Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Tears, Beers, and Potato Skins

Read today that a big portion of the Bennigan's chain is closing.

I worked at Bennigan's for a little shy of two years in college.

During that time I served up many sides of ranch, endured inane Quality, Service, Cleanliness! trainings, and memorized a 25-word phone greeting.

I pilfered hot chocolate from the supply room, smoked pot with the dishwashers, and was once disciplined by a manager named Bob for not being more like Tamika. Tamika, said Bob, is perky.

I met the guy who would eventually become my ex-fiance, had my first lesbian crush, and got in a 120 decibel screaming match over a Country Fried Chicken Salad with a cook named Ringo.

I loved customers. Hated customers. Had customers where I was totally indifferent. I served beer to Mateen Cleaves and iced tea to Governor Engler. I saw marriage proposals and prom dates.

Mostly, I worked my ass off. 8, 10, 14 hour shifts. I never got any love from management, except the $50 check I got when the rest of the staff voted me Most Valuable Employee.

I think it had to do with the Tamika effect. I was 22 years old and very much a Midwesterner, i.e. too naive to see the benefit in flirting with grody married managers in their 40's.

Had I known then what I know now, I would have definitely went for it.


Bennigan's managers had the power to make or break you. In the right section you could pull $200 and get out well before midnight. The wrong section and you'd make $30, work just as hard, and be stuck until 2 a.m. cleaning. Guess who always got the wrong section?

I quit on Father's Day, the busiest day of the year. I purposely picked up a double shift the week before, so they'd have to find not one, but two people to replace me.

My hatred has dulled over the years, but reading this news I still felt a little more satisfaction than is probably normal for someone of my forgiving nature.

A few minutes ago I went on the Bennigan's site and found the number for my old location. I called it. Still in business. Still that same, lame long-ass greeting. I immediately hung up. Nothing personal, Tamika.


mintzworks said...

Marriage proposals in Bennigans?!?

That's romance in a nutshell.

Robert said...

It's a really weird filing, if you drill down into the details. They're only $50k in debt, and their filing for Chapter 7 liquidation, not a reorganization. I don't know, but assume, they must have an income stream from the franchisees, which are remaining open. Something feels fishy here.

Sabina said...

That was going to be my comment, Mintzworks! Proposals? Seriously?
Having waitressed for many years, you just reminded me why I'm SO happy to have a different job now.

Anonymous said...

Bennigan's restaurants are alive and well in South Korea's major cities, Seoul and Busan. Places like VIPS, TGI Fridays and Bennigan's are upscale foreign food eateries here. It's very odd.