DES MOINES, IA– The Spoon and Fork is a brunch cafe that operates very smoothly on a day-to-day basis: the staff has achieved an impressive level of symbiosis, the managers are always on top of checking the floor to solve any problems that arise, and guests are generally happy. Every staff member is a cog or gear in a well-oiled, beautifully running machine. This has all come about in the last year and a half, since the restaurant owner, Charles Mondavi, has been away. He left to open a different restaurant in a different city, because as a Midwestern millionaire with no understanding of how restaurants actually operate, it’s kind of what he does. “Mondavi is coming back,” Spoon and Fork General Manager Homer Sutter told Sauce On the Side nervously. “I’m afraid everything is just going to go to shit. You know how restaurant owners are; trying to come in and tell us how to run the place when they don’t know anything.” “We’re screwed,” bartender EJ Gallo said with a sigh when we interviewed him. “Every time he comes back to visit, he makes random changes that make no sense just to feel like he’s contributing something. Like the time he told us to stock all the liquor on the top shelf so it looked like it was fancier? Then we have to live with doing it his way until he forgets about it or changes his mind. We had to get three extra step ladders and it was really inconvenient.” “We’ve had our longest streak of actually being profitable and operating smoothly since Mondavi’s been gone for so long,” Assistant Manager Casella Yellowtail told us nervously. “I’m just afraid morale and numbers will go down as soon as he walks in the door. He made a server cry one time when he told her she wasn’t carrying the right kind of chi.” “Last time he was here, he tried to get us to switch positions on the line every thirty minutes to ‘keep everything fresh’,” sautee chef Regal Lindeman said, becoming visibly angry with the memory. “That’s the stupidest fucking thing I’ve ever heard. How would you ever expect a kitchen to run that way? He just gets these ideas in his head that he thinks would be fun and then we all get fucked. Everything works fine when he’s not here.” As Sauce OTS continued to interview the staff, we encountered more and more ridiculous stories in the same vein. “All this success we’ve had lately? It’ll be all over tomorrow when Mondavi shows up,” Sutter said with a glazed-over look in his eye that was clearly concealing a mounting panic as he turned to address his staff. “Oh well. It was nice while it lasted. Everyone? Make sure we’re all wearing our ties and the aprons that cover up the ties tomorrow. Mondovi might have forgotten about that uniform change he made, but we can’t take any risks.”

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