No one was too badly hurt in the following shenanigans, and everyone got a good laugh. To our regular guests: if the owner asks, your response is, “That never happened.” What happens at Söntés, stays at Söntés. Until it gets blogged.

  • One night, we built a fort in the server station, rigging tablecloths from the ice machine to the shelving next to it. When Kalea was done serving for the night, she clocked out and sat in the fort and drank a bottle of Riesling. This is the same night that we got ahold of some Superman stickers and poster. Superman spent the next two years posted in the server station, like a pinup. Kalea wound up covered in the stickers.
  •  This is JR the night he realized he was the only one JRworking who didn’t have purple, pink, or maroon hair, so he asked Dawn to color a blue stripe into his hair with a dry erase marker.
  • One Christmas, a regular guest shipped a giant meat smoker to the restaurant as a gift to the owner. The box it arrived in was so big, we had Kalea hide in it and jump out as unsuspecting servers passed by. Then we came up with an elaborate ruse to lure the owner into the kitchen. She suspected nothing as I walked her past the box. Even the kitchen staff controlled their amusement until she passed. Kalea jumped out right on cue and hilarity ensued.  The owner told us we were all fired, but she laughed when she said it, so we all continued to show up for work.
  • We write our names on our drinking glasses in the server station. One night, servers wrote Me, Mine, and Not Yours on their glasses.glasses
  • Kalea and I acted out a gunfight one night after closing time, using toy guns and the dining tables as shields.
  • One day in the kitchen, as the chefs talked about their fantasy baseball teams, the servers decided that since fantasy-everything exists these days, we’d start a game called Fantasy Life. Josh suggested we get points for taking showers and showing up for work on time, but everyone gets kudos for things like that. What we don’t get, is accolades for doing the wrong thing. “Going shopping and spending too much money should get you points in Fantasy Life,” I said. To which, Annie suddenly said, “Oooh, I’m good at Fantasy Life.” It was decided that points would be awarded for drinking the most cans of beer. (Why cans I don’t know.) And points would be awarded for best insult or best comeback. Servers were quick to pair into teams and discuss what bad things they were particularly good at. It’s nice to know your talents.Guy
  • Guy, cleaning the hoods (while standing on the stove).
  • We played It among the servers—a silent form of IT, without the running. We engaged in casual evasive maneuvers around the dining clientele, as any staff member trying to approach you on the dining floor was probably IT and was to be avoided. The bar was Base, where you were safe from being made IT, but you had to be touching the bar. Since we’d suddenly reach out to touch the bar when anyone walked by, most of the regular bar guests were brought in on the game so they understood this quirky behavior. Eventually, we started texting “You’re IT” to each other after work, and couldn’t keep track of who was IT anymore. That’s when Minnie arrived.
  • Someone left a Minnie Mouse figurine at the restaurant. It was at the host station for weeks. We started moving it to the server station and back again, so Minnie could enjoy the different scenery. The owner would see Minnie in one location, then see her in another and started to question her own sanity. Thus, a game was invented to hide Minnie in plain side and leave cryptic and poetic clues to find her. Chef, in particular, really liked hiding Minnie. Chef was new to us then, having traveled half the country to accept the position of Head Chef for our restaurant. He was famous, yet unassuming and quiet, and none of us knew him very well. But soon, his marker board in the kitchen, where he’s supposed to write mid-shift menu changes, was quickly overtaken by elaborate clues to finding Minnie. Whoever found her got to hide her again. Even regular guests would keep an eye out for her. The game kept up for weeks, until, rumor has it, Kalea accidentally took Minnie home in her apron and lost her. Update: At yesterday’s staff meeting, Annie confessed to losing Minnie. Kalea was framed.
  •  The owner forgot her cell phone at the restaurant one night, so we took pictures of the phone all over the place—including the bathroom–and sent her texts with the visited bookWhen she picked up her phone the next morning, she discovered the phone’s adventures.  Matt, who owns the bar next door, stopped in and we asked him to pose with her phone. We sent his picture to the owner that said Matt tried to steal/buy the phone. (You’re a good sport, Matt.  We’re lucky to have you as our neighbor!)Matt
  • One night, toward the end of our server Laura’s pregnancy, we sat on the floor of the server station to polish the glassware. When that was done, we stayed on the floor and decided to paint our pinky nails with the polish that Laura always brought to work. A regular guest popped in to the server snail polishtation to see what all the giggling was about. He got a painted nail before being granted leave of the station.

Our simple amusements are made up in the moment so we can keep our sanity or show some personality. They’re not meant to win prizes for cleverness or to do any harm. The best ones include input and involvement from our regular guests. That’s the beauty in becoming a regular guest: We don’t keep secrets from you. Not only do you know what’s happening behind the scenes, you’re like family to us—the fun relatives we’d let eat on the couch and stay in the guestroom. You’re always invited back.

For more restaurant behind-the-scenes, check out my book Upside Down Kingdom on Amazon: