Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Bad Restaurants - Good Poems

If you are a wholesale baker, often times all you have to do when a new concept opens is to look at what entnicity the concept is to know if you are going to sell them much bread.

If the place dangles a flag from England, Ireland, Poland, France, or Italy....

You can pretty much make book that these kitchens will be incorperating a lot of loaves, baguettes and bread sticks into their menu.

But of all the Euro countries the Greeks usually use the least ammount of bread.

The Scandinavian chefs aren't much better, shoot....if you're lucky you might be able to get them to throw down an open face sandwhich, but as mentioned, from my experience, the Greeks do the least to contribute to Klecko's Bread Empire.

You can thank the pita for that.

Its getting to the point where I have written so many of these Blog posts that they have become intertwined with my barstool and church pew stories that I can't always remember what I've told whom, and when.

If you've heard the following before, my apoligies.....just scroll down to the closing poem then and be done with me.

But, the first dishrat (dishwasher) job I had as a kid was at a Greek restaurant, the place was called Nicklow's on Hwy 100 in the western suburbs.

Being a "rat" in a Greek kitchen was horrible because everything was served on metal platters with all kinds of melted cheese.

Have you ever rubbed steel wool across metal steak plates?

I'd sooner look at your collection of hang nails and dead skin wads.

SCREECHHHHHHHHHHHHHH goes the sound as the hairs on the back of your neck pop up like G.O.P. soldiers on steroids.

SCREECHHHHHHHHHHHHHH goes the steel wool as you clench your eyes so tight that if your'e not careful, you might end up sharting.

As if this wasn't enough peril for a soggy suburban kid, each night around 6 p.m. the belly dancers would enter the restaurant through the back door, go downstairs into the dry storage area to change, and then they would resurface wearing a make shift thong and transparent viels that only covered about 8% of their athletic, muscular, Greek bodies.

There was nothing that these Greek Goddesses loved more than trolling by my self contained swamp area so they could "accidently" press a pound of flesh against the little white kid who had just crossed the puberty line hours prior.

Polish Christ, in my many trials that life has given me, I thank you for the memory of those women. They have provided unmeassurable levels of solace throughout the years.

The real reason I even got on this rant in the first place, is because I recently read a wonderful book entitled YUKON GOLD.

It is a book of poems that span a 40 year period of Saint Paul's own Mike Finley. if you Google it online, I do believe there is an online version for you to browse through.

Recently I spent an entire day going through the 300 some poems and I gotta tell ya, It was kinda like listening to all the Beatles albums in succesion w/o a break.

The following poem brought me back to what were truly the happiest-happiest day of my life.

The years of swamping with my rat buddies in those west suburban restaurants.


It's by far the best job in the restaurant
The cooks are up to their elbows in anguish
Racing to meet their exacting requirments

The waitstaff are scribbling salad orders
The barkeep's pretending to listen to stories
The coat check stares from her darkened box

But the dishwasher warms his blood at the wrists
And it goes to his heart like wonderful liquor
Everyone yelling, but he doesn't hear

Amen Mr. Finley...you sure nailed that one.


  1. 8^)

    You know, I used to go to Nicklow's with some frequency. Barry Casselman and I would go there to review the food at the place. Pretty good!

    The poem recalls two places ... the dishwasher in it is me, at age 14, surrounded by gorgeous high school waitresses ... I still see their skin, in my mind. Names like Mickey, and Joyce, and Pamela ... mmm ...

    But the coatcheck girl is from the Parthenon on halstead Avenue in Chicago. I had one of the greatest nights of my life in that place. My team had won an award from CASE for best film of 1974 ... I had written like a single paragraph of it ... the roasted goat was lifted and carried over the tables to serve ... and that dark-eyed Greek coatcheck girl sat in the darkness, nothing to do, playing with the coins in her tip dish ...

  2. Btw ... the link to download YUKON GOLD for free is http://mfinley.com/pdf/poemes.pdf

    It is a big file!

  3. It is a spectacular read though.......