Every so often, things happen at the Corner Kitchen that qualify as mysterious in my book. Not mysterious in a foggy, English countryside kind of way, but mysterious in the “how the heck does this keep happening?” kind of way.
Three of the mysteries involve things going missing. An example is the loss of our teaspoons. Every two months or so, I have to buy new teaspoons to complement the fork and knife that go into a rollup for each customer in the restaurant. In other words, I have a silverware sorter that holds knife, fork, and spoon in separate bins. We will have a roughly equal number of each until we notice, one day, that we are 20-25 teaspoons short. I go buy these (moderately expensive as these things go) spoons so that we can roll all our silver and things are good – until two months down the road and the situation repeats itself.
We have gone down the list of possible explanations for this phenomenon. Maybe the spoons get thrown away when the tables are bussed. Several of our staff think this is the answer. I disagree. We have someone standing over the compost and trash cans every 30 seconds or so all day disposing of food and table debris. I think we would have multiple incidents of “Hey, there are spoons in here!” exclamations if they were being thrown away.
Other staff think the spoons get tossed in the linen bin with the napkins after bussing. Again, I disagree for the same reason as the garbage theory above. Someone would spot the spoons and say something. So, since I have discounted the two most logical explanations, the two remaining reasons are theft and accidental loss. Our silver is solid, heavy and functional – but not really theftworthy. Maybe one or two would go missing every so often, but theft on this massive scale is not likely. Accidents could include the dumping of a handful of spoons in the trash or behind a bar or table where they might lie for a week or so. If this were the case, then once a month, during deep cleaning, we would find the errant silver. But we don’t. And why just spoons?
Other missing items were the large aluminum ice scoops that we used in our main ice machine. They were fairly inexpensive, but had the look and feel of scoops from the old general stores of the past. Sold at FRS in town and online at several dozen internet restaurant suppliers, these scoops are not hard to find. But every time I bought one, it would last no more than a week and then disappear, never to return. After losing five or so of these scoops I decided to switch to heavy plastic ones and have not lost one since. Were the aluminum (they were actually what my dad calls pot metal – an inferior type of cheap metal blend that usually breaks over time) scoops just so cool looking that someone couldn’t resist taking them home? If so, what did they use them for? And five of them? I can just imagine the sight of one scoop in the serial box, one in the coffee can, one in the flour and so on. But these scoops were 32 oz ones for goodness sake.
The last missing item we have are our small cream pitchers. They are Fiestaware and are the cutest darn things in the world. At least for cream pitchers. And they are fairly expensive. They also come from Homer Laughlin china, makers of some of the most popular china for the last fifty years. Homer Laughlin is a great company, but their supply chain is rooted firmly in the early 20th century. Order some cream pitchers and then wait two cycles of the moon and you might have them in the mail. So losing them is really sort of painful for us. For these I have two reasonable explanations. One is that they get broken. I see this happen with some regularity. I remember each time it happens because I have to turn and leave the room and mourn quietly for a bit. The other is that they get carried home as a souvenir by a guest. I accept that this can happen, not because I have seen it or have no faith in humankind. I work with people that have roughly 400 years of restaurant experience between them and they have seen it happen – over and over again. So maybe it happens here.
The last two mysteries are more minor but still interesting.
Where the heck did all the pens go?
And the most common coin found on the floor at our restaurant is the dime. Six years of decidedly unscientific research has proven this out.