Copyright© 2013 by Refusenik
The Black Horse had new bracket sign hanging from a perpendicular piece of wrought-iron armature above the front door that read, 'The Black Horse, ' and in script beneath, 'Pub & Restaurant.' Scott sat at the bar listening to Shirl talk about the sign and her preparation for the grand reopening.
The bar was in a lull, between the late-lunch crowd and happy hour. Shirl was ticking off points from a sheet of paper. Scott mostly listened and nodded. The grand opening for the second-floor restaurant was two weeks away. She didn't need his input, but he'd be a sounding board if she thought it helped.
The second floor had a new full-service kitchen that met all code requirements, including a new fire exit at the rear of the building. The dining floor was organized around three tiers, including an intimate bar. Shirl told him that the bartenders were fighting over shifts. Consensus was that the downstairs bar would generate more tips, but the upstairs bar should do nicely according to the experienced manager.
Scott didn't have much to do with the Black Horse's transformation. He made sure the money was available, and sat back to let Shirl work her magic. By far, the best perk of ownership was the invitation to sample the menu the recently hired head chef was assembling. All agreed the food was a winner, but the final decision would come from the customers.
Amanda, the waitress and hopeful bartender, pushed through the back doorway to the bar and announced, "Some asshole in a red mustang is parked in the employee lot."
Shirl's face grew stormy.
"That asshole would be me," Scott said. "It's a rental."
The well-endowed girl flushed bright pink.
"Amanda," Shirl said, "I realize we're nearly empty, but maybe next time we don't walk into the bar and shout 'asshole' in front of the customers?"
"Yes, ma'am," Amanda said. She scurried to the back, out of sight.
"We could get employee parking stickers," Scott thought aloud. "They can't be very expensive."
Shirl made a note. "Good idea. How long are you going to keep the rental?"
"Until I can find a replacement, or Hertz demands it back."
"Insurance going to cover you?"
"The Grand Cherokee was self insured."
"How's that work?" Shirl asked.
"I've asked my finance guy the same question. He swears it's the best thing for me."
Shirl folded her piece of paper. "Any thoughts on the opening?"
"Shirl, you've done a great job. There's not a thing I'd change."
"I'm worried," she said.
"That's normal," Scott said. "If you tell me a week of soft opening is the way to go before the grand opening, I'm on board."
Scott looked at her. He needed to boost her confidence. He'd been planning something, but had wanted to wait for Christmas.
"Shirl, I spoke with my finance guy a couple of weeks ago."
Shirl's mouth tightened and she took deep breath through her nose.
"Relax, it was a good conversation," he said.
"With this Mr. Wahl you've mentioned?"