Stephen’s Pizza has some very unique aspects that separate it from other restaurants. When you walk in, your eyes may immediately have to adjust to the lack of lighting. Apart from the naked bulbs hanging from the ceiling like oversized Christmas lights, there is not much else that illuminates the room. Once your eyes have adjusted to the dimness, they may be assaulted by all the neon beer signs scattered along the walls. They may also be drawn to the many TV’s that have sports figures dashing across them or to a brand new car being advertised weaving along a mountain road. It may even be the hundreds of tap handles distributed along shelves throughout the restaurant that catch the person’s eyes. Once your eyes have taken in all the crazy colors and objects, you may begin to notice some of the simpler things of the restaurant, such as the floor, which is just bare concrete where tiles used to be.
Apart from your eyes being overwhelmed with objects to see, your nose may also be bombarded with all kinds of scents. Of course, there is the smell of food. From the pizza to the pasta to the garlic bread, there are all kinds of food related scents to make your stomach rumble in hunger. After taking in all the food scents, you may begin to pick out the smells of all the different people enjoying their meal in the room. The smell of perfume from the couple who seem to be having a nicer dinner may fill your nose. There is the smell of the ranchers sitting in the corner, who you can definitely tell just finished a hard day’s work. Maybe it’s the smell of a baby’s food smashed all over the table just inside the door that wafts into your nostrils.
Then come the sounds of the crowded restaurant. As soon as you make your way in the door, you are greeted by a hearty “Welcome to Stephen’s!” from the cheery worker at the counter. After that, comes the sound of the sports events playing on the TV’s. On a Monday night, this usually consists of the Monday Night Football game.
A fan yells, “That’s a terrible call ref!!”
Another fan in the room cries out in excitement, “What a hit!”
Of course, if you are a sports person, you probably figured this would happen. Not everyone understands, though. Working at the restaurant, I get complaints all the time. “This person is scaring my kids because they are yelling at the game too much.” “Can you please turn down the TV’s? I can’t hear my husband across the table.” It’s hard to please everyone, though, because one person may want the TV’s up while another wants them turned down.
Apart from the noise level of the TV’s, you have the music playing in the background, competing with the TV’s. The music can vary from country, to please the ranch hands in the corner, to the Beach Boys, to give everyone a happy vibe.
Slow nights at Stephen’s are my favorite because it gives you more of a chance to connect with people having dinner. Being in a small town, you almost always have someone in the restaurant that you know or who knows you. I always try and take pizzas out to the people I know so I can have a chance to have a little small talk with them.
“Hi Jacob,” I am usually greeted with.
“Hello, Mr. Adams! Here is your pizza.” I moved his number out of the way to place his pizza down in the middle of the table
“Thank you very much. How have you been?”
“I’m doing wonderful! How is your night,” I replied as I cleared his salad plate out of the way.
“It’s great now that I have some dinner.”
“Well I hope you enjoy. Have a good night!”
“Thank you! Say hello to your parents for me.”
As I returned to the kitchen, I saw a man wearing a large bulky coat, walk in. He was clutching it to his chest, almost as if he was holding something inside. He stood just inside the doorway and scanned the room with darting eyes. After seeing an open table in a far corner away from the door, he quickly made his way to the table and plopped down. He was facing the door and hardly took his eyes off the door. The only times he did, he quickly looked at the people around him, and then his focus shifted right back to the door.
The table next to him got up and left so I walked over to clear off the dishes. As I walked towards the table, the man immediately jerked his head towards me, and stared at me the whole rest of the way to the table. As I cleared the table, I could see the man out of the corner of my eye, still staring at me. I also noticed he was beginning to sweat slightly across his forehead. I was beginning to become a bit nervous.
I finished clearing the table and took the dishes into the back to be cleaned. When I returned from the back, the man was gone. How did he leave that fast? I was only in the back a few seconds. Maybe he had gone to the bathroom. I went and checked the bathroom doors to see if they were locked, and they were both open. He must’ve left. Why did he only come in for a couple minutes like that? He didn’t even order anything. It was the strangest thing I had ever seen while working there. I wasn’t able to think about it long though, because next thing I knew, my boss was asking me to deliver more pizzas to the customers.