When Brian and I first started dating ten years ago, he was flipping burgers at a popular college cafe. He knew everything there was to know about Tucker’s, and could run that place blindfolded, with one hand behind his back, hopping on one leg. (No, really…I’ve seen him do it.) Brian was one of those people that made the food service industry look like fun. He always showed up to work with a smile on his face. Lunch and dinner rush were his favorite times of the day. He flourished under the pressure of picky eaters, enormous take-out orders, and hungry hordes of people.
In the spring before I graduated, we traveled to the Holy City to find an apartment. We’d saved and pinched and scraped together enough money to treat ourselves to a nice meal out while we were in town. (Not a small feat for a college student. Many a quarter was snatched from the depths of the couch cushions.) (Sorry, Mom. I know they were for your Walmart jar.) We wandered into the hotel lobby after an afternoon of apartment hunting, a little lost, but excited by the prospect of our new city. Unsure where we wanted to have our fancy date-night dinner, we turned to the colorful brochures in the hotel lobby.
“Hey, this place looks kind of cool,” Brian said, and handed me a flier with a pirate’s treasure chest emblazoned on the front.
Queen Anne’s Revenge promised an abundance of choices, from succulent seafood to the most tender prime rib in Charleston. It boasted an extensive collection of authentic pirate artifacts, from pieces of eight and cutlasses to canons and flags. It seemed like the perfect, quirky fit for us. And so we decided to walk the plank. (Yes, I really went there.)
Needless to say, the restaurant made quite an impression on us. Six months later, after moving to Charleston, Brian went back to Queen Anne’s Revenge. But this time, he went in search of employment.
In 2004, Brian started at QAR as the salad guy. Since then, he’s worked on the line, as a server, a bartender, a host, and as the bar manager. Once again, he was in the position to run that place, hopping on one leg and all. (Anyone else just picture Brian with a peg leg and an eye patch, hopping around behind the bar? No? Okay. Just me then…)
Two things happen when you work in the same establishment for 7 years. The first: you create an extended family with the people you work with.
Brian’s ‘family’ supported us on more than one occasion–none so important as when he was diagnosed with cancer last year. Not only did they rally together to cover Brian’s shifts, they showed up for impromptu visits, offering everything from dinner to drives in convertible Mustangs. There was even a top-secret fundraiser at the restaurant–all proceeds went directly into our pockets, to help pay for Brian’s medical expenses.
These are the kinds of things that you can never pay back, no matter how you try.
The second thing that happens when you work somewhere for 7 years is the discovery that maybe, just maybe, the restaurant industry isn’t where you want to be when you’re 40 years old. Brian came to that conclusion near the end of 2008. The economy had tanked, people weren’t eating out as much, and our income began to shrink. Brian decided he’d grown weary of living off of other people’s generosity (because that’s what living off of tips really is) and enrolled in nursing school.
Here we are, almost 4 years later, and Brian has reached the end of his time aboard the good ship Queen Anne’s Revenge. Today is his last official day as a member of the food and beverage industry. Today, he changes his last keg, pours his last beer, and slings his last drink.
We’ll be forever grateful to the people at QAR–those who celebrated birthdays and weddings and Superbowls with us. We’ll always have a soft spot in our hearts and memories to make us chuckle.
But avast, ye mateys! The time has come to bring about, weigh anchor, and fly the Jolly Roger. Yo ho, me hearties, yo ho.
But never fear, ye scallywags. We’ll always come back for the prime rib.
(No, seriously. The prime rib is AWEsome.)