I expected to love this book. It takes place on a single day. A snowstorm is coming and the Red Lobster is closing forever. This is an oddly promising scenario to me.
I spent much of my twenties waiting tables. I did a particularly long off-and-on stint at an ailing T.G.I. Friday’s in Flint, Michigan. Eventually it shut down.
While I enjoyed the overall mood and tone of this little book I have to say that the detailed inner workings of a restaurant, as seen through the eyes of an overly loyal middle manager, don’t particularly fascinate me. Of course, my disinterest in the seemingly sad but “real” lives of the staff is partly because I’ve met these people–they are real so far as that goes–but they lacked the spark that most restaurant employees who’ve worked together for a spell enjoy.
The inappropriate sexual humor was nonexistent. The endless banter between front of the house and back of the house staff was missing. The big dreams that most wait staff secretly harbor was long gone from this crew.
Honestly? Any manager as dedicated to minutiae as Manny was? Would probably have been promoted long before the Lobster closed.
I think the characters, such that they were, felt real. But the sparks that existed in every restaurant I ever worked at–Fridays, Damon’s, and a host of others (from crappy bars to upscale steak houses)–was just missing. And in its place? Was a lot of worrying about checklists and protocols that nobody would have followed on a restaurant’s last day, even if they were being moved over to the Olive Garden up the road.