Second Helpings

Message to Santa: Peace on Earth? Goodwill toward men? A winning PowerBall ticket? The Big Guy at the North Pole never seems to act on my personal Christmas wishes.

He doesn't seem to care for my professional wishes, either. If I don't get some action soon, I'm going to be naughty, not nice. Here's my 1999 list of demands:

1. Please get restaurants to SHUT OFF THE TELEVISIONS AND PIPED-IN MUSIC. People don't come to restaurants to watch ESPN tractor pulls or M*A*S*H reruns. They also haven't come to listen to Frank Sinatra, Chopin or Celine Dion.

2. Make sure the REST ROOMS ARE SPARKLING CLEAN AND WELL-STOCKED. Whenever the big hand hits the 12, remind the manager to send an employee in with a bucket, a mop, a sponge and fresh supplies.

3. A RESTAURANT RESERVATION PHONE LINE THAT REQUIRES CALLER ID? How stupid can restaurant owners be? Lots of people, including me, don't want their home number flashing on a screen every time they make a call. When I dial a restaurant that makes me unblock Caller ID, I can't help thinking there's something shady going on, like a bookie operation in the back.

4. Attention! APS and SRP have lowered their rates. So kindly TURN UP THE LIGHTS. It's a restaurant, not the tunnel of love. Some places are so pitch black they ought to issue a miner's lamp when you come in. There's a fine line between romantic and dark, and too many places have taken a flying leap over it.

5. GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD--AND MAKE IT GOOD. There's no excuse for crummy bread anymore. If a restaurant can't make its own, then it should buy bread from one of this town's growing number of first-class bakeries.

6. Going out for a meal is not the same as visiting LensCrafters. I don't want to be out in an hour. So kindly SLOW DOWN THE STAFF AND DON'T RUSH ME. Don't bring out the entrees while we're still working on appetizers. Don't clear anyone's plate until the whole group is finished. And don't bring the check until someone asks for it.

7. I don't want to use the same fork, knife and spoon on all my dishes. So please REPLACE THE CUTLERY AFTER EACH COURSE.

8. I've had so much salmon I'm ready to spawn. Inform chefs that THERE ARE OTHER FISH IN THE SEA. How about some cod, monkfish, skate, shark or grouper instead?

9. DON'T TELL ME HOW MANY CALORIES, FAT GRAMS AND MILLIGRAMS OF SODIUM ARE IN MY DINNER. I can figure out on my own that fettuccine Alfredo isn't as nutritionally dense as steamed vegetables. But food isn't medicine. What's next--spring-loaded chairs that register your weight after each bite?


P.S. Please drop a decent corned beef sandwich down my chimney.


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