Sugar belongs on the table, not under
by Sally Mitani
Most restaurant-goers have that moment: the table, whether quaint wood or practical Formica, wobbles, and they (or if they're dining upscale, the waiter) have to bend down to level things with a sugar packet or folded napkin.
Not at the Northside Grille. "Give me a table shim, Jim," demands a waitress--and owner Jim Koli reaches behind the counter and flips her a matchbook-sized plastic wedge. Where did he get those? "Why, from Carpenter Brothers. They're shims. $2.99 for a half dozen," he says, pulling out the box and reading from it: "Plastic shims. Good for bracing items that tilt, move, or are loose." When did he think of doing that? "In about 1993, when I bought this place," he says. "And let me tell you, they work a lot better than sugar packets. Those things make a mess."
Why don't other restaurants use them? "I don't know," he grins--then waggishly suggests that "it helps with your beverage sales if your tables wiggle.
"Hey, make sure you say they're from Carpenter Brothers," he adds. "Maybe they'll give me a free box next time I come in."
[Originally published in October, 2010.]