The Ranting Restaurateur: Shannon Wynne

Dishers, another day, another debut. Last week we introduced “Restaurant 101” with Amy Severson, this morning I present “The Ranting Restaurateur.” Not sure how regular this little diddy will be because there aren’t too many folks out there who would go on the record. However, if you are a restaurateur or chef and would like to rant, bring it to me.

Today’s rant is by bon vivant Shannon Shelmire Wynne, owner of Flying Fish, Flying Saucer (great web site) and 8.0. He is not afraid to speak his mind. He agreed to rant on SideDish on one condition, well two but we can’t talk about one of them here. Anywhoo, SSW is a control freak and he didn’t want one word of his self-written rant changed. So here he is:

“Why don’t restaurant owners teach their servers not to screw up my tea? ‘More is better’ in the areas of great art, exciting sex and peace on earth…just leave my tea alone. I sit down and ask the server for an iced tea with lunch. Many places now offer “sweet” tea, which is de rigueur everywhere east of Tyler. Hickbillies are not true Southerners, so the offer is rare in North Texas. I guess being a former scotch drinker, once I left the rum and coke stage of youth I stayed with the bitter bite of unsweet tea.

Any of the other mango, passion, greenish-black teas are way over my head, and quite honestly probably should not be iced.

There are only two ways to spruce up a glass of iced tea, sweetened or unsweetened. The first, and rarely seen these days, is what we continue to do at the 8.0… add a sprig of fresh mint. You should have it growing in your back yard, and if your favorite restaurant does not have it, tell them you want it. The second is a huge 3/4 inch thick slice of a half lemon. Anything thinner, wiggles and twists when you try to squeeze it and ends up getting into the cuticle cut on your pointy finger.

So the server brings me my tea, which should never ever be in a stemmed glass unless it is over 16oz. I then set about squeezing the lemon and dumping in the packet of sugar, if I want a little cause it’s a sunny day….and I stir it all up .

Here is where the training comes in. There is usually a busser or server whose job it is to carry around a pitcher of wa wa and tea so that nobody’s glass goes empty. I get my tea just like I want it and then during my meal I drink it to where it is half empty. Some WELL MEANING knucklehead is then trained to approach my table and WITHOUT ASKING, pours a whole half-glass of untreated tea into what I had already MADE PERFECT… diluting it to something I do not want…crap tea. Mind you, the manager on duty knows this is going on…but does not train around it.

To counter this, as the pitcher zooms toward my perfect blend, my right hand knifes through the air to the rim of my glass in a “please don’t” and a rather curt and offensive stare is shot toward the intruder. Why the HELL does this server not know to ask? Why is it not common sense to ask if I want them to screw with my tea? The women at places like Babes are so fast, even I can’t keep them away. Lombardi’s Cubanita asks, as do the great servers at Tratoria. Managers: TEACH YOUR SERVERS HOW NOT TO POUR TEA! Thank you.”

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