My Last Night at My Restaurant

Why am I crying right now? I’ve worked at Quaint for just over ten years and this week I served my last two entrees there; a medium rare hamburger with a side of mayo along with a roasted chicken with potato gratin and green beans. Over the years, I’ve served those two dishes hundreds of time, maybe even thousands, but tonight, as I carried them to Table 24, those two plates held more gravity than any of the others that came before them.

When you work someplace for a decade, it becomes more than a workplace. It becomes a little bit of you, whether you like it or not. At first you resist it, then you accept, then you cherish it. And when the time comes to say goodbye to that place, you mourn for it. Like the mold around the caps of a soda fountain, it grows on you and you get accustomed to it. Ten years ago, the “old people” who’d come in on a regular basis were caricatures that were easy to blog about and make fun of. Last week, when they sat at Table 22 for their first post-pandemic outing, they were Joe and Ellen. When I told them that my final shift was fast approaching, I could see that they cared. When my eyes teared up saying good bye to them, I knew that I cared too. “I’m gonna miss seeing you,” I said as I reached out to touch them each on their shoulders, having never made that physical connection before. I pulled back, worried that my emotion was too much, but Mrs. Mandelbaum said, “You can touch us, we’re vaccinated!”

The combination of perfect spring weather and word getting out that it was my final shift made for a very busy night at the restaurant. We actually broke a record in covers and sales and it was the busiest we’d been since before the pandemic. Consequently, I had my ass handed to me on a silver platter an old serving tray with the cork lining peeling off. The restaurant ran as it has every day for the last 14 months with just two people: Tim as the owner/chef/line cook/prep cook/dishwasher and me as the server/bartender/host/busser/to-go person. I had planned for my last night to be a leisurely affair drinking Sauvignon Blanc out of a water glass, but the opportunity never presented itself. The weeds made themselves known from the minute we opened until an hour after we closed. I hated every fucking minute of it.

And I loved every fucking minute of it.

You can’t tell, but I’m probably crying in this photo. Thanks to JR for the photo. Thanks to Ann and Jerry for being some my favorite regulars for so many years.

But things change. Global pandemics sweep across the earth and force people to alter the way they live, think, and work, apparently. Choices lead to new jobs and so it shall begin; a new adventure/work environment. As I did so many years ago when I first started this blog and this crazy ride of Bitchy Waiter, I’ll keep my new place of employment a secret. It’s just best for everyone involved, especially at the beginning. Eventually, maybe where I work will accidentally slip out like a tomato from a hamburger stacked too high, but for the most part it’ll be a secret again. Rest assured, I will continue to bitch about waiting tables and use my daily experiences from work and from my life in general to amplify what servers wish they could say. I want to be the voice for servers.

Quaint restaurant has served that purpose for the last ten years and a little piece of my heart will always remain there. My boss Tim has has known all along that Bitchy Waiter is an online personae and not the person who shows up to his restaurant each week. Its hard to imagine I’ll ever find another restaurant job so perfect for me. It being only three blocks from my apartment has allowed me to become part of the fabric of my neighborhood. The people I waited on were the same ones I saw at the grocery store and waved to as I walked my dog. I’ve watched kids grow up before my eyes over the years. Saying goodbye to one family, I looked at at the now 15 year old girl who is just as polite now as she was when she she was five and impressing me with not just her manners, but her appetite for grilled salmon and calamari. “Go on, you can hug him if you want,” her mother said. And we did hug. I wonder if this young girl will grow up and remember me in the same way I remember a particular waitress from when I was a child. The restaurant has created a lot of wonderful memories for me over the last ten years and I hope I have created a lot of wonderful memories for my customers.  I am grateful for my time at Quaint. My ten years there will alway and forever be a part of me.

No, seriously, I think there’s a splinter in my thumb from the bar.

 

The last supper. Thanks to Kendall for the photo.

38 thoughts on “My Last Night at My Restaurant

  1. anne marie

    CONGRATS on the new job, bitchy! hope it will live up to your expectations. looking forward to more blog posts!

    Reply
  2. jp

    Good luck to you, Bitchy! There’s still tons of funny things I haven’t read in your archives–thanks for making us laugh, cry, and roll our eyes these many years. And good luck to all y’all, whether staying in food service, or moving on.

    I saw this article earlier today– seems relevant, especially the last words–https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2021/5/10/2029803/-Nobody-Wants-to-Work-Anymore-For-A-Crappy-Boss

    Reply
  3. Rebecca

    Been a year and 9 days since we found out we wouldn’t be going back to our restaurant family. This was a bittersweet read for me as I’m sure it is a bittersweet time for you. Thanks for being here for the server community.

    Reply
  4. Heather B

    This is stellar!!! Here’s to new adventures!! I recently left a company that meant the world to me, 13 years bartender/server and 7 years management. It was bitter sweet and I miss a majority of my team and all of my regular. Ultimately I left to maintain my own sanity and happiness, the environment had become toxic and abusive. I know my worth and they (the abusers) don’t deserve what I bring to the table! I am fortunate to begin a new chapter with a beautiful opportunity working less hours for more money!!! I wish you all the best in your new chapter!! You are exquisite and will most definitely crush it!!

    Reply
  5. Micheal

    I am new to the Bitchy W. & see your hiatus. Appreciate your candid posts and hope to see you pop up again. Best of fortunes.

    Reply
    1. Erica

      I love this. I understand, i lived 2 miles from where I worked and grew major relationships with customers . It is bittersweet, but you always have the memories (both good and bad). Good luck to the future!

      Reply
  6. Bg Woodbury

    I worked my butt off at a restaurant for 20 years as a server, a new manager came in and I trained the lazy man for a year and then he made up lies on me and sacked me.

    Reply
  7. Rosemary E Nitzschke

    Good luck!! Your story is so similar to mine… I live 3 blocks from the restaurant that I work at for the past 11 yr.’s. The pandemic has changed everything!! We went from like 16 server’s to 5. It’s so much harder and stressful but we do what we do!!!! Anyway Good Luck and Thanks for sharing the stories!!! 🙂

    Reply
  8. Kelby J

    I’m about to leave a place I’ve worked for 3 years and it’s hard, but I got a better opportunity and I’m excited for the new experience. Good luck to you on your new venture! I cant wait to read about it!!

    Reply
  9. Jas

    I managed a cafe for over 5 years until the owner apparently decided to stop paying his rent. I turned up to open up one day and we’d been locked out. I never got to say goodbye to all our loyal customers which was hard, but our gorgeous little team, that had been together most of that time, was also scattered in the wind. It was harder than we imagined to let it go.

    Reply
  10. Joanne

    I totally understand the feeling. I just gave my notice to a the restaurant I have been working for 7plus years. It’s sad, scary, but I have a new venture that I am working on which needs my attention. Good luck to you!! You new chapter awaits!! Enjoy!!

    Reply
  11. Mary

    Beautifully said. I know these exact feelings so well. The customers and coworkers become family and they love us every bit as much as we love them. Good luck in your new position.

    Reply
  12. Jodi

    Beautiful ode to your Quaint decade! Best wishes on your next journey. I’m sure I will enjoy it while wearing my new BITCHY tee. I can’t wait to wear your humor on my sleeve. Thanks for being you and sharing the laughs (as well as advocating for all of us)!

    Reply
  13. Susan

    You have made me laugh a lot over the years & today you made me cry. Congrats to all you have done & will continue to do. I look forward to reading what you are up to in the future. Wishing you the very best.

    Reply
  14. Amy Collins

    I love your posts so much! I relate to everything you post. I as well just hung up my apron for a desk job. The restaurant has been horrible yet I’ve been making so much money. It was a hard decision to leave! I hope I don’t have to go back! Good luck,
    Amy Collins
    Savannah Ga

    Reply
  15. Duncan Giles

    What an awesome ode to your last 10 years. While I know your next restaurant will provide plenty of fodder for writing I hope it’s even more enriching for your soul & wallet.

    Best of luck!

    Reply
  16. David

    What a great read and beautiful prose.

    Ever since I can remember I have been a server. From my family’s breakfast place through college in a Michelin star restaurant in France.

    Then I moved to the USA and worked for Olive Garden. Then to Las Vegas where as a manager I realized that I just wanted to serve.

    I live in Canada now and work in a fine dining Italian restaurant and it is home. We have not been allowed to work on almost six months as it’s only takeout.

    But I’m 47 and will do this until the day I can’t scratch on a notepad again. My blood is in the floor boards and it’s the greatest job in the world.

    Thank you for sharing. Best wishes.

    David

    Reply
  17. Robb

    25 years of being in the same restaurant and I’ve decided it’s time to leave. I got out of the habit of being a waiter. Keep writing so I can live vicariously through you without carrying the frustrations myself

    Reply
  18. Linda

    I love your humor! Good luck in all you do!
    From a server of 45 years!
    Linda
    Panama City Beach, Fla.

    Reply
  19. Jerri

    Darron, I’ve been at my restaurant for 22 years. Luckily it is still strong through the pandemic. I hope your new restaurant home fits you well and will give you new things to write about. The last thing I read on your FB page was about the “virgin martini”. Three days later a women ordered a “virgin lemondrop”. While listening to her I was “seeing” your post and trying to hear her definitely giving me a hard time taking her seriously. She said it was just soda with a lemon. I had the bartender make her a lemondrop soda shaken and served in a martini glass with a sugared rim garnished with a lemon. She was happy as a lark, ordered another and was charged accordingly. Oh, by the way, she left an awful tip. Darron, thank you for all the laughs and good luck at your new restaurant.

    Reply
      1. Tracy X Hartman

        Mmmm, he kinda’ does by saying that he’ll “use his daily experience [as well as his personal life] to write his blog. If it’s the Bitchy Waiter, and he plans to use his daily experiences, I’d gather that he’ll be serving folks.

        Reply
  20. Hope

    This post really hit home with me. I was at a restaurant for 9 years. This would have been the tenth. But the owners decided to sell. My safe place is gone. Now I have to embark on a new adventure as well.
    Good luck going forward. I hope you continue posting. I have related so many times.

    Reply
    1. Joanne

      Hi Hope! I actually thought that I had posted this, because that’s exactly what happened to me. Exact time frame and everything. Now just trying to figure out what to do with my life as well. I guess our situation isn’t as uncommon as I thought

      Reply
  21. Anita

    Being the same age as you Bitchy, I am also heart heavy after having to leave my restaurant for medical reasons and can’t go back. I was denied a goodbye, so be grateful for yours and all the memories.
    Hope to hear from you soon!!!
    Anita in Seattle
    PS YOUR BOOK WAS FOOD FOR MY SOUL
    Thank you!

    Reply
  22. Vera Crane

    Ahh Darron, 10 yrs flew by didn’t it? We enjoyed the ride with you along the way. I was at Maggianos Little Italy for 13 yrs and absolutely loved it. I had to go out on a medical leave of absence and couldn’t go back. I never even got to say goodbye to anyone. Broke my heart. Was hard to leave. Lets hope that we end up somewhere as cool as they were! Good luck in wherever you land! I’m eager to see what adventures you take us on next! Vera “The V unit” Crane

    Reply
    1. Jillian

      Vera, I had an opportunity to train with you in the Columbia, Md 214 store. Your passion was palpable. I hope that you’re well.

      Reply
    2. Katharine Thomas (Lutz)

      Small world Vera! I worked at Maggiano’s in Summerlin (Las Vegas). I don’t think we ever met but I do remember people speaking highly of you❤

      Reply
  23. Michele

    Aww! I’m gonna miss all your posts. I follow you on FB & Instagram. You are too funny Darren. I’ve been in the industry, waiting tables for 30 years. You hit the nail on the head in every one of your posts. I hope you are on to bigger and better things. But like they say, “ Why don’t you get a real job “.😂😂😂. I wish nothing but the best for you. Good Luck!

    Reply
  24. Heidi Lombardi

    That was truly heart warming and you are a fantastic and very funny writer. As this pandemic has taken a toll on the restaurant I worked in, I have moved into a more stable but still customer service oriented job. But will always be a server in my heart and will always follow Bitchy!!! Who knows, maybe I’ll get a part time bartender job!

    Reply
  25. Fiona

    I hope you have plenty of material in your new job so you can continue to entertain us with your razor sharp wit and sassy put downs. Happy serving, Bitchy Waiter. <3

    Reply
  26. Noreen Dolan

    Thanks always loved reading this
    I have been in restaurants for 35 years
    Good luck keep us posted!!!

    Reply
  27. Sandy Carscaden

    Thanks for posting this. I just finished your book and being a server I was laughing so hard. I love to go to NYC-have been about 24 times in the past 6 years from Canada. I have missed so much going there and eating at the wonderful places and meeting new people. I would love to meet you one day so I can’t wait to see where you end up working. Thanks again for always making me laugh and good luck on your new adventure

    Reply

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