The Bones of On the Square

Hello all…I apologize for being so slack in my blogging.  It isn’t that I haven’t had anything to write about, it’s more that my May has been as busy as our last December.  A pretty busy May, or as one of our wonderful customers said to me today, “You’re busier than a one armed paper coat hanger!”  Whatever you call it, it has been a little hectic in my world. 

As much as I enjoy commotion and lots of activity, when it comes to my job, I like things thorough, efficient and well, dare I say, perfect. 

I’m not sure if it’s the unobtainable I am after or if I am a total masochist, but perfection in a restaurant (save one by Thomas Keller) is completely unrealistic. 

My dad always told me if everyone likes you, you’re doing something wrong, and I try to apply that advice when someone is telling me that the service was poor or that the website wasn’t updated on time.  You see, I want our place to be perfect and so when there is a complaint, I not only take it seriously, I sometimes let it hurt my feelings.

Regardless, I completely stress myself out trying to make sure our restaurant is run so that everyone is satisfied, and it is frustrating and disappointing when it doesn’t happen.  Of course, I alone, cannot make our place what it is.  That is why I value all of our friends/co-workers who come to work each day to make sure we succeed.  Running a restaurant helps me to appreciate key people who work here on a regular basis.

No one knows all of the staff at On the Square, but I think it’s pretty important to start telling some stories of people who make my job much easier as well as accommodate many of the people who come here to dine.  I have already spoken about Frances, my saint, but I think it would be nice to share some stories of others who do so much for On the Square, and in turn, for Stephen and me. 

In no particular order, I would like to invite you to get to know the people who work with us. 

May I introduce Alex Hernandez, born as Eliseo, but his name was changed to Alex upon arriving in the kitchen at the young age of 16.  Alex started as a grill cook in 2004, and even at 16, he was incredibly talented and efficient at cooking ribeyes, filets and pork tenderloin, not to mention, mahi, tuna, etc. 

Alex graduated from Tarboro  High School, and began his studies at East Carolina University where he stayed for about 3 semesters before realizing he liked working more than being lectured to.  He also realized that while cooking was fun, it wasn’t where he wanted to be for the rest of his life, and so he took the plunge, left us (for a brief while), and moved on to work the assembly line at Honeywell, a plant outside of Tarboro. 

I cannot remember how it happened, but one day, when he came back to say hello, I asked him about working the in the front as a runner.  He said it would be fine as long as he could continue to work days at his other job.  Of course, it was, and his new position in the front-of-the-house began. 

Within a couple of months, Alex became a server, after he easily proved how well-spoken, polite and well-versed he was on the menu.  After all, he had worked the grill for so long, he knew more about the food coming out of the kitchen than yours truly.

With the knowledge of Alex reading this blog, I will admit I was nervous about him waiting tables.  Would  he grasp the needs of our clientele?  Would he be able to anticipate what our guests wanted?  Would he be clear and definitive when he spoke to tables?  I knew Alex was trustworthy and hard-working, but a server is the liason between the kitchen and the guest, and there are many different skills one must have to properly serve.

As I write this tonight, I become so excited/proud at having Alex on my team.  He is sincere, extremely polite and always pleasant.  Customers adore him, and I am calmed by his ease and effort while working.  Not only does he take very good care of his tables, he also makes sure his co-workers’ tables are well-provided for.  He is a team player if there ever was one, and we are extremely fortunate to have him work at On the Square.

In his ever so calm, polite way, Alex will ask me what is Chianti or how do you say Dornfelder?  He will tell me why he thinks Gruner Veltliner is delicious with the Shellfish Stew.  Not only does he dominate when it comes to serving others, he also has a passion for knowing all of the details of his job, including wine and wine service.

Alex and I share dinner at night.  He has a son that is 6 months old that is named Baby Alex.  We look at pictures on his I-phone of my children playing with his son.  I pray that they can be as good of friends as their parents. 

I am so thankful that at 34 years old, I can continue to meet people who I hope will be my lifelong friends.  I am so thankful there are people like Alex who want to work with people like me.

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