A few years down yonder I worked as a server at a restaurant called Rock Bottom. Above anything else, at least they got the name right. Because it was certainly that for me. Having been an established server for ten years I was left with the only choice of working at a Corporate Brewery between a movie theater and a Red Robin. After interviewing with a manager and telling her it had always been my dream to deliver Patty Melts and mugs of Hard Cider to sad people, I was hired. For folks that have never been to Rock Bottom, let me get you up to speed. It’s a Willy Wonka Factory for alcoholics. But instead of Umpha Lumpas and chocolate rivers you get middle aged men with foopas and cirrosis of the liver.
First and foremost Rock Bottom is a microbrewery. A microbrewery is where they take the beers you normally drink and make poor imitations of them for you to enjoy. It’s kinda like when you were young and you begged your mom to get you the new pair of Air Jordans. But instead she took you to Kmart got you “Fair Gordans.” Mom – This is the same thing honey, just as good. Me – “No, no it’s not. If it was then people at school wouldn’t be laughing at me.”
Rock Bottom had a few perks to help support your disease. One was a beer club membership. The membership included a discount to the beer of the month, special access to new beer tastings, and the chance to be the deadbeat dad you always wanted to be. Every once in awhile we would have beer eduaction classes where we would be taught how to fully understand why “BEER GOOD.” One time a Beer Professor brought in a case of Rolling Rock and proceeded to belittle it like a nerd at an 80’s beach party. He bullied that beer so much that I gave the 12 pack a hug afterwards. “Hey buudy don’t let a man who wears a caribiner keychain off his belt loop ruin your day.” Who gives a fuck if you like Rolling Rock? Let people like what they like. This Beer professor was wearing jean shorts okay, so maybe we shouldn’t be pointing fingers at pale ales.
Everyday at Rock Bottom we would have a pre-shift meeting. This was a way of boosting moral and preventing the staff from cutting their wrists. The head chef would also come out and tell us about the signature dish he was featuring that day. “What I did here was incorporate the great flavors of wisconsin cheese and fresh smoked ham into a juicy succulent Chicken breast and baked it with panko crusted breadcrumbs. Bon appeitt!” Okay lets calm down there Bobby Flay. That’s Chicken Cordon Bleu. It’s ham and cheese stuffed into a chicken. I can get that at 711 next to the frozen burritos and rotating hotdogs. It aint fancy and you didnt make it. You rolled it off the back of a Semi, thawed it out on a counter, threw it in a oven, and put on your chef hat to try to look the part. I made Marie Callendars Swedish Meatballs in my microwave last night. Am I a chef too? I had to take it out of the box and stir it halfway through. Gave me a slight case of tennis elbow.
The food certainly got the short end of the stick on this playground. The genre was somewhere inbeween State Fair and ballpark concession stand. I loved it when someone tried to return an entree at Rock Bottom. That’s like trying to take back a corndog at Great America. Customer – This don’t taste very good. “Of course it doesn’t sir. You are in a brewery…eating Chicken Fries out of a Waffle Cone. What did you expect? Now shut the fuck up and eat it. You obviously aren’t worried about your health anyways.”
The best part about my whole experience at Rock Bottom was that I was fired from there. Where is there left to go after you are fired from a place called Rock Bottom? Doesn’t get any worse than that. What is below Rock Bottom? Doesn’t look good on a resume. Manager – “So it says here you were fired from a place called Rock Bottom. What happened there?” ME – “Oh because I’m a piece of shit. Rock Bottom was too high of a standard for me to reach sir. If the place was called Gutter Trash or Sewer Scum I might have stood a chance. So do I have the job or what?” Manager- “Ryan, welcome to Red Robin.”
Air Jordans – The first shoe so cool that people will shoot you in the face and take them off your feet to shows they’s a baller.
Kmart – Before there was a Target or Walmart, there was a department store where you could eat nachos and drink a slurpee while shopping for a Windbreaker.
Chicken Cordon Bleu – The second most disrespectful thing to do to a chicken. The first? Buffalo Chicken.
Marie Callender’s – A young lady had a dream of one day providing frozen meals to divorcees living in studio apartments.
Great America – Great? No. But memories of first loves and the first time you were finger banged remain with you longer than any keychain photo ever will.
Red Robin – Gourmet burgers served for that gourmet person still wearing a Big Johnson T-shirt and driving a 92 Saturn.