Night People: On the pleasures of a late supper

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One of the things I enjoy most about my work in Ireland is a late supper, of wandering in after 9pm to a proper restaurant for a quiet meal and good conversation (or, if alone, a tender rendezvous with my iphone).

A few weeks ago, after a long board meeting, the artistic director of our Arts Festival and I dropped in at nearly 10pm to a favorite haunt in Galway and were seated without hesitation. We ate a fine meal after a long work day, enjoyed good conversation, service and some of the best of Ireland’s beautiful seafood. Joy.

Contrast this with Indianapolis and much of the States where late meals are rushed and grumpy affairs, with the staff cleaning up, vacuuming, and generally working quickly to get the hell out of there. Even places proposing to be amenable to the Evening Diner – our local Napolese being a prime offender, with the lights coming up and the staff practically asking to sweep under the table while you dine, and the check being dropped off at the same time as the entrees.

We theatre people are by nature nocturnal creatures and libertines, with professional obligations that keep us busy well past the Square’s dinner hour. We tend to do our eating and drinking late, after the gig.

One of the real joys of fundraising for the performing arts is hanging out in the donor lounge after the intermission’s mingling with the patrons, enjoying a beverage and the leftover cheese tray with the music starting in the distant background, the day’s work done and with the happy fellowship of collective effort and achievement. I don’t miss much about a day job other than this.

Even as an audience member I prefer dinner after the show. Who enjoys sitting for 2-3 hours on a full stomach trying to concentrate on Shakespeare or Mahler? No, thank you.

Better a meal after – with the chance to talk about the performance, and to eat and drink without feeling rushed to the curtain. Dessert perhaps, with the romantic potential for the evening better served by this order of activities. Mind well my single brothers and sisters.

Don’t ever ask me to meet for a business breakfast. I cannot abide a 7am start, and rarely experience anything productive at that hour. The brain and heart aren’t adequately primed for giving, nor strategy. And I am a grouchy simpleton without a jump start, so a business breakfast means I have to stop for coffee on the way.

With proper restaurants closing early, the only alternative is a pub or sports bar, and the clang and noise of televisions and youngsters is lousy for dinner, particularly after a truly moving performance or thought provoking play. As much as I enjoy food from the fryer from time to time, supper after 9pm isn’t the time for basket food for grown-ups. No, dinner after the gig should be a proper meal, ordered from an actual menu after a consideration of the specials.

Some while back I visited our swanky Delicia, home of excellent South American fare, with a friend after a performance. It was late for dinner – perhaps 9:45, and the hostess shared that only the bar menu was available—nachos and so forth.

“Is this Peoria?” I asked with some annoyance. “Pardon me for a moment while I check with the kitchen,” was the reply. And we were graciously seated for a proper meal. Shame can be useful as encouragement for appropriate behavior from time to time.

Restaurants will respond to the market and so if we demand to eat later, properly off the menu without the staff turning up the lights and turning on the vacuums, this will improve. Except perhaps at Napolese where Martha keeps her own counsel. Civilization wasn’t meant to end the day’s business while the sun shines. The vampire life is lovely.

Join us for a later supper after the show.

About jeremymhatch

If I could, I'd write about nothing but tacos. Alas, I am fundraising and leadership consultant in the arts, focusing on contributed revenue growth for organizations. Send me a compliment or complaint. And the location for the good tacos in your town.
This entry was posted in Cultural Entrepreneurship, Fundraising, Ireland. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Night People: On the pleasures of a late supper

  1. Casie Hammons says:

    Shame as encouragement? Really?! How many years have you spent in the food service industry?

    I’m shaking my finger at you with love this morning.

    C

    • jeremymhatch says:

      I hear you Casie – part of the problem is that service industry folks are paid mostly in tips so have no incentive to be around when things get quiet and certainly don’t want to stay around to sweep up. Better to pay people appropriately and get rid of tipping – most every other industry workers are paid because they do a good job. Europe has us beat on this point.

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