I have an issue with the Chinese restaurants near my place.
Whenever I go there, I feel bad. I look at the decor, the staff, the customers and I think: Self, are you really going to get food here?
I don’t know one single Chinese restaurant that looks “newish”. I was going to write “clean”, but I figured that’s not really accurate and I’m not that big of an asshole.
For example, there’s this place that’s the closest to my house that’s called “Chinese Paradise”. It’s located in a run down mini-mall, between a tool rental place and a cobbler, and near the obligatory Quick-Mart. To get in, you have to use a door that leads to a staircase going downstairs, but you don’t have to go downstairs, you just use the door on the right. It’s hard to describe, but picture a T, the horizontal part is made from two doors, and the vertical part from one. Here’s a drawing.
In order to get in the restaurant, you can’t simply go through door a, you have to go through door b and then door c. Why? The answer probably has something to do with the fact that door a and door b have different addresses. That inspires confidence, doesn’t it?
Once you’re through door b, there’s a staircase going down, and that gives you a view of part of the basement, where you can see empty paint cans, a bicycle, parts of a bicycle, some boxes and other random things.
In the restaurant, things don’t really look better. Waitresses are talking on the phone (taking orders) and they know most of the customers that call by name. Normally this is a good thing, right? But there’s something creepy about it. The phones are beige with thick black accents (yep, that’s dirt). The bar/counter is filled with empty alcohol bottles. I’m pretty sure all the white alcohol is water. one waitress used a calculator to do the math on 10 x 1.00$ (the price of 10 soft drinks). I was greeted with a “Sit down honey” while she was chewing gum with her mouth open. She was wearing too much eye shadow, and kept sniffling and rubbing her nose, which gave her a definite “I sniff coke” vibe.
Once you ordered, you get to sit while they prepare your food in the back. While sitting, you can enjoy the decor and the customers. The decor is old. Really old. I counted 6 light fixtures with 5 light bulbs each, for a total of… let me get my calculator… 30 bulbs. Out of the 30 bulbs, only 5 are working. The carpet used to be red. Walls used to have fresh wallpaper, now, not so much.
Customers are really interesting to look at too. They wear various sweatsuits, ranging from the classic gray with wolf on front to the blue with the Pepsi logo in the back (and big block letters spelling PEPSI in the front). Women there all wear too much make-up, they all look like they’re down on their luck, on their last penny, fresh from a night of heavy drinking. All the cars in the parking lot have rust and/or duct tape and/or missing windows, fenders, wheels. ALL THE CUSTOMERS HAVE BLUETOOTH HEADSETS. Well, except me. Clearly I don’t belong here.
Sometimes you’ll see cooks (or what I assumed were cooks) coming out of the kitchen to refill the buffet. They are dressed exactly like the customers: sweatsuits with wolves, Bluetooth headsets. WTF?
Then I get my food and I get out of there, thinking I’ll never go back. But once in a while, LovelyWife wants Chinese, and there’s not that many places around. Maybe next time I’ll take pictures.