The Price Is Right


When you were a kid, did you ever fantasize being on the Price Is Right game show? It was a game show where the contestant who came closest to naming the correct price without going over the actual value was the winner. I would have been an inept contestant at the age of nine, but the thought of getting something for nothing was very appealing.


Actually, when it comes to knowing the actual price of almost anything, I’d not even be a good contestant at the age of sixty-nine. For one thing, I only purchase my clothing from Dillard’s twice a year. I watch for the sale and I cash in so to speak. In my limited opinion, it is the only way to shop.


One day last week, I stumbled into the closest thing to the Price Is Right that I could remember experiencing. The upside of the experience is that there was no guesswork needed on my part. But, trust me, the price was right.


Do you ever get tired of doing the “same ole-same ole” thing for lunch? I generally have a small array of restaurants that I frequent and there is only one thing of the menu that I always order. I figure if I liked it once, I’ll like it again. At any rate, I left the office late for lunch and had no idea what I wanted to eat.


It was like flipping a coin. I turned north out of our parking lot. Consequently, wherever I was going had to be that direction. Several restaurants came to mind. No, I didn’t want barbeque so that eliminated Rudy’s. I had just eaten at Jack Allen’s the week before. No, I wanted something different. Why not? I think there used to be a restaurant called Mesa Rosa in that same vicinity. Why not try it?


When I got to the building, it wasn’t the building. At least if it was the building, it had experienced a total makeover. Wow! The restaurant now had pizzazz! You could tell from looking at the exterior of the building that this wasn’t your common everyday lunch fare. The parking lot wasn’t packed, but there were a number of cars in the parking lot.


The upscale restaurant now featured seafood. Trust me, there was nothing fishy about the look. Actually, it looked out of my price range and I drove through the parking lot and headed back to Jack Allen’s. I then had a second thought. How much could it cost for lunch? After all, this was Round Rock, America and there are plenty of us that fall into the working class category.


I did a U-Turn and went back to Salt Traders. Walking into the restaurant, there were a number of adults standing behind the greeting station. I think the lady in the blue dress said her name was Donna. I simply said, “I need a table for one”. She responded, “We actually have staff in training today. Thank you for dinning with us. Your meal will be provided free. Do you mind sitting at the bar? The wait will only be about ten minutes.”


Bells and whistles were going off inside my head. This couldn’t be right. How did I happen into an invitation only venue? I had a flash back to the early 1990s. El Chico’s in Midland had remodeled and a friend of ours who owned a restaurant invited us to go with them for a free meal at El Chico’s. This wasn’t El Chico’s by a long shot and the ambience in the restaurant was amazing.


I was embarrassed. How did I happen into an upscale restaurant that obviously was not yet open for business other than through invitation? It was awkward, but the hostess was very reassuring. “We’re glad you’re here”. I responded, I don’t feel right with the “free lunch” concept. Let me pay for my lunch.” She said, “No, the lunch is free. However, you may leave a tip for the server.”


She indicated there’d be a ten-minute wait. As I stood looking around the room, I didn’t see a person that I knew. Several men walked in and joined a small group that was forming to my right. They knew each other and were seated shortly. I looked back to the greeting station. I woman about half my age was getting the same invitation I had received. “Do you mind sitting at the bar? You’re lunch will be on us.”


There were two waitresses behind the bar. One of them had artificially colored blue hair and “No” she wasn’t about my age. She looked like a college student that apparently liked the color blue. She provided me a dinner menu and a bar menu. Hey – This was my lucky day!


The menu was amazing! It was the kind of restaurant you’d opt to go to for a special event. It is not that I’m opposed to paying $25 for an entrée, but I wouldn’t regularly do that for lunch. Actually, I wouldn’t ever do that for lunch. Dinner? – “Yes” Lunch –“No.” There were less expensive items on the menu and many of the sides also were extra. I declined on ordering an appetizer, though the lady I had seen earlier ordered one. She was also seated at the bar.


Hey, if my lunch is free, why not order something to drink? I ordered a glass of ice tea. Actually I generally order water and it is because I think it’s a healthy choice.   There are other places they tell you, “Don’t drink the water.”


My ethics wouldn’t permit me to dine any differently than I would have dined had I been paying full fare. I opted not to have the salmon, because it was priced more like a dinner item than a lunch item. The fish enchiladas were only $14. I’d do that in real life for lunch.


At some point, I looked over to see what the lady sitting a couple of seats down from me ordered. I was shocked. She went for the “whole enchilada” and it included the salmon, two sides and an appetizer she had only nibbled on. I guess you could say, “she was whole hog” into the free lunch.


However, the waitress with the blue hair convinced me I really needed to try the key lime pie! Wow! I will be back. The lunch was amazing and the staff couldn’t have been friendlier. A number of folks stopped by to ask about the service and the quality of the food. It was amazing.


My meal totaled $27, but it was complementary. I left a $15 dollar tip. Donna, the hostess in the blue dress thanked be for dining with them. She said, “Tell your friends about us.” I responded: “I’ll do better than that. I’ll include you in my morning blog.”


All My Best!




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