the window immediately ready to run a roasted chicken to Table 16. I will miss my boss, Tim, who has allowed me to live my dual life as a “bitchy waiter” and as a faithful employee who truly wants his customers to enjoy their meals.

When Quaint closes, it will leave a hole in our little neighborhood. Another restaurant will eventually take its place, but it will take years for it to truly become part of the community, filling that hole ever so slowly. The hole that will take much longer to heal will be the one in my heart. When I started working at Quaint, I never dreamed that I’d be there for so long. However, when your job is only three blocks away from home and the people you serve are as genuinely nice as the people of Sunnyside are, eight years passes by in a flash. I know I’ll never have it as good as I do at Quaint and I think once the restaurant is gone, our neighborhood will come to the same conclusion. I will miss you, Quaint. And the neighborhood will too.

I wait tables and bitch about it on my blog, The Bitchy Waiter.

25 thoughts on “My Restaurant is Closing. Farewell, Quaint.

  1. Sorry to hear about the closing what became more than a restaurant to you (I’ve been in the service business for 25 years in a slightly–just slightly–different career) and I completely relate to what “your people” mean to you. It’s probably more that you can describe, although you’ve done it beautifully above.
    Perhaps a bright side is that I’ve only just now found your blog and your book–which I just bought and can’t wait to read. You are going to make a major change in people’s lives wherever you go; that much is obvious.
    BTW, might be funny for you to know that I was just randomly channel serving and clicked on “Dr. Phil” which is how I found you. It is NOT easy to be on camera, but you were a total pro. Nice job, and thanks for leading me to a blog and a book I’m going to recommend to a ton of people. Cheers! Kirsten

  2. We know and love you from Quaint and walking your ridiculously cute pup! I want you to open your own restaurant there too!! I love all the comments telling you to, I am on board!

  3. Ugh, this one hurts! I lived in Sunnyside for 17 years and was so happy when Quaint opened. I ate and drank there about 5x per month. I don’t live in NYC anymore, but all the Sunnyside businesses are very close to my heart.

  4. “Employee who truly wants his customers to enjoy their meals.”

    “How would you like your burger cooker? Nevermind, I don’t care.”

    Pick one.

    1. Don, I see you couldn’t be bothered to RTFA completely, or maybe you’re just very stupid.

      Fitting that you share a first name with the idiot in the White House.

  5. So bittersweet I’m sure , I have enjoyed your posts and shift meal pictures ,all the best to you. BW, I hope you find another place close to home that will eventually bring you the same good vibes and followers. ~

  6. Sharing my love to you Bitchy! I hope you can move on from Quaint and continue to be as awesome as you have always been! And if you’re ever in the Cincy/Northern KY area, hit me up!

  7. Sorry for what you are going through. I worked in a restaurant for 18 years, some were there more than 30. When it closed, it was like breaking up a family.

  8. I was a server for years. My “training” began at my favorite bar “The Little Bar”. I walked in for a drink and ended up as a cocktail waitress before I could sit down. After 2yrs there (great has been torn down now) I became a server on the graveyard shift at Waffle House for 24+ years! If you have been to a waffle house after the club then you see the the “truth about my life” LOL. As I am now disabled I have begun to see what we went through! Good luck to you Bitchy! You are the best! You will know when it’s right! God bless!

  9. The world moves on. Very best wishes and best of luck to you, sir! I have no doubt you’ll be a success at whatever you choose to do next, even if it’s further adventures in food service. Oh, and can I have a glass of water and eight lemon slices, please? Thank you so much!

  10. Yes you could call Bitchy.
    Where all we do is complain about our guests, but then when we go out we do the same thing we bitch about you doing, only twice as bad because we are special. 👍👍👍👍👍🌞🌞🌞🌞🌞

    1. Yes you could call Bitchy.
      Where all we do is complain about our guests, but then when we go out we do the same thing we bitch about you doing, only twice as bad because we are special. 👍👍👍👍👍🌞🌞🌞🌞🌞

  11. I can relate, as a still working member of the restaurant community for over 45 years as a chef, waiter and bartender. I’ve felt the pleasure and sadness of openings and closings. I’ve had the joy of developing wonderful relationships with customers, owners and fellow workers and I have cherished memories of triumphs and happenings. All of these sustain me in my later years when I wonder if I’ve done anything with my life. I grew up in this industry and went from being a cocky, aloof prick of a young chef to the patient, mostly understanding grizzled old man of today. I wouldn’t change a god dammed thing. I grew up in Woodside and probably passed by your location many times, as I now pass by my old locations and remember the good times as should you. Good luck to you and I hope you find a new “home” soon and to see more from you in the future.

  12. It’s always hard when a chapter comes to an end. When you’re in the middle of it you think it’s going to last forever and I find sometimes I don’t appreciate the little things while their happening, which become the big things later on down the line.
    I hope you fall in love with your next chapter. I’ve never been to Queens (but watch King of Queens basically every night, so that counts right?)
    Best of luck,
    A fellow bitchy waiter

  13. Lovely blog about a tender subject. I’m sure you will find something soon, given your monster talent. And I hope it becomes as dear to you as Quaint has been.

  14. Oooh… now you can be a champion of the people you already are to a lot of people. Travel the country training at establishments with the most notoriously evil bosses and quit epically before you even reach the floor. Record everything and publish. Then turn to politics to change how the working class is treated. We need you!

  15. Oh, Bitchy, I’m sorry. I know you loved it there. For a brief excited moment I thought maybe your 2 favorite customers Anne & Jerry were Meara and Stiller, but alas, we have lost Anne Meara. We still have Marcia Brady though!

    1. I understand so well. My job closed without telling me after nine years. As in, I went to work and they said ‘bye bye, we closed, sorry we didn’t call you.

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