Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Restaurant Wars

Ready for battle.

This past Saturday night the 49ers-Oakland game ended violently with shootings in the parking lot and numerous fights in the stands. I have been listening to the morning talk shows and sports radio and everyone is wondering where do we go from here. What will end this violence? Limit the tailgating? DUI check points? No beer in the stands? Bigger police presence? Dismantle the Raiders organization?

I'm here to tell you NOTHING will stop it, (Except maybe the Raiders idea) because people will argue/fight  over anything while at a ball park and here is how I know......

I've spent most of my career working at an Italian restaurant, which I'll refer to as "Not Buca". Each summer the restaurant would plan an outing to show appreciation to the staff. One summer while I was working in Virginia, we decided to pool our resources with the "Not Buca" in Maryland which was only 11 miles away. This would enable us to 1) double our budget for a party and 2) be a great bonding experience between the two restaurants.

"Not Buca" was going to do it right that summer. We were taking the staff to Camden Yards to watch the Baltimore Orioles play. But this wasn't going to be just another trip to the ball park. Buses had been rented, spirits had been donated by local vendors to consume on the bus, Camden Yards had invited us as their special guests for the day and arrangements had been made to ensure that most who wanted to go could go. I had decided to stay back to allow the other managers to go, a decision that proved brilliant. There was an air of excitement in the restaurant as the staff started to gathered that afternoon, all decked out in baseball caps and jerseys and full of promise.

Now, I'm not quite sure where the evening went wrong but I assume that it probably started once the first keg was loaded on the bus. The ride from Mclean to Baltimore is about an hour with no traffic and about 14 hours with traffic. This particular ride was somewhere in the middle, in other words, enough time for the staff to loosen up.

On second thought...

Once the buses pulled up and  everyone filed into their seats the group seemed somewhat, if not overly,  jovial. They were loud, cheering, chanting and having a seemingly good time. Then, evidently, the cheering turned to jeers and heckles which is acceptable at most ball parks. The difference was that they were not heckling the players on the opposing teams or the opposing teams fans for that matter, they began heckling each other. Battle lines were drawn based on which restaurant you worked at.....keep in mind everyone worked at "Not Buca" just not at the same location. It became an argument of which was the better restaurant. Logic was thrown out the window and then shots were thrown at "who had better specials", "who was busier", "who had more side work". At that point ushers had stepped in to calm the group and issue a stern warning. No one knows for sure if it was the "specials" comment or the "side work" jab that incited violence, but a punch was thrown and suddenly booze on a bus didn't seem like that good of idea after all. To say it went down hill from there is an understatement. There was fighting, name calling, spitting, an arrest, hair pulling, sexual promiscuity,  and mayhem.  That is when the ushers dropped the hammer, "you all must leave the ball park.... immediately".  Reluctantly, the group gathered their belongings and  started to exit the park.  As the staff shamefully ascended the long set of stairs while baseball fans sitting nearby cheered the ushers decision, the staff turned around to take one last look at the ball park that they had treated so badly.... and it was then that the jumbo tron caught their eye.

In big bright lights is stated, almost mockingly,
"The Baltimore Orioles welcome "Not Buca" to Camden Yards. Enjoy the Game!"
while the video on the jumbo tron panned the empty seats where the staff of "Not Buca" had been sitting.

What the inside of "Not Buca" may or may not look like.

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