The Last Table


So many times I have been ready to walk out the back door of the restaurant. My smelly, dirty chef coat is off and tossed in the bin. The stove is off, the fryer oil has been changed and the produce and fish orders have been called in. The walk-in cooler is locked. Then it happens—another four top walks in the front door.

Just thinking of it takes me back.

No rose for us.
  • No rose for us.

I hear them before I see them, and I try not to groan as the server fakes a smile and takes the customers to a table. The bread is quickly delivered, as are drinks but they are all chatting too much to order. In fact, I don’t think they have looked at the menu yet.

Ten minutes later—I would have been half way home—and they have yet to order. I pace the kitchen and call the wife to tell her that I am going to be late. Again. When I hear the ticket machine chime, I bounce over and nearly punch the server in the face. Four people, four courses each and I am all alone. They all order the tasting menu. The damn tasting menu that will take at least an hour to eat.

The last table of the night always pisses me off. I rock out the apps, then the salads and then the entrees, all spaced about 15 minutes apart. The customers do not notice that the only reason that we are in the building is for them. The doors are locked and the patio lights are off.

The bartender comes and asks me if he can vacuum. I say hell no, it's rude. Now he can’t leave until the group is gone. Like inconsiderate children, the group laughs and jokes, getting progressively drunker as the night stretches on.

Don’t they know? Don’t they consider others? Don’t they know that we have lives? Children to kiss goodnight. Wives to hold. Bills to pay. Hell, beer to drink. I wish they would realize that while we might have submissive titles like “server” and “cook” we are still people.

Randy King is the Executive Chef at Sysco Food Services of Idaho. He has served as the Executive Chef at several locations in Boise including Richard’s in Hyde Park, Crane Creek Country Club and the Doubletree Riverside Hotel. Randy is a member of the American Culinary Federation and has been awarded the elite status of Certified Executive Chef. He can typically be found behind a stove making a mess ... and something delicious to eat.