Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Dancin Room Reunion.

The Dancin Room reunion was a large time. Lotta familiar faces and and pavilion-era jitterbugs boogie'n down stayin young. Skeeter, Darryl Hammond, Cooter Jennings, Rosalyn Anderson, Deck Dargan, Gretchen, Arnie Webb, Keith Salvo, Johnny Butler, Bo Bryan, John Paul Sessions, Martha. I was thinkin Officer Thorpe was gonna show and arrest us for dirty shaggin. Even Charlie and Jackie Womble joined us.

Great to see everyone togged out in their jitterbug shoes and attitudes. Thanks to John and Liz Sturgeon rallying the troops and Randy Jennings spinning some shag classics.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween past.

For the first 15 years Halloween was another large time at Cagney's. In our Dancin Room we featured goblin line dances and awards for best costume and best costume dancer. Our creative staff garbed out as Gumby, Zorro, Madonna, gangster, astronaut, or one of the Blues Brothers took your order. Tin Man, wolfman or Dracula might serve your drink or buss your table.

Legendary server Linda Spangler once Zulu'd her entire body black, weaved dreads, necklaces, bra and skirt out of 2000 bleached chicken wing bones. My partner skated in dressed as a big-hair, big-boob, roller derby slut. Another tuxedo'd customer made his entrance in a coffin flanked by 6 vampirettes in see-thru camisole nighties. Yes, Halloween was always a great excuse for grownups acting fool. One of our regulars showed up mummied in nothing but seran wrap. Another lady painted her entire body with concentric lines, landmarks and highway names.
She was Rand McNally.

Yea, Halloween brings the naughty outta people. Ever bring it out in you? Tell us.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

So you think the food biz is easy.

A regular customer yesterday asked me if the food business was easier than his insurance business. That gave me a good chuckle.

750 restaurants have closed since we opened Cagney's in 1976. More are closing every day.
I have an obituary list of 1200 eating destinations which have come and gone on the grand strand. Every one of those was somebody's dream. It's a tough biz. 2008 was tough. 2009 was even tougher. Like rising water 2010 was more of the same.
The entire world got the economic flu.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Except From Dino's new Book

The Perils and Pitfalls of Partnerships:
...Yea some partnerships can survive and thrive. Me and my partner have been Sancho and Don Quixote since before Carter. We gently butted heads and behinds but never once got in the other's face. I'd turn the music up, he'd turn it down. I'd turn down the lights he'd turn em up. He preferred dark wood, I liked natural tones. I preferred a NY Strip, he was a filet man. He liked a clean look on ads and menus, I dug funky artwork. He wore a 3-piece suit to funerals and weddings, I didn't own a tie. I wrote the training manual, he wrote the soup recipe. I deciphered the lease and the P&L, he decoded the broiler specs and re-plumbed the gas lines.
Handling employee snafus and removing rowdies by the seat of their pants was my job. Rewiring a 220v receptacle was his. He stayed alimony free, single and happy. I stayed married and happy. And neither of us ever offered the other romantic advice or was a sterno sniffer, slave to the bottle or arm spiker.

If he was in maitre d' mode I eased to the back. If he was on the kitchen line I manned the front. We both signed checks, both interviewed, neither ever questioned the other's integrity. We coulda made lots more money if we'd been a tad more tyrannical with pricing, expenditures, overtime and leaner staffing. But that wutn't our style.

Along the way we each made concessions, chased a few windmills, sometimes the same bar girls. We had a lotta laughs, made a lotta mistakes, peed in a few public fountains, but never needed bail money. And through it all we never jumped into each other's face and always respected each other's veto.
From what I hear that's plenty unusual.


Print and TV foodies constantly napalm us with with flaming hype and silver spit-buckets fulla syrupy adjective about fancy new dishes and wines.

Then you finally taste one.
You taste a truffle encapsulated in crystalline florettes of parsnips, a glob of beluga caviar on a lavender foam cracker and wash it all down with a turbo-tannic glass of Haute Medoc One.
Your face prunes into Peggy Anguish as you whine, "Is that all there is? Hells bells I'd rather have a NY strip, a shrimp cocktail with some good ole cocktail sauce and a Michelob."

Friday, October 16, 2009

(Excerpt from Dino's new book about the restaurant biz)
As the years pile on, most of us relish the opportunity to re-nourish our saggy spirit with the pleasant smells, sounds and sights that peanut butter to the top of your brain.
First taste of lipstick, cotton candy, smell of electric bumper cars, salt spray, clean clothes, cedar-lined closets, puppy breath, bacon fryin, new Buster Browns.
And trains. The muscular smell of metal and diesel.

Train stations were a big deal to a wide-eyed kid luggin his fabric suitcase to Visit aunt Sandra or Yia Yia. My first depot destination was Grand Central. That huge suck-your-breath-away soaring space. Maybe yours was Penn or Union Station.
These cavernous spaces were the original malls. Soaring skylit barrel-vaulted ceilings, massive marble columns, pulse-punpin examples of Greek and Roman architecture, pocked with beaucoup tobacco shops, haberdashers, bowling alleys, souvenir kiosks, stand-up greasy spoons, upscale cafes, newstands, and smoke-filled lounges with bow-tied barkeeps pourin from big forbidden bottles. They even had their own police station. Taj Mahal had nothin on these cathedrals of commerce.
Remember the call. "All aboard for the Stream-liner...all-a-board!"

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Remembering D.A and Marci Moore.

While we're paying tribute to members of our Cagneys dining familiy let us remember that big lovable bear of a man, D.A. Moore. He and his vivacious wife Marci ate with us almost every week for 30 years. Every member of the Cagney's staff hugged them on sight. Both were quick with a smile and always a new joke. A great couple and loyal thoughtful friends to all our staff.
They don't come any better. Good people as we say down south.

Buddy Deal from High Point

One of our Cagneys/Flamingo friends, Dusty Maynard, told us Buddy Deal had recently died.
Buddy was one of our earliest regular customers. Buddy was a classy original. Always sat with his back to the wall, ordered a carafe of house wine, spinach salad and Flounder Cagney. Always had the George Hamilton tan, he carried himself airrish. Always peacocked out in crispy-starched gant shirts, logo'd polo blazer garnished with silk hankerchief. Footwear was always gucci loafers, no socks. Yup, George Hamilton had nothin on buddy. Rest in peace ole friend and our warmest thoughts and memories to his beautiful wife Doris.
Dino, Dino, Danny and The Cagney's staff

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Bad Year Comin-Can you survive it?

(Excerpt from Dino's new book)
Before you open your own bistro, cafe, diner, or AYCE buffet...answer me this one question.
Can you survive an off year, a down year like 2008? A can't-bring-a-dime-to-the-bottom-line year like 2009? A too broke to pay attention year?

If the answer is no then forgitaboutit.

Cause it's comin. Maybe the first year, probably the 2nd, for darn sure the 3rd. You can expect to slog through some tough times. I'm not talkin a case of wilted spinach or broken eggs.
I'm talkin major equipment breakdowns, Cad-3 hurricanes, ceiling cave-ins, 100-year floods, sewer backups, power failures, swine flu outbreaks, slip'n fall scamsters, night deposit muggings, in-law embezzlers, 9-11 biblical disasters.
Do you have a money plan B, plan C?
If not then you brought a pasta spoon to a knife fight.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Have You Ever Been a Server?

(Excerpt from new book)
I've had the pleasure to observe hundreds of sometimes shy hostesses and pimply busboys and awkward dishwashers blossom into dynamic servers and dynamite line cooks...earning the respect of their peers and paying their way through life with cash, sweat and tears.

I'm saying those trials of kitchen and dining room fire will steel your emotional sinew, sharpen your wit, infect you with tolerance, laser your focus, turbo your memory, hone your sense of humor, give you power over petty, and force you to prioritize and time like a ranger in a firefight.

You'll go in sausage and come out sirloin, armored with the gypsy gift of reading faces, body language. anticipating catastrophes and equipped with an immaculate B.S. detector. So if you've never served the public, you should have...at least once in your life.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Dr. Stanley Vetter

Longtime family doctor, Dr. Stanley Vetter died. A man who practiced medicine the old fashion way with heart and compassion. He was a wonderful part of the Cagney's family for 33 years. All of Cagney's staff remember him as a gentle, sweet man and a loving husband.
Our warmest thoughts and memories to his wife Sally and family.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Bill Hemmer from Fox News was back again for dinner with his wonderful mom and dad.
His sister Ann celebrated her 40th...she looks 30. Great family! "Good people" as we say down south.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Summer's here, a walk on the beach, saltspray and sunshine is a good way to shed your troubles for a while. I recommended it highly. It's difficult to have a bad day at the beach...even in these challenging times. How has 2008 & 2009 affected you?
What changes have you made this past year?
What do you expect next year?

Thursday, April 9, 2009


Marriages & Canoodlin...

As long as there's people on the job, there's gonna be canoodlin and attemted cannodlin on the job. It's tough enough getting staff to do their sidework, now you gotta be a sexual lifeguard too.

We've had 5 marriages in our dining room and one in the dancing room.
The first marriage was a total adlib for a lovey dovey couple sitting at our bar.
We moved the table in front of the dazzling stain glass window from the Red Springs baptist church, moved the hostess stand over for a pulpet, flanked it with two areca palms, carpeted the area with a wall oriental, placed candles all around and chilled a bottle of champagne.

Then we marched the tres' handsome couple through a grinning gauntlet of servers, several gaping customers and a kazoo band of hostesses. There, waiting at the pulpet with a Johnny Cash outfit and voice was Ken Grimsley, a regular customer who read a semi-solemn ceremony written by him and the owner with a bit Gibran, Rod McKuen mixed into the traditional Dearly beloveds.

Another memorable ceremony featured a traveling candy salesman.
We decorated the altar with hundreds of baby snickers, heath bars, and hersheys. The centerpiece was a huge silver bowl brimming with M&Ms, which were later thrown as rice when the happy couple made their glorious exit.
Viva romance.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Prom Night- Last night we had several Socastee and Carolina Forest high school promers in.
The girls were spectacular in Oscar-worthy dresses that cost more than the car I drove to pick up my date when I went to the prom. Ah the good ole days. One thing made me sad. Young marine came in decked out in his dress blues. He'd served a tour in Iraq, had battle ribbon pinned on his chest. He was only 19, I couldn't serve him a drink. He can command a tank, fire a 50 cal sniper rifle and drive over IEDs every day, but he can't have a beer.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Lost and Found

Customers leave everything in a restaurant.
Keys, wallets, purses, jackets, cellphones, shades, shoes, gameboys, umbrellas, pills, reefer, coke, cameras and beaucoup credit cards. ...they even leave crutches, wheelchairs and oxygen tanks.
Usually it's more a nuisance than a problem...but then there's always the exception.

Sometime they leave children.
Customer informs me there's an unattended baby in the bathroom.
I find the baby. We ask around the dining room. No one seems to have lost a baby. I was terrified, thinking..."Oh my gosh I'm gonna have to raise it."

30 minutes later a 20ish lady comes in and sheepishly says, "I think I left my baby here."
"Was he in a blue basinet, bout two feet long?"
"You have him..."
"Yes mam, he's in the service area with two of our waitresses. Would you like him back or did you stop in to say goodbye?"
"That's not funny."
"No mam it's not."

Monday, March 23, 2009

A lotta restaurants!

  • Did you know? Over 60 restaurants opened in the Myrtle Beach area in 2007?
  • There are now over 1600 hundred dining choices in our Grand Strand population of 55,000, making us one of the highest per capita concentrations of restaurants in America?
    Did you know over 1/3 of all adults had their first work experience in food service? And possibly their first sexual encounter as well.
  • So where was your first work experience?