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Dinner Rush

September 1, 2009

It has been exciting to see Za Za turn into such a popular restaurant. I’ve been able to witness firsthand the way in which word-of-mouth marketing works when a restaurant is doing good food. The place has buzz and it could not happen to a better group of people. My internship, thus far, has been an incredible learning experience. The learning curve is quite steep and you pick up so many facets of the business quickly…mostly because you have to. The place gets slammed and you’ve got to function at a rapid pace or risk putting the other employees behind. Unlike the corporate world where a slacker can skate by unnoticed for some time, a well run restaurant needs all the team members working in unison. The guy doing the dishes has to keep up or the chefs can’t plate their food. The bussers, waiters and money changer must constantly be flowing or the whole system will backup. It means constant work for everyone involved and you can see your input effecting change every moment. My other life in an office doesn’t have these same outcomes. My input isn’t as impactful and certainly isn’t recognized as much. But there are tradeoffs in the restaurant industry and money is certainly one of them.

After taking two weeks off from the restaurant, one weekend to celebrate my birthday and the next to visit Cleveland, I returned on Friday night to do a shift in the kitchen. Most of the night was spent trying to maintain our dish supply but I found myself at various points, busing tables, running food, pouring drinks, doing prep work, just about everything but actually cooking. As with any restaurant, we had our fair share of complete fuck-ups but I never saw a dish returned or an angry customer unsatisfied. Pretty impressive for the amount of turnover in tables that evening.

Sunday morning I arrived around 8:45, I had been up the night before cooking, drinking and bar hopping so my early morning rise was delayed. Anyway…I showed up with a small hang-over, but cheerful demeanor, and began my routine of chopping fruit and vegetables, cleaning roasted chicken of skin and bones and preparing the accoutrements for our brunch menu. The menu is something special.


1. Biscuits with chicken gravy with scallions and corn. This is a twist on the standard sausage gravy using roasted chicken breasts.

2. Pork medallions over a plating of grits

3. Shrimp Panzanella

4. Frittata with olives, tomatoes and goat cheese.

5. Breakfast Za with a fried egg on top. (Breakfast pizza)

The brunch went as dinner had on Sunday…slammed. People were flowing in from all over the city it seemed. Rain curtailed the rush around 1:00 but it was packed for about 2 hours as we scrambled to meet the onslaught. My day ended around 2:30 and I left exhausted. The life of a restaurant employee is such a different experience from my daily routine. It is a great contrast.

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