Shoot Them All

It’s been raining heavily all night. Because our wimpy customers are afraid of a little moisture, Café Machiavelli’s been experiencing an abnormally slow Friday night. It’s almost nine o’clock and I haven’t even cleared a hundred bucks.

“Oh man,” Paolo, the executive chef, says, surveying the empty dining room. “It’s dead.”

“Tell me about it,” I reply.

“Did you send any waiters home?”

“Willem cut two guys at around seven.”


“No dinero,” I reply sadly, “No comida.”

The chef laughs. “I’ll feed you guys. Don’t worry.”

“I hope so.”

“Say,” Paolo says, “Could you make me an espresso? Two sugars?”

“Sure,” I reply. “Long or short?”

“The right way.”

“Short it is.”

I walk over to the coffee bar, preheat a demitasse cup with hot water, grind some fresh espresso, tamp the coffee into the filter until I have something resembling a caffeinated hockey puck, slap the filter onto the diffusion head, turn the handle until it’s sealed tight, flick a switch, and let the expensive machine force hot high pressure water though the grounds until I have a perfect cup of espresso. I throw in two sugars, put the cup on a saucer, and bring it to the chef. I forgo the lemon rind. That’s for amateurs.

“Thanks man,” the chef says.

“My pleasure,” I reply, watching Paolo down his coffee in a single gulp.

“Mmmmm,” Paolo says, placing the empty cup on the coffee bar. “You make good espresso.”

“I had a good teacher,” I reply. “He told me good espresso should always be a creamy smudge of coffee at the bottom of the cup.”

“If you gave that to an customer,” Paolo says. “They’d complain they didn’t get any coffee.”

“That’s why I always give the customers an extra long pour. They seem to think the cup should be filled to the brim.”

“You know why they think that way?” Paolo asks.


“Because the customers are so goddamn cheap.”

“You’re probably right.”

“Check this out,” Paolo says. “I was a waiter once. I had this man and woman at a table. The man asked if there were free refills on the coffee. I said yes. The man ordered one cup of coffee, drank it, and then asked for a refill. You know what he did with the refill?

“I’m afraid to ask.”

“The cheap bastard gave it to his wife. They were taking turns drinking coffee!”

“That’s fucked up.” I say, shaking my head.

“Can you believe that?” Paolo says, seething. “All to save what? A dollar?”

“I’ve seen people make their own lemonade at the table. Nothing surprises me anymore.”

“Those people should be shot,” Paolo says angrily.

“How about the people who ask for hot water and lemon and then provide their own teabag?”

“Shoot them twice.”

“I’m glad you’re in the kitchen,’ I say, chuckling. “You’d be dangerous out here.”

“Shoot them,” Paolo says, heading back into the kitchen. “Shoot them all.”

As I watch Paolo disappear behind the swinging double doors I smile to myself.

Not all chefs can be Food Network personalities.

11 thoughts on “Shoot Them All”

  1. Chabane says:

    Thanks for a very thought provoking post.

  2. Liz says:

    I guess I’m an amateur. I don’t care how espresso is served most of the time but if I have a big fat expensive meal I love to run a twist around the rim of my demitasse. that extra little citrusy zing with my espresso is the prefect capper to a rich repast, like the cherry at the end of a sundae. I’m looking for a proper short pour too, with crema so thick you could float sugar on it but if I just spent hundreds of dollars on my meal I gotta admit I feel cheated if I don’t get a twist with my espresso.

  3. Laura Filipchuk says:

    I have a lot of sensitivities regarding caffeine and other tea components, so unless I bring my own there is very little chance that I will be able to have any hot beverage aside from hot water.
    I’ve often purchased a tea from the restaurant, hidden it in my purse when it arrives and discretely replaced it with my own that I can actually drink. However, at some point it just feels ridiculous to have to do this- so although I clearly respect the restaurant’s perspective on this I have to fight for the right to bring tea, too.

    Can we introduce some kind of tea corkage fee- perhaps along with a bottled water and soda pop surcharge (since I can’t have most sodas, either)? If we could do that as well as have a movie-theatre corkage so I don’t have to smuggle in my healthy snakcs, the world would be perfect. 😉

  4. Mary says:

    Are you kidding me? Pay for the cup of tea you loser. It’s just the same as a cup of coffee, or a cola. Get real.

  5. Mary says:

    Are you kidding me? Pay for the cup of tea you loser. It’s just the same as a cup of coffee, or a cola. Get real.

  6. Semaj says:


  7. emma says:

    Just cause you “can’t have” certain beverages doesn’t give you the right to bring in your own.
    Many people can’t eat wheat, they don’t bring in their own special pasta, do they?

  8. Sammy says:

    If a resturaunt doesn’t have something you want–tough shit. You have no right to bring in your own tea, soda, juice or whatever. This is actually illigal in Virginia. Not to mention rude as fuck. I had this cheap asain family come in yesterday and all the asked for was 4 cups of ice. I bring them the ice and the whore pulls out 4 bottles of coca cola. I make sure they get kicked out. Hungry.oh and if you come to a reaturant in a group at least one of you better speak fucking English.ching chang motherfuckers?

  9. Eater says:

    Last post. Repellent racist mofo. Nice.

  10. leithold says:

    hahahaha oh man i had that making-lemoade-at-the-table idea for years. i guess im a little glad i’m not at a point where i have to try it.

  11. Olivia says:

    I don’t see what would be wrong with buying a cup of tea, and then using your own tea bag, especially if you’re somewhere that only has one kind, or cheap lipton as an option. Asking for hot water seems kind of cheap to me though. =\

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