, I'm giving it 4 stars based on my experience. The happy hour is excellent: plentiful free pool tables and $1 Tecates (and when those ran out, they upgraded to a Costa Rican beer called Imperial.) The food is very good, especially for a place that identifies itself as a sports bar. We enjoyed the homemade tortilla chips and salsa and had no trouble getting to an open pool table at 5 pm. It appears as though renovations may not be complete yet...but the Mexican Day of the Dead murals that adorn the walls help set a fun vibe, as do the hand-painted, glowing skulls on the bar. We really enjoyed our appetizer sampler--the surprise hit for me being the fried pita bread. The Bacon-wrapped jalapenos were quite tasty too. My wife, who used to tend bar at a Latin bar, was blown away by her first rocks margarita, but had to ask them to remake the 2nd one...meaning it depends on who makes it. (Nicolette made the best one.)
The most important thing we noticed is that we could truly feel that everyone there is trying very hard to make this something good. Dollar beers and good food will get me in the door once. The attitude and effort being put forth have already brought me back for repeat trips.
So, what happened with the No Reservations tickets??? Did anyone win?
I quit my job serving at Red Lobster in college to work elsewhere--TGIFridays, which, in retrospect, should've been an obvious bad move, but The Lobster is no glamorous job, either. Two weeks later find me back at the old RL, begging for my serving job back. The GM instantly shoots me down, having already hired replacements for me and those I took with me to TGIF.
I was instead offered a host job which, desperately, I accepted--though not until I had negotiated to be paid like a server who had been pulled off the floor (away from tip-earning) to do something else. The money covered my half of $500/month rent for my downtown Columbia apartment, but barely provided seed money for me to put on inappropriately large parties every weekend. I talked my GM into letting me work the prep window in the alley of the kitchen.
That's where my horror story begins. The only good thing about working in the alley was the small perks. Most plates of popcorn shrimp didn't leave my kitchen with a full amount. You had to pay the toll on my watch--hey, a guy's gotta eat somehow! The head cook would whip up pretty much anything I asked for if the managers weren't lurking around. And sometimes I would use the lobster pizzas to create my own personal masterpieces in the convection ovens that we cooked those famous cheddar bay biscuits in. But that's where the fun ended.
A kitchen alley is hot. I ALWAYS smelled like seafood--I don't care how many times you wash your clothes, the smell NEVER comes out. The shouting when something goes out wrong, the scrubbing--the endless, endless cleaning: wiping, moping, re-moping. It never ends. Add to that, the incessant drama that permeates the staff of the typical casual dining restaurant--basically, it's EXACTLY like the movie "Waiting": everyone is sleeping with everyone else, and most of your fellow employees are not working there because they aspired to be waiters, which is why the vast majority of them drink heavily and/or do a lot of drugs. The insane degree of familiarity that existed between most of the employees led many awkward situations, some dangerous--like a jealous girlfriend throwing a steak knife at her boyfriend in the kitchen while I tried to prep food.
I look back on my Red Lobster days with mixed emotions--those people really were my family then. I went to funerals, I celebrated birthdays...but...I can say that my time in the kitchen at that place...was a horror story in itself.
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