Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Putting the Rock it in Rocket

It was probably the Gods punishing me for having both a burger and chilli cheese fries for dinner, but I was completely weirded out when I went to Johnny Rockets yesterday.

First, it’s a little strange that it’s now in Dupont (1718 Connecticut) nestled between that restaurant with the lobster deal and the Pleasure Place. Second, why can't I get a good non-chain burger in Dupont? I have to go to Chinatown to Matchbox or Five Guys, but yesterday, I was really in the mood for a cow sandwich so I caved and went to Johnny Rockets.

If you haven’t been to one, it’s your typical diner setting and standard diner food. And, as I was waiting at the counter for my to-go order and trying to have a conversation with Maime on the phone, they cranked the music. I said goodbye to her and watched puzzled as all the servers got this strange look on their faces, it was a mix of bravado and trepidation. Then, the large sweaty man, skinny girl and awkward white kid filed out to center of the place. The manager with a shit eating grin on this face cranked the music louder. And then, the servers walked to the middle of the crowded restaurant and began to dance.

While I was raised on oldies, I’ll be honest, I was so distracted by the guy who took my order flailing his hands in the air that I don’t remember what the song was. Many of the other customers looked as uncomfortable as I did. However several (with conspicuous fanny packs and I heart DC shirts) started clapping along as our servers sweated though several turns and jazz hand poses. I wanted to scream: Stop clapping you monsters, they’ll think we like it! But then people took out their cameras and started taking pictures of these poor minimum wage workers who not only have to sweat through shitty tips from tourists, but they also have to dance for their paycheck! On the half hour, apparently, according to the Johnny Rockets Web site. It was too much for me to handle. I doubt I can ever return.

Guess you gotta have a gimmick. Feel free to download some of their itunes or check out this map of music facts.


Blogger Ashburnite said...

ugh...I hate when they do that in restaurants. That's one of the many reasons I don't go to Joe's Crab Shack (that, and the shitty food). I always feel so bad for the servers who have to take part in that humiliation. the worst part is that it actually affects the level of service. If the servers are on the floor dancing every 30 minutes, the level of service suffers. Plus, I lose my appetite after seeing that shit.

1:50 PM  
Anonymous slingblade said...

Dang, knot one wyrd 'bout french frys pertater.

Now yew giddyap on back thar n sample 'em woman.

1:52 PM  
Blogger V said...

Ash: Exactly, I felt so bad for them...I mean every half hour...that's terrible!

Sling: Brotha, you are committed to the bit--

2:19 PM  
Blogger Sean said...

Five Guys is a chain FYI....Speaking of burgers (I was thinking about this the other day while waiting in line at McDonalds. Breakfast of champions.)why is it called the "Big Mac"? Shouldn't it be called the "Big Mc"? McDonalds must think Irish people would be offended or something. Typical PC bullshit!

2:39 PM  
Anonymous bill said...

Eww. Restaurant as entertainment. Wrong. Apparently it appeals to the tourists, though, and maybe they are the big spenders. And maybe the frustrated actors who work as waiters think they will get their big break. Nonetheless, wrong. I know I could never return either. Sorry you had to experience it.

2:56 PM  
Anonymous slingblade said...

V ah know, caint halp it, its cuz we wuz tew poor to afford frys when ah wuz sproutin.

3:19 PM  
Blogger Washington Cube said...


8:04 PM  
Blogger Floyd said...

Holy shit, that's sounds perfectly surreal. Next time I'm in DC we WILL GO to Johnny Rocket's.

8:13 PM  
Blogger Freckled K said...

I will never complain about my job again. I'm a lucky, lucky girl.

I am uncomfortable when the Cold Stone folks sing for their tips, and that lasts all of 3.5 seconds...a dance number is unfathomable.

7:46 AM  
Blogger bettyjoan said...

That very thing happened to me at the Johnny Rocket's in Georgetown--I didn't know what to do when they started dancing. Laugh? Run? Close my eyes and go to my happy place? :-)

2:08 PM  
Blogger Scot in DC said...

Sean: McDonald is a scottish name :P

3:08 PM  
Blogger Sean said...

Scot, no shit Sherlock, BINGO! It would be even more insulting to the Irish since it would be coming from a company with a scottish name. I still say the burger should be called the "Big Mc". As in (phonetically) "Big Mick", dammit!
BTW, if you called a scottish person a "Mick", they would be a little confused. Then they would kick your ass 'cause that's how they roll. Try it sometime ;-P

3:58 PM  
Anonymous Former Burger Jockey said...

Christ, there's a memory I didn't need to be reminded of. I worked at a JR in Miami for two years. I was never forced to take part in this torture, as I worked in the back with all the hispanics. When I worked there Aretha Franklin's "Respect" was the song they danced to. They updated the jukebox a little while later, adding a bunch of songs that confused their '50's theme ("YMCA"? Seriously??). The restaurant was definitely designed for white people in fanny packs. Too bad, their burgers weren't half bad.

4:08 PM  

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