Dishin' That: When it rains on Father's Day it pours dining drama

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Dreamy Father’s Day plans held by many well-deserving guys went down the drain this year.

For some, mid-morning tee-times didn’t happen. For others, the boat was wet, but never saw the open lake. Outdoor grilling of massive T-bones, and cold beer chugging opportunities were either cancelled, or lost their charm after migrating inside.

Mother Nature’s folly didn’t make these dads feel any less loved, it just made a slew of them cranky.

Father’s Day is typically a busy day in the hospitality industry and my Restaurant Creative Consulting Team reported in with shareable stories of dad-related drama.

“So, this family of four came in around 10:30 and the pre-school-age kids were really hungry,” emailed one of my veteran teammates. “The mom was carrying the conversation while the dad literally didn’t say anything. He just sat there with his arms folded, looking pissy. When everyone ordered, he said he wasn’t hungry and coffee would be fine.”

Come to find out, he had already eaten with his buddies before waving the white flag and conceding a day-long bike ride with the boys simply wasn’t happening. With all eyes (mine included) on him, he looked at his wife and blurted, “This wasn’t how I expected to spend my day. We did the Father’s Day thing last night.”

The older of the two children started to cry and the mom, flushed with anger, said, “Come on kids, let’s go. We’re heading to the McDonald’s drive-thru and going home.”

Minutes after they left, their food came out. “Wrap it up and give it to that homeless lady on the median,” the ditched dad said, before throwing a wad of cash on the table and running out the door.

My friend wondered if the family had arrived together, leaving the dad to walk home.

Another industry sister told a different story.

“It was busy and this one guy wanted a table for five, even though he was the only one there,” she said. “Our policy is not to seat until everyone in the party arrives, and that was my only big table. But it was Father’s Day, so I sat him anyway. He ordered a screwdriver, and I was encouraged, thinking it would be a fat tab.”

Five minutes passed, and the dad, who had been texting like a middle-schooler, waved his server over.

“I guess they’re not coming,” he said. This time, it was the dad who had tears in his eyes. “You know,’ he said sheepishly. “With the kids and all, they’re just so busy and can’t make it,” his voice trailed off.

After offering to buy his drink and wishing him a great day, my friend said the rest of her shift stunk.

“I made good cash and people were happy, but that dad being stood up by his kids bugged me,” she said. “He could have been an abusive a-hole for all I know, but it was so sad.”

There were also a few happy stories.

One older gentleman was told he’d be a first-time grandfather sometime around New Year’s Day 2016. This time the tears were grateful ones, and the grandpa-to-be bought champagne, purposely leaving a bit in the bottle for his server.

A bartender buddy told me about a reunion between a father and son that took place before his eyes.

“Apparently, it had been at least 10 years, because they were talking about the 2004 Red Sox,” my friend said. “There had been some nasty fight about the dad’s girlfriend, who is now a faint memory. It was cool, they seemed to patch things up and hugged a lot. I called them a cab at the end of my shift.”

To sum it up, weather didn’t have any bearing for the dads who dined out and celebrated joyfully, but as for the others? It just wasn’t their day.

Peas & Q’s

Q: What is your top suggestion for a casual rehearsal-dinner place where we can be directly involved? We have almost 50 people, which eliminates a lot of places that aren’t typical function halls. — Ellie H., Portland.

A: Had I not been there twice in the past month, One Longfellow Square wouldn’t be top of mind. But my friends Melissa and Ern Lombardi threw a completely customized DYI bash (mazal tov to those two crazy cats) from the decor, to the multiple cheese-plate stations, to the elegantly passed hors d’oeuvres.

The foyer is home to a small, manned bar, a warming kitchen is available, and it is my understanding that the people in charge are flexible to work with. The downside is your guests will have to fend for themselves when it comes to parking.

But the unique destination, the statue of H.W. Longfellow outside, and the surrounding Arts District will provide a true Portland experience for your guests From Away.

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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: @natalieladd.