A Thanksgiving Story

Some stories from the trenches are worth telling. This happened to me at a former restaurants on the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City.

Thanksgiving Evening 1984

It's now 6:00 pm and we've fed over 1200 people, the restaurant is still packed with people waiting for the Plaza lights to be turned on. They're in the holiday mood and thrilled to be in the warmth of one of the highest acclaimed restaurants in the country, this is a special night. I'm standing on the line in the display kitchen with an exhausted crew, partaking in some complimentary post shift drinks. All of a sudden there's a loud scream as a lady darts out of the restroom with her pants halfway down around her knees, it's more of a waddle than a full-out run. She manages to pull her pants up as she rounds the charcuterie station, past the dessert case, and into the middle of the dining room. She now begins to stutter hysterically, T-T-T-T-T-T-T-TURKEY!, her hands are gesturing wildly towards the restroom and she continues to scream TURKEY! TURKEY! TURKEY!. The entire dining room breaks into applause as if the curtain had just been lifted at a Broadway show. I'm thinking, our turkey was pretty damn good today, but not good enough to announce it to the whole dining room in the semi-buff, perhaps she is really drunk.

Now there's more screaming from the bar area.....THERE'S A LIVE TURKEY IN THE WOMEN'S RESTROOM!!!, with that I instinctively bolt off the line flanked by two blood thirsty cooks with french knives. We are now in hunter-chef mode. Right outside the display kitchen our hunt is halted by Doug, the GM,....."What the hell do you think you're doing!!??", Doug doesn't realize that after 8 hours of hacking turkeys from their roasted carcasses we've become very numb, crazed and vengeful towards the birds....."Dougy, it's F*$%ING thanksgiving and someone yelled LIVE TURKEY, we're on re-con". My partners in crime put down their knives because Doug was panicking; the mob scene at the bar-restroom area was escalating. We made our way to the women's restroom, went inside, and indeed there was a live turkey!! Someone had put it in one of the stalls and evidently climbed out from underneath and left it trapped inside. The bird was crazed (like us), banging around inside the stall, making screeching-gobbling noises, and crapping everywhere except in the toilet! Doug kicked the door open, my cooks lunged at the bird and held it down, I took off my apron and threw it over the birds head and tied it with the apron strings. The police were called but couldn't get there because the streets were jammed with a couple hundred thousand people. Plaza security was sent in to take custody of the bird. The crowd was cheering as the apron hooded bird was hauled off......I'm not sure if the applause was for the bird, or us and our SWAT-like tactics.

The women who first encountered the bird said she went in to use the restroom, entered the stall and took her appropriate place on the commode......and then it happened, the bird began to gobble and bang against the walls of the stall next to her, she could see it's feet and wings as she looked down under the partition!! She was in such a state of shock that she opened the door and ran out without thinking to pull her pants up....and then, like a bad dream, she was in the dining room without the proper attire.

The next day the story appeared on local television. This incident became a favorite after-work-drinking-war-story-conversation, the conspiracy theory runs deep. To this day I don't know how someone could have made it through the restaurant undetected with a live turkey, slipped into the restroom and disappeared.

Happy Thanksgiving,