Dishin’ That: Back in the saddle, but not in a kilt

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An assortment of welcome-back emails came in last week. A couple were too classic not to share:

“Even if you had to take a cut in pay, we are glad you’re back to write your articles. Outside people need to know the things you bring up really do happen, but we are used to them (so) we don’t realize how bizarre they are.

“One time you wrote about needing stitches after a large can of tuna fell on your head in the walk-in cooler. Your manager blamed you for the way the order was put away.

“Something like that happened to me when a wine glass broke. All the bar manager said was how expensive the glass was because it was imported, and to be sure to drain and refill the ice bin in case any shards splintered in there. I had a bar rag wrapped around my hand which was not stopping the bleeding. Then he muttered what an idiot I was and disappeared into the kitchen.”

The email went on to identify the scene of the crime by name, and and to invite me in for “one on the house.” While appreciated, I doubt management approved the cosmo-comp offer, so I’ll say thanks and decline.

This one came in the same day:

“My sister and I think you should apply for a job at the Tilted Kilt in South Portland, and then write about it when they don’t hire you. Not to be insulting, but my dad said he thinks it would be smart to have older women there, too. Even if they do hire you, please go to work there and write about it.”

There was a postscript saying, “We Double Dare You!”

Always aiming to please my readers, this one may be too heavy of a tray to carry. It would take a whole lot more magic than Vicky and her secret to make me put on schoolgirl knee-highs and a Scottish mini-skirt (at least in public), but I do appreciate the point.

Regarding hiring, the Tilted Kilt corporate website says they “focus on enthusiasm, personal appearance and personality.” Franchise owners hold “auditions” for Kilt Girls, and managers “evaluate” applicants for the Kilt Girl “role.” To their credit, they use the same criteria for “Kilt Guys.”

But the lack of hiring buzz-words such as “experience,” “reliability” and “teamwork” lead me to believe I’m under qualified in many ways.

That said, I have not completely dismissed the double-dare.

Maybe “Kilt Women” of a certain age is exactly what the company needs to draw a demographic made uncomfortable being scantily served by their daughter’s high school classmates. Who knows?

It’s pretty scary, but with Halloween around the corner, I’ll give it some thought.

Peas & Q’s

While out with my BFF, and two of her kids, we took advantage of a social media discount deal, and found the destination filled to capacity.

As pontificated before, I am philosophically opposed to social media deals for restaurants, at least from the inside-hospitality perspective. Many diners, myself included, acquire a mindset that going back without getting a price break, especially from a place that runs deals often, feels like a rip-off. Discounts becomes the norm, which is a slippery slope.

Obviously, the upside is the offer encourages people to revisit a place that has fallen off their radar, or never made it in the first place. That’s why everything has to be as operationally perfect as possible when launching those deals. Akin to a grand re-opening, there is only one last chance to make a second good impression.

Our experience was mixed. Our food came out quickly, but the server was overwhelmed. We were patient while waiting for extra napkins, sides of sauce (why does anyone use small plastic, disposable, souffle cups for dine-in?) and water refills.

As sweet as our server was, I couldn’t get past it when the wrong item was dropped off by a food runner because the correct order wasn’t placed. That, and our bill was so messed up it took longer to get the problems resolved than it did to receive our food and eat it.

Discounts or not, I applaud any efforts to spark up business. Restaurants are run and operated by humans, so errors will happen. Just be aware that you have to be at the very top of your game when running a promotion (really, at all times) because after three strikes, you’re out.

Natalie Ladd lives in Portland. When not pecking away, she can be found serving the masses at a busy eatery, or tirelessly conducting happy-hour field research. Hospitality questions or comments should be sent to, and may be featured in a future column. Follow Natalie on Twitter: @Nhladd.