After the initial ‘first night’ nerves we began to think that we were going to make something of ourselves. Lunchtime service was working well and we were getting a slight increase in numbers. But it was the evenings that were starting to show. Wednesday was usually the poorest night, but then again nobody seemed to go out on a Wednesday and Saturday was the busiest. Numbers were increasing by the week up to a point where it was necessary to book for a Saturday night. The biggest issue was the menu. It was far too extensive. As I remember there was about ten different cuts of meat to be served from the grill. Each of these had a choice of at least three different sauces or garnishes. For example beef steaks: there was rump, sirloin, fillet and T bone. Then there was lamb chop, Barnsley chop, lamb loin and lamb fillet. There was also chicken, ham, pork chop and pork fillet. All this made for a hard time for the grill chef (me) and the pass chef (K**h). It got so difficult that the owner hired an assistant to work Friday and Saturday.
The numbers were quite steady and we had a stream of regulars and then disaster struck. Disaster in the form of the 1986 FIFA World Cup. The final was on Sunday the 29th June, but the two/three weeks before gave us lots of problems. Have the games were played at 12:00 local time, which meant 6pm here in the UK. We first noticed that things were not as they should be was on the Wednesday to Friday of the third week before the final. There some popular games being played on those nights and were suffered with the number of covers. Saturday picked up, and we thought we would be okay.
The owner said that it would be fine if they big names played later in the day, but on Wednesday the 18th, England played and the numbers dropped dramatically. The following Wednesday saw the first of the semi’s. Again the restaurant suffered. But the biggest hit came on the Saturday the 28th. Although England had done the usual and had gone out the previous week, Saturday was a big day. It was the day that third and fourth place would be decided. By Friday night, the diary should no bookings at all for Saturday. By 3pm on Saturday we still had no bookings and the owner was considering not opening. We did stay open but did not sell a single meal. As this was the days before big screens in pubs, even the bar was deserted. Bookings were down on the Sunday too, even though the final was later in the day.
We did not see the owner on either Monday or Tuesday, but Wednesday evening he called a meeting. His wife was with him, and they both had a very serious face. the owner announced that he had been with the accountant over the past couple of days trying to work things out. The bombshell was, that the restaurant was losing money and was being supported by takings in the bar, which as he said could not go on. He had checked the bookings for the Friday and Saturday and had decided that he would close the restaurant on the Friday night. Nothing anybody could say would change his mind.
We worked as normal as we could those last few days, but it was a depressing time for all. The news had got out, and we had a few cancellations on both the Thursday and Friday. Friday night came and neither of the waitresses turned up and as we only had two tables of four booked, the owner decided to close after those tables had left.
It was the end of the dream. Fame and fortune was not coming our way and it was a pretty hard time for K**h and me.