I describe my restaurant, Firestone’s Culinary Tavern, as “casual but elegant.” Actually, it’s always casual, in that as long as you’re wearing shoes and a shirt (and pants), you’re welcome. The elegant part refers to the food, which we take great pride in. Every dish that passes out of the kitchen gets checked by Executive Chef Dave Rusk or Sous Chef Andrew Mayers to make sure it’s been prepared right, and looks right. In the evening, after food service ends about 9:00 or 10:00, depending on the day of the week, the emphasis swings more to the casual.
Our customer base is broad, but generally the dinner crowd tends to be middle-aged and, in the early evening, often includes young couples with children, families celebrating an occasion, or possibly a prom party. As the hour gets later, however, the crowd that gathers, shoulder-to-shoulder, at our long, old-fashioned bar or in our lounge area, tends to be younger, and definitely livelier. As for me, I am certainly not young, and not particularly lively, but I enjoy sitting at a table on our mezzanine level and watching the action.
As the evening progresses, particularly on a Friday or Saturday night, the action picks up around the bar. On a crowded evening one wades through the room rather than walks. Sometimes there are organized groups such as bachelorette parties, more often just groups of guys and gals out for a night of fun. The bartenders and the person taking drink orders in the lounge are working at full speed.
We always have one or two hefty guys working the front door, checking IDs and maintaining some version of crowd control. Making sure everyone who comes in at that time of day is of legal drinking age is a matter taken very seriously.
For the most part, all this goes on in a boisterous but controlled manner. There are certain days, however, such as St Patrick’s Day and an annual downtown festival known as In The Street, when the meter tilts to the boisterous side. Friendly arguments have been known to break into fights, misunderstandings about relationships have turned sour, and sometimes individual unhappiness causes someone to take out frustrations by trashing a bathroom (could be male or female).
One night a large vase filled with flowers was used as a weapon. Now and then an argument spills out onto the street and the cops become involved. One of the scarier incidents took place recently when a guy was denied entry near the end of the evening when we stop letting new customers in because we’re required to be completely shut down by 2:00. The guy got angry, started a fight with the doorman, and the result was that our guy got pushed through the large pane of glass in the front window. Fortunately no one was seriously hurt, and equally fortunately (for us) there was a cop standing by who saw to it that the troublemaker was escorted to the detention center. Our guys found a piece of plywood and covered the damage.
As the senior-citizen owner of Firestone’s, I am ordinarily home in bed when all this stuff goes on. It’s for younger guys. I admire greatly their ability to monitor situations and calmly deal with them, almost always before they get out of hand. It’s not an easy job.
There was a window there
Here’s to food and fun!