Posted by: Sarah | December 4, 2009

as seen from behind my bar…

I wish I could capture the hilarity of working at the restaurant. I once told the guys that I was going to write a book from all the crazy stories that they have told me of what has gone down in Barbaresco over the past decade, but they warned me that I would have to change all the names to protect the, well, not so innocent.

There are so many reasons why I love working at the restaurant, so many beyond the fact that it is different in every way possible from my last job, which made me miserable for months, where I had no human interaction and sat in a stuffy cubicle everyday.  But more than anything, I love the fact that I laugh – everyday.  Of course, not all day, everyday.  There are crazy customers to deal with.  My coworkers sometimes annoy the hell out of me (and they know that they do).  It’s exhausting.  But I laugh. And I love that.

Afternoon espresso with the guys (yes, I am the only female who works there) is often one of the best parts of my day.  Gus calls us family, and in a way, they are.  They drive me crazy at times, just like my real family, but it’s a tight knit group, and I’m happy to have found it.  It is a strange mixture of Albanian and Ecuadorian culture that makes up the family…and then there’s me, the only “American-American” as they call me.

Yesterday, Charlie stood outside on Lexington Ave, early in the evening before we had more than just a table or two, watching the people go by.  Two of our regulars pulled up in front of the restaurant and asked him to put their name down for later.  The guy winked at Charlie and said, “So, you’re going to give us a discount this time for being such good customers, right?” Charlie retorted, “yeah, you see that beautiful car that you just drove up in?  The price is going to be double for you!”  Yes, this really is how he talks, with his crazy thick accent, to all of our customers who have known him for years, and they eat it right up (no pun intended, sorry!).

We celebrated a couple weeks ago, when after 9 years of living in this country under political asylum, after months of paperwork and bureaucracy,  Dorjian became a US Citizen. A few days later, a customer happened to ask him, based on his subtle accent (nothing compared to Charlie’s) where he was from.  He announced (rather proudly), “I’m an American”. When the customer persisted, “yes, but where are you from?” his response was, “well, you know, we’re American, we’re all really from somewhere else anyway, aren’t we?”

It’s an interesting crowd, our group of regulars.  There are times when I almost feel like I am working in a nursing home.  Yes, you read that right.  I would say that about 75% of the people at any given time are over the age of 60, people who are set in their ways, who order the same thing every time, often come by a few times a week, and have been coming for the past 10 years.  It’s an old neighborhood, old money.  That’s the Upper East Side for you.  It’s amusing.

Gus, Toni, Dino. Charlie, Dorjian, Paulo. Lucho and Georgi.  Chef-y, Doctore, and all the guys in the kitchen.  And Sarita. That’s the Barbaresco family.  A family that speaks a mixture of English, Spanish, Albanian, and Italian.  It’s crazy. And I love it.



  1. Sarah,

    Great post. I felt like I was in New York.

    Glad you are enjoying your job with your family 🙂

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