Thursday, July 22, 2010

Winona was here

I walked out to get my mail this morning and spied the large black tour bus sitting in the lot. On my way back with my mail, I ran across a woman walking a small dog around. I stopped her and told her she could eat on the deck if she wished.

She informed me that she was ordering to go and that she was on the large bus. I asked her if she was in a touring group since I had noticed that the bus was from Nashville. She said, yes and when I asked her who, she said, "Winona Judd".

I told her that I had many celebrities up on the wall and hopefully, I could get a picture of some sort from her. She said that Winona was being interviewed by some radio person and that if the interview was over when it was time to leave, she would see what she could do.

I told some of the crew but asked them to just look through the window and tried to keep it as hush as possible so that she would not have allot of lookers hanging out in the parking lot.

Her assistant sat on the bench in front of the diner for a while and I kept checking but soon the bus was firing up, the assistant was gone, and the bus was driving away.

At first, I thought maybe the assistant had been pulling my leg so I checked up on their website and sure enough, she is singing in Central Point tonight.

It is funny, I thought I would see the end of this when I left the truck stop. I sure would be interested to know how she ended up in my parking lot that is now so far off the beaten path.

The assistant left behind a can of soup on the bench where she sat. I wonder what the story behind that is.

But after all is said and done, we can add one more to our list. Winona Judd has now eaten at Jake's. Cool, huh.

The Good Guys

We were informed last week by one of the locals that the car club, Good Guys from Southern California were going to be through this week on their way up to a big show in Washington. I really wasn't sure what to expect but I knew that the word would get around locally and I anticipated a good response for the night.

Jim and I considered a BBQ but felt that it was just to last minute to be effective. Now, after the fact, I kind of wished that I had but the crew worked famously and the evening rush was handled very well by them even though they did get a bit frazzled for a short time.

I was in talking with a few people when I was informed that a rather slobbery dog was at the door. I challenged the man bringing him in and was handed a ADA official card with the dogs picture on it. I felt I needed to think fast, knowing that the ADA will not hesitate to come after a restaurant who turns back one of their card holders. But, I knew that others in the diner would not like it at all. I first informed him that he must keep the dog under control and he said no problem. Then, an idea hit me. "Your dog looks very thirsty. If you sit out on the deck, I will be glad to get you some water for him.". This made the dog owner quite happy so I placed him there and found an old pie tin that was being thrown out and filled it with water. I informed Ricci, my swing manager that they were on the deck and I went about my business.

A half hour or so later, I was talking with the DJ, when I saw them leave the deck. I asked how their experience was and they informed me that no one came out. They were livid. One of them said they were going to eat at the truck stop in Lapine. I apologised but to no avail, offering them a free meal but they drove away.

I then walked into the diner to talk to Ricci when I noticed a birthday party being set up in the back room. I told Ricci of the party on the deck that had not been served and then asked of the group in the back room where the Line Chasers were soon to meet. Without my knowledge, Ricci had been overwhelmed as her crew had been late showing up. This hit her hard and I could see the tears starting to flow. I gave her a hug but at the same time, pushing that we needed to handle the back room situation.

What had happened was that the birthday party had wanted the deck but after seeing the slobbery dog had decided otherwise. So......although she had been very wrong for forgetting about the dog owners on the deck, the ignoring had caused the bigger problem of the birthday party to be solved.

Somewhere around 5:30 or so, the Good Guys showed up and our main floor filled up quickly. Our back room filled up with members of the local group, Line Chasers, and the deck had a birthday party.

I spent the next two hours, helping out where I was needed, solving problems, talking to people, taking a few pictures along the way, and generally, supporting the crew that was busy trying to just stay afloat. I walked into the kitchen at one point to find about 8 or 9 large salads being prepared. There were so many of them that some of them had to be placed down on the waitress counter and the cooks lost count and ended up making two too many. I solved that by moving the extra salads into one of the cooks fridges to be hopefully used for later ordered salads.

Dishing up salad, pouring bowls of soup, sorting out orders, pouring drinks, wiping down counters, encouraging the cooks, busing tables, checking on orders, replacing drinks, setting tables, greeting new customers, and checking to insure that everyone was happy made those two hours fly by and just as fast as it started, it finished and the rooms began to clear out.

I went outside and thanked the group from SoCal for stopping in and wondered around the lot talking to many of the locals who had just come out to look. One local chided me about me rolling in the dough for the evening. I stopped and smiled at him. "Are you eating tonight?", I asked. "No", he said. "Am I charging you to walk around and look at all of the cool cars?" "No" "Do you feel obligated to come in and eat?" "No" "Are you having fun and do you feel welcome?" "Yes"
"Good, because that is the most important part of this all. It is not about the money, it is about the fun. If I do my job right, I should make some profit also but that profit is not my main focus, this is". My point hopefully made, I thanked him for coming around and told him to stay as long as he wanted to.

After seeing off the good guys, I went back into the diner to help the crew get cleaned up. I noticed the flowers on the deck starting to wither so I drug out the hose and watered them before bringing them down for the night and letting down the umbrellas. Chris said something about the chairs and I told him that six were missing. We both agreed that it was pretty lame and bold of someone to just come up and take them and in the back of my mind, I logged a note to put up the extra cameras that I have in the office to insure that no more disappear.

Dog tired, I locked up my office around 8:30 and headed out to my Model A. As I got in, I noticed that a few of the Mustang guys were helping out the fellow who had brought his Delorean. I laughed to myself that the most expensive car on the lot would not run. I noticed a very drunk man staggering around and I waited to insure that he did not get into a car himself to drive away. He staggered over to the guys, said something to them and walked around the building.

My trusty old A started up on the first go and I drove over to the Delorean and asked if they needed a push. They all laughed and we all watched as the drunk staggered to the trees behind the diner and passed out in the dirt between the trees. My heart went out to that soul but what can one do. They chose their lives and make their decisions. I wondered what had turned the man to make such tragic ones.
I drove home and Jay wanted to watch a movie with me so we turned one on and I quickly dropped off to sleep on the couch waking up just before the movie finished. Getting Jay off to bed, I too crawled into mine but the two hour sleep had my eyes, I wrote this all down. Now, hopefully, I can get some more sleep before starting up another busy day.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


I know that I have not posted as much lately. And there is good reason for that. I have been very busy. So busy, in fact, that Judy said to me the other day, "Sweetheart, I have not seen you much at all in the last four days".
Between hot rods and Model A's, baseball games (Jake's sponsors the local 70's plus softball) and playing in two poker tourneys for the traveling wall to driving south twice to visit old schoolmates at a reunion and going to the service for a special great uncle all this tied into my normal work, I have been busy.

But yesterday something special happened that I feel the need to place in writing before I wonder off on another busy day. As we prepared for the beginning of the Band of Brothers, I was over at Bob Maxwell's table when he wrote down a name that stopped me in my tracks, Dan Fouts. I stopped to listen and Bob said that Dan was bringing in an older vet. I promptly stated that I would like to introduce Dan.

Now, I am not an excitable guy but I must admit that this did. You see, if you were to ask me if I could meet any sports figure alive today, who would it be, I would not hesitate to state his name. I followed him at Oregon and later as a San Diego Charger. I would argue that he was the one of the greatest quarterbacks ever.

I buzzed around the room doing what I always do but in my head, I was attempting to collect my thoughts. I stopped and talked to Dan for a second filling him in on how we would introduce him and his guest, Stu Shoemaker. Stu was quite a character having worked as a radioman on many passes over the Atlantic. As we introduced Stu, he began to talk so much that we put the microphone in front of him so that all could hear.

After the meeting, I followed Dan out to his car with Stu and we talked a bit along the way, him asking me how long I had actually owned Jake's. I was surprised to see that he knew of my involvements in the community. But, I guess he must watch a little TV between being on it himself.

So, I guess you could say that made my day/week/month. I have another very busy week in front of me with the Good Guys from SoCal coming through Wednesday to being on the team for Kent Couch's next up and coming launch on Saturday. I will attempt to at least lay down some of my thoughts along the way......that is if I get the time.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Memories and busy Sundays

I have been emailing with a couple of guys who are putting together a reunion of sorts for my old school at Gilchrist. Anytime you communicate with old acquaintances like that, it always brings back memories and one came flying through my head tonight of a time when I worked for one of their dad's for a summer.

He had a sort of second hand/hardware type of store and at 16, I was hired to dust shelves, sweep floors, and handle customers while he was out. I enjoyed the job and also got a kick out of just looking at some of the 'stuff' that he had up for sale.

One day, a fellow from the mill came in and was looking for a lunch pail. "The hinge on mine broke and I threw it out.", he said, "I am getting tired of packing my lunch in a sack and am looking for another pail and thought you might have a used one.".

"You are in luck", I said, "I spied a pretty nice one with a good price on it just this morning.". I retrieved it for him and he looked it over with a smile. "Wow, this is perfect.", he said, "It looks just like my old one except it's hinges work and it has a fresh paint job........" He hesitated, flipped it over and broke out in a grin. "Hey, it is my old one! There are my initials on the bottom.".

Evidently, the owner had spied it when he was throwing out his trash, fixed the hinge, painted it, and put it out for sale. Laughing, the mill worker handed me the money. "Tell him he did a great job and it is well worth the money". Putting it under his arm, he walked out with a smile and his new old prized possession.

I have been quite busy lately with lots of things going on both in business and on the home front. Yesterday brought us a fairly brisk day all things considered and the new cook seemed to fit in well.

We had quite a diverse crowd in the diner. In the front room, we had seniors from the Baptist, Methodist, and Catholic churches. In the back we had a group of bikers. I noticed on the back of a couple of their bikes some blow up dolls all dressed up like biker mamas (although one was male). I saw the guys sitting around my big table joking and I walked up to make sure their stay was well. They all loved their food so I asked, "Hey, who has the dolls on the back of their bikes.". A couple of them raised their hands while others snickered. "So, what is up with them. What are they for.". This comment brought the house down. And one of them commented, "You don't know what they are for?". I realized my huge stupid comment and just said, "Holy Cow, talk about putting my foot in my mouth......Hey guys, thanks for coming in and have a great day." As they all killed themselves laughing, one of them said, "Thanks, you just made ours." With that, I smiled and retreated out of the room.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

One Not so Fine Day

Friday started out not so different than any other day. That is until my phone rang. One of my waitresses mothers had passed away. We had been aware of this. Her son and daughter work for me also. The daughter had planned on working but found she could not which was so understandable. She called to inform me that she had found someone to cover her shift.

Then the cashier called to let me know that he did not feel well and was looking for a replacement also. We worked through some names until we found a young son of one of the waitresses who had cashier experience. He was very excited to get his chance and came right down.

On Thursday, another waitress who had been very pregnant, had her child. So, that made the count of downed employees to three waitresses and a cashier. With yet another waitress and her son who was now cashiering going away on vacation the next day, I could see an interesting situation coming up.

Trin could have possibly helped out but she was down in California with friends until Monday.

I balanced myself between work and helping out with Judy's garage sale and was there when I got the next call. I was just about to go and pick up Jayden from soccer camp when Jim called. "I need you down here, Lyle", he said, "We have a situation".

I jumped in the car and came down to find Jim on the line cooking. He was trying to work on a cater job for Saturday where he was catering for his son's wedding.

I have a young cook who has a drinking problem. I have worked with him to try and help him and have actually gone overboard in that assistance. I actually laid him off once allowing him to draw unemployment while he sought help to get himself straight. I let him back in, however, when we needed him in a pinch and he stated that he was working on getting straight. He had been twice given written notices just trying to get his attention. I felt and still feel so bad for this young man who is killing himself with drink. He had come to work and called Jim who at the time was out to ask him to cover him. Jim thought he was just sick and told him to go home. Jim's thought was that he was on his way in and could handle the situation.

He arrived to find a very angry other cook who was not happy about being inconvenienced with the first cook. She began ranting at Jim about the fact that the other cook had come in drunk. She was mad because she thought she might have to close and did not want to. She was also angry in that she felt we were giving the other man too many chances. Her passionate rant to Jim who was trying to balance many things in his head also ended up in a shouting match between the two. She told Jim there were things she needed to do and Jim told her to go and handle her affairs. She left angry leaving Jim on the line.

After picking up Jay and dropping him off with the girls (it actually gave me some time to think through possibilities), I drove over to the young alcoholic's house and knocked on the door. He was sitting on his couch staring a some pieces of paper. He muttered something that I could not understand so I asked him for the papers. They were an eviction notice giving him 72 hours. I asked him why he had not paid his rent. He said he did not have the money. Empty beer cans covered the room. I pointed at them and asked him where he got he money for them. At first he denied but then broke down telling me that he did not know how to stop. I told him that I had already given him his options but could not force him to take them. I told him that he could not stop on his own and needed to call the people that I had already set up for him.

His immediate problem was very evident. He had received his eviction notice and feeling sorry about it, had turned to his normal crutch. The problem was this time he did it when he was scheduled for work. No more excuses could be made. No more compromises. I knew exactly what I had to do but still my heart cried out. He asked me what he should do and I told him the first thing was to get sober and the second was to come in and apologize to his fellow employees who had to cover him. I then drove back to work.

Now, the count is three waitresses, one cashier, and two cooks.

Another cook came back to cover the evening shift and we attempted to contact the angry one to see if she was going to return. I figured to give her the benefit of the doubt if she would have apologized to Jim. I have always been one who looks for the reconciliation route first.

Now, I must also at this juncture bring in yet another cook. One not hired yet but who had promised to begin work after giving his notice at his previous employ. He had been unhappy there and after discussing what I could offer him had said he wanted to give his notice and start up with us. So, Jim was figuring him into the mix in the next week and was not as stressed over the loss of the young alcoholic one who he too had worked so hard to try and help.

Jim looked at me and said, "I think we will be OK.....after all the new cook starts next week.". "Has he contacted you?", I asked. "No" was the answer.

I have been in this game long enough to know that a person who is anxious to get started will be at least contacting his new supervisor for training scheduling. I contacted the cook who had referred him to us and asked him to check. We later found that this cook had used my offer to gain a raise at his other job (a fact that I had worried might happen).

I immediately placed an ad in Craig's list looking for applicants. It was now evening and I walked out to find the evening cashier had arrived. I noticed the cinnamon rolls had not been wrapped so I reminded him of it. My management style is probably more of, I might say, consistent hounding when I see things. If that gets ignored, I am known to get more demonstrative. This young man is one who often needs that sort of push and I think I probably reminded him a couple of times to insure that it set in.

What I didn't think about was his state of mind. He was the son of the waitress who had lost her mother so......he had just lost his grandmother. Had I thought, I would have replaced him myself but with all that was going on, it did not hit me. That is until I got the call that he was not there.

I drove to his house and no one had seen him. I told them I would drive around and look for him. I remember all to well the day I lost my grandmother and his grandfather informed me that he had been walking around in a daze all day long. I asked them to call me if he contacted them and went out looking for him to no avail. I ended up getting the same young man in who had worked earlier in the day.

So, the count at the end of the day was three waitresses with one leaving the next day, two cashiers with one leaving the next day, and three cooks. To further access, the fatalities are in the kitchen with the angry cook deciding not to come back. She said no one gets away with yelling at her (funny, it was OK for her to yell at her supervisor though).

In my 30 years of doing this, none of these problems individually surprise me. But, I have never in my recollection had so many in one day.

Nobody said owning your own business would be easy.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Where the locals eat

I received a package last week. I thought it was a solicitation so I put it on the pile of things to open when I had the time. I was going through my pile today and opened it to find something all together different. It seems we have been picked by this website as one of five restaurants in Bend to be listed by them. Since there are quite a few independent restaurants in this town, I take this as quite an honor and have placed their award up on the wall above the cashiers station.

I have no idea where or who might have nominated us for this but I am extremely grateful.