Free Water Included Too---Tap, Spring, or Sparkling!

Look at my menu. Just look at it for a second. Beef bourguignon with caramelized mushrooms and watercress. Pan-seared Alaskan king salmon in parsely lemon butter with watercress. White wine-braised rabbit with roasted potatoes and red wine risotto. Those were just the Thursday specials.

Yet the place is going under. We're just not bringing in the customers. I don't know what else to try. Claude-Jean's blueberry tarts just won the Prix Nationale, for God's sake, they take all day to make, and yet there's no one to order them half the time. I just dropped $2800 on re-surfacing the bar to give it just the right look, and still the receipts are just barely covering expenses. We even have the best valet parking in the city now that I've won my fight with the city council. Someone please tell me what the ingredients are for a successful upscale restaurant, because I guess I sure as hell don't know them.

There is one thing I have yet to try, but it's really just a complete prayer. In my most dire moments, I've actually considered throwing out our policy of charging customers according to how fast they eat. But how am I going to ensure a steady table turnover rate if I no longer charge people five cents per second of dining time and merely affix a price to the food itself? I've wondered occasionally if the sights and sounds of a roomful of well-dressed people shoving high-end meals into their gobs with their hands at dizzying speed are turning people off. There have been several choking incidents, but I've put these down to Mimi's overly subtle steaming of the asparagus tips—they can get a little stringy if she's having an off-night. There's nothing more satisfying, though, than seeing an attractive couple come in for a pre-opera meal and walk out in sixteen minutes flat, even if a lot of the teriyaki pork medallions with spring peas wind up on the front of the woman's dress and the guy looks nauseous as he parts our doors with half a slice of vanilla-drizzled cheesecake hanging out of his mouth, chewing as carefully as he can (I let the half-in, half-out food slide if a diner can get out in under twenty minutes). Should I let my standards down and be just like every other restaurant? Have I thought too far outside of the box? Is that even possible?

No, I'm not even going to think about rescinding my pricing policy for now. I'll play with the name of the place again, see if I can come up with something a little more "now" than RickyBoy's Feedhole.