Thursday, December 23, 2004


3:00 p.m. – Rude ‘N’ Slow’s

Rude ‘N’ Slow’s is not the real name or even the real made-up name of this café, which is called Rudy ‘N’ Lou’s. Set in an old two-story house just a few blocks down from Grandma Moses, Rude ‘N’ Slow’s has become one of the most popular breakfast places in town. Their scones are the envy of the local baking scene, and they come up with some imaginative spin on breakfast fare. They’re not even that rude or slow anymore.

When they opened a couple of years ago, it could take 45 minutes to get two eggs over easy – and that’s after you waited on line to order. The production time has gotten under control, but I’m now convinced that the slow-moving line to the order counter is the result of intentional inefficiencies. Like the QWERTY keyboard, which was designed to slow down typists whose speed (it was rightly feared) would cause jamming of the old typewriter key-arms, Rude N’s manages the demands on its small kitchen by making you wait pre-order. The line is in a kind of long, narrow foyer, and the menus are strategically placed so that you can’t see them until you get to the front of the line at the order counter. So after waiting (15-20 minutes at high-volume weekend brunch times), the party in front of you finally gets to the front of the line and only then start with, “Hmmm, what looks good today?” The dithering at the front of the line can be truly maddening, and is made worse by the fact that only one person both takes orders and works the cash register, while the other employees busy themselves with bustling around.

The food is good enough to make it worthwhile, and the ambience is cozy and charming, including a section with living room furniture and toys and games for kids. There are lots of windows, and some great tucked away tables; the music is usually ‘40s stuff that makes you believe you could travel back in time if you shut your eyes and clicked your heels. And the rudeness thing has gotten, well, better.

The first wave of Rude N’ites were actually really friendly. Then something changed. Maybe the hiring decisions were made by a committee of staffers who had attained some critical mass of resentment of everything about their jobs, but there was a period when you’d get a lot of surliness. Not the fast-moving, efficient Jewish-waiter surliness of the New York deli, but more of a stolid, see - if- I - care - whether - you - get - your - damn - breakfast - before - I - decide - what - I’m - gonna - do - with - my - life - once - I - get - outta - this - stinkin’ - job vibe. Add to that the constant bellowing: it’s self service from the kitchen counter, and when your breakfast is ready they call your name out so that it can be heard in all corners of the former two-thousand square foot, two story house and pronounced, not as your mom and dad named you, but in whatever way is most conducive to shouting. “Osss - Carrrrr.” Why put up with it? For the scones, man.

It got so bad that I came within inches of being transformed into a more interesting, edgy person, the type who would say, and not merely think, as I did on the eve of a one-year leave of absence in another state: “I’m going away for a year. When I get back, I don’t want to see you here.” This was what I fantasized saying to the skinny obnoxious guy who seems to have come here straight from reading (unsuccessfully) for the part of Randal Graves, the video store guy in Clerks. I sort of got my wish, because "Randal" now works in the kitchen as a short order cook and name-bellower.

The pendulum has swung back. There are several nice new staffers, and the few remaining old surlies have mellowed, including the beautiful Melissa, an artist as it turns out, whose piercing blue eyes are set off by shoulder-length hair of a carroty-red not found in nature and some serious hardware piercing the cartilage of each ear. I’ve had a crush on Melissa ever since the early days, when she wore a scowl that could scare the shit out of you at fifty yards, but she smiles now, even at me, and even allows me to flirt with her. Sometimes I come in when I don’t even want a scone.

Comments: Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]