The hardest I ever worked — by a long shot — was as a waitress.
Sometimes I worked the morning shift, which meant arriving by 6 a.m. Sometimes I worked the evening shift, which meant leaving after 10 or 11 p.m. And often I worked both, which meant sore feet and an apron stuffed with cash.
The restaurant was Joe’s Deli in Rocky River — and it was run the right way, still is, by Joe and Jannette Kanaan. Joe was there early in sensible black shoes, slicing meat and setting up. Jannette, who had three little kids at home, came later, always in a white blouse, heels and red lipstick. She made sure the kitchen was as clean as her kitchen at home and that every table was treated like family.
But a good restaurant treats its employees like family, too. Joe and Jannette sent a huge tray of baklava — my favorite — when I was away at college. When I wrote my first newspaper story, they had it made into a plaque. They still send me Christmas cards.
In this issue, we celebrate the very best restaurants in town. Behind each and every one you’ll find the stuff of greatness: Talent. Drive. Trust. Authenticity. Creativity. Hard work. Stamina. Also, equality. In the heat of the kitchen, all that matters is getting orders out.
Cheers to the restaurants that made our pages this month — and cheers to the restaurants that didn’t. As a former and forever waitress, I know what you do to serve both your customers and your community — and I thank you.