In our April issue of Rochester Magazine, we asked local restaurant people — owners, managers, bussers, waitstaff — what they’ve learned over the last 12 months.
What they learned, it turns out, is a lifetime of lessons.
They gave us stories about staff stepping up, about customers standing beside them, about a community coming together.
They gave us stories that -- when I was reading them with my wife or kids in the room -- made me openly blame my misty eyes on allergies.
Here are a few of our favorites.
From Steve Dunn (Taco JED):
“It’s been difficult, because we have had to constantly adapt. We had to lay off all our part-time employees, and each member of the team took a reduction in hours. I never had one complaint. I have had team members who have taken reduced hours so that another team member could get more hours. This was done without me having to ask — done to help another family out that needed the hours more than they did. We have an amazing team who really care about each other ...
"I’ve learned that we live in a caring community. I guess it is obvious with all the sacrifices made by our health care workers, but it is so much more than that. I’ve also learned if we work together, we can get through anything.”
From Alaina Pappas (The Hubbell House):
“All of our customers have blown us away with their continued support they have shown us through the shutdowns. We know it isn’t the best to eat steak out of a to-go box, but people made it work. We had customers bring tables and chairs to set up in our parking lot. When it got cold, we had people ask us to bring things out to them in courses to their cars, that way they could pretend like they were out to eat. We have had one couple order every Tuesday since the first day of the shutdown, March 17, 2020. On March 16, 2021, it will mark 52 consecutive weeks that they have ordered takeout. It is people like them that have kept us going, and we are so thankful."
From Natalie Victoria (Victoria's Restaurant):
"In January 2021, Victoria’s had a couple visitors. Two gals came in and stole the staff’s tips from the evening. There was a video of the incident; it was shared on social media over 100 times.
"The next evening, two farm kids from Eyota popped in, ordered take out, and proceeded to hand their corn ‘earnings’ from the previous summer to the employees. They wanted them to have their money. We about fell to the floor in disbelief.
"The world is filled with amazing people.
"This pandemic, as horrible as it was, had some sweet spots. And ‘together’ ( IMHO) has become the most powerful word of 2020.”
Steve Lange is the editor of Rochester Magazine. His column appears every Tuesday.