A few nights ago, my family and I went out to eat at Smoky Mountain Pizzeria Grill, a local restaurant that specializes in Italian food. Evidently, that night everyone in the valley decided to eat here as well. We soon discovered this when we saw many people milling around the entrance, sitting on benches, all with a glazed look in their eye. As I gave our name to the hostess, I asked how long of a way it would be. I was informed it would be 15-20 minutes. We decided that would be fine and we sat down on a cushioned bench, joining the other hungry patrons.
Sitting a few feet away from the other diners wasn't pleasant. The aromas of garlic, marinara and pesto hung heavily in the air, making my stomach gurgle. If I hadn't figured it out, my son kept reminding me how hungry he was. I caught myself surveying the dining area, seeking out empty tables just vacated that may soon be ready.
Then, out of the blue, another host started walking through the waiting lobby with a basket of hot garlic bread. I thought this was a nice gesture since we were waiting at least 20 minutes for a table. When he came to our party, I took a napkin from the stack he was carrying in one hand and used the napkin to pick a piece of garlic bread from the basket he held out with his other hand.
I bit into the bread, savoring its warmth, its buttery herbs and crunchiness of the crust. My stomach pangs were subsiding a bit.
My husband commented to me that I shouldn't be eating the bread. He further elaborated how was I to know if everyone had washed their hands before reaching for the bread. He observed the people before me didn't use a napkin to pick a piece of bread.
Mind you, I’m already three bites into this food that I was previously enjoying! I gave my husband the stink-eye and asked him why didn't he mention this helpful tidbit BEFORE I took the bread? My son-in-law, trying to make me feel better, mentioned that I set a good example, because he saw the other patrons using a napkin instead of reaching with their bare hands.
When we were seated, I analyzed every gurgle or twinge in my stomach. I couldn't shake the mental memory of an episode of Family Guy, when Peter Griffin is at a restaurant, thumbs through the basket of bread and asked if the sign on the bathroom about washing your hands only applied to employees!Somehow, I managed to push this thought out of my mind and enjoyed me meal. Thankfully, I didn't get sick afterwards.
After a few days, I got to thinking of my original impression that it was a nice gesture to offer a snack to the hungry waiting patrons. I didn't want to harbor any ill feelings about the dining experience. With that, I decided to place a call to the restaurant. As luck would have it, the person who answered the phone actually works at the corporate office. He listened to my suggestion to add serving tongs to the basket and announced he was going to bring it up at the next managers meeting for all of the restaurants.
I hope that they will continue to give samples, just in a more business-like manner rather than blindly trusting everyone has washed up before dinner, like I did!