Had dinner with my mom last night at the Lone Star Steakhouse on 2100 S near 1300 E.
We went there because Mom had been craving ribs. Her craving began at 19:30 MDT Jun 06, 20004. I know this with such certainty because I wrote in my trusty PDA the date I got my Green Street club membership.
How, you may ask, does a private-club membership have anything to do with the beginnings of a craving for ribs?
There's a bit of a story behind that.
Mom called me up that Sunday afternoon.
"I want ribs," she said. "Let's go to Tony Roma's."
"Okay," I said. Locked up the house, picked her up, and we drove to Trolley Square, where Tony Roma's occupied space in the building at the northwest corner of the mall.
I figured, since it was Sunday night, that the parking spaces near the entrance of the restaurant would be full, but we pulled right in with no waiting. Got out of the car, walked toward the short stairway leading to the restaurant's entrance. I grabbed hold of the door handle and yanked hard in my usual way of opening and holding the door for whomever I'm with.
All I succeeded in doing by that maneuver was bouncing my face and chest off the locked door. I stood back in amazement and that's when we noticed that the building was mostly empty. The Tony Roma's sign was still there, but the waiting area inside the doors was bare, and there were no people visible anywhere around. And then I saw the small placard wedged into the edge of the glass inside the door:
COMING SOON: CHINESE BUFFET
We did the typical thing. Distrusted ourselves, checked all the windows and the other of the double doors to be absolutely certain we weren't just crazy or on Candid Idiots or something. But it was true: The place was closed, no indication of when it had gone. Just gone.
So we turned around and went to Green Street, and I had my first full-year membership in one of Utah's charming private clubs.
But anyway. Since then, Mom's had a hankerin' for ribs. There are other Tony Roma's locations in Utah, mostly in the extreme southern end of the Salt Lake valley. Apparently her craving had never achieved a strength that made a 30-minute drive worthwhile, so she never did anything about it.
Then she saw a sign about Lone Star's ribs entrées. Ribs alone, or ribs'n'[chicken|shrimp|steak|whatever]. Last week she told me about that, so we went there last night.
Note to our server, whose name I forgot about 3.2 seconds after she introduced herself:
DON'T SAY "BE RIGHT BACK!" BY WAY OF ENDING EACH STOP AT OUR TABLE.
We just told you we were going to linger over our beers and appetizer and would WAVE YOU DOWN when we were ready to place any other order(s). And in any case, every time you said "Be right back!" with that chipmunk-nasally voice of yours, you were NOT "right back." We had to flag down a manager several times to place additional orders.
One thing I was happy about: They seem to have discontinued the occasional all-staffers-line-dance thing they used to do. At various times, usually once an hour or so, the background music would be turned up to DEAFENING and the servers/bussers/managers/bartenders would materialize in the aisles and do a little line-dance number while the appalled patrons looked on.
Last night there was no background music at all, and I guess the workers didn't have enough songs in their hearts to do the dance numbers in silence.
Further note to our server:
THIS IS THE 21ST CENTURY.
THE MAN IS NOT AUTOMATICALLY GOING TO ORDER FOR THE WOMAN.
Note to the bartender:
OPERATING THE CASH REGISTER IS BEYOND YOUR CAPABILITY.
Note to the woman who looked exactly like my 10th-grade English teacher, complete to pancake makeup and impossibly perfect globe of black hair:
SHORTEN THE FAKE EYELASHES. THEY'RE LIKE SPEARS WHEN YOU WALK.
And the ribs weren't even all that good. Roma's aren't the most amazing either, of course, but that's what they do. They KNOW ribs. They do a fine job for a chain restaurant with mainly clueless servers.
Lone Star does not.