Grandpa Webb's blog

Thursday, 21 March 2013

It must be spring: I’ve just had a free lunch

Find out more about Grandpa WebbAlmost overnight, our town has acquired a small restaurant quarter. As part of a redevelopment, six small restaurants have suddenly appeared. Some have tables and chairs outside (a bit cold for me at the moment) and because they are grouped together, if you can’t get a table at one, you can always try next door.

I was wandering past this food heaven when grandma, as she does, struck up a conversation with a young man outside Carluccio’s. Although there were some signs of activity, the restaurant wasn’t open yet, he said.

What a shame, said grandma, Carluccio’s is one of our favourites. Never mind…

The man - who turned out to be the new manager - produced a visiting card, two menus and two vouchers for free coffee. “We are not quite ready to serve the public, but we are having a ‘soft opening’ next week. If you phone and book a table we will serve you a meal free as part of staff training - all you will pay for is any alcoholic drink.”

Nearing the end of our staff training sessionNext Tuesday we turned up for staff training day. They found our name on the reservation list - a good start - and we had a table for two. The service was a bit chaotic, which we expected, but the food was great and all I had to pay for were two glasses of house red. 

When we went back a week later, this time using our own money, the waitress said: “How nice to see you again!” The place had been packed for the soft opening. Had she really remembered us from all the others? Or is, “Nice to see you again,” an expression that offends nobody, and some of the time you will be right? Or maybe she has a photographic memory.

I don’t know. But I like restaurants that mix good customer service with good food. Especially if the first lunch is free. We’re off there again today. 

The first signs of enterprise

One of the painted pebbles hard at work being a paperweightMy eldest granddaughter, aged eight, has just set up a small business. I learned about it when I was babysitting last weekend.

"Would you be interested in one of my painted stones?" she asked. "I have several sizes and prices. I can show you a selection."

She has three boxes of pebbles, each stone scrubbed clean and painted with brightly coloured flowers, butterflies and animals.

I chose one decorated with a finely painted fishbone. "That will be 10p please," she said.

Special offer: the original sketch from our five year-old granddaughterNot to be outdone, her five year-old sister then produced a slightly larger pebble edged with gold glitter paint.  "This one is 10p," she said. "But if you buy the stone, I will also let you have this picture." The picture, an unsigned original in ballpoint on lined paper, depicted grandma and me and their dog Wallace. It was a special deal that was impossible to refuse.

So it seems we have two new entrepreneurs in the family, and, like the restaurant, they retain an interest in regular customers.

Next time the girls visited I had to demonstrate that the stones I had bought were proving to be useful paper weights in the office, while the picture, was um, in the kitchen, waiting to be allocated a place among all the others on the wall.

It’s amazing these days what you can get for 20p – or for nothing.

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