Do We Need Cynar? 9

October 29, 2010

[Hey Jealousy, 4 p.m. The house is empty. Richard and Z sit at the bar. M. hasn't come in yet.]

Did M. quit? Does she want me to call her? Does she want to be pursued even if I’m asking about work and not about sex? Is that the game she”s playing? Should I show up at her apartment with flowers and beg her to come to work? Wasn’t I warned not to dip my pen in company ink and why do I love dipping my pen in company ink? Is it because company ink is always the best ink?  Because you know it’s the sort of ink you shouldn’t be dipping your pen into? Especially when it’s your company?

-Hear me out, Richard. It’s not rocket science. It’s a cheese cave.  I’m not trying to clone sheep in the basement here. I’m just saying it would save money in the long run and it would be great for our image. We’d be the restaurant with the cheese cave. People would be all like, Have you heard of Hey Jealousy? Of course, the place with the cheese cave. It’s great. Their cheese is better than other places’ cheese because they age it themselves in their private cave. That’s how people think. if you make it yourself it’s better. And you and I both know our cheese wouldn’t be any better than it is now. But we could charge more for it. Because we built a fucking cave for it. There’s space in the basement. We’d have to keep the spare beer bottles elsewhere, but we can make room. It only needs to be 10 feet by 10 feet, maybe even smaller. I’ll build it. Well, I’ll supervise the Polish dudes who will build it. I’ve started reading a website that explains what you have to do. It’s easy. You’d think a cheese cave would be a hard to build. But it’s easy. You just have to keep the temperature around 50 degrees. Right now you’re keeping the cheese in a fridge set to 52 degrees. And that’s fine. I’m not saying that it’s a travesty that you use a fridge for the cheese. But it’s not helping bring in new customers. No one who lives in the city goes to Brooklyn to eat cheese that’s been sitting in a fridge all month. But you know what they’ll leave the city for? Cheese that was aged in a cheese cave in our basement. Cheese that was aged right here in Brooklyn. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t build a cheese cave. Say yes, say yes.

-This is not happening. We’re broke. A cheese cave is a 2006 idea. In 2006 we shaved black truffle on our burger because it seemed like a thing we should be doing. And we probably lost money on it but we were making so much on booze at the time that it didn’t matter. Now we can barely pay the cheese guy. We wouldn’t be able to pay the cheese cave guy. I like that you’re a dreamer, but it’s not happening.

-Part of the reason no one’s coming here is because he don’t have a thing, a hook. So many places now have an excellent hook, an elevator pitch – the owner’s dad was an oysterman so they have a direct connection to oystermen in Long Island, or they make their own honey in an apiary on the roof and they put honey in EVERYTHING, or the sausages are handmade and they sell raw sausages on Sunday mornings. I heard that that Ohio-themed restaurant Sloopy’s Hang has a small farm upstate that supplies eggs and milk and lamb and so when you eat there you tell whomever you’re eating with that the eggs come from their farm upstate. It’s a thing people like, and we need a thing like that. The cheese cave would be our thing. We could make so many different types of cheese: Blue cheese, Swiss cheese, brie, cheddar. What else is there? Manchego? Manchego can’t be a hard of a cheese to age. It tastes like it’s easy to make. It’s very…you know, not to loud in your mouth.

-You don’t know anything about cheese, do you? And you expect me to let you supervise a cheese cave.

-I could learn. It can’t be that hard. It’s just cheese. How many different types are there? Thirty? I could learn them in a weekend. Put me in the cave, coach, I’m ready to start aging.

-Learning cheese isn’t like playing guitar. You could learn five chords and be good enough to play in a shitty punk band. But you can’t jump into cheese like that, you can’t be the Joey Ramone of cheese-making. People would get sick.

-Think about it. Hey Jealousy: we have a cheese cave. That’s our new tagline. Think about what they’d say: How was your dinner at Hey Jealousy? Oh, it was divine. They have a cheese cave, and the assistant manager, a handsome boy named Zachary, took me on a tour of it because it was birthday. What a lovely boy, what a lovely cheese cave. I’ll be going back to eat more of their house-aged cheddar. Just think about it, man.

-I will. But I actually won’t.

Is it too soon to fire Z? Would the wife’s family be pissed if he was dismissed for being an idiot? Why can’t he behave like a decent person? Is it an age thing? Can 23-year-olds today not interact with the general public? On his first day why did I think it was a good idea to let him run around the house and help out servers? Why didn’t I keep him in the kitchen? Didn’t one customer say, Can I get A1 for this steak? And didn’t Z say, What is this, Ruby Tuesdays? And didn’t he laugh and say, Yeah we have steak sauce but it’s way better than A1; would you want that? Is he going to cost me customers?

Should I even bother teaching him cocktails? Is he so eager to learn the bar because he actually wants to learn the bar or because he knows he’ll be drinking while he learns the bar?

-What’s this stuff? Ky-naire? See-naire?

-It’s pronounced chee-nar. It’s an artichoke digestivo from Italy. Have you heard of the Harrumph? It’s a popular drink with Cynar in it, along with some other stuff.

-What does it taste like?

-Taste it.

[Z pours a finger of Cynar into a shot glass and sips it.]

-It’s disgusting.

-Well you have to mix it stuff to make it taste good. Here. I’ll add a an orange peel and some Campari and Fernet Branca and some syrup and, hell, egg yolk and cream. [Z watches as he mixes all that together and cracks and separates the egg and mixes it more. He hands it to Z.] Now try it.

-Still disgusting.

-OK. Maybe the egg yolk was too much. How about this: gin, Cynar and soda. Simple. Two parts soda and one part gin and one part Cynar, all over ice with an orange peel. This is a Harrumph. Well, close to it.

[He quickly makes it and Z sips it.]

-Better. But why do we even have Cynar? Do we really need it? You’re the one who’s trying to cut back on expenses and yet here you are buying a fancy artichoke syrup no one’s heard of.

-It seemed like a good idea a while ago. Maybe I shouldn’t have bought so much.

-How much did you buy?

-Twenty bottles.

-How much have we gone through?

[They look at the almost-full bottle of the Cynar on the bar.]

-This is the still first one. But it could catch on. You never know. New Yorkers can be very weird about trends. A thing could be hot for a while and then not so hot but then a year later it has a resurgence and then in a month it’ll die again but a year later people will get into it as a goof, as an ironic thing, and if you’re in the right position you could make a lot of scratch off of the people who aren’t really into it but into it enough to spend money on it. You’ll see. There’s still a chance for Cynar.

-Cynar isn’t a trucker hat. I think you fucked up when you bought all that Cynar. But what do I know?

NEXT: She Said She Was A Virgin Too Kinda

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