A Table for How Many? at Lafayette Fire Company No. 1
|User "Oden," Wikimedia Commons|
You Can Yell Across the Room
When we arrived at Lafayette Fire Company, the hostess didn't yet know who our server would be. She told us that if we needed anything, we should "feel free to yell across the restaurant. We are not against yelling!" How fun!
Lafayette Fire Company doesn't advertise itself as a kid-friendly restaurant, but it would be an ideal place to take a group of children. (Just say, "No," to Mickey D's!) With yelling allowed and firefighter décor all over the place -- including my favorite, a fire hydrant beer tap -- kids will enjoy the atmosphere (though maybe not as much as at the former occupant of the space, the candy-filled Soda Fountain Square).
The Best Split Check Award
Somehow I don't think Lafayette Fire Company is going to print this out and hang it on the wall, but I'm awarding them the Best Split Check Award of 2009. Not only did they divide the check up for our group without errors, but we were also delighted to find that shared desserts (which typically appear on one check, often randomly selected by the server) were split between the checks of the sharers. We've never seen that before in all of our Dinner Club days.
A Great Idea, Poorly Implemented
One reason to take your group to Lafayette Fire Company is to show your support for our area firefighters. Its website states that part of its proceeds benefit Backstoppers and the Missouri Children's Burn Camp. Our Dinner Club members loved this idea, and we had a larger than usual turnout because of it.
However, if we didn't know about this before coming, we wouldn't have found out about it at the restaurant. Our server didn't mention the donation until we asked about it. When we did, he explained that we could make a donation to those organizations by rounding our bill to the nearest dollar or by simply leaving extra money. That sounded easy enough, but, there was no line on the credit card receipt for donations -- we just had to write them in -- and those leaving cash had no way to differentiate between extra money left for tip and extra money left for a donation.
We attributed most of this confusion to the fact we were there on the restaurant's fifth day of operation, and we're sure that it will iron itself out. Tabletop descriptions of how the donation works and information about the charities would be a good start.
Stefani Pollack is the author of the Cupcake Project. She is also a member of the St. Louis Dinner Club. She blogs about her large-group dining experiences twice a month.