Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Big Chill: Dining Out in Bend

A group of friends prepares to embark for dinner in a Bend restaurant.


Not long after moving to Bend, I noticed something peculiar about the local restaurants: Most of them didn't provide any place for you to hang your coat and hat.

After living here a few months and going out to dine a few times in Bend restaurants, I figured out the reason: The restaurants are so cold in winter that you'll need to keep your coat and hat on.

Most of the restaurant owners in Bend seem to think that 45 to 50 degrees is a nice, cozy temperature at which to dine.

And then we have the common phenomenon of Bendites who love to stand in the doorway of a restaurant for 20 minutes at a time blabbing with their friends with the door wide open, letting gusts of 10-degree air blow in over the shivering patrons.

Jack Elliott, my friend and comrade in bloggery, has suggested that the restaurant temperatures are kept low for the greater comfort of the kitchen staff. With all due respect to Mr. Elliott, that seems implausible. If I owned a restaurant I'd worry more about the comfort of my customers than my kitchen staff.

I think the more likely explanation is that Bend restaurant owners are just too damn cheap to turn the heat up.

I'll say one thing for this policy: If you're having champagne with dinner, you won't have to worry about it getting too warm. Won't need any ice bucket to chill it, either.

Getting frostbite in restaurants -- just one more reason why Bend really, truly, deeply and profoundly sucks.

5 comments:

Jack Elliott said...

"Jack Elliott [...] has suggested that the restaurant temperatures are kept low for the greater comfort of the kitchen staff. With all due respect to Mr. Elliott, that seems implausible. If I owned a restaurant I'd worry more about the comfort of my customers than my kitchen staff."

Then why to restaurants in the southland run the air conditioning so hard that one is often forced to wear a coat when dining there? If they were interested in keeping their clientele happy they'd warm up the place a bit. They chill the places to keep those working over a hot stove happy. Or, shitty planning puts the thermostat nearer the hot kitchen than the dining area.

blackdog said...

I can't account for what people in SoCal do -- they're crazy down there.

Like I said, a sensible restaurateur would be more concerned about the comfort of his customers than the comfort of his kitchen staff. So Bend restaurateurs must be either (a) stupid or (b) cheap, which is what I think.

"Or, shitty planning puts the thermostat nearer the hot kitchen than the dining area."

Now, that's possible.

Another possibility is that the kitchen staff and wait staff lower the thermostat when the boss isn't around to keep themselves comfortable -- just as, left to their own devices, they put horrible headbanger music on the sound system.

Jack Elliott said...

"[...] Bend restaurateurs must be either (a) stupid or (b) cheap, which is what I think."

Well, there's (c) -- the building is old and the heating defunct or unusable for some reason.

A-and there's (d): the temperature is fine for most. "Is it cold in here?" asks the owner of a downtown drinking and dining establishment. She, being in her prime childbearing years, is flush with energy and warmth. She is rushing about serving customers. The younger, more active, patrons seem comfortable wearing only light attire. I, being an old guy who has lost insulation atop his head and circulation to his fingers, sit sedentarily in a chair look owlishly at her and and sez, "Well, I guess...?" is what I sez.

Fast food restaurants are calculatedly cool, they know that people don't linger when uncomfortable, for business reasons, high turnover is desirable.

Here's a thought: bring a thermometer with you when dining out and report the actual temps you find. See if the perceived chill is due to frigid dining conditions or mainly a function of being a cantankerous old gripey guy.

I commend this to you:

http://tinyurl.com/267wwb3

blackdog said...

"Here's a thought: bring a thermometer with you when dining out and report the actual temps you find."

Not a bad idea. People will stare at me as if I'm an idiot, but I'm used to that.

"See if the perceived chill is due to frigid dining conditions or mainly a function of being a cantankerous old gripey guy."

I've always complained about the frigid temperatures of Bend restaurants, even before I got old. (I've always been cantankerous and gripey.)

"I commend this to you: http://tinyurl.com/267wwb3"

Ha ha. Very clever.

Anonymous said...

"really, truly, deeply"

Sounds like a love affair to 'me'? LOL. One rest. we went to during the "Central Oregon Shoot-Out" the place was sweltering! We're from the W. Val and the kids who'd just finished a game were wilting before your very eyes!

Then again, they were using a fireplace in the dining hall. Mac's here in Silverton is the same way. People go on the back deck to smoke and the door is open more than it's closed. Great ZZ Top tribute band "The Manic Mechanics" on Sat. night. Fun guys!

Another theory of mine is that it's done strategically so that more of us order dessert ( rather than feeling like their full, comfortable and just need a NAP! )

Still another possibility is that, it can be a real -shocker- to be so nice and cozy and then have to walk OUT into that 10 deg. night! I always hated bars overseas that cranked the AC and you'd walk out and feel like you were ready to faint! I'm sure they had the setting dialed in so the G.I's would stay there until they were 'completely' BROKE.