All she wants is a unicorn, that rare creature skilled in the arts of the restaurant kitchen but without the added baggage of unmanageable ego, poor attitude, and an active, raging chemical dependency. Actually, that sounds like a fairly reasonable set of expectations. Those of us who know Elizabeth Bills, co-owner and general manager of The Wild Hare, know that this ad for help wanted was written with equal parts humor and candor. Staffing a small, family-run restaurant that aims to provide high-quality food in an atmosphere that’s family-friendly is a challenge. Bills, whose children range in age from pre-school to college has a natural maternal tendency that extends to her employees, many of whom refer to her as "Mama Hare" or just "Mama." So potential employees need to understand this dynamic before they apply. She rules the roost — er, warren.
Unfortunately — as brought to attention by The Wild Hare on their Facebook page — some contributors to Reddit don’t really view her requests kindly. Though, really, is being compared to Alice Waters a bad thing?
And some commenters are actually supportive, however none seem to be fans of the surveillance. As a customer, I’m a big fan of these tough policies, though my main concern is for waitstaff. We’ve probably all had an experience with a server in an altered state (see the Open Thread about horror stories from a few weeks ago), and though it is often tolerable, it isn’t always. As for back-of-house, I imagine it can be downright dangerous.
Now, I’ve worked in a restaurant and I know that in the business, people often work hard and play harder. But I’d think expecting your staff to do so on their own time or at the end of a shift isn’t too demanding. I was at a very popular, nationally known restaurant recently (a bit past my bedtime) where the bartender took shots back to the kitchen. Just to celebrate the end of a good night. And that’s cool. Happy employees make good food and provide even better service. But it’s different from showing up so drunk or high that you can hardly function. I've actually seen Bills in action in such a situation; on one visit to The Wild Hare a while back, a server (who indicated he was a recovering alcoholic) showed up for his shift visibly drunk and barely functioning. And also quite surprised to see the owners in the restaurant. After getting some coaching, he fled the premises with a restaurant-owned iPad (which we could clearly see from the front window). Meanwhile, we got a new server and apologies for his very odd behavior. They retrieved the iPad and sent him on his way, and now a quote from that server — "What are you doing here?" — is a running joke within the family.
Anyway, I certainly hope they find their unicorn. The Wild Hare is a favorite of mine, particularly the deviled eggs and The Wild Hare Pizza (minus the bacon).