Starting a small Tavern in rural Northern California. Barley and Hops Tavern catalogs the trials and tribulations of the restaurant biz, and teaching wine country to love beer.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

One year later, Sam

Maybe it's the way that the shadows bobble when you look up. Those rattan fan blades weren't doing much of a job making me feel like I was sipping rum out of a Pineapple while my squeeze danced the hula in a grass skirt, but they did a fair job of making me feel like I was out on the ole roof again, more of the clear than the red in the ole arteries.

But it wasn't the sauce, and I wasn't lit up; not this time. It was cold hard reality with warm edges, like a dame's backhanded slap to the jaw. We'd just been chewed up and spit out, and lived.

It started simple enough, you know this one - some dame, some Sam, cook up some real goofy scheme, only at the time, it doesn't seem that way. Everyone is smart, until they're put wise. A few telephone calls, sure, that's all it is. Then you jaw with some Sam or Jane - sure just ideas, not a commitment.

Next thing you're the owner of a real classy joint. No hash-house; a real venue, not just boozers, but the canary singing away, the lookers preying on some Sam like me, only not me, because I'm sweet on my kitten, ball, chain, and all. Everyone wants to drink out of the same bottle, chew your ear, slap your back, and tiptoe back into bed. Occidental. Occidental's got bulls like I've got the key to Fort Knox...Sure, there's fights, but the old slugger keeps the Sams in line; nobody wants the wooden shampoo with me as your barber...

The paper is real friendly; everyone likes the grub, and loves the brew. Even when it's slow, there's someone to jaw with and something coming down over the wire to look forward to. They all say we should be content, even blissful with so many friends, and having work. I wonder if anyone tells Sisyphus he should feel lucky, because he's a king.

One year later we have a crack team of dolls and Sams-- all aces, every one of them. I owe them all a story of their own, but that will have to wait a tick. Our eats are better than your grandmother's, and I don't care how freshly she stumbled off some boat. The brew- oh the beer- a glass full of life with bubbles. Don't take my word; ask around. Ask anyone. The word is out, and the mouths keep repeating it. And we keep working harder. My doll, she's no Gretta Garbo glamorpuss. She's a dish, but she's tough. The cooking side of things is real trench warfare; her and Big Mike operate the works, and what comes out is the real McCoy. She's a newspaper dame, not grill jockey, but she does what needs doing and nobody does it any better. Myself, I'm the mugshot on works. I handle the jack, the suds, the Sams, the Janes, the dishes, the dogs, the real Brunos and the daisies. We make it work, but it's not as easy as we make it look.

A year gone by, I remember the parties, the fun, the yelling, the nutjobs, the wiseguys, the crackpots. The feds want their cut. The town wants their cut, even the record companies that recorded some canary yammering on wax wants an annual cut. It all looks good on paper until you realize what a shakedown it can be. We're in the pocket and staying, Sam, and it's been a bumpy ride. Next year though. We'll get the jump on next year. It won't know what hit it.

Now, if there's nothing more, it's time to take a powder, wet the whistle, and get some grub at Barley and Hops.

1 comment:

mello~ said...

Noah, I've been dropping by, as time and money permit, for a couple years now, and I must say, you're brilliant.
I'm a little bummed that I haven't taken the time to speak with you more, with hopes and aspirations that I could absorb some of this brilliance (like I've absorbed so many delicious alcoholic beverages at your establishment).
till next time, keep writing, yeah?