Oh dear, another nail in the coffin of my refutation of the wholly erroneous supposition that I know every waiter and owner of each and every restaurant ....
'twas a normal Saturday eve, so I had sojourned to visit my mate Nick. We usually grab a takeaway (it has varied from Chinese, then veered to Indian with the occasional interruptions of pizza). I was about to broach the subject of 'are you hungry?' when Nick pre-empted me. So I shambled across the lounge, picked up the menu for the usual Indian place and flashed it at him (it's a bit of a standing joke, he pretty much always has the same thing). So on his nod I grabbed the phone and dialled. Busy tone. And again. Then again. And ... you get the idea. No worse than has happened before but this time Nick said, "shall we go out?"
I paused and pondered and then he voiced the name of a Chinese restaurant in a nearby village and, on the understanding that if they had a table free (it was 8pm on a Saturday evening!) I said that I'd be more than happy to go! Gave them a call after Nick looked up the number after my total failure to produce the phone number out of thin air (I really think he thought I knew it, after I had managed to remember the number of the Chinese takeaway we used to use after a year or so). I called and they'd have a table at 9. Booked!
The reason I was more than happy to go is that the husband (chef) and wife (front of house) who own the place used to work at the Chinese restaurant just round the corner from me. Not sure of the reasons but there was a parting of the ways between the owner (a nice guy) and them, and they set up their own restaurant in town. The original place I used to continue to frequent as it still did good food and I'd chat to the owner and he'd often provide the second bottle of Tsing Tao gratis He ended up selling the place and went to work at the local Tesco Express ... don't know, didn't ask, but he seems happy! I don't go there (the Tesco) that often preferring to use the local, little shops when I can. The couple of times I have been in I have seen him around half the time and have always had a nice chat and catch-up, and the last time I was there he 'dashed up' just as I was about to get my stuff checked out and waved a card at me and the cashier. I wasn't really expecting this so was not paying real attention and nodded, saying something like "sure, don't mind giving you the points I don't have a loyalty card". At which point it was gently pointed out to me that it was his staff card and he was using it to get me the 10% staff discount ...
Any way, back to the husband and wife team ... after a while they opened up a new restaurant in the not-so-local village and left the original to be run by their son and daughter. Friends and I used to use it as the default 'let us have a celebration' place so went their maybe a couple of times a year. Then, sadly, the nearby one closed down, leaving just the more distant restaurant going. Been there a few times over the years (no idea of how many as my grasp of time is ... not good!) The wife and son and daughter are front of house with, I presume, hubby still in back slaving over a hot wok
So, we arrive, get greeted and wait to be seated as we arrived a bit early. But, pretty much on time we get led to our table, drinks ordered and delivered. Then the wife comes over and says that she'll take our food order then she'll move us to a quieter table as the place was busy (busy as in every table taken - apart from the one that was about to be freed up). Order given, drinks and us relocated. Great meal consumed - I had to have the duck in plum sauce!
Afterward the son comes over, drops off the dessert menu and a little while later comes back to see if we want anything, leading off with the suggestion that I'd be having vanilla ice-cream. Yes, even after at least two years and sporadic appearances he remembered that I tended to have vanilla ice cream as a dessert! I think even the daughter recognised us as she made a passing comment about us following them about For the sake of my waistline dessert was declined, but on parting I did promise that next time I would indulge
Whilst we were there (obviously, else how could I have done so ...?) I asked whether a mutual acquaintance had been in. I was told that he still came in three or four times a year and that the last time he'd been in she had passed on my best wishes to him on my behalf.