A new Cajun restaurant opened last month in my small, coastal town. We only have a handful of restaurants (pizza, burgers, no gumbo) so the prospect of grabbing a bowl of gumbo-to-go on a gray winter day is exciting.
I’m too cautious to try the new place yet. I’ve watched its progression – months of transforming a bakery into a strip center café, followed by posting “Opening Soon” signs along the highway. I’ve listened to the locals’ predictions, none too thrilling. Finally, the words NOW OPEN blitz the electronic marquee. Uh oh, in smaller type, scrolls “Now Hiring Cook.”
That’s my first warning sign for eating out. I’ve been writing restaurant reviews for TripAdvisor (Top contributor, Restaurant Expert) for several years and have hammered out some personal parking lot guidelines to help protect my time, money and digestive tract.
Restaurant Caution Parking Lot Points to Ponder
- Now Hiring Cook sign – so who is cooking and why did the other guy leave?
- Now Hiring sign — even if you get a seat, what makes you think you’ll get served?
- Less than five cars in the parking lot – how many people work here?
I won’t try a new restaurant until it’s been open at least a month. That gives the staff a chance to hang around and see if they like their boss and their new job. On several occasions, the new place has closed before I ever arrived for the review.
Lately, there have been plenty of days I’d like to hang a “Now Hiring Cook” sign outside my house, so I empathize. I can’t predict which sign at the new Cajun restaurant will turn off first – Now Open or Now Hiring Cook. But hopefully there’s a great cook somewhere who would like to make gumbo near Pensacola Beach so I can grab some gumbo-to-go. Like they say at the beach, come on in — the water’s fine!