“This waiter he is…, …the real reason why we come back to…”


I hear the host’s wife, “This waiter, he is so nice and helpful. He is the real reason why we come back here.”

I have this certain couple who have been back time after time. Again I wait on them. Having these types of regular customers is enjoyable. I still remember the first time I waited on their table. Which was during a long weekend. Back then they stayed at a Bed and Breakfast Inn over in Pacific Grove and I clearly recall them being hesitant, studying the menu. They both were somewhat reserved to the idea to try soft shell crabs as an appetizer but believed me when I told them it’s good. I served their plates but noticed the look on their faces staring at the food. And I felt their indecision. They did not know what to do next. I came to their rescue pointing at their plates:
“These soft shell crabs from the East Coast look so much different to what we get around here in California, don’t they?” Both nodded their heads. He was ready to say something, but did not. She admitted, “I have never seen anything exactly like these.”
“The first time I had soft shell crab, I was told to eat the same in one bite.” I shared my experience with the same appetizer. “I did. It was quite a mouthful.” I coach them along with “These days I cut each into four equal pieces.” I teach them how to use the sauce, “Then I savor each bite after dunking it into the beurre blanc sauce.” To overcome the scary thought of eating guts and shell I encourage them, “Now take a quarter piece. Yes! Eat it all, as is, with the crunchy shell and everything.”
I watched them do as told. They loved it. These days, when they call their reservation in, they ask if we have any of the soft shell crabs. Nowadays I get to watch them teaching their friends how to eat these very delicious pan-fried specialty items.
At times, we do not offer soft shell crabs, like tonight. I hear them go ape, raving about their first experience with soft shell crabs, as they entertain their friends. I agree, hearing them emphasizing that there is nothing better than Champagne to wash the pan-fried critters down. And I take his order. “Tonight let’s try their crab cakes for all of us.”
I write down: 4 crab cakes, 4 salads, 2 Mahi Mahi, 1 Tuna! The last of the four top, a gentleman in his fifties is undecided. He wants the lamb chop and he wants the salmon too. I surprise him. I simply offer to get him half an order of each. I check with the chef, who in a good mood doesn’t mind to do such for our guest. Walking by the table en route to the next one I hear the host’s wife, “This waiter, he is so nice and helpful. He is the real reason why we come back here.”

by helmut schonwalder