A Rainy Sunday in LA

It rained in L.A. this weekend, which is news for most Angelinos. There was also the Firecracker Run in Chinatown, which I ran in. In the rain.

I didn’t brave the 10K but I did complete the 5K—gasping to the end. A few friends signed up (at my pushy suggestion that they join an event that benefits local schools, libraries, and recreation centers in Chinatown), so I couldn’t exactly bail on the last minute.

I woke up at the unsightly hour of 5am on an otherwise sweet Sunday. It was hard to resist the seduction of my soft bed. My mother had offered to baby-sit the girls that day, so the first thought that came to my head was: What the heck am I doing wasting my precious free time by running out in the cold?
Two cups of strong coffee and a quick shower later I was up and stretching and nervously awaiting my first “marathon”. I felt like I was going on a date. I considered wearing make-up, but the image of my face streaked with sweat and foundation…eek. I opted for Chapstick and a little mascara.
M and I were going to walk to Chinatown, but I must have taken too long applying the mascara because we had to take the car. At least parking is easy at 7am. I, being the procrastinator that I am, had still to register, but it was pleasantly easy and quick. Among the goodies for the participants was a pair of powder blue flip-flops that might have to wait for my four-year old to fit into. Anyone wear a size 5 ½?
The firecrackers and lion dancers were great, filling the air with an electrifying energy… and then choking you with the smoke. The race started, and to my dismay the route was hill after hill after hill after…well, you get the point. Next time I get marathon-running in my head, I’m going to consult the race route first.

After burning those extra calories, we were ready to reward ourselves with a breakfast at the Nickel Diner.
When we got there, with a friend, I ordered the tofu huevos rancheros – deliciosos!
Former Mayor Hahn also happened to be there and ended up seated next to us. The food was wonderful; the service great as always. (We took our neighbors there once, along with my girls. The pancakes were late, but the staff was so apologetic they gave us the pancakes and fruit compliments of the house!)
We’ve gone to the Nickel several times. It is one of my favorite restaurants downtown and the designated place we take our out-of-town guests, which is why I cannot understand why the co-owner, Kristen Trattner, decided to walk over to my guest and inform him that there was a line of people waiting and that we needed to leave since we were finished eating.
I have never in my life been asked to leave a restaurant, and it hurts and humiliates me that it had to be at a) a favorite spot b) in front of my guest c) when we were speaking to former Mayor Hahn (M’s former employer). I felt so embarrassed and uncomfortable because Judge Hahn was just telling us of his new career, and we were discussing the Firecracker run with his companion who happens to work with Kids Run L.A. We had to cut them short and say goodbye.
I have to admit that at first I had mixed emotions; I still do. I tried to rationalize her actions with the current economic crisis, stress, lousy weather, etc. But I looked around the restaurant as we were leaving, and they were setting a table for four – and there were only three people waiting, in a group. I have been to the Nickel countless times and have never minded waiting to get seated; I know the food is worth it.
M was furious and I tried to calm him down while apologizing to our. When we got home M called the Nickel and explained what happened and that he wanted an apology. The person on the phone said they would have the owner return the call. No one did.

Then, M sent an email, but instead of apologizing or diffusing the situation, the waiter claimed it was he who had told us to leave and that it is standard protocol to ask your patrons to leave when they are done.

This waiter has a vivid imagination, because unless it was he was wearing black and white striped trousers and sporting a black wig, I think I can tell the difference between who I saw and didn’t. Unfortunately, he never apologized but did state that if we didn’t like the service then we could just not come back.
Well guess what? I won’t be going back because in these tough economic times I am very picky about where I spend my money, and I sure won’t pay to be disrespected and humiliated.
FYI, Nickel Diner, we were not finished. We were drinking our coffee that had just been poured and enjoying your ambiance – too bad you had to cut it short.

Next time I have a rainy Sunday off from the kids – I’m staying home.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We spoke to Kristin Trattner at the Nickel Diner, but as of posting she had not gotten back to us with a comment.

Published February 13, 2009

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