That's how long it took from the beginning of this quest to hearing the words:
The job is yours if you want it.
Where did I hear them?
I can't tell you.
It's a legendary place, a world-famous place, a fabled institution full of stories.
I am such a sucker for stories. But saying anything about this restaurant will likely guarantee that anyone who knows anything about Florida dining will recognize it.
Which is why I must sadly end this blog. I originally thought it could easily remain anonymous, both on my side and the restaurant's. Now I worry it can't, and if this job turns out to be the career-changing opportunity of a lifetime, then I don't want to be doing anything that might scare the management. I had already promised myself that I would never say anything negative about my eventual workplace. I swore I would include any humorous deprecation solely at my own expense. But with the media reporting almost daily accounts of blog-based firings, I don't want to take the chance of being misunderstood.
So I will end with a few explanations about why I am going to a place that in many ways is totally unlike Perfect Place #1. No water view. No boats. No palm trees. No sunsets.
And no chance for making any real money for over a year.
That's right. My most urgent goal for seeking a job was money, and now I am choosing a place to work that will not provide more than a bare minimum for at least a year or more. Until I am ready. Until I have passed the training, which is the most intense in the industry. In fact, although they will call it "working," I have decided to view the year as "going to night school." Monetarily, this next year will be more similar to being a grad student than to gainful employment. However, unlike any other area graduate program I might consider, this one has the advantage of being:
- Paying me a "stipend" that will at least cover travel costs and maybe some groceries
- Strongly guaranteeing a salary in a totally new field from my current one that upon completion of schooling could immediately start out as high as $70,000 and move up significantly from there after more experience.
Here are other reasons why the place won me over:
- The web site describes a set of philosophies and standards that are eerily similar to those I have constructed for myself over 20 years of education research and consulting. For example -
- "(This restaurant is) based on the belief that the guest must always come back." The restaurant even specifically encourages diners to request a particular, favorite server. In other words, they are all about the long-term-relationship, rather than any single dining experience. If you read my previous post on this topic, then you know why this made me rush right down and put in Application #2.
- The restaurant boasts the world's (yes, world's) largest collection of wines and promises a comprehensive wine education as part of the training program. How could I turn down the chance to make Bill Wilson proud by using his Wine for Newbies lessons as a launch pad to this?
- I have long believed that if there are synonyms for heaven, then one of them must be dessert. And this place elevates dessert like no place I have ever seen. As a diner, you actually leave your table once the main course is over and proceed upstairs (i.e., closer to heaven) to a whole other series of rooms exclusively designed for exploring and savoring the world of desserts: everything from complicated concoctions set on fire to homemade ice creams. Maybe if I hadn't seen the list of homemade ice creams I could have resisted. But I did. And I can't.
- I learned during the interview that 75% of trainees drop out in the first month. Good grief, it sounds like a Navy SEALS class! According to the manager, they leave upon discovering that they can get employment at another restaurant where they will spend only one month in training before making big bucks, rather than spending an entire year plus. They sacrifice the chance for the best professional training in the business for immediate cash reward....
In fact, even once the training is over, even once I have spent some time serving, I will have to undergo a 2 - 3 hour oral exam in front of a managerial "committee" in order to remain employed. I'm telling you, it warms this old academic's heart. Just add a written dissertation to it, and I'll feel like I'm twenty-five again.
But will I really get to that point? Or will I end up being one of the 75% of dropouts? It's hard to tell. Even if I end up passing the training and making it into the ranks of the highly paid, I may one day leave for a place that promises not only money but also daily sunsets over water.
Or I may decide that I can never leave the homemade ice creams.
Either way, I honestly believe their description of this restaurant as a "gastronomic adventure."
"Adventure" is one of my all-time favorite words and longings.
Class begins next week.