First of all, WordPress says I reached a milestone and now have 21 subscribers. That’s cool! Thanks, you guys! There are more fans of food than of haikus, I suppose.
As some of you may already know, I spent a chunk of my life working for chain restaurant O’Charley’s – about 6 years, actually. During my time there I did everything at least once except manage and bartend, two positions I cared nothing about doing. Something I found interesting during my time there is that the vast majority of employees didn’t care about being there. Some folks were just grouchy about being at work every day, others were always trying to give up their shifts (sometimes paying you to pick up their shift), others busted ass and made a lot of money only to support a crack or coke habit, and there were others who wanted to do a half-hearted job and complain about how they’re not making any money.
Then there were people like me. It probably sounds silly to most of you, but I really had pride in what I did for this restaurant. I really thought our food was great and I fully believed that it was solely my responsibility to make sure our guests had a great experience each time they came in. To be even cornier I strove to be the full embodiment of “Clean, Set and Ready” and “Take Care of Your People, Do What You Say”. And maybe it was just in my head, but it certainly seemed like it paid off. When school was in session, I worked four shifts: Friday (dining room close or cocktail), Saturday night (dining room close or cocktail), Sunday brunch (dining room or cocktail) and Sunday night dining room. Four shifts between 3-10 hours in length and I made enough money to drive from Kingsport to Blountville to pick Erin up for school then to Johnson City for class, then back again every day of the week + at least 1 – 2 dates per week + 1 – 2 “guy nights” per week + the few bills I had at the time almost always without going completely “broke”. I enjoyed my time there, I liked the people there, they were flexible with my hours, understanding if I had to call in (or fake calling in), always let me pick up a shift (even when I stopped working there), and gave me more money than a 20 year old college student really needed. So for that, I feel like I still, somehow, owe the place.
I haven’t worked for O’Charley’s since mid 2008 but since then Erin and I still regularly visit our local store. Currently our O’Chux of choice is in Turkey Creek in Farragut, TN. We still enjoy the atmosphere, that particular store’s staff, and we still think the food is exceptional despite its chain status. And because of all this I don’t mind to drop a quick blurb about it in my blog.
If you didn’t know already, this past week begun O’Charley’s “Free Pie Wednesday” where the purchase of an entree is accompanied by a free slice of pie of your choice with selections that include French Silk, Country Apple, Double Crusted Peach and Pecan. While visiting the Turkey Creek location this week I ordered the pecan (my favorite pie), and Erin ordered the Double Crusted Peach and we discussed the dessert selections from the years since I ran around the Kingsport store like Caramel Pie, Cinnamon Sugar Donuts, 7 Layer Chocolate Cake, Creme Brule Cheesecake, Strawberry Cheesecake, Fried Apples with Caramel Ice Cream, Key Lime Pie and what I consider their best dessert of all time: the Kentucky Silk pie. We both feel the current pie selection is a great addition to the roster and I hope they keep them around even though we don’t do dessert at restaurants that often.
Something I thought was interesting is while visiting the Kingsport location a few weeks ago – around the time they rolled the pie selection out on the menu – I was speaking with some friends who still work there and there were some complaints about the number of desserts now on the menu, some saying “O’Charley’s is becoming Perkins” as a result. As you can see in the photo above, my pie had a single dollop of whipped cream as garnish – Erin’s was the same and I’d imagine most of the rest are similar if not identical. These desserts are quick to prepare and simple to garnish and present, saving the kitchen and the servers time and likely the restaurant money. These same complainers have made at least one Ice Cream Dream in their career with the company, so complaints about the pies baffle me. Even if it has beer in it, a fishbowl glass makes me shudder to this day. Don’t complain about serving pie, guys…Seriously.