Well, well! Here we are again! By “we” I mean the five or so of us who actually realized that NBC was reviving The Restaurant on the Saturday night of a holiday weekend, and still chose to watch it. As all five of you know, NBC yanked Rocco and company from its schedule a few weeks ago, but had second thoughts when they realized that whatever they showed in its place – yeah, I flipped the channel too, so I don’t know what it was – got even worse ratings. So here we have NBC’s vote of faith in The Restaurant! Back to back episodes on a Saturday night! I had to watch it because recapping this trainwreck is my job, but as for the rest of you, I sincerely hope you were kept home Saturday night by a nasty rash, or something else so dire as to make a night in watching Rocco seem fun, and that you didn’t pass up a cool barbecue or whatever for this. Even though the kitchen catches on fire.
The Food Channel is on All Night
You may – or may not – remember that when we last saw Rocco, he’d been given an ultimatum by Jeffrey, his financier, to devote himself to making the restaurant make money, or risk being replaced. Rocco responded by trotting off to his culinary alma mater, while Jeffrey went chef shopping.
As we open this episode, Rocco has decided he WILL spend time in the kitchen. He’ll just do it at 4 a.m. He makes some pasta sauce. Like many projects undertaken at 4 a.m., this sauce evidently sucks. Even Mama, who seems to think Rocco walks on water, says so. Maybe he’s never in the kitchen because his cooking stinks? I’m just saying, that is a possibility we had not considered. Until now.
Up in the dining room, the distrust between Rocco and Jeffrey is coming out in the staff. Carol, a Jeffrey minion, takes exception to one of the waiters giving his staff coffee before a little training time. Didn’t anyone tell Carol coffee is a prerequisite to stay awake for this show? Anyway, the two get into an argument over it, as Carol appears to believe friendly consideration to staff is unnecessary. Is she taking management lessons from Leona Helmsley?
Laurent, the manager, overhears, and trots off to give Rocco a little pep talk about how it’s not Rocco’s without Rocco, the staff is mostly still loyal to him, and Rocco needs to fight for the restaurant. And that would involve Rocco actually entering the restaurant when, say, other people are there. I.e., not 4 a.m.
Suitably pumped, Rocco calls Jeffrey and says they need to talk. Because that has worked so well in the recent past, them talking. Anyway, Jeffrey heads for the restaurant. Meanwhile, some of the kitchen staff learn to make pizza Italian style, courtesy of Italian chef Tony.
Strap Me In, Bartender, I’m having Vodka and Angst
Remember a few episodes ago when Jeffrey’s Task Force suggested new barstools might improve the traffic at the bar? Of course you don’t. I only remember because I’ve watched these things over and over taking notes. Anyway, they did, and now some of them have gone barstool shopping. I can honestly say I have never been barstool-shopping. But I have done my share of off-barstool-falling, so I hope they get some stools with arms on them. Or perhaps a lapbelt.
Jeffrey arrives, he and Rocco and Mama meet for the big Talk. To say it does not go well would be an understatement. First Jeffrey and Rocco talk about talking – Jeffrey says he’s tried to make Rocco set times for meetings. Rocco counters by saying he’s trying to run the restaurant. He says, thinking it makes him look good, that Jeffrey had to bring in several people to do what Rocco does. Jeffrey says no, those people are there to make the restaurant make money, something Rocco most emphatically does not do.
Things quickly devolve, as they usually do, into a slingfest of accusations. To hear them tell it, it seems both men are lying, backstabbing toads. I won’t quibble with that, but I would point out that this sort of conversation, variations of which are heard daily on school playgrounds, is not likely to facilitate an amicable resolution to their problem. Nor is Mama’s advice, which is basically that both Jeffrey and Rocco need to be more mature.
I Hear Oneida Makes Some Nice Patterns
Meanwhile, those nice new barstools have arrived. I see no lapbelts, which indicates to me a sad lack of foresight. It indicates to Rocco, however, that Jeffrey cannot be so concerned about money if he continues to spend it.
Other things Jeffrey wants to spend money on include new silverware and new staff uniforms. Rocco huffs that he was not consulted on either one, and insists that the silverware, at least, must stay. Why is this important, why? It is obvious to everyone that this restaurant has much bigger problems than the silverware pattern.
In the midst of all this, Rocco has decided to have a staff meeting, presumably to make up for all the staff meetings Jeffrey had without him. Rocco apologizes to the staff for all the uproar, and assures them that he does, indeed, still own half of the restaurant. The staff demands to know who he is. Ok, kidding, but seriously, if you have to remind your employees that they work for you, you should seriously rethink your management methods.
Jeffrey has decided that “liar liar pants on fire” is not working as a communication tool, and decides to give Rocco all the financial statements. If you recall – again, I know you don’t – Jeffrey has been sending monthly statements to Rocco, who claims to have not seen them, although Laurent has. Inexplicably, Rocco now says he wants Laurent to handle that end of things. And, totally explicably, Rocco then trots off to an interview.
Down in the kitchen, there is a problem. Namely, the oven is on fire. Didn’t this happen last season? I’d think the friendly neighborhood fire marshal might want to get on top of this one, before someone successfully burns down the restaurant for the insurance money. Hey, it’s been known to happen.
Anyway, as most fires are, this one is put out, an end hastened by Tony, the chef, punching a hole in the wall. If the sprinklers went off at all, I didn’t see them, but the fire alarms proved that they work. They work, that is, in the sense that they go off when there’s a fire. They do not work in the sense of alerting people that they might want to exit the building – the customers don’t seem to bat an eye at the idea of the kitchen being on fire. And they’re rewarded for their unconcern, as Rocco – yes! Rocco is in the building! Forget the cell phone: next time they need Rocco, the staff should just light a signal fire – orders pizzas be made for the customers, and even stoops to making them himself. He’s probably tasting them as he goes.
Mama Said Psych You Out
Naturally, Rocco does not last long in the kitchen. Schmoozing calls. But so does narcissism. For some reason, it transpires that several customers are psychiatrists. How convenient. Did they innocently enter the restaurant in hopes of leaving psychiatry behind them for the evening and chatting about the news, the weather, the latest advice from Cosmo on what men really want? In the unlikely event that that is so, they are in for a shock. Because therapy, Rocco decides, is just what he needs. But his mother attachment is not, surprisingly, what dominates the conversation. He wants to discuss his problems with Jeffrey.
Since Jeffrey’s there anyway, he gets called over, and the two go over much of the same ground, with the psychiatrist mediating. Rocco discovers that yes, perhaps he does think Jeffrey is ripping him off. Jeffrey says Rocco should trust him because he has no motivation to rip Rocco off. Is this NBC or Lifetime? The psychiatrist also makes them say nice things about each other, a question I’ve noticed is sometimes used in political debates. Jeffrey says Rocco is talented, but that he needs to recognize his limitations – i.e., he’s a talented chef, but is not a talented manager. If someone can convince Rocco he is not talented at flirting and should stop it, they will have my undying thanks.
At any rate, the psychiatrists seem to have achieved the impossible – a ceasefire. At least, until the next episode. Oh wait, that’s right now. Thanks for nothing, NBC.
Two more to go. Commiserate with me at firstname.lastname@example.org