“Guess what I did,” Joanna says to Tara as the latter adds a generous dollop of horseradish to the Bloody Mary she is preparing for her.

“No idea, Joanna.” The use of her name signals Tara’s annoyance, which signals that something is bothering her, and Joanna immediately changes tactics.  “Uh oh, what’s wrong?” she asks.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to be rude. It’s just that Steve and Lenny are driving me, driving all of us, crazy.”

Joanna laughs, and Tara returns to grumpiness. “How is that funny?”

“It’s not, not really. It’s just that what I want to tell you is about Steve and Lenny. Just Steve, actually.”

Tara is intrigued. “What is it?”

“I checked Yelp to see what people are saying about this place.”


“Let me pull up the app,” Joanna says, and does. “Here’s a review written by someone named Nick B.” She begins to read:

First, let me say that the help is great. Bartenders are fast and mix a good drink. I sat in the dining room on my last visit, and my server, a guy named Ryan, was friendly and efficient. Food was OK, nothing special but Ok for the price. The $5 burgers on burger night Wednesdays are good.

 “So far, so good,” Tara says. “Nice shout-out to Ryan.”

“Yes, but now it gets interesting,” Joanna says, and continues reading.

But the real reason for this review is to say that the manager is horrible. At first I thought she was the hostess, because she’s the one that seated us. Not friendly at all. Very stern. I felt like I was being walked to the principal’s office for being bad. My wife said she gave her chills.

“That’s our Mary Ann,” Tara says.

  “Oh, it gets better,” Joanna responds.

After dinner, which as I said was ok, we went to the bar for a drink. The bartender was a woman named Melissa. We know her a little from previous visits. She remembered what out our usual drinks are, which was very impressive. We chatted with her for a few minutes, it was all very nice.”

 “I’m sensing that something’s about to change,” Tara says.


 Then that woman, the one I thought was the hostess, came over and started talking to Melissa. BTW–my wife had nicknamed her Maleficent. Stood right next to us but acted like we weren’t even there. She said “Melissa, you clocked in 6 minutes late today. You will be docked 15 minutes, as per Steve and Lenny’s recent email.” I know the exact words because my wife wrote them down.

“Oh yeah,” Tara says. “We now get docked 15 minutes if we clock in more than 3 minutes late. Go on.”

Joanna continues.

Melissa to her credit acted very professionally, I think partly because she knew my wife and I could hear. She said she was sorry and it wouldn’t happen again. I couldn’t help myself. After Maleficent left, I asked Melissa why the hostess was scolding her. She told me that Maleficent wasn’t the hostess, she was the manager, one of the owner’s wives. Told us her name was Marianne or something like that. I said that it was wrong for Marianne to have that kind of conversation in front of customers. Melissa remained professional and didn’t agree or disagree with me.

“Must have been hard for Melissa, knowing how much she hates Maleficent,” Tara says, immediately using the new nickname. “But Melissa is a pro. Is that all?”

“Almost all,” Joanna says.

 My wife and I thought it was important for the owners to know how unfriendly and unprofessional this Marianne is, and how impressed we were with Melissa.”

 “Wow. I wonder if Steve or Lenny has seen it,” Tara says.

“I know Steve did. He responded.”

“No!! He did not,” Tara says, several decibels louder than usual.

“Oh yes he did,” Joanna says. “Here it is.”

My name is Steve and I am one of the owners of Stenny’s. I do not appreciate your criticism of my wife, whose name by the way is spelled Mary Ann. She works tirelessly to ensure that Stenny’s is run efficiently. You praised the service you received from Ryan and Melissa—who do you think is responsible for that? It’s Mary Ann, who has spent the last many months whipping the staff into shape. You said she wasn’t friendly when she seated you, but did you get seated efficiently? Were you given menus? I assume you did. Did you want a song and dance? Or maybe a joke or two? And I see nothing wrong with her talking to Melissa in front of you. You should be glad that we have policies in place that encourage employees to come to work on time. If we didn’t, there may not be anyone here to serve you drinks or food. And the nickname you gave her is insulting and sexist.

“Oh Lord Jesus,” Tara says.

“And then he ends it with what I assume is a canned thank you,” Joanna says, and reads:

Thank you very much for taking the time to share your feedback. It is very important to us, and it helps us make sure your future Stenny’s experiences are as excellent as they can be.

“Oh Lord Jesus,” Tara says again. “As if Nick B. is ever coming back after reading that.”

“Hey, you mentioned that Steve and Lenny are driving you crazy. What’s going on?” Joanna asks.

“I’ll tell you later. Looks like your husband needs another Beefeater’s.” Matt is talking to Ben and Big Mouth Ralph a few bar stools away.

“Okay, but no more gin for him after that one,” Joanna says as she takes a swig of her drink and heads toward her husband and the others.




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