Being Alone In My Restaurant

Dinosaur Bar-B-Que is a busy joint. We do up to 900 covers on a weekend; it's very convivial and very raucous. On the rare days we're closed — Thanksgiving and Christmas — and at night after service, I get to be alone. I see the restaurant through different eyes, and it centers me. I can use that time for thinking and planning. I start off by pouring myself a nice cold beer. I take out a pen and paper, and I wander around and look at things that I don't see when the place is full of people. I look at the decor; I look at what can be freshened up, what can be changed out. I come up with everything from menu ideas to little tweaks I can do here and there. It gives me an opportunity to fine-tune. When you work in such a hectic environment and you do finally get your silence, it's very soothing. It provokes good thoughts. It's like, Wow, I really do like this joint. —John Stage, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, New York City

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