(From the archives.)
Let me start with an admission. If I worked in a restaurant and saw a mom walk in with her three little children – her three little boys – I would try not to make eye contact. I’d yell, “Not it!” to my fellow servers. I’d take up smoking… so I could duck out the back door.
But that’s not what happens at my IHOP. (And I call it “my IHOP” even though I only go there every couple of months.) Not only does the waitstaff not run away when I walk in with my two little boys and baby, they actually seem happy to see us. We get high fived. We get fist bumped and slapped on the back. We get treated the way Snooki must get when she walks into her local tanning salon. And, don’t forget, they have syrup at IHOP – five syrups on every table. I have three children who each have ten fingers. That’s thirty potential sticky fingers. And, we get high fives, fist bumps and slaps on the backs when we walk in.
Last time, Chris waited on us. Sometimes it’s Sebastian. Other times it’s Romel. Let me tell you about Chris, Romel, Sebastian, and their manager, Anwar: the staff at Charlie Trotter’s, Jean Georges and Le Bernadin don’t hold a candle to these guys when it comes to customer service. And, from what I hear, none of those places have free crayons either.
I was there pretty recently. I strolled in with my boys at eleven thirty in the morning. It was a Saturday. Have you ever eaten breakfast outside of your home? 11:30 a.m. on a Saturday is prime time. Every table is taken. Every seat is filled with hungry people who want to stuff their faces with reasonably-priced bacon, eggs and pancakes.
Chris took our order – went to the kitchen – and then reappeared. He wanted to know if my sons could do him a favor. Could they help him carry the plates from the kitchen to our table when our order was ready? Could they? Could they?! Could Mary Richards light up the whole world with her smile? Heck yeah! They said yes and then we waited. We even called my husband to tell him the good news.
While we waited, a thought occurred to me. The plates were going to be hot. Maybe too hot? What if my kids hurt their fingers? I debated whether or not I should pull Chris aside. Had he thought about how hot the plates might be? My children use their fingers all of the time. Please Chris, don’t burn my kids’ fingers!
And while I mulled over whether or not to talk to Chris, I glanced at my three year old. He was about to explode. The anticipation was almost too much for him. He had the same look on his face that he did after his third birthday party when he learned he was going to get another birthday party the following year. And the year after that. And the year after that too. (“You mean, I get another one?!”)
Chris came to get my sons. “Are you ready?” he asked them. And so, my three year old and six year old walked with Chris to the outside of the kitchen. He handed each of them a plate. I winced. (“Please don’t let them burn their fingers.”) And they walked. Slowly. Happily. Carefully. They reached our table. They were each holding a tube of yogurt upon their plates. They were only holding yogurt. Chris was carrying the plates with the hot pancakes. He didn’t want them to burn their fingers either.
Pictured: Sebastian and Chris.
NOTE: Should I point out that I am not being paid by IHOP? I am not employed by IHOP. I don’t make any money if their stock (are they public?) shoots up today as a result of this post being published on my blog which is read by fourteen zillion people. I don’t eat for free at IHOP. In fact, when I go to IHOP, I barely have time to eat. But, that’s the fault of my kids. Seriously. Let me eat in peace, guys. Please.