On Mother’s Day weekend – a sacred holiday as American as Christmas or New Year’s Eve, we went out with another family for a combined birthday celebration for their son and our daughter. It was a hot, sultry day, and everyone was ravenous, so we went to Outback Steakhouse (a fine American institution that doesn’t serve tacos).
Because it was Mother’s Day weekend, the place was packed. They told us it would be a 45-minute wait, and herded us into a stuffy little alcove. Before long, we realized the air-conditioning in the restaurant had failed, and so we sweated and tried to make pleasant conversation. The restaurant had set up fans, but they were directed at the diners, not those who were waiting.
Within minutes, I realized there was no way I was going to make it without a cold drink, so I called a waitress over and asked for a tall mug of draft beer. “I’m sorry, sir,” she apologized. “We’re all out of draft beer.”
I sat in stunned silence for about 30 seconds. Out of beer? No air-conditioning? On Saturday night? On the busiest weekend of the year? How was this possible? And they’re charging full price for dinner?
Taking charge of the situation, I ordered everyone out of the restaurant. “There’s a Macaroni Grill just a mile from here,” I told them. So we piled into our cars and drove away.
Macaroni Grill told us it would be a 30-minute wait, and they had air-conditioning, so already we were ahead of the game. I hurried over to the bar and asked if they had draft beer. “Yes, sir,” the bartender told me. “We have Peroni and Amber Bock, but we’re out of Peroni.”
Once again, I was dumbfounded. But I was desperate, so I ordered an Amber Bock. She poured it for me, and while I was signing the credit card receipt, another patron ordered an Amber Bock. She went over to the tap, pulled it forward, and FWISSSSHHHhhh!! No more Amber Bock. I was forced to drink bottled beer for the rest of the evening.
Eventually, we were seated and had a very pleasant meal, except for an incident involving one of my wife’s friends. The waitress handed her a menu, and after she left, my wife’s friend squinted at it for a bit and then and declared, “I can’t read this, the type is too small.” She then looked around the table, expecting someone to read the menu to her. Eventually, someone did, but it wasn’t me. I was biting my lip, trying not to say something like, “Wow! If you had only known that they would give you a menu, you might have brought your glasses with you. I guess they really threw you a curve ball, huh?”
I was very amused later in the evening when I discovered this basket of reading glasses on the hostess station, placed there for the convenience of older people with vision problems and memory problems.
At the end of the meal, one of the waitresses came over with a small cake, announced that she was an opera voice student at a local university, and would sing “Happy Birthday” in Italian. She proceeded to deliver the song in full opera voice, but without the metal breast cups.
Later, I asked our waitress about the beer situation that had plagued us that evening. She told me that all of the restaurants are running out of beer, because Cinco de Mayo (which took place three days previously) had suddenly become extremely popular. The normal beer supplies had been consumed, and there wasn’t enough time to restock before Mother’s Day. So there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. The next time you’re out of beer, blame the Mexicans.