Looking for Opportunities in a Smoke-filled Room

Aug. 7, 2013
A smoky restaurant dining room provides opportunity and inspiration.

I took my wife — who is very lovely and also very tolerant of my often-juvenile behavior — out to dinner recently to celebrate her birthday.

We went to a nice restaurant and got a nice table. What wasn’t so nice, however, was the haze hanging in the dining room’s air. This restaurant, like many today, has a semi-open kitchen, where from certain vantage points diners can see the poor chefs in the kitchen working their tails off. (Full disclosure: I worked as a cook in a past life; it is not a fun job.)

I will admit that the haze actually smelled pretty good, at least for a carnivore. It had a nice steak-like smell to it, and it may have not been an issue at a barbecue joint. But a visible haze in this otherwise fairly elegant environment was a little dismaying.

I explained to my wife that the smoke was probably caused by all the candles on her birthday cake. Ha ha! Even I know better than that. Actually, I explained that it was probably a poorly functioning kitchen ventilation system. Not operating? Undersized? Clogged with grease? Hard to say. But in any event the system was definitely in need of a look from a good commercial HVAC contractor. I not only smelled hazy smoke, I also smelled a maintenance agreement sale

I wondered if an HVAC contractor eating at the restaurant would have seized the opportunity and talked to the restaurant manager, or asked the manager for contact information for the landlord/building owner. I also marveled at our business, one in which opportunities can present themselves anytime, around any corner — or in any smoke-filled room.

By the way, the birthday my wife was celebrating was her XX (NOTE: THIS SECTION REDACTED AND THE WRITER HARMED).