Last week, we gave two EatDenver decks to the diners who had the best/worst Denver Restaurant Week stoies.
Now, as thanks to all the hard-working restaurant employees who had to slog through two weeks of the promotion, we're giving an EatDenver deck to one of their own: Brian Melton of TAG, who moved right from DRW into the opening of TAG| Raw Bar, which debuts today.
Here's his insider's assessment of Denver Restaurant Week:
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So the best part of Restaurant Half Month...us, the industry workers. The greatest gratuity that anyone can give us during this two-week sprint is the comraderie that not only happens between your fellow employees within the restaurant, but also with your peers working in all 303 restaurants participating in DRW.
It's the first Saturday of Restaurant Week. The kitchen has banded together to put out every dish that will be served during this two-week extravaganza. The servers have come from line-up with their game faces on, ready to start this never-ending ass kicking contest. We've huddled down, planned the lay-out of seatings that will never be adequate, juiced what will never be enough lime juice, polished all the glasses that will be washed, rinsed and re-polished an innumerable ammunt of times, and straightened chairs that will seat nearly 300 people an evening (in our little space). When those doors open at 5 pm (or whenever) we watch in horror as the tables begin to fill. By 5:30, every table is cranking. The kitchen is being blasted, the bar is ankle deep in drinks. It's all we can do to hold ourselves together. But we do it...together.
It's a Monday night, which begins the second full week of DRW. You're tired to the point of delirium, laughing at your fellow bartender who has just stuck spout nipples onto his head. Then a couple sits down, orders a beer to split while they wait on their table. You both look at each other and burst out laughing for two reasons: 1) the nipples have left little circles on his head and he now looks like he has a skin disease and 2) who in the hell orders a beer by the bottle to split? When you read about the experience on Yelp the next day, the couple say that you were less than interested in conversation because they only bought one beer, which, they write, was WAY too expensive at $6. It was a Samurai from Great Divide and you split it? Really? I thought you were going to Yelp about my bar-buddies skin leasions.
It's a Wednesday afternoon before you head in to work for your 7th straight day. You read in the Westword that your friend's restaurant, OAK at Fourteenth has just burnt down. Suddenly working Restaurant Week becomes a pale memory as you pick up the phone to send him condolences. When you go out after work for that beloved beer and a shit of Jameson, the fire is all anyone can talk about. "Did you hear?" "It's so aweful!" "What are we going to do to help his staff out?"
These are only a handful of instances from my Restaurant Half Month. Little spans of time where you truley appreciate the people with whom you are working with. And yes, there are those times that we want to kill one another...but hey, that's being a part of a family in duress. But each year we make it thorough this ordeal, a little bit better at our jobs. And hopefully you had a pleasant meal, either with us or someone else. Just remember, we're out there working the other weeks of the year...come see us and experience what we do when we're not exhausted. It'll be worth it.
Thanks for the reminder, Brian: The goal of Denver Restaurant Week isn't to fill restaurants for two weeks of the year, but to convince diners to try new restaurants, and then return to them throughout the rest of the year.