Chubby's on Broadway is a nice little diner in mid-town Kansas City. It is a fairly good sized diner that draws all kinds of people and characters. Anytime you drop in you are never quite sure what you are going to find or see. We had discovered that late night on Saturdays is the best time to see the really way out there characters.
It is decorated in 1950's motif and is designed so well for that time period it almost feels like you are back in the fifties when you go inside. The food there is greasy spoon with huge portions at a reasonable price and even though they are open twenty four hours a day it always seems to be busy.
One of the nice things about Chubby's are the servers. They are all friendly and easy to chat with. If you go often enough they get to know approximately what you are going to be ordering and sometimes when you walk in you might find your favorite beverage on the table waiting for you when you arrive.
Chubby's was always on my uncle's list of priorities when we went to the theatre to see a play. Most of the time we went to the Unicorn Theatre which was Main Street and fairly close to Chubby's. My uncle had a definite agenda when going to the theatre that he strictly followed until he became to sick to handle a long night out. The agenda usually went dinner at Sharp's which was close to his house and a very nice neighborhood restaurant. After dinner would be the trip to the theatre to watch the play. After the play it was extremely important to discuss the play over dessert and that is where Chubby's on Broadway came in.
We would drive over to Chubby's to get some pie and coffee and share with each other our thoughts on the play and the actors or the set. The discussion could lead anywhere over that home made pie and stale coffee. This is where this story begins and I know that there will be those of you who may not believe it or think I am exaggerating again but I have my wife as a witness to the incredible events that happened Chubby's after seeing a play at the Unicorn.
I can not remember which play we had seen but it doesn't really matter. The crowd at Chubby's that night was fairly full and we ended up at a both way back in the corner of the place. We had to wait awhile for someone to get our order and when the server came up, it was someone we had never seen before working at Chubby's.
He was an older man, in his fifties I would guess and he looked like he lived a rough life. His hair was unkempt and his beard was not trimmed too well. He wore the standard Chubby's uniform which is any kind of pants you want, any kind of shoes and a red Chubby's t-shirt. His shoes looked old and dirty and his jeans had a few holes in them. He looked like he may have come right off the street to work and that would not be a great shock if it were true. The owners of Chubby's had a reputation for helping out the homeless on cold or wet nights. They would let a few in just to sit and get warm and occasionally give them a free cup of coffee. As long as they didn't bother the other customers and did not do any pan handling, they could stay for up to an hour or so in the warmth. That being said, it would not surprise me if they had given a person who was down on his luck a part time job to keep him going in a tough economy.
He asked us what we wanted to drink and we all said coffee and away he went to fetch the drinks. It took him awhile and when he came back he was "pretty sure" which were decaffeinated and which wasn't. We trusted him and took our chances with the coffee. Then he asked if we wanted something to eat.
My uncle asked him what kind of pie they had on this particular night. The man looked at us blankly and after a few seconds admitted that he really didn't know what kind of pie was available. He stood there looking at my uncle and my uncle looking back at him for what seemed a very long time but in reality was probably just a few seconds. Finally the man asked my uncle if he wanted him to go see what kind of pies they did have that night. My uncle, always polite and proper said something like "that might be a good idea" or something along those lines.
Ten minutes later the server came back with a piece of paper in his hand and began reading the different kinds of pie that was available. After hearing the list, Barb asked if they had any sugarless pies. Again the man looked blankly at her and said "I don't know" then asked her if she wanted him to check. Barb decided that she would pass on the pie that night and so My uncle and myself ordered up our pies. It took a while but eventually our pies arrived and we began discussing the server instead of the play. It was the "Do you want me to check" line that befuddled us and filled the majority of the conversation.
Over the next several weeks we had several dinners on Tuesday night with some of my cousins and we never saw the man that had waited on us the night of the play. It was back to the regular servers and so we eventually put the play night with the strange server into the back of our minds and forgot about the whole incident.
It was about two months later that my uncle, Barb and myself went back to see another play at the Unicorn. We went through the whole regiment of my uncle's concerning play night. We did the dinner at Sharp's and went to a very good play after which we headed to Cubby's for pie.
We sat in a booth at the front of the restaurant and waited to be served. Suddenly the same man who had almost not served us the last time we had attended a play was standing at our table waiting to take our drink orders. Again it was coffee all around and again he brought the drinks back fairly sure of which ones were decaffeinated and which ones weren't.
He then asked us if we would like something to eat. My uncle hesitated a moment before asking the question he was afraid to ask. What kind of pie is available tonight? We all sat there stunned as the man looked at my uncle a few moments before saying "I don't know." Then after a few more seconds the server asked the question that we were all dreading to hear. "Do you want me to go check?"
Through a big smile and almost a laugh my uncle said that it might be a good idea to go check. After we got our pie and left Chubby's all we could talk about all the way back to the house was this waiter who had made the same error twice in a row.
It would be the last time that we would be served by that particular waiter and soon we did not see him at Chubby's at all anymore. I suppose that not being able to remember the pie list at late night Chubby's may have done him in as far as the owner was concerned. He may have found a better job. We don't know. All we do know is that it was the last time we were asked by a waiter if he should check to see what was on the menu.