Terry Gallo stepped quickly over the maroon and gray bricks at the Waters Edge Lighthouse.
“Hope you have your roller skates on,” she said to a visitor, as she prepared to talk to people sitting on the spacious, semicircular outdoor deck of the Glenville restaurant. Like other waitresses, Gallo steps lively, talks cordially and serves quickly.
It was 4 p.m. on a warm and breezy Friday afternoon. Early bird diners sat under red and white umbrellas on the patio and watched a rippling Mohawk River during the first minutes of a holiday weekend. The 45-year-old Gallo, dressed in a white, short-sleeved golf shirt and knee-length black skirt, already had taken orders from a party of three.
She used a computer keyboard to notify the kitchen she needed a steak sandwich with mozzarella cheese, a Buffalo chicken salad and a “Little Richard,” the restaurant’s turkey and smoked Gouda cheese sandwich. A couple of glasses of iced tea and an ice water also were part of the plan.
“This is actually an ‘Arnold Palmer,’ ” Gallo said, giving one of the iced teas extra citrus. “He wants a little lemonade in this.”
Gallo served the drinks. Then she served husband and wife Bruce and Marty Holden of Schenectady’s Stockade section. It was quick; Gallo opened her notepad and wrote down a turkey Reuben sandwich for Marty and a small filet mignon steak for Bruce. Starters for both were small bowls of French onion soup.
Starting the day
Gallo, who lives in Rotterdam, has been on the run as a waitress and manager at Waters Edge since the summer of 2005. A day on the first shift starts at 10 a.m., with small cleanup jobs and food prep among the preopening duties. A staff meeting follows at 10:30, with a review of the day’s specials.
“The chefs come to the meeting so we know exactly how the specials are prepared and we can ask any questions,” Gallo said. Doors open at 11.
She likes to walk the patio, but has also spent shifts inside the dining room. “I like both,” she said. “I like being outside during the day — it’s beautiful. And I like the inside at night because they have more formal dining.”
At 4:15, Gallo ducked into the bustling Lighthouse kitchen to see how her orders were coming. She was out a second later: “Not ready yet,” she said. “I’m going to check outside and see how my people are doing.”
The Holdens had finished their French onions. “Delicious,” said Bruce. “Absolutely fantastic,” said Marty.
A few minutes later, Gallo filled a large platter with white plates. The steak sandwich, Buffalo chicken and “Little Richard” were on the move.
Carrying the food looks harder than it really is. “It’s balance,” Gallo said, placing her hand in the center of the platter. “And you make sure the food is balanced on the tray.”
The filet and turkey Reuben were next on the delivery list. Gallo had three other tables in her section, and more people began to enter the restaurant to begin their weekends. Most were wearing sunglasses, shorts and sandals; most wanted to be outside in wicker chairs, where easy-listening musicians like Carole King and The Mamas & the Papas kept a low profile on the music system.
“This is our most popular spot,” Gallo said of the exterior. “People feel closer to the water, they want to be able to see the river, see the boats.”
At 4:37, Gallo looked around for her 19-year-old son Vincent, a sophomore at Merrimack College in North Andover, Mass. The teenager is working this summer as a Waters Edge busboy.
On the patio, the Holdens had finished their dinners. Their plates were clean. “Well, I see you didn’t like it at all,” Gallo joked. At 4:45, her new friends were served cups of coffee. Bruce Holden considered dessert, passing on carrot cake, chocolate fudge cake, tapioca pudding and others displayed on a goody tray presented by busboy Max Zampella.
Holden thought twice about the “dulce de leche,” which means “milk candy” in Spanish but means caramel-drizzled cheesecake at Waters Edge. “With a name like that, you have to try it,” said Marty, who declined a third course. “All right, I’ll take it,” said Bruce, up for a challenge.
Inside the restaurant once again, Gallo saw her son carrying a small stack of salad plates. “Keep walking, boy,” she kidded. “That’s what you get for working with your mother.”
It took a couple minutes for the kitchen to prepare the visually dramatic cheesecake.
“I’m going to grab two forks,” Gallo said, nearing 5 p.m. and the end of her shift. “He’s going to probably share.”
“On The Clock” profiles people at work in the Capital Region by spending one hour with them on the job. Nominate a friend or co-worker by contacting Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 395-3124 or at [email protected].
Categories: Life and Arts