Below: No recipes today–a trip down memory lane.
Since settling back in here, I’ve had to figure out where I fit in at the restaurant. I’ve been reluctant to call myself “co-owner” or “co-manager,” and I’ve felt especially weird about “co-founder.” It has been easier to use a verb, to say, “I run a restaurant with my fiancé,” or even, “I run a restaurant that my fiancé started.”
It’s understandable that I don’t know how to describe what I do at Shorty’s. In the summer of 2010, before I tried my hand at Teach for America in Houston, I spent a blissful three weeks out at Gary’s shop. Gary made sure no one lost a hand while the man (a.k.a., Shorty, a.k.a., le fiancé) and I sanded down tabletops, tried welding table legs, and pretended like we knew how to rebuild a restaurant. We knocked down walls, salvaged what we could from Seafood Deluxe’s short reign, and threw out the worn-looking cot and change of trousers the previous owner left behind (ew).
When I got back from my 6-month stint teaching, the place was totally transformed. Gary had put in a twenty-foot bar top, and I found Shorty flying high as he tiled the bathroom floor himself. I had to go in with a mask and get him out of the fumes. Around that time, I got a job at a local law office (I was still under the delusion that I needed a real job and would probably have to go to law school or business school. It seemed like the smart thing to do at the time.)
When Shorty’s finally opened, I was twiddling my thumbs at the receptionist desk. But watching Shorty open his place and using my honors degree to answer the phone sort of inspired me to do my own thing, and I didn’t want to ride his coattails–I wanted to do something in my own right. For better or for worse, I watched the restaurant grow, or, more accurately, heard it grow all the way from Belfast for the next three months.
If you’ve been following Crandlecakes for long, you sort of know the rest of the story–I moved to Boston to get an MA degree, and while I worked at Shorty’s during every break (when I should have been reading literary theory or something), and even did things like update the daily slices on the website or design flyers all the way from the north, I was starting to feel less and less connected. Shorty was featured in the Waco Trib, the Baylor Lariat, the Wacoan, the Baylor Line and he even got an interview on the local NPR station, but I wasn’t there.
Now that I’m back, I know I can never pretend that I was here every moment of those early days, when Shorty was barely hanging on, working every waking hour, watching the trickle of sales become something real, and slowly figuring out what he was doing. But I did see it at the beginning, and I get some credit. The man always says that the only reason he got the guts to go ahead and open the joint was because I said, “If you don’t do it now, it just means you’re scared.” Little did I know what kind of power my words could have!
Anyway, I’m here now, and that counts for something. It took awhile to figure out what I would be in charge of–it’s no surprise that I’m settling into roles as recipe tester, errand runner, office manager (sort of), and emergency beer pourer. I recently got my business cards printed, so I guess I’m officially co-something!
Hang on and I just might bring you on my behind-the-scenes recipe testing adventure. Currently in the works: homemade Italian sausage topping. Thanks for reading, friends. Stop by and see us!