“Thanks for doing this, meatball.”
“Hey…I told you long time ago I would. I’m just wondering why it took you so long to call me.”
“I dunno. I guess I wanted to see if I could handle it.”
“It’s all good. So…show me around, boss man.”
Jonathan let Tony in the store and began the tour. “Here is the dining room! I like to keep a pot of coffee going and a plate of donuts out for people to sample. It’s also good for employee morale.”
“You don’t mind if people come in here just for the free stuff,” Tony asked.
“Nah. Eventually, they’ll buy something. Besides, I like for this to be a nice hangout spot! That’s why I keep the music on.”
“Ah ha. There’s always a method to your madness, my liege,” Tony joked.
“Whatever…you want some coffee before we go in the kitchen?”
“I’ll grab one later.”
“Ok.” Jonathan brewed a pot and poured himself a cup and proceeded to the kitchen. “This is where the magic happens! I call it ‘the playground.’”
“Nice work, boss man! I might have to come work here full time!”
“I’m Italian…of course I cook.” They both laughed. “I cook, I bake, I do it all. My mom taught me everything I know. That was the only time we ever got along,” he said with regret all over his face.
“No wonder you’re so good…she tried to keep you in the kitchen all the time so you’d be good!”
“Probably. Ok…what’s in here? The office?”
“Yessir!” He let Tony in to look around.
“I’ve got my employee files, vendor information, invoices, and everything important in those folders on the desk. There’s a program installed on the registers where I do payroll, employee management, pricing, marketing, and even uniforms.”
Tony appreciated that his friend trusted him enough to tell him all of this, but it made him a little bit uneasy. “Why are you telling me all of this?”
“Because you might need to know it one day.”
“Are things that bad at home?”
“No, but they’re not getting better.”
Tony patted Jonathan on the shoulder. “I’m sorry.”
“It is what it is. Are you ready for that coffee now?”
They left the office and went back to the dining room. Tony poured himself a cup of coffee while Jonathan took a seat.
“Ok,” Jonathan began. “I like to open up at 11. Breakfast isn’t that profitable, and frankly I don’t want to get up early. But, people still like breakfast food, so I do brunch until 2:00. Always keep some sort of egg dish made. I like spinach frittatas the best. If I’m gonna open later, I make sure to call Chasity no later than 10. She’s always on time, and I wouldn’t want her waiting at the door for me. Speak to every customer who comes in the door—they like that. Greet them by name if you know them.”
“And then I turn on the magic, huh?”
“Yep! Give ‘em sales Tony.”
“I got this,” Tony said.
They sat and sipped their coffee as Jonathan explained how the inventory worked, how to use the register, how to manage Chasity, and whatever else he needed to know. It was almost 11:00, and Chasity would be arriving at any moment, so they wrapped up their conversation.
“So,” Jonathan said. “Are you ready to do this?”
“I’m so ready.”
Jonathan wanted to be there when Chasity got in, but he forgot about an invoice he needed to take care of, so he retreated to his office. Chasity came in and saw Tony standing behind the counter. She had never seen him before, and he looked a bit sinister. She started to grab her phone to call Jonathan, but he introduced himself first.
“You must be Chasity! Hi, Tony Corleonisi—Jonathan’s friend. I’m gonna be helping out today.”
She clocked in and went to put her stuff down in the office. “Jonathan…who’s that guy out there?”
“That’s my friend, Tony! Umm…we need to talk…”
“I’m sorry I fell apart the other day! I should have taken the day off, but I love working here and I don’t want to be a disappointment to you. I’ll do better, Jonathan! Please don’t fire me!”
“What? Oh, no! Sorry…that was poor word choice. I’m not replacing you with Tony! I just need him to be my right hand man every now and then. You’re a good worker, and I enjoy having you here. Look, the store is open. Let’s go outside and continue talking in case Tony needs us.”
They went to the dining room and sat down. Tony was doing exactly what Jonathan told him to do: greet all the customers as they came in the door.
“I’ve got some things I need to tend to at home, so sometimes I may come in later or go home early. Sometimes I’ll need a day off. Tony is gonna step in for me. Maybe one day, if you haven’t gotten tired of me yet, you’ll be a manager and can run this place when I’m not here.”
“I would love that! I’m glad you’re not getting rid of me. I really do love it here. You’re a great boss.”
“Thanks. Are you feeling ok today? I’d like to try you out on sales again.”
“Ok then! Talk to the customers and answer their questions in the meantime, but when someone needs to be rung up, you’re on.”
“I won’t let you down, boss.”
They got up, and Chasity fell right into step with the customers, and Jonathan took a slight step back to watch how the day went.
“Jonathan,” the blue haired customer said. “Who’s this new guy you have working here?”
“He’s my best friend, Tony!”
“He’s so dreamy!” All the other ladies agreed.
At the end of the day, everything was sold for the first time ever! Jonathan closed up shop and began cleaning up.
He was so happy, he was inspired to make all new dishes for the next day. He let Tony make some of his own special desserts too.
When they were done prepping for the next day, they sat down and enjoyed some dinner together.
“Meatball! You were amazing today! I’ve never sold everything before. And you were so great with the customers. All the ladies loved you.”
“Heh, I bet they did. There’s enough meatball for everyone!”