Hallmark, you are a son-of-a-bitch. Yet in the same breath, I commend you. You’ve somehow taken an age-old tale of a martyred Roman priest, and transformed it into a multi billion dollar holiday. In addition, you’ve placed 200lb barbels on each shoulder of every man in America to plan the perfect day, and more importantly, perfect night.
I’ve worked many a Valentine’s Day at my restaurant and all have produced worthy entries. But this year, I’d like to do something a bit different. I’d like to take you, the reader, on a journey…
With that, I give you Valentine’s Day Part I.
To fully understand that hysteria behind the scenes at (any) restaurant for Valentine’s Day, one must first experience taking reservations. It begins about a month in advance. Those who make the reservations at this point in time are one of two different kinds of people:
1) On top it (or at least their secretary is).
2) Got thrown so far back into the dog house for not having a reservation last year, that they made them either February 15th of last year. That, or their significant other bought a calendar and forced them to write a note in their own blood as a reminder to.
Taking these reservations is a breeze. Date, time, name, phone number, done.
Two weeks before Valentine’s Day, our reservation book is looking about 2/3 full. Those making a reservation at this point experience some time constraints as the most popular time slots (7:00p.m.-8:00p.m.) are now booked. In means to somehow barter with the person making the reservation, the following proposal is usually made:
“6:15p.m. or 8:30p.m., huh? Nothing at 7:00p.m.? Alright, fine. Let’s do 6:15p.m. but can you give us a romantic, quiet table?”
“Sure.” I respond.
Here’s the main issue with this request; although we can absolutely do romantic, how on Earth do you expect it to be quiet when an expected 300 cupid-stricken lovers are out as well? But sure, a romantic, quiet table for two.
The week of to the night before are my personal favorite types of reservations. These are the people whose Valentine has just not-so-subtly alluded as how this night is being made an occasion, and they have done jack-shit until now. Realizing that reservations will be a tight, if not completely impossible this breed attempts to trick the person into making a reservation. As though we wouldn’t notice what day it was being made. My favorite dialogues this past week have been the following:
The Intentionally Oblivious
“Hi, I’d like to make a reservation for two please. 7:30p.m. for Monday. Oh, what’s that you say? Valentine’s Day and you’re booked until 9:30p.m.? I completely forgot! Nothing at 7:30p.m. you say? Hmm, very well- 9:30p.m. it is.”
The Reservation Cup Game
“Reservation for three, no two! Please. What day? Well…not Tuesday because I got plans. Sunday I can’t- something in between then perhaps? Is that Monday? Monday is Valentine’s Day? Well, I’ll be damned. So how about Tuesday? I did say I had plans didn’t I? Ok, so the night before then, for two at 7:30p.m. will be fine. Valentine’s Day, that right you did say that. What do you have available? Nothing until 9:45p.m.?! (Sigh) Fine.”
The Blitzkrieg Reservation
“RESERVATION FOR TWO ON MONDAY AT 7P.M. I GOTTA GO BYE. What’s that? 9:45p.m.? Shit….fine.”
Pulling The Card Reservation
“What do you mean you have nothing before 10p.m.?! Do you know who I am?! You don’t? Well, I’ve been dear friends with your boss for years. What’s that? It’s a he, not a she? 10p.m. will be fine.”
The Desperate Reservation
“Hi, Valentine’s Day- I know you are probably booked, but my wife is going to kill me if we don’t have reservations this year. 10:00p.m. is totally fine. But could we have a romantic, quiet table?”
The Shocked Reservation
(spelling adapted to suit local accent.)
“Yeah, hey- raservations fer tomorrow night. Yeah, Valentine’s Day. Nuthing before 10:00pm?! That’s all late! What about before, before? Booked!? A la ve…so nuthing ha? Ooh, nuh. Psh, thanks anyway…”
But the best has yet to come. The day of reservations. These tend to make a personal appearance as though it would make a difference. They are also complete bribers it not liars. In years passed, they have brought elaborate arrangements of chocolate and flowers for not just their Valentine, but for the staff.
“Hi, I need these flowers to be placed on the table before we are seated. The chocolates? Those are for you…you’re welcome. The name on the reservation? Well, you see….”
And then liars.
“These flowers need to be on the table when we arrive. Reservation? I don’t have one. You’re booked?! But I was planning on proposing to her tonight at your restaurant!”
Either plans changed, or he is a LIAR.
But this year, I am sure, will introduce me to perhaps a new breed or bless me with a memorable quote and dialogue to deliver unto you my dear readers. In addition, the madness of the evening will be told in great detail. I can tell you now, it’s going to be good. We have 300 love birds on the book (last I saw), and a near guaranteed appearance from the fire marshal.
Tune in tomorrow for Valentine’s Day Part II. Until then, Happy Valentine’s Day!
Fellow bartenders and servers of the local industry, I will see you all at Gecko’s tonight. Merde.