Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tumbles out of his chair

Hand-wavin, veiny nose customer tumbles out of his chair while demonstrating his backswing. I help him up. He's laughin at himself, says he's fine as I hoist him up. Few swings later, he falls out of his seat again. Only this time he lands under the feet of the adjoining table. I go over and help him up again. I make a joke about his jerky golf swing, cozy him back into his seat, remove my belt and buckle it around him and the back of the chair. Everybody laughs, including him.

Few weeks later he calls and threatens to sue me for embarrassing him. Wants to know if some kind of monetary policy is available to avoid a lawsuit.
"What do you do for a living?" I ask.
"I own an insurance company."
"Then my advice is quit drinkin, increase your accident insurance and only dine in padded booths."

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Greek Boy-Growing Up Southern

For those who enjoy Ebook readers, Kindle, Nook, Ipad, etc.
Dino Thompson's HILARIOUS memoir "GREEK BOY-GROWING UP SOUTHERN" (a Myrtle Beach memoir) is NOW available on KINDLE & NOOK & iPAD readers for 8.99.

All 590 pages and 85 vintage photos will be available for DOWNLOAD at $8.99.
Now you won't have to get tendinitis holding the 3-lb printed version or phlebitis setting it on your lap. But of course if you still love print, you can go to www.greekboy.info and order the printed version or drop by Flamingo Grill or Cagneys.

Let Dino know if you have any ideas how to get the word out.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Wine and Oenophiles

Excerpt from Dino's new book:
I poke fun at wine snobs cause any kinda snob oughta be poked.
Remember, we're talkin about a concoction traditionally prepared by hairy-leg wives and daughters jumpin panty-less into grape-filled wooden vats.

Check out this description I lifted from Edward Dietch's wine column.

"What emerges is gorgeous aromas of ripe, dark berry and cedar. Then an array of tastes that include blueberry, plum, blackberry, cedar, and mocha as well as hints of nutmeg and cinnamon. The wine is well structured, refined yet slightly earthy. The tannins have softened to provide texture but they don't intrude."

So tell me...Is this bon vivant a 16-adjective genius or is this a cork-sniffin snob who don't know his butt from an oak barrel? What is the dude tryin to say? Is the wine good, great or salad dressing?

Or get a load of this Gael Greene wine description from her book, Insatiable.
"....the first sip was bombastic, 3 baritones in simultaneous assault. After a bite of pepperoni and cheese, and a few minutes in the glass, the deeply regal red warmed and softened, complex as a poem in a foreign language, like satin on my tongue. and I wept."

Well I wept and wet my Calvins when I read this rococco dribble. That paragraph would bring a tear to a glass eye. Gael is the queen of well-seasoned adjectives. I'd wash her size-10 manicured feet with warm Mountain Dew and dry them with spun silk if she were here.

Wine should be fun, easy, non-intimidating. I've savored good farmer-made elderberry wine fermented in a musty bacca barn. I've dis-savored a way over-priced '67 Lafitte Rothschild and couldn't swallow my first swig of Chateau Margaux. But I like most wines, even jug wines are drinkable. They don't need fancy stemware, combo adjectives or swirlin instructions. Screw top, stainless steel, oak, don't matter, you like em or you don't.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The golfing Cruds

The Cruds dine again at Flamingo Grill.
Russell Barringer, Dusty, Page and his classy bunch of buddies have been coming to the beach for golf, cameraderie and memories for 40 years.
For over 30 yrs we've served and laughed with them at Cagneys and Flamingo Grill. These boys to men have enjoyed many a large time. Like a lot of us, the once hard chargers are getting long in the tooth and short on the drives. There's only 16 this year but they still have a twinkle in their eye, a helluva sense of humor and a hearty appetite.
Polish up those foot wedges boys.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What's in a name?

I've had mighty tasty meals in joints with names like...Donut Diner, Forks, Eats, Punk's Place, Terminal cafe, Chat'n Chew and Hoar House.

And not so tasty meals in tight-lip, tablecloth joints with names like Le Bon Repas, Paradise, Bon Appetit, Legends, Primo's, Parthenon and House of Good Food.

So what's in a name? Does a nifty monker guarantee success or insure flopdom?
Would Cary Grant have made it big as Archibald Leach? Roy Rogers as Leonard Slye? Muddy Waters as McKinley Morgenfield? Would you wear a shirt logo'd with Lifshitz on the front? That was Ralphee Lauren's real name. How much 7-Up would 've sold with it's original name, Lithiated Lemon? Trader Vic's useta be called Hinky Dinks. Nobody could give a piece of Pantagonian toothfish away until they marketed it as Chilean sea bass. Rose' was dead as nehru suits til they called it blush. Orange roughy useta be called slime head. How many hifultin customers would could actually fork a mouthful of pig thymus glands into their mouth if some clever chef hadn't named them sweetbreads?
Clint Eastwood opened a packed place in snooty Carmel called Hog's Breath Saloon, but that's Clint Eastwood. He could open a fancy steak joint called Hoof hearted and make a go of it.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Miserable People

I once asked my old man why a certain customer was being so mean.
He smiled, patted me on the head. "Son, there's two kinds of people in the world, happy people and miserable people. Happy people are always happy no matter what, miserable people are always miserable. And their mission in life is to make you miserable. Run from those people. Cause...no matter how hard you try you can't make miserable people happy."

Then he smiled and grabbed my arm, pulled me close. "But we need miserable people."
"Why do we need miserable people," I asked.
"Cause miserable people make the rest of us look good."

Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Boardwalk

We all love the new boardwalk. Me, I'm old, I remember the old concrete boardwalk, and the one before that. Here's an excerpt from my book about goin to the boardwalk back in my long ago.

"Got myself a fist fulla change, my collar up, my ducktail combed perfect, skinny suede belt on the side, dungaree cuffs rolled up into a tight peg, ID bracelet round my wrist, crucifix round my neck, and hawkbill knife in my back pocket.

Just finished hammerin 4 Coca-cola caps into the leather bottoms of my size-5 loafers. I'm headin to to the boardwalk. Gonna take a shot at scorin me on a those skull rings or maybe a carved coconut head. Then I'm gonna nosh a corndog and punch in Honky Tonk on the Wurlitzer and ask some girl in cheeky shorts to fast dance"

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Well Done Steaks

Well Done Steak! Last night I wandered thru and spoke to everyone...everyone happy and complimentary.
Except one. He ordered his filet "well done". Mr. Cliff, Our right-on-time grill man has been with us 30 years. Wolfgang Puck would have to stand on his grandma's shoulder to kiss his bee-hind. The steak came out perfectly well done. Customer sent it back to be cooked some more. Cliff cooked it for one more minute. Customer sent it back because it was dry. Other than boiling it, can someone tell me how to grill a well-done steak that's not dry?

Friday, July 2, 2010

Food Critics- Why do they exist?

Excerpt from Dino's new book:
Just cause you're capable of forking dead animals in your mouth without blinding yourself, doesn't mean you're qualified to comment on the nuances of fusion of Japanese or Middle Eastern flavors. And it sure as hell doesn't mean you're qualified to condemn the ravioli verde at Chez Pannisse or the cold collard hog'n hominy at Bubba's Snak Shak.

Take a listen to a typical description in Gael Green's book, Insatiable…
“I remember square balloons of puff pastry more delicate than I’d ever tasted…shards of buttery leaves filled with unbearable lightness of crème chantilly cushioning a layer of pear, each slice beatified with a tinge of caramel.”

Well that’s bout the same way I felt the first time I had a warm Bojangles blueberry biscuit, a cold Mountain Dew and kissed my first girl. Most kids would describe Little Debbie Cakes that way if they could. I love dancing through Miss Greene’s syrupy puddles. But if you sat my bare butt on a Cuisinart I couldn’t create a sentence that spectacularly juicy.

But why just pick on the Indie joints? Why not review every dang one of the 2000 Applebys or 1000 Outbacks? Or the uniform colors and sauce packets at the zillion Subways and McDonalds? They sling more hot food in one day than all the indie joints do in a career.

Or why not review the big-box chain snack bars and lunch counters?
Can you imagine some hoof-in-the-mouth blowhard critiquing the harsh lighting in Costco or napkin ply in Target? How bout the $10 hotdog at Yankee Stadium or the garish box-seat décor? Take it a stupid step further and imagine a Times critic commenting on the anorexic poses of a Bloomingdale mannequin, or the hairstyle of a cardiac surgeon, or dissin a Mayo Clinic masseuse cause they detected a callus on her palm or taking a star away from a master plumber cause he flashed butt-crack and didn’t sterilize his snake? Way stupid right?
Bout as lame as if the same people critiqued NY’s finest flophouses.
Yea, a flophouse critic. Why not?
Picture some Brown University, wallaby-wearin Jism PHD working at the bowels of the NY Times who grades the sexual act on 14 categories: Initial impression, creativity, consistency, position, conversation, first course, main entrée, final course, lighting, follow through, aftertaste, depth, corkiness and cost to value.
Here's what she said...#$!@&*!(Sorry, you'll have to buy the book to find out what she said)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Food Cost Theory- Still ain't got one.

There’s plenty of food-cost formulas, but there’s no one-trick-pony magic formula.

I remember my ole man, who counted the NCR register like a blind man feelin somebody’s face, useta say...“If it cost a dollar, you sell it for $3….one third food, one-third labor, one-third everything else.” Funny thing is that FDR food cost theory still works for a sit-down joint like mine. Problem is I ain’t smart enough to get there from here. I wet-dream about keepin my food cost at 33%.

Maybe back in my Pancake House era, when kids thumbed safely to school and drivers used turn signals. Back when country ham was the high-dollar item and it took a bicepy man to fold a beer can, I hovered right around the 33% number. But food prices back then, specially the early to mid-70s, were bout as stable as the needle on a congressman’s lie detector. Remember those even-odd gas lines snaking around the entire block? People pushin their cars to the pumps, signs on pumps screaming...OUT OF GAS! Little ole bun-haired ladies bitch-slappin grown men who butted in line.
Yea, prices were jumpin around so fast, I wrote on the menu…
“Please Order quickly, We Can Only Guarantee These Prices For 30 Minutes.”

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Excerpt from Dino's New Book:
We've survived a cacophony of calamities.
Hurricane Hazel & Hugo, The Klan, hookworm epidemics, breach of contract, breech births, break-ins, band-sawed fingers, droughts, floods, fights, liquor raids, mom crashin the Lasalle into the side of the restaurant. Even survived the terror of polio epidemics, iron lungs and white-coat scientists peeking into microscopes at squiggly death on Movie Tone News.

We survived commies, bigots, boycotts, The Klan, the threat of nuclear war, gas war, Disneyland, Disney World, the Pachuko Gang, trichinosis, suffocating leases, illegal poker games, stuck draw-bridges, desolate winters, national chains and kitchenettes.

And now we have to survive sub-prime banks, liar loans, Greedy Wall Street,oblivious congressmen and 24-hr doom and gloom by Medusa TV talking heads.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Dining Preferences?

How have your dining-out preferences changed over the past two funky years?
We'd love to hear from you. Are you early-birding, eating out less, splitting meals, waiting for 2 for ones?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The old Greeks

When my old man landed in Myrtle Beach in '46, 8 outta 10 sitdown joints were owned or operated by Greeks...Broadway Restaurant, Capri, Roxy, Mayflower, Kozy Korner, Ocean Front Tavern and Seven Seas Grill. Most all those Greeks worked 18-hour days and went down with the ship wearin their slip-proof clogs and bowties.

Back in the day when packards ruled the road and store mannequins didn't have nipples, it was a law Greeks had to work in restaurants.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Excerpt from Dino's new book

I remember trying to impart my maitre' d style and philosophy to James Sakalian and Danny Ferguson, our two hotshot bartenders both promoted to manager. James and Danny had great charisma, high energy, fairness, smarts and a disarming smile. They were gonna make jam-up managers. I was pow-wowing the nuances of handling the front, reading the needs of waiting guests, handling reservations, accommodating regulars, etc.
James leans back in his chair, slaps me on the back and shoots me an infectious grin. "Don't worry bout showin us the front, we've got that down. Just teach us the back of the house, y'know, the kitchen stuff, inventory, ordering, expediting."
You two have got the front down, yea right.
"Yea what's the big deal about accurately estimating wait times, seating fairly, reading a party's special occasion needs or special physical needs? Jugglin reservations, preferred seating, and walk-in regulars? Coordinating large groups, loud groups, drunk groups, corporate outings, and romantic occasions? Ad-libbing no shows, dine & dashers, schmoozing pushy little ole ladies, soothing unhappy children, and defanging belligerant assholes? Knowing when to be King Solomon, when to be Job, when to be clairvoyant, when to be firm, when to stand your ground, when to show your teeth? Yall got all that down?"
Yea, the front's nothin. Just point me in that direction and watch us go.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Excerpt from Dino's new book

You're a hot shot maitre D at a swank country club. You can schmooze the ladies, please the blue hairs, cater to the demanding whims of the CEO clientele and handle a hot grill if necessary. One of the nouveau riche realtors savors your style and suggests you open your own bistro in his vacant strip mall. He's so confident in your abilities he'll be an investor. He pulls in 3 other investors. They'll gratis you 20% ownership and a 40 thou salary. You've wet-dreamed of designing, owning, running your own joint. This is your monetary moment in the sun.
The place opens gangbusters.
There's a waiting line to give you back slaps. It's the new hot spot. One investor, the local Mercedes and reefer dealer, suggests you fire your bartender and hire his puke-on-purpose Smith dropout daughter. You balk. They fire you at the next meeting and replace you with investor number 2's stepson, a recently laid-off Lehman broker with a nose candy habit and Madoff ties. You still own 20% of the joint but you'll never see a dividend long as they handle the books and get first count.
And when it folds in 4 months you're on the hook for 20% of the debt.