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The Ranting Restaurateur: Shannon Wynne

Dishers, another day, another debut. Last week we introduced “Restaurant 101” with Amy Severson, this morning I present “The Ranting Restaurateur.” Not sure how regular this little diddy will be because there aren’t too many folks out there who would go on the record. However, if you are a restaurateur or chef and would like to rant, bring it to me.

Today’s rant is by bon vivant Shannon Shelmire Wynne, owner of Flying Fish, Flying Saucer (great web site) and 8.0. He is not afraid to speak his mind. He agreed to rant on SideDish on one condition, well two but we can’t talk about one of them here. Anywhoo, SSW is a control freak and he didn’t want one word of his self-written rant changed. So here he is:

“Why don’t restaurant owners teach their servers not to screw up my tea? ‘More is better’ in the areas of great art, exciting sex and peace on earth…just leave my tea alone. I sit down and ask the server for an iced tea with lunch. Many places now offer “sweet” tea, which is de rigueur everywhere east of Tyler. Hickbillies are not true Southerners, so the offer is rare in North Texas. I guess being a former scotch drinker, once I left the rum and coke stage of youth I stayed with the bitter bite of unsweet tea.

Any of the other mango, passion, greenish-black teas are way over my head, and quite honestly probably should not be iced.

There are only two ways to spruce up a glass of iced tea, sweetened or unsweetened. The first, and rarely seen these days, is what we continue to do at the 8.0… add a sprig of fresh mint. You should have it growing in your back yard, and if your favorite restaurant does not have it, tell them you want it. The second is a huge 3/4 inch thick slice of a half lemon. Anything thinner, wiggles and twists when you try to squeeze it and ends up getting into the cuticle cut on your pointy finger.

So the server brings me my tea, which should never ever be in a stemmed glass unless it is over 16oz. I then set about squeezing the lemon and dumping in the packet of sugar, if I want a little cause it’s a sunny day….and I stir it all up .

Here is where the training comes in. There is usually a busser or server whose job it is to carry around a pitcher of wa wa and tea so that nobody’s glass goes empty. I get my tea just like I want it and then during my meal I drink it to where it is half empty. Some WELL MEANING knucklehead is then trained to approach my table and WITHOUT ASKING, pours a whole half-glass of untreated tea into what I had already MADE PERFECT… diluting it to something I do not want…crap tea. Mind you, the manager on duty knows this is going on…but does not train around it.

To counter this, as the pitcher zooms toward my perfect blend, my right hand knifes through the air to the rim of my glass in a “please don’t” and a rather curt and offensive stare is shot toward the intruder. Why the HELL does this server not know to ask? Why is it not common sense to ask if I want them to screw with my tea? The women at places like Babes are so fast, even I can’t keep them away. Lombardi’s Cubanita asks, as do the great servers at Tratoria. Managers: TEACH YOUR SERVERS HOW NOT TO POUR TEA! Thank you.”

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13 comments on “The Ranting Restaurateur: Shannon Wynne

  1. Shannon — I feel your pain.
    Solution: No need for a curt looks, offensive stares or even a knife-like motions in the air aimed at well meaning waitstaff. Try this — simply place a small paper napkin over your tea glass and 99% of the time they’ll get the picture — this has worked for me. OR even better in your case — have your brother Angus sit across from you with three small plastic dancing frogs placed atop his head while he makes kabuki faces at passing waitstaff — trust me — they ain’t gonna be botherin’ you with nothing brother.

  2. Hey Sherman, while they’re at it see if the managers can teach waiters to give the customers a chance to finish their sentence before interrupting the conversation with an inane question like “is everthang all rat?”

  3. I know someone who has this same pet peeve. However, he gets mad if the waiter even looks at his tea. Asking isn’t good enough for him, either. He’s just mad about the tea no matter what. You can imagine how fun he is to go out to eat with. I’d have to say my pet peeve is people who are rude to waitstaff just because they can be!

  4. And what is up with these “Tea Mixes” put in cannisters to look like real brewed tea? I got duped at an unamed restruant that had self serve beverages. I cannot undrstand the financial value or culinary reasoning of a restraunt using any type of tea powder mix, especially unsweetened tea. It tastes like chalk water.

  5. My beef with iced tea service: Why do they pre-put the teaspoon IN THE GLASS before I get it? How do I know that spoon is clean? Isn’t that like sticking a spoon in the soup before it’s served? It’s tacky and I don’t like it. Even when I request “Please don’t put a spoon in the glass,” it usually comes pre-spooned. Stop it. Stop it right now.

  6. Hmmm. This discussion confirms my belief that pet peeves and other resentments are best discussed with one’s therapist or AA sponsor.

  7. Wow, all this emotion over tea!?! I am glad to see that I am not the only one, though I just get ticked when I DON’T get refills or get a glass that has two cubes floatin’ in it. Why is this so hard?

  8. Rock on Shanno. However, the sweet tea thing – IS the tea of choice in Alabama, Roll Tide. Not Hillbillies!! A ton of Dallas people went to school in Mississippi and Alabama and Georgia. Dallas is not North New York, Texas – we are still in the South and drink lemonade on the front porch in the Summer! Cheers – ya’ll!!!

  9. Excuse me, I did not realize that I had wandered into the “Need a life desperately” department. I’ll just be on my way.

  10. i often dine with my best friend…he drinks a LOT of tea during meals…I’ve gotten into the habit of just asking for then to leave the jug on the table…saves the server from running to the table every 5 minutes and saves him from having to redo his tea. :)

  11. I love you Shannon. I feel the same way. Keep those suckers away from my perfectly spiced tea and keep that fancy stuff away. Thanks for speaking out for the rest of us tea fanatics.

  12. Same goes for coffee refills at every blue-plate breakfast joint! These, of course, occur at 5-10 times the frequency of iced tea refills. If you like your coffee black, ‘s cool.