Saturday, January 17, 2009

Cheap and Style Square off

We went to one of our favorite spots in Chesterfield last night for dinner. Gianfabio's has been around for a while and is nestled next to Schnuck's on Olive east of Chesterfield Parkway. The food is good there and Heather, our favorite adopted child/server on Friday nights is always there waiting when we arrive. We sit at the same table, next to the wine bottles in the bar area. This way I can see the people come and go, measure them up, look for our friends. I can see the servers and bartenders interact, because that is what I am most comfortable with. We kind of sit in the action spot from my operational perspective. Plus, the bar area is still smoking, and it seems to be away from those still indulging.

Anyway, we get in and out of there for usually around 60 bucks with a couple glasses of wine. If it was a particularly hard week, maybe a tad more. This is what we do on Friday nights and I suppose we are regarded as reg-uh-lars there, even though we are somewhat newbie referencing the fact that often we are 20 years younger than anyone else. We are still climbing the stature scene but thinking we will make the cut. I am usually more casual than others, because I can be and choose to be. I think that all restaurants should be casual, regardless of the fare, btw. That is the way it is in the places I travel, that is the way St. Louis should evolve.

So it comes as no surprise that I was snubbed by the table sitting next to us. I think it was because they had made a special effort to attend dinner with friends, an upscale experience at Gianfabio's. There are two sides to the restuarant, the formal side and the bar area. We were in the more casual side, the bar area. And I was at my table first. I had "time spent" so I saw no reason to get the dirty look for reason that I assume because I was dressed in outdoor wear, a fleece from REI, some blue jeans from Izod, hiking boots from Alpine Shop. I had a wax Lone Wolf hat that pulled the ensemble together quite nicely. I am convinced that the cost of my clothes easily topped the combined total apparel cost of the 4 of them, but who has reciepts? I like doing this, being me, measuring people up. I ordered another pop of Grigio.

To be honest, I would not have likely noticed the look when they arrived. I wouldn't have cared either. It was something about the way they treated our kid Heather that got under my skin, too many questions. When she walked away, they grumbled over the costs of the features. They wanted "scenario orders".--what I call strategic special requests to get concessions by the operator to satisfy those who want to skirt the system. They wanted to know the price of the wine, whether the bread cost extra, whether the salad was ala carte or inclusive. I knew where they were going with this.

Heather was hanging in their quite nicely, never once losing her patience with, what I would consider after 30 years of the restaurant business, cheap pain in the ass bastards. Heather perfectly presented the options, came up with solutions and went along her way as if their was not a big deal at all. So it gave me great satisfaction to see that our nemisis then ordered split entrees, reducing the check by at least 35 percent. Yep, I wanted to dislike these people, first because of their look of disgust when entering my space, then because they were too cheap to order full entrees or even the pasta or a pizza for chistsake. I called it right, I won, I am always the one who can spot things like this. I have the experience. I am Pfrugle Man!

There is a rule folks, if you are under 60 years of age you don't split orders. I watched as all four of them (40's) delicately maneuvered their small portions of broccoli and chicken about their plates, this without a first salad course and baskets of bread. Amatuers! It was embarrassing for them if you ask me. Even though our gal Heather served them as if they were royalty, the way she should have, if I don't say so myself.

I can't help being this way. It goes without saying that I am rooting for the operator--it is tough right now and in order to stay a float the business owner needs to hit certain benchmarks on check average. There is a check average to service outlay ratio to consider. My concern is: How long will those cheap asses sit there and milk the place of ambiance and service before a fat wallet gets tired of waiting and heads over to Ya,Ya's?

But you now what? I would bet that our operator at Gianfabio's doesn't bat an eye and wouldn't dare make create any less an experience for those splitting entrees than those spending the big bucks with wax hats and hiking boots. That is why Gianfabio's is still in business, year after year, with stellar performances of service from Heather,and unconditional product and service standards by the owners of the restuarant. Me, I'm obliged to out the cheapo's, because I can.

Bravo to Gianfabio's, Heather and the tight asses at table #2 for the good fodder.

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