With the KTVZ TV station running a story on the Band of Brothers last week, I knew that I was going to get busy this week and began to prepare ourselves for this new change. I decided to shift the Brothers to the main floor and move the regular diners to the back room area.
Most of the night on Sunday, I stewed over this new change. What ifs flew through my head as I imagined all of the bad things that could happen. In today's economy, one can ill afford offending anyone.
Now, I realize change is inevitable and the business who is willing to change is the one who will survive. But, the trick is to make the right decisions in those changes. I am one who goes by his gut feeling on them and this decision felt right to me so I just made it.
I came in a couple of hours early to re look at all of the possibilities and began working on making the transition as easy as possible. Jimmy was working on the buffet so I knew that side of things would go smoothly.
Right at 10AM, a woman with her 5 kids walked through the door and I sat her at one of the tables. From then on, we began moving the customers to our back room. I had not taken into effect that the day would be a holiday and the back room began to fill fast. I stressed over whether we would be able to handle all of the customers and we decided that the big table would become the counter for the three hours of transition. After the tables filled up, we began to set people around the big table. I pushed the girls to get the orders as quickly as possible hoping that the quicker service would help turn the room quicker and not lose any customers.
The brothers began to fill into the main floor and we set up the PA system at the door along with a table for Loren to put his new members tools on.
11AM came fast and I went over the buffet with all before Zin lead the room in a pledge of allegiance and the Chaplain led us all in a prayer. Shortly before, I had stopped to see the woman and her children and told her not to let us push her out. I wanted her to be comfortable. I noticed that she had her children stand and do the pledge with the guys along with the prayer. It all fit so well. As she left a short time later, I commented on how well mannered her children were. I know some of the guys felt the same as they stopped by her table and talked to her and her kids. She smiled brightly when I complimented her.
I spent most of the next hour between the two rooms, pouring coffee, setting up orders, bussing tables, and talking with customers I met a couple in the back room who were from the valley. He told me how he was so disappointed when he heard that the old diner was gone. He ran a search on the Internet and discovered to his surprise that we were still open. It took him a while to find us but he promised to send others our way. I thanked him and shared once again the story of 6 years ago.
Judy ran into a couple that was sitting at the packed large table. It was their first time in at Jake's and they told her that they loved it. Apparently, the experience of sitting at the table with others that they did not know was a very pleasant experience for them.
A friend called me and let me know that her father had passed away the week before and asked me if there was anything that I could help her with to memorialize her father. I asked her if she could come in and address our group and she said that she would send her brother in her stead. He arrived and was not prepared for what was to happen. I asked him if he would speak and he nervously agreed. He spoke of how his dad never considered himself a hero in any shape of form and just did his job. What I don't feel he realized was that he was talking to the choir, a whole room filled with humble ex soldiers. One of the most humble, that I know of is Bob Maxwell. Bob is the only living medal of honor winner in the state. Bob bounced up and talked to the man as the rest of the brothers voted to agree to give his father a brick at the memorial on Newport.
As I walked the man out to his car, I told him who the man who had come up and talked to him was. I could see his surprise and appreciation on his face as he thanked me.
The day worked out and I don't believe that we lost any customers who had to switch to the new room and we had more than 70 brothers show up for their first day in (as they stated) their new digs.
The hard work of the crew and a few of the brothers allowed for a smooth transition in this new Monday change.