The norovirus has scared the bejeesus out of the owners of our town's best restaurants. Not to mention the chain restaurants. (Buffalo Wild Wings lost 15% in their stock value in one week--all over the US, based on a norovirus outbreak in Kansas City.) Chipotle may never recover from their episodes of food poisoning issues. They closed every restaurant in the US from noon to 3pm the other day, to retrain all their staff on cootie control. And the New Theatre has lost its luster in Johnson County--no longer are women listing them at the top of their list for a birthday or holiday or anniversary outing.
Expect the management of YOUR favorite dining establishments to already have issued an edict to their staff: do not come to work if you are sick in the least.
The problem is: they can't call a temp agency for a waiter or a chef. So restaurant managers are frazzled and scrambling. Yelling at them won't help. Let me ask you this...does getting loud ever help you get laid?
Last Saturday night, my movie club from the Glenwood Arts went for dinner to Macaroni Grill. We arrived at 7:08pm. I left at 9:15. Afterward, I phoned the manager. I said, "You can't fix what you don't know about. So what the heck happened? We had one great waitress, Jena. She hustled her ass off. But we had 25 people! She was 'in the weeds' all night. How many diners do you usually assign to one server?"
Joe, the manager, replied, "Twelve. But the fact is: corporate told us: no marginally healthy servers or chefs may clock in. No sniffles, no coughs, no nuthin. So I was short four servers and two chefs."
He apologized profusely. And we will give him another chance. Just not on Valentine's Day weekend, which is way overbooked everywhere in town.
I do appreciate any corporation learning from the mistakes of others. I would have liked to have had the manager explain the situation.
OK, Kansas City, you've been warned. We just got thru a sensational KC Restaurant Week, ten glorious days. But Feb. 12, 13 and 14 is even tighter to score a table, because most fourtops are used to seat just two people.
If you already have a reservation, anywhere, maybe ask about moving it up in the day. The later it is, the longer it will take for your table to open up.
An 8pm table might not even open up until 10pm.
Your wait could be longer than this town has waited for Sly James to deliver his Toy Train.
It's not romantic to spend all evening standing in the bar, in uncomfortable shoes, (date nights are when gals wear shoes that hurt), or glowering at your watch.
OpenTable.com may have some options--you might be able to search by area of town, and reserve elsewhere. OpenTable is THE way all good restaurants now want you to book a table nowadays. Don't call the hostess--she's already stressed. Humoring the plate pounders or the dates at the bar who have been overserved. Get the app now. Use it from now on.
And here's an even better idea: treat Valentine's Day like New Year's Eve. Chalk it up to amateur night. Push your celebration to another date. If your love is not strong enough to withstand a slight delay, you're with the wrong person.
Or get creative. Grab an array of exotic goodies from warm climates, at Trader Joe's.
Have a mini-vacation. On a blanket in your living room, followed by a backrub.