Monday, November 4, 2013

12. Becoming a Ranchouse Restaurant Waitress...July 1964...

"Have you ever heard of consomme, Lobster Newburg or Frog Legs - the kind you eat?  Do you have any idea of the prep time required for any of those items?" 

How do you think my sister and I fared in our new jobs?  More prayers required?
The above words closed my previous update. To continue...

In my cute uniform with adorable headpiece of some sort...
My sister and I were so excited to begin work at Ranchouse restaurant.   But it was a completely new world for both of us.  

I had spent a previous summer while still in high school, working at a small diner / soda fountain which specialized in ice cream items.  I had gotten good at making malts, shakes, phosphates  and banana splits.  I knew about eggs, American fries and hamburgers.  But none of these items were on the Ranchouse menu. 

The Ranchouse menu included a majority of items I had never heard of - Beef Stoganoff (the specialty of the house), Lobster Newburg and sometimes Frog Legs.  All dinners included an appetizer, salad, entre, fresh rolls, beverage and dessert.  

The way it worked was that the waitress was responsible to manage the timing for each item, for each patron, for each table so that each course was filled and served at the same time and all equally cold or hot as desired.  

The appetizers were prepared by the waitress; the salads were ordered at the salad station; the entres were ordered with the cooks and had to be submitted to them in the order that they should be prepared.  For example, if a table had one person ordering fried chicken and another ordering spaghetti, the waitress had to know that fried chicken needed one hour to prepare and spaghetti needed just a few minutes.  The item which required the longest prep time was submitted immediately to the cooks and the waitress kept track of when the order was placed and timed the placement of future items so that all entres for a table were ready at the same time, otherwise, some items would sit on the shelf at the cook's station and get cold while other things were being prepared.  As you can see, this wasn't as much a challenge if there were 2 people at the table but when there was a large group - the challenge was significant.  And there were many large groups coming to this restaurant.

It was quite a steep learning curve for us as we began our employment at the peak of the very busy tourist season.  Fortunately, other waitresses, the salad guys and the cooks were quite helpful.  When the restaurant was full and long lines were waiting for tables, the pressure was on everyone to hustle.  The kitchen was a madhouse - waitresses yelling requests for soups, salads, desserts; cooks yelling when orders were ready and everyone trying not to crash into someone else in the hustle to and from the dining room.  

The letter I began on July 7th had 1 1/2 sentences before I had to leave for work.  My next letter was dated:
July 9, 1964      
Dear Folks,
Apologies for not writing sooner ... but golly! we've both been about completely fagged after a days work.  We really have to move when it starts getting busy but it hasn't been too bad.  I really kind of enjoy it sometimes...  Ranchouse was really busy yesterday for both meals & I made $12.75 in tips.  Really tremendous I thought.  ($12.75 in 1964 had the same buying power as $94.74 in 2013.) 
...It really is a miracle that we got the jobs there, as last night when some of the girls were talking after work, one of them mentioned that the owner's have a list of about 60 or 70 experienced girls whom they could call in a minute and get to work for them.  I asked how we ever got hired & a girl said she had wondered the same thing.  Another said the reason we got the jobs was we look like nice girls & we came on a day they needed waitresses.  We sure praise & thank the Lord for leading us there when He did.  It really was a miracle. 
Linda and Kathy - probably during the 1960's...
 Kak (my sister's family nickname) and I have lots of fun as everyone out here thinks we look so much alike we could be twins.  I'll bet we've each been asked 80 times if we're twins, not to count the millions of times people have known we were sisters.  Last nite a table I was waiting on thought when they saw Kak that she was their waitress & then they saw me & were completely confused. 
...Are Jim (my brother)  & Carolyn getting their (wedding) license etc. this weekend?  We've been thinking alot about them & wish we could make it to the wedding but it doesn't look like we will now.  Weekends are the busiest & we both have to work many hours.  Love, Lee

With all the things our new job required us to learn, we did not have to learn about alcoholic beverages as Ranchouse did not serve alcohol.  It was the exception, even in 1964, and I'm grateful for that also.  Alcohol was never used by our parents so we did not have any experience with those items either.  Perhaps the door to work at Elkhorn Lodge, which Mr. Lutz kept dangling in our path, never opened because that restaurant did serve alcohol.  It would have been a huge disappointment to our parents if alcohol serving would have been required in our new employment. 

God was guiding in answer to many prayers - those of our parents, our own and many others. 

I had no doubt in 1964 and I have no doubt today, that God provided our jobs at Ranchouse Restaurant.  

We had housing and jobs.  Would the rest of the summer flow peacefully and joyfully or would there be further disappointment? 

1 comment:

Donn said...

I am so enjoying reading about your experiences at this point in your life! Seeing the picture of you and Kathy brought a smile to my face.