“Heeey, there‘s my long lost nephew!”
“Hey, Uncle Jonathan.”
“You finally bring your family so we can meet them!”
“This is my wife, Sarah.”
“How do you do,” she said.
“And her daughter, Scarlett, who is now mine. Say hello, Scarlett.”
“Hey there, precious,” Jonathan said.
“Mom has the baby, of course. Her name is Sarai.”
“It’s great to finally meet you all. I hope you enjoy your dinner! I’ll give you some time to look at the menu.”
Jonathan left them to go check on Tiana. She was quite far along in her pregnancy, and he didn’t want her to over do it. Just as he walked in, she was stretching her back.
“You doing ok?”
“Oh! Hi, Jonathan. This baby…I swear it thinks my bladder is a trampoline and my spinal cord is monkey bars!”
“Maybe you should take a break. Better yet…just go home.”
“Nope. I’m the only one working in our house. Those mouths won’t feed themselves!”
He recalled the desperate times when he didn’t know how he was going to feed his family either. But, he was a man and didn’t have to carry his children. He didn’t want to imagine what it must be like to have those worries and be pregnant.
“Well…I’m here,” he said. “Just…just let me know when you need a minute. You know I miss the kitchen.”
Archer came in and spelled out the orders for his tables. Seeing him made Jonathan remember something he needed to address with everyone.
“Oh! Archer…how are you liking the new, casual uniforms?”
“Aww man, it’s great! Not that I didn’t like the other, but I’m always down for wearing t-shirts.”
“Oh yeah,” Tiana chimed in, “I’m so much cooler back here wearing short sleeves! And, the apron keeps my shirt and pants clean!”
“Good! Good. I’m glad it was a welcomed change,” Jonathan said.
As time progressed, and the restaurant sort of developed it’s own identity, Jonathan felt comfortable wearing more casual clothes. When he saw Archer working in his plain clothes that day, it occurred to him that his employees should dress casual-chic just like the restaurant. It was a place for families and friends to hangout–just like he wanted his first restaurant to be. So, he ordered the servers nice, black t-shirts and slacks, a more casual button down blouse and slacks for Aylin, and Tiana’s polo and apron.
He left the kitchen to find Savannah to ask the same question. She was taking the Pruetts’ order.
“Hey, real quick…how are you liking the new uniform?”
“I love it! It’s so comfy. And much cooler!”
“Good! I’m glad.”
He let her go. So far, they all agreed that they were more comfortable and cool. He wondered if they were stating mere facts or had they all been suffering in silence. If they were, why had they never said anything? Was he not open enough?
There was a lull before the late dinner rush began, so he caught Aylin before she got busy.
“How are you?”
“I’m all right. Can’t complain,” she said.
“Good. I see you’re not wearing the new uniform.”
“Yeah…I’m sorry. It’s such a habit to put this on.”
“It’s fine, really. Don’t worry about it… Can I ask you something?”
“Do you think this uniform is uncomfortable…or hot?”
“Ummm…not really. I rather like wearing it. It’s so professional looking. The material is thick, so I guess maybe if I were more active like the others, I imagine it could be hot, but…I like it. Why?”
That night, for the first time, the dining room was full! All but one of the tables were taken, and there were a host of people waiting to be seated! Jonathan was so proud, he could barely contain himself. His mind drifted to his dreams of owning restaurants all around the world. He hoped each location could be as vibrant as this one, but Viviana’s would always be the first–the one he would call home. He’ll miss it when it’s time to move to the next one.