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  • The Check Podcast

Episode 21: The Lightning Round Strikes

Updated: Nov 20, 2020

Alvin and Brady discuss the impact of elections and other major events on their restaurants and give their new lightning round a test run.


Episode Transcript

November 4, 2020


Brady Viccellio

If you've ever wondered about what goes on behind the scenes at restaurants, then you're in the right place. This podcast takes you inside the minds of restaurant owners, chefs, bartenders, servers, basically anyone who has anything to do with food, drink or hospitality. I'm Brady Viccellio, owner of Steinhilber’s restaurant, and La Bella Italia on Laskin Road in Virginia Beach. Welcome to The Check podcast.

Alvin Williams

And I'm Alvin Williams, co host of the check and owner of Cobalt Grille restaurant at hilltop in Virginia Beach. Welcome to our podcast, we'll be talking about restaurants, people who work in restaurants who own restaurants and people who like to dine in restaurants.

Brady Viccellio

Alvin, this isn't our first presidential election we've gone through we've been going quite a while in our in our restaurants. And we've seen a few every time a presidential election comes around. I find that really any election year, we have a little business dip.

Alvin Williams

Yeah, definitely a low, due to, I guess, people watching TV a lot just to see what's going on. And they'd rather do that from their homes and from their favorite bar restaurant. So I think that's part of the impact.


Brady Viccellio

I was going through some my grandfather's old notes. I was looking at notes and articles that he had from, I don't know, again, probably 30 years before that, at least, and maybe longer -- 40 years before that. And they were talking about the exact same fears and the exact same challenges that we were facing then in a presidential election year. And I don't see it much different now. Of course, the politics is different. But the fear and the concern that this is the end of the world. It happens pretty much every every election and we forget about it. Well, after four years, you forget about how hard it is.


Alvin Williams

This one is a little different with the COVID,

Brady Viccellio

The COVID certainly puts another spin on it. But every election is stressful.

Alvin Williams

Absolutely. It's certainly cyclical. And it happens every time. And it's when you’re in the moment that you feel super stressed out, and then that dissipates. And then it comes back again next four years.

Brady Viccellio

And it's nothing new, it just happens every four years.

Alvin Williams

What is interesting, though, is, you know, you talk about stress on some of our servers because they can be going to tables. And customers can be talking about politics. And you know, with the restaurant is kind of like around our own dining tables, where we kind of have a rule where you know, we don't talk about religion or politics. But sometimes some tables will get fired up. And they'll be talking about whoever it is that they voted for. And they can get loud and it can get a little, you know, a little raucous at their table. And then they may ask a server's opinion. But, you know, what's the server supposed to do? They can't weigh in on it.

Brady Viccellio

Yeah, and it's our job in our business to be kind of om neutral ground. I think you do a very good job about it. I've known you for a long time. And I have no idea what your politics are.

Alvin Williams

Well, what's great is because I truly don't believe it has any place. It's personal. And nobody needs to know what I vote. And what I find extremely funny is that customers will come in, and they think that they know who I'm voting for one way or the other. And that's just what they presume. And I go along with it. And some may be right and some may be wrong.

Brady Viccellio

Well, I get that too. And of course, I'd go along with it either way, because we're not in a business where we can choose the sides at least not publicly, and we just have to be welcoming to all feelings, all philosophies and all people.

Alvin Williams

What I tried to do is I try to vote for what's going to be best for my family first and foremost, and secondly, for my business. So that's what I based my vote on. And that's all I have to say about that.

Brady Viccellio

That was a little bit more than I've ever gotten out of you.

Alvin Williams

It’s nobody's business and why would anyone care but anyway, what else you got?

Brady Viccellio

How would you say just off the top of your head without looking at numbers -- presidential election versus say March Madness or Superbowl?

Alvin Williams

We’ve always been closed for a Super Bowl Sunday. We used to be open on Sundays and when we were we decided to close on Super Bowl Sunday because we never did any business at all. March Madness, that definitely affects our business. Not sure why but it's really slow when the final four thing happens. And Halloween. Yeah, Halloween is always a slow, slow evening because a lot of people are home with their kids. They're either out trick or treating with their kids or their home waiting for kids to come around. Or maybe they’re just hiding.

Brady Viccellio

Did you do trick or treating in England Alvin?

Alvin Williams

Never.

Brady Viccellio Did you dress up as a kid?

Alvin Williams

So the only thing I remember about this time, time of year was a celebration we had called Bonfire Night, which was the fifth of November. And it was in celebration or in remembrance of when Guy Fawkes burnt down the Houses of Parliament. So I think there was a Halloween but the only thing that I remember was the night before Halloween, and we called it mischevious night. And that's when we would go to other people's houses and steal their apples and kind of trash their lawns and stuff like that.

Brady Viccellio

Who's this Guy Fawkes? Is that -- that's not the guy who came here and started selling cars is it?

Alvin Williams

No, that'd be Charlie Falk.

Brady Viccellio

Oh, Charlie.

Brady Viccellio

Different guy. But that would give him a reason to leave to leave England if he burned down the house of parliament.

Alvin Williams

Yeah, no, Halloween was just it was just never big in England. I think it is now, like a lot of things that were not big in England than they are now because we've become a little Americanized over there. We never had proms and, and ring dances and all those things. I never had a prom. I never had a graduation ceremony with a cap and gown.

Brady Viccellio

You never had a prom date.

Alvin Williams

Never had a prom date either. No. So none of that. But now they have that they have the limo and the prom and the prom date and the tuxedos and things. I never had it. Not at all. Not even a whisper of it. And I'm not that old. So I'm just saying some of the traditions that you have here in America, which is just fine and dandy, I never had growing up in England.

Brady Viccellio

Alvin we've talked a little bit about a lightning round.

Alvin Williams

You and I have talked about it. I think I don't think we've talked about it on the podcast.

Brady Viccellio

Thank you for that. You and I have talked a little bit about a lightning round about putting one in and so might be a good opportunity to kind of play around with our lightning round.

Alvin Williams

To explain what the lightning round is, it's just a little bit of fun. And we'll do this somewhere in the podcast with our guests that come on.

Brady Viccellio

I should have slipped in here. Who are you voting for? Just kind of in the middle.

Alvin Williams

See if you can trick me? Alright, so let's test ourselves on the lightning round. Because if we're gonna put our guests through this, we should at least put ourselves through it first.

Brady Viccellio

All right, what's your pet peeve? Alvin?

Alvin Williams

My pet peeve is real easy. It's people who don't do what they say they're going to do. I find it really annoying. Like, if you sign a contract and say, This is what I agree to, and this is what I'm going to do. And then you turn around and don't do it or renege on it. It just I find it really irritating. Or it could be as simple as I'm going to be there at seven o'clock on the.we have a meeting and then you don't show up at seven o'clock. It's just really annoying. Just do what you say you're gonna do. And that's it. Or don't say it at all. All right. Okay, what is your pet peeve?

Brady Viccellio

I guess it's similar to yours. But when time is seen as endless. I'm sorry. When my time is not respected. If you're entertaining me if you're getting me upset if you're making me sad, making me happy, challenging me. That's great. But if you're, if you're just gonna waste my time. That's the thing that we only have so much of.

Alvin Williams

We only have so much -- time is valuable. Time is money, time is you know, that's all we have. Yeah, so ours is similar on that one. All right. Next one. What is your favorite cooking TV show or restaurant TV show and why?

Brady Viccellio

For some reason, I really whenever I see it, I really like Master Chef Jr. Where they have kids competing against each other. And they've got these culinary giants, assessing their meals and the kids are impressing them. You got Graham Elliot, Joe Bastianich and Gordon Ramsay, and they're assessing these young kids. And they just make incredible food and sometimes they have failures, but I mean, you expect them all to be failures, and they just kill it.


Alvin Williams

I have seen the show once or twice. I never really, you know, focused on the food but the kids seem so while personable and they have great personalities, and they seem so confident and that was pretty cool to watch. My favorite restaurant show I would have to say is Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares.

Brady Viccellio

I like Kitchen Nightmares.

Alvin Williams

Yeah, just because it's familiar. And you can see a problem that someone would have in their kitchen. And you may recognize that because it may have been something that happened in our kitchen or, or someone that we know, we already kind of know how to fix it. But we just want to see if he does the same thing.

Brady Viccellio

I can't believe he always he always goes in the walk-in and then gags. I go into mine and I get hungry. I end up cooking stuff. I want to cook something.

Alvin Williams

Yeah. Well, it's an easy spot to go to. If you want to find out if the chef's lazy or not. That's the first place you go.

Brady Viccellio

Heavy, heavy neglect.

Alvin Williams

I guess it's like a doctor would take your temperature first and, and then assess things from there on. This is this is the doctor of the kitchen. He goes right into the heart, into the walk-in. And then you can see a lot of things from there.

Brady Viccellio

Well, sometimes it takes a little bit to get there. He eats the food first. And then he goes in, he starts gagging.

Alvin Williams

Well, I think that's TV. You know, I think if he was smart, he would go and check the walk-in. And before he ordered the food. But my other show I just got one quick one was what was that show with Padma Lakshmi, and Tom Colicchio, Top Chef. So I really used to like Top Chef when it first came out. And it was it was gritty, and the chefs were just hungry. And it wasn't really about being on TV and becoming a personality. It was really about the food and trying to win a competition. And it was really cool for at least like the first, I don't know, four or five, maybe six seasons. And then I kind of stopped watching it after.

Brady Viccellio

What's your favorite movie, Alvin?

Alvin Williams

It's pretty easy. Godfather, one or two. I'm not sure which one I like the most.

Brady Viccellio

I think that's a great choice. But do you have a favorite like kind of like, obscure movie that you're like?

Alvin Williams

I like the Shawshank Redemption.

Brady Viccellio

Not really obscure, but okay.

Alvin Williams

There’s a restaurant movie that I love. And give me a minute and I'll remember it.

Brady Viccellio

I know which one you're talking about -- with the Italian guys.

Alvin Williams

That one's a good one.

Brady Viccellio

Yeah, the Big Night.

Alvin Williams

The big night is good, too. But that's not the one I'm thinking.


Brady Viccellio

I like the 100 Foot Journey, maybe something like that? It's about an Indian kid who's across the road in his Indian restaurant. He's across the road from a French restaurant. And the French restaurant’s all fancy. And he's doing this Indian food and he gets hired by the French restaurant.

Alvin Williams

Oh, yeah. Yeah, I saw that. That was good.

Alvin Williams

I remember the name of the movie that I really like, is called Dinner Rush. It's with Danny Aiello. It's a New York kitchen. And they really go down into the basement into the kitchen. And, you know, it's one guy, and he's a gambler. And then there's a lot of like, you know, Mexican chefs, which is real. In New York, a lot of Latino chefs down there, doing all the work, even if it's an Italian restaurant or something. And it just shows everyone it shows the hosts. And it shows the servers and the relationships between, you know, the front of the house in the back of the house and the owners. And then it shows the VIPs coming in. And the food critic coming in. And the gangsters coming in is a really, really cool, cool movie. Yeah. So that's probably my favorite restaurant movie. But my favorite movie is The Godfather.


Brady Viccellio

Are you going to ask me or is this the Alvin Williams show?

Alvin Williams

No, I was thinking of a quote from the Godfather. My house where my where my, my wife sleeps, my children come to play with their toys. Okay, all right. What's your favorite movie?

Brady Viccellio

When I was asking you, I was thinking about kind of the random kind of obscure movies and I like I really like it's been a long time. I've seen either one. But I really like kind of the genre that kind of floats through the movie. And to, to that I thought of like that Grand Canyon and Nobody's Fool -- two obscure ones. You should check them out.

Alvin Williams

They don't ring a bell.


Brady Viccellio

Because they're old and they're kind of, they're not exciting. Just kind of relaxing, with

a little bit of conflict.

Alvin Williams

Okay, I'll check them out. All right. So something close to our hearts. What is our favorite meal? Do you have a favorite meal? And if you did, what would it be?


Brady Viccellio

I think my favorite meal would be like a nice juicy steak, probably like a New York Strip, or a porterhouse with a couple of Steiny’s shrimp. I know that that's kind of using my own brand, but…

Alvin Williams

That sounds delicious, at times, but that sounds to me like, favorite food,

Brady Viccellio

What’s your favorite meal?

Alvin Williams

My favorite meal Brady is when I'm home in England, with my family that I grew up with my nearest and dearest cousins, and aunts, and Carrie is there, and the cousins are there, and we're all there. And we’re just sharing a meal. And it really doesn't matter what it is. It's usually, you know, West Indian, rice, and peas, and chicken and some, you know, to cabbage and stuff. And the food is great. But it's that we're all kind of together. And we all just kind of riff on each other and have jokes and tell little stories. And, and that to me is a meal.

Brady Viccellio

That's a great response. And the reason I like that is because there's so much to eating that's not food. And a lot of times we forget about how important everything else is. And that's kind of what restaurants are. I mean, of course, food is important. But I think we talked last time about just the excitement of going out and just social interaction, and how important that is.

Alvin Williams

And the food is important, but it's not the be all and end all. So if your steak comes out slightly more mid range than you would like it or slightly more cooked. It's not the end of the world. Just enjoy who you’re with. Enjoy the experience. Enjoy the fact that you're, you're out there and you're healthy and you can order a meal in a restaurant. There's a lot of people who can't.

Brady Viccellio

Alright, as if I don't know. Yeah, what's your favorite beverage?

Alvin Williams

Well, my favorite beverage would be to blanket it would be wine, and it would be red wine. But for a specific favorite beverage. I would say it would be a vodka gimlet.


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