It’s Friday the 13th. I prepare myself for crazies at the bar tonight. Instead, after I clock in and poke my head in the office to say hello to Francis (Bonjour Fron-ceese!) he calls me back in – and asks me to close the door. This is a first. Immediately, I get nervous, but then I remember this is Francis, and there’s no way I’m in trouble (not that there’s a reason I should be in trouble). He would never be mad at me. And if he actually was mad at me, he wouldn’t say anything because he doesn’t want to be the bad guy. Still, this can’t be good. It’s not.
There’s been rumors floating around the bar that Lilly’s is closing and Francis is selling the place. Random customers say “they heard we were closing” and my bartender friends at the neighboring bars have asked me about it. I freaked out a little and mentioned it to Adeline and Magali last week. Magali was quick to say she knew nothing about it. You’re such a bad liar, Magali, I know you know something. She just laughed at me. “Uh, no, I haven’t heard anything.” Adeline is quiet. She later tells me to not worry about it. “If something is happening with the bar, Francis will tell us.” The next day, I mention it to Corrinne, and she agrees with Adeline. “Nothing has been signed. I already asked Francis. If anything happens, he’ll tell us.” So now, he’s telling me.
“We are talking about making a deal but nothing has been signed and if we do, I will have a meeting with everyone and tell you together.” I expected this, but being told straight from the horse’s mouth is a little too real. The guys he will potentially sell to own a couple other bars, so they’ve been in the business for a while. I guess that’s a good thing. “If we do sell, they will only be a bar for the first year or so.” So you mean no kitchen. No food. “I think so. But even if they do, it will mostly just be a bar. They’re going to need people, so I will sit down with them and tell them who is good. Obviously, I will tell them you.” I smile and I’m grateful, but I’m a little nervous. So, you’re not going to be a part of it at all? Francis smiles. A tired smile. “No, baby, I’m out. 15 years. I’m done.” This business has made Francis older than he is. I’m happy for him to get out of it, but sad to not have him as my boss because he really is the sweetest man. “If you want to go somewhere else, if you have an opportunity somewhere else, you do what you have to do. Of course, I want you to stay with me until the end, but we all need to do what we have to do and life goes on.” Like I would ever leave Francis out to dry. I’m definitely not going to leave. I can put some feelers out, but I’m not leaving. I can’t believe I need to even think about finding another job. As much as Lilly’s is poorly run and there’s a lot of unfairness, I truly feel a part of this Lilly’s family and it’s the best restaurant I’ve ever worked in. Maybe not the best, but I’m the happiest I’ve ever been here. And that’s what matters.
Last weekend was Tropez’s birthday. I must have said happy birthday to him at least six times during the night. When I usually would complain to him every time I saw him, I said happy birthday instead. The next day was Claire’s birthday (his wife, I don’t know if I’ve mentioned her yet but she’s unsurprisingly awesome). How cute that their birthdays are a day apart? The following night, Sunday, they had a birthday dinner at Lilly’s. They took over the garden (there’s the inside, the patio, and the garden – great for private parties). Corrinne and I were working and didn’t have to worry about them. They brought their own wine and Francis made them a buffet. I have to close Sundays, so I was there until the end. When I finish closing, I walk to the back to say goodbye to them. Mostly everyone is gone, but there’s still some stragglers. Claire has her camera set up on a tripod, taking pictures. Pepe and Adeline are still there, and Pepe stops me from leaving. “You have to wait in line to take your picture with Tropez.” I laugh, but don’t take much convincing. OK, sure, I’ll wait. I get a shot with Tropez and Adeline and Pepe, and then Claire comes into the shot with us. Tropez tries to give me bunny ears but I catch him. What other bar have I worked with where I would ever want to get a picture with my manager and friends, or even more – my manager want to get a picture with me? It’s nice. I like it here.
Saturday is Bastille Day – France’s Independence Day. We have a busy dinner shift early, but it dies down by 9:30 and Francis asks me for some drinks for him and some of the staff who have finished their shift. I bring them drinks and he tells me to have one, too. Well, if you insist! I wait until I have no more customers at the bar and then bring a glass of wine over to the table where they’re all hanging out. I feel like this is our goodbye; like this is the end of Lilly’s. It’s not yet, but I sense some finality. Tropez is sitting between me and Francis, so I ask Adeline to take a picture of the three of us. I’ve never seen Francis move so fast. “No, no no.” What? Why not? You’re camera shy? He comes over to my side looking angry. “I’m not sitting next to Tropez.” Haha, oh, OK.
Later, I get two customers at the bar. Boo. Oh, wait, it’s my friends from Joe’s – the restaurant two doors down where I had also applied to when I applied to Lilly’s. Glen actually was one of the guys who mentioned to me last week about the rumors of Lilly’s closing. He’s just finished his shift and orders a Ketel martini, slightly dirty. Ben joins him and also orders a martini – extra dirty. Someone was just fired over there. They don’t need anyone now, but there’s another employee who “really sucks” so they might have an opening down the road. I’ll keep that mind. Might as well start looking.