“This is a national problem…”

Story 10

Monday, March 16, 2020

“Nine deaths,” said the sommelier.

She sat at the bar with Chef and our restaurant’s owner. One looked worse than the other, yet none of them had a problem sipping the Dom Perignon Vintage 2010 the sommelier brought up from the cellar. The restaurant’s owner looked so distressed he didn’t seem to mind she poured a champagne listed on our menu for $450.00.

Chef brought the champagne flute to his lips.

“You know what I heard?” Chef said.

They sipped the champagne not noticing me mopping behind the bar.

“No, what,” said the restaurant’s owner setting his champagne glass on the bartop.

“New York’s already got nine hundred and fifty cases and Jersey’s got almost a hundrfed fifty.”

The sommelier took a second sip and then a third of the champagne. She reached for the bottle and topped off everyone’s glasses. The owner looked at himself in the mirror behind the bar. Then he turned and gazed around the dining room. Twenty empty tables set for tomorrow even though we’ll be closed.

Nobody said anything until Chef finished his champagne and asked if anything was left in the bottle.

The sommelier lifted the bottle off the bar and filled the glasses for Chef and the owner.

“Thirty thousand a month,” said the owner. “That’s what it costs me to keep this place going.”

They let him talk without interruption.

“I’ve given this place three years of my life and something like $2 million dollars.”

Chef looked at his watch, tapped his fingers while watching me push the mop bucket back into the kitchen.

“So, if customers can’t come to us, then we’ll go to them,” Chef said.

They lifted their glasses and sipped what little champagne remained.

“You got to be crazy,” the owner said. “You think I am going to make my nut by having you serve up take-out orders?”

He looked at the sommelier as though she had a better idea.

“Well,” she said. “Nobody is telling us we can’t sell and deliver what wines we have in our cellar.”

The ran a hand through his long dark hair. “Yeah, that will work perfect, just like writing a letter to a congressman and asking for help.”


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