Just Incredibly Gracious- The Day I Met Steven Tyler and Joe Perry
"The hippies from Aerosmith come in occasionally," Joe Palatucci, F&B Manager at the Ascutney Mountain Ski Resort said.
It was July of 1986 and for reasons beyond my understanding, I decided to leave the safe haven of Huntsville Texas, my girlfriend, my dog, and a pretty good job, to move halfway across the country and "explore" a new professional opportunity in Brownsville, Vermont.
Since you can't tell one story without the background set up, here it comes. I was a club DJ for almost 3 years before the radio bug bit me in December of that same year. I was working at the Huntsville Holiday Inn night club (Prickly Pear) for GM Kurt Schatzl who had taken over as the GM at Vermont's Premier Ski Resort at the base of Mt. Ascutney only a few months after hiring me.
A couple of phone calls from Kurt turned into a job offer to move to Vermont and become the first ever Beverage Manager at Ascutney Mountain Ski Resort. Being raised by a club owner and entertainer, I had spent all of my adult life, up to that point, in the service and liquor industry. That in itself along with Kurt's vision of my potential led to my relocation. It was much later as usual, that I realized I was not quite mature enough to tackle all that was ahead of myself.
My work responsibilities included maintaining inventory and stocking beer and liquor in the bars at 3 locations within the resort- the base lodge, at the bottom of the mountain, Cheddars, a pizza and sandwich restaurant on property, and the main dining room within the resort itself.
In Texas, as we all understand, most men are meat, potatoes, CFS, beer and pizza anytime homo-sapiens. The Ascutney Mountain Ski Resort Main Dining Room was a "6 STAR" atmosphere with 5 full-time chefs, a FULL wine room with over 100 wines, 35 beers, a water guy, a butter guy, and a guy that just took all the crap off your table as soon as you sat down.
I made $300 a week and ate lobster troubadour and prime rib anytime I wanted. I asked for chicken fried steak once and got kicked out of the kitchen by a polish guy named Marak.
Charles Bronson and his wife Jill Ireland ate there a couple of times a month, and it was not unusual to get glances or stories of Robert De Niro and Clint Eastwood dining during the week.
It was a Wednesday early evening when I was stocking booze in the main bar area adjacent to the hallway entrance to the main dining room. We were not usually busy at this time so the dining room had only a few tables occupied. John Distacio was the bartender that night and came around the corner to remind me to put my jacket on because we had some VIP's coming in.
Being designated as "management", I was required to wear a jacket and tie at all times. As I turned to head up the long hallway towards the front desk/lobby area, I stepped right into the path of, "The Hippies".
It was a couple of surreal seconds thankfully followed by a welcome handshake and full dose of, "the other side" of being a rock star so few outside their reach will ever experience.
Our maitre d' sat them just a couple of tables away from the entrance to the kitchen. Later on, I learned that was to prevent the wait staff from having to "work the room" just to service them. They stood out "like a turd in a punch bowl" as my mother use to muse.
My professional behavior requirements restricted my emotions from taking over in their presence although my job at that moment was to maintain some supervision over the main bar for what would turn out to be the entirety of their visit.
Joe Perry and Steven Tyler were in "my dining room" for just over an hour and were beyond gracious, compassionate, and generous to the staff and kitchen following a meal that included prime rib, fish, and some type of green pasta the Sous chef Rich Pare invented.
They were not only incredibly respectful to every service aspect of the meal, they even asked to go into the kitchen to take care of the ones that prepared the meal. Everyone was rewarded for their service not only through the few extra bucks that were handed to them but by the pure genuine gratefulness they both expressed with the few extra seconds of eye contact they gave us all.
It is 33 years later now and though their music has never truly moved me, their display of respect and highest standard of humble conduct in that few moments of my life, always will.