There’s a little place down on Congress, here in Austin, that I used to enjoy. It’s along the lines of a “Souper Salads” or a “Fresh Choice” kind of place, but in addition to the all-you-can-stand salmonella bar; the soups; baked potatoes; and blueberry sheet cake, they’ve also got a full-menu you can order from. The menu is chock full of deep fried (or grilled) goodness. Back in the day it used to be a heck of a value too. Usetacould (I GUARANTEE “usetacould” is going to make the dictionary one day, humor me) order a big as my forearm breakfast taco for under 2 bones. They would cook up your eggs on the grill with whatever toppings your heart desired. I always got the sausage, egg, n cheese taco. It had just a hint of faux butter goodness to it, and their salsa was the bomb. Their Sunday “New Orleans brunch” was something to write blogs about. It was better than ANY brunch I’d ever had in the real New Orleans.
The owner was also socially conscious as well. Hickory Street was constantly being written about in the local paper about how the owner had a scholarship fund set up for his employees and that he would pay the tuition of any of his employees who wanted to go to college if they worked full time. You can’t argue that that is good business. Well, actually, I guess you could.
I guess it was probably about a year to a year and a half ago that something changed. Their menus changed. Their “truck stop chili” recipe change. Their service changed. It went from teenage/pre-20’s college student angst “will do ANYTHING for a buck” to 30-something/40-has been “I don’t give a shit IF the customer is always mostly right, I’m a god/goddess and you will thank me regardless of how shitty my service was by giving me a great big tip”. I never thought shitty service could get worse, but we had lunch there today and it went from shitty to ABSOLUTELY shitty since the last time we went there. AND, today may have been the very last time I go there.
We got there at 1035 following the MLK events at the capitol. The host-boy asked us if we wanted breakfast or lunch menus. I said I’d rather have lunch, at which point he replied lunch wasn’t served until 11. IF LUNCH ISN’T SERVED UNTIL ELEVEN, WHY THE FUCK ASK ME IF I WANT A FUCKING LUNCH MENU? Waitress came up to get our drink order. SINCE I was JUST presented a menu from the host boy I ASSUMED it was a BREAKFAST MENU since that’s all they had to offer at that point, but the disaffected VERY LATE 40-something year old woman snapped at me in her best Brenda Vaccaro, “WE DON’T SERVE LUNCH UNTIL 11, THE ONLY THING YOU CAN ORDER IS ON T HE BACK PAGE.” Charming. By the time she made it back with our drinks it was 1045. I told Jed I wasn’t particularly hungry for breakfast and would rather just wait for lunch. He agreed. The waitress came back and asked if we were ready to order. I told her that I wasn’t feeling breakfast right now and would rather wait and watch the rest of the staff (which were all gathered around the butt-hut some 10 feet from our table chain smoking, lighting cigarette after cigarette after cigarette after cigarette off their own cigarettes!) eating THEIR cheeseburgers while we waited until we could order one. Jed got a little pissed at me for shit talking Brenda V., cuz he didn’t want her to wipe her nasty regions with our buns before bringing them out to us. She came back SECONDS later and asked if we wanted to order the boys some blueberry pancakes or something while we waited to order. I replied that they had already had breakfast and we’d wait for lunch. About five minutes later, some NINE minutes to 11, she came back once again and said, “I’ll go ahead and take your order now and turn it in. There’s a chance the kitchen will go ahead and make your order since it’s not very busy back there”. I was having my doubts THAT was going to happen since there were 11 people 10 feet away from us working on their 3rd pack of Camels. Surely one of them had to be the cook? SINCE THERE WASN’T ANYONE ELSE IN THE RESTAURANT?
1050: Order given.
1055: Smile from Brenda V.
1100: According to the posted hours, the menu, Brenda, and the host boy, the kitchen SHOULD be officially open for lunch service.
1105: Stomach growls smelling the cooking meat product coming from the chimney.
1110: Wondering what the fuck can be taking so long cooking one cheeseburger, one grilled cheese sandwich, and one chicken fried chicken sandwich.
1115: Getting seriously pissed. Tea glass has now been sitting empty for 10 minutes and food STILL not out.
1120: Wondering if the four of us should just get up and walk across the street to Chipotle.
1125: Seriously bitch. EVEN IF WE ORDERED AT ELEVEN, DOES IT TAKE 25 FUCKING MINUTES TO GRILL A FUCKING QUARTER POUND HAMBURGER AND A GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICH? DID YOU GO TO FUCKING PLUTO FOR THE GRILLED CHEESE?
1129: Brenda emerges from the bowels of Hickory Street with the food. Nathan yells “HOORAY”.
1131: I have been so starving for so long that I’m just about done with my lunch. NOT TO MENTION, I typically don’t have TWO HOURS for lunch.
1135: Brenda comes back to the table. Do you know what she has the audacity to say???
She says, “How is it folks? WAS IT WORTH THE WAIT”? Are you fucking kidding me? Christopher Meloni's cock isn't worth a 39 minute wait...okay, yes it is. BUT, there isn’t a burger around town worth a 39 minute wait.
I’m all about supporting local businesses, cuz most of them are worth supporting. But it’ll be a cold day in hell before I go back to Hickory Street again. UNLESS someone gets me a gift certificate…and then I’d be obligated to!