Mothers, we all technically have them… to what extent we appreciate them varies, but there they are… on our birth certificates…forever. What do you get the woman that has everything (and by everything, I mean YOU, because you’re better than perfume/flowers/wine), invariably family after family drag their mothers out and into my hands (not literally), to restaurants, cafés and pubs…instead of YOU treating your mum like the matriarch she is, you get us to do it…thanks.
Every “special day” brings its own challenges to the hospitality industry: Valentines Day means the restaurant fills up with awkward couples who have spent so long with each other that this is just an arbitrary day to sit opposite each other with a candle between, either that or the overly-amorous pairs who spend as much time eating each other as they do the food. Christmas, oh Christmas…how I hate it… work parties are just poorly structured, ad-libbed amateur soap operas. Mothers Day is one of the worst, you HAVE to treat THEIR mother like she was YOUR own, and don’t let anyone see you speak to a different mother longer than you did theirs, you can’t play favourites…nope! We hate it, waiters, chefs, bar staff even door staff hate mothers day. The biggest issue from my side of the business is the sense of entitlement, “the customer is always right” is a dangerous myth, couple that with “norn irish mammy syndrome” and it’s a recipe for disaster. It’s generally not the mothers that are the problems, the children want to be seen to gather the world for their mammy and woe betide anyone who says that we can’t swap a side salad for an extra portion of chicken wings.
I’ve had more mothers day disaster moments than I care to remember, one sticking particularly in my mind was a table of 6, 1 Mother, 3 kids, 2 grandkids, the mother ordered the soup, just “the soup” then 2 of the mothers childrens (both in their 30’s) came up to the pass to the kitchen to clarify what soup their mother would find acceptable (we had one soup on, and we had told them what it was for the day), and it turns out that both kids had very different perceptions of what soup their mother would like (whilst giving no regard for what options were available). They lit up on eachother and at the chef, all the while their peace-loving mother was sitting at the table with the same grin she had before the “fracas”, and when the soup came out as precisely what the soup of the day was, she grabbed her spoon, said thank you very much and seemed to enjoy it… Both children seemingly happy that the soup they had told the chef to make had made their mother happy, neither of them aware that their “suggestions” were completely ignored. That’s the “zen mothers”, the ones that watch their family lay into each other on her special day, sit in the metaphorical lotus position and ohm their way through the ordeal… Then there are the “big mo’s” of the world…
I have stood behind the bar on mothers days, where the mammy comes up to the bar every 10 minutes or so to get a glass of water, an extra slice of lemon for her water, maybe some more ice, then maybe a dash of cordial, then more water…5 trips to the bar, all “essential” and each one coupled with a “here love, stick a vodka in it would you?” The meal finishes and the family all look relieved that they have got through the mothers day meal in one piece and with no trouble…and then it arrives, the booze has taken affect and “drunken mammy” is here. She throws casual criticism at her family members, it expands to nearby tables who have the audacity to stare, eventually bar staff or door staff have to come over and ask her to calm down, then you have the dual pronged attack of a drunken mother who feels that this day is her day and nobody elses, and a child who thinks you’ve offended their mother… There’s no way back, the hospitality ship has sailed and it’s all aboard the good ship domestic incident. Last year we bought a load of roses and every mother was given one upon sitting down, “awww, isn’t that lovely” no…we’re bribing you to stay good from the outset because we expect you won’t be, are we buttering you up? Yes.
Mothers day is an opportunity for the hospitality industry to really make some hay, the period after christmas can be quite slow, then mothers day and st patricks day come together quite closely…it should be great, and tips should be flying in…on St Patricks day this is true, people celebrate St Patrick with great craic and a few drinks, people celebrate Mothers Day by flipping a coin marked either “obnoxious” or “ignorant.” Also, for what it’s worth…I think “mammys” are all in on some big prank…you sell drinks on mothers day that you don’t sell all year round…I’d say 50% of all pernod, grand marnier, sherry & galliano sales come on that 1 day. I think the drinks companies have bribed all our mothers to try weird stuff on their special day.
Every sitcom worth its salt does a “mothers day” episode at some point, showing the struggle that the main mother character faces where the family want to celebrate her day, undoubtedly by imposing on her and causing more work for her when all she wants to do is rest and enjoy some peace and quiet… Well when people want to avoid that, they just throw the drama towards their nearest restaurant. Thanks.
Sometimes, saying it with flowers and a card is perfectly acceptable. Don’t add gravy to a potentially volatile situation.
Kris tweets ferociously as @belfastbarman and runs an associated site, www.belfastbarman.com where he occasionally opines his views. He lived abroad for a while and as such, feels he will never really ‘get’ this place. Formerly a barman, he regularly broke the cardinal rules of, “No politics or religion in the pub,” as such, he turned to writing. Previously a stand up comedian and an animal crematorium assistant, now works in marketing and is a recently joined member of the Alliance Party.