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Earlier this year the former Sal & Carvao reopened as Zed 451, a post-Brazilian churrascaria vying with all the other over-the-top all-you-can-meat joints (Brazzaz, Fogo du Chao, the new Texas de Brazil). I went to the opening, accompanied by local sleaze rocker Ellie Maybe, whose interest had been piqued after discovering a Zed 451 busser’s manual tossed out the window of a passing car. Ellie observed that the busser manual reads "like an etiquette pamphlet for a coat check boy at a sex club."
The slim spiral-bound notebook opens by stating that guests should leave the restaurant feeling that they "Had a number of 'love experiences'" and "Can't imagine leaving without thanking a manager." The "love experience" is a pervasive theme: page three outlines the "Hierarchy of Guests' Needs," with "Love" at number one, "Emotional Connections" at number three, and "Great Fresh Seasonal Food" and "A Clean Comfortable Atmosphere" at five and six. I can only imagine how emotionally insecure ZED 451 anticipates their clientele to be that the chain's honchos would rank love (from a busser, no less) above palatable food and a sanitary environment. But as Reader food columnist Mike Sula pointed out, the restaurant is geared towards "Sex and the City wannabes who don't care as much about eating as about being seen in the right place eating."
The manual goes on to specify that the employee should "create emotional connections with your guests as a busser," "describe the market sides to the guests with passion and excitement," and "offer a genuine final embrace to guests as they are leaving the restaurant." Ellie was actually disappointed when nobody attempted to hug us on the way out, and drunkenly demanded that the valet give us hugs before we left. The poor man was kind enough to oblige.