Simon inherited the restaurant six months ago when his beloved grandfather passed away. The late Charles Wallace put his soul into this place and kept it afloat even when his restaurant chain was going through a very hard time many years ago. The establishment wasn’t even a restaurant; it was a small Cafe whose clients were students and office workers.
Charles drastically changed the menu, expanding the premises, and hired a staff of versatile chefs. At first, no one believed in Charles, but when the establishment began to bring in stable income, everyone changed their minds. Over time, Charles expanded his Empire to three restaurants, but he loved only one of them with all of his heart, and now his grandson, Simon Wallace, was the new owner of the restaurant on Main Street.
Of course, the young man had no experience in this business, and even his recently received diploma in economics was of little help. Simon had to learn the ins and outs of the restaurant business in a very short time.
As you know, there are many subtleties and nuances to running such a business. When studying the monthly financial reports, Simon could not understand the reason behind the law says that have been growing every month. The establishment either simply stopped making a profit, or perhaps someone was deliberately sabotaging the business to harm the new owner.
Of course, Simon had his suspicions, mostly regarding the chef named John Miller. He was a burly man weighing over 300 pounds, and John liked to say that no one could cook marbled beef better than him. In truth, Simon had long intended to fire the troublemaking chef.
He constantly quarreled with others and demanded salary raises. Simon also suspected that John deliberately bought ingredients at discounted prices to keep the difference for himself. Of course, he did it in a way that was extremely difficult to prove, since John had been in the restaurant business for several years and knew it very well.
An administrator named Jessica helped Simon learn all the secrets of the restaurant. They were about the same age and therefore understood each other very well. Jessica, like Simon, did not like the restaurant Chef.
However, at that moment, it was not possible to find him a replacement. They were wary of hiring just any chef because the restaurant’s reputation had already taken a hit, and a bad hire could plunge it into the abyss. But that wasn’t the only thing stopping Simon. John Miller worked in the restaurant during his grandfather’s time, which meant that he had certain rights and entitlements.
“One day I will definitely figure everything out and find the culprit of all these troubles,” Simon reassured himself. All the financial statements and reports merged into a single mass that Simon had to deal with. Simon was brought out of his troubled thoughts by a loud knock on the door. “Yes, come in,” he answered automatically while continuing to study the papers.
Jessica stood on the threshold, looking at Simon with concern. “Did something happen?” asked the businessman, looking up. “Mr. Wallace, there is… I don’t even know how to say… In short, we have a very strange visitor,” Jessica began cautiously.
“What’s strange about the visitor? Are we getting complaints about the chef’s small food portions?” Simon asked jokingly.
“No, sir, it’s something else. I think it’s better for you to go see for yourself,” Jessica hesitated. Simon looked at the receptionist in surprise. To be honest, it was the first time he’d seen her so confused.
But when he entered the waiting room, everything became immediately clear to him. A man in his 30s was standing next to the reception desk. He was dressed in a shabby sweatshirt, faded jeans, and battered sneakers that threatened to come apart at the seams at any moment. It was painfully obvious that the man was homeless. Simon grimaced in displeasure. “I guess he’s going to be asking for charity. We can give him some surplus food from the kitchen,” Simon thought.
But as it turned out, the homeless man wasn’t looking for food. He was looking for work. He was willing to do any kind of work. Simon raised an eyebrow in surprise and was about to ask the man a couple of leading questions when the Chef, John Miller, suddenly joined the conversation. The impudent man was impatient to assert himself at the expense of the homeless man, who he believed knew absolutely nothing about the kitchen.
“What can you do? Can you cook? Do you even know what lasagna is?” the chef asked with a sneer. The homeless man was not embarrassed by the question; on the contrary, it encouraged him to take a more decisive action.
“Yes, I know how to cook it and other things too, by the way. But I don’t need to be a cook; helping in the kitchen or even washing dishes would be enough for me,” Stephen answered calmly.
The Chef almost choked in surprise. “What? You say you know French and Italian cuisine? Who are you anyway? Where could you have learned such things? You look like you live on the street and cook on a fire. What European cuisine are you talking about?” the irritated Chef exclaimed.
Simon ignored the Chef’s objections and continued to ask the homeless man about his life. The conversation revealed that the man’s name was Stephen Johnson and that he came from a neighboring town. He preferred not to share details of how exactly he ended up on the street, but Simon expected that it was through no fault of his own.
“I’ll bet you a hundred bucks that you can’t make a lasagna the way I do,” the cook came to his senses and decided to prove his worth to the owner of the restaurant.
“I’d love to, but I don’t have a hundred dollars,” Stephen answered nonchalantly.
A tense silence hung in the air. A satisfied smile appeared on John’s face. “I knew you’d back out, you coward and a liar,” the cook muttered contemptuously.
At that point, Simon rejoined the conversation. “I’ll pay the hundred dollars out of pocket. Let this man show what he’s capable of.” John turned red and straightened his apron. John realized that he could not avoid the challenge and that he would have to demonstrate his abilities before starting to cook.
Stephen was able to take a shower and change in the back room. It turned out that John Miller was afraid of the culinary challenge, and for a good reason. Stephen turned out to be a first-class cook. He prepared the most delicious lasagna that those in the room had ever tasted. Simon, in turn, realized that he got lucky and was presented with the opportunity to push out the insufferable Chef. He didn’t fire John right away but rather decided to keep him on for a while. He didn’t know what kind of worker Stephen would turn out to be and whether he could keep working at the restaurant long term.
Humiliated by the homeless man’s antics, John returned to the kitchen begrudgingly, muttering something under his breath. He hadn’t felt so hurt and pathetic in a long time. Simon gently pulled Stephen aside and asked, “So, do you want to work in my restaurant? Can I count on you?”
Stephen gave him an honest answer right away, “To be honest, I became homeless because things got very rough for me. I had to run away from my city and hide from the police.”
Simon’s heart skipped a beat. The last thing he wanted was to hire a fugitive who was wanted by the police. But when Stephen told his story, Simon felt a renewed sense of sympathy for him. In the past, Steven Johnson was a successful businessman who owned a chain of small cafes along the coast of Miami. He was close to becoming a millionaire when the irreparable happened.
It all started when one day, returning home from work earlier than usual, Stephen found his wife in the arms of her fitness trainer. The young businessman couldn’t handle the betrayal; he couldn’t restrain himself and hit the trainer over the head with a figurine. The fitness trainer collapsed on the floor. The straw that broke Stephen’s resolve was realizing that he had most likely killed the man. He could hardly remember what followed. Stephen left the house quickly and wandered around the poor neighborhoods of his city. He then quietly moved to a neighboring city in order to throw off those who might be after him.
Simon had no right to judge Stephen; in the past, he himself experienced an extremely unpleasant separation from his wife. She considered him a loser who was just lucky to have inherited his grandfather’s money. “All right, you can keep working for the time being. I will not tell the police you’re here,” Simon said and patted the homeless man on the shoulder. At that point, the businessman did not yet know that this fateful decision would change the course of his future.
Things got better at the restaurant after Stephen’s arrival. The dishes he prepared were in great demand among upper-class diners who appreciated good cuisine and were crazy about the talent of the new cook. At the same time, John continued to be the head of the kitchen, even though his influence weakened noticeably. The cunning chef immediately saw a competitor in the new cook and tried to get rid of him on several occasions. John tried to ruin Stephen’s dishes by deliberately seasoning them with too much salt or pepper, but Stephen was always alert and watched his food very carefully.
“Darn hobo, where did he come from?” John muttered, knowing full well that Stephen would be running the kitchen in no time. Simon was glad that things were looking up for the restaurant. In addition to Stephen being an excellent cook, he was also a great teacher and did a good job explaining how to cook different dishes to the kitchen staff. Simon had no doubt that the homeless man he had hired was a shark in the restaurant business.
The only thing that still worried the young businessman was, could Stephen really have been capable of killing a man? Of course, anything is possible, but it seemed so unlike Stephen’s personality. In an effort to dispel all doubts, Simon went to visit Stephen’s hometown. He did it clandestinely, intentionally not telling the restaurant staff about the trip. Only Jessica, the administrator, was updated on what was going on. She was extremely trustworthy and never divulged Simon’s secrets.
Simon was gone for about three days, which worried some of the restaurant’s employees. When he returned, everyone breathed a sigh of relief and stopped gossiping about his mysterious disappearance. The first thing Simon did was call Stephen into his office. “Well, you can be at peace. The fitness trainer is alive and has already married your wife. Somehow the couple even managed to declare you dead and bury you in a local cemetery,” Simon said, placing special emphasis on the last words.
Stephen’s face changed. Simon’s words shocked him deeply. All this time, Stephen lived with the guilt of having blood on his hands, but reality was very different. The man decided not to sue his ex-wife; instead, he decided to keep working at Simon’s restaurant. “Since my wife already buried me, there’s nothing I can do,” Stephen said with a smile.
After that memorable conversation, Simon and Stephen became business partners. After shaking hands, the men put all their efforts into taking their business to the next level. Soon, the income from the three restaurants made them millionaires, which allowed them to further expand their culinary empire. Simon ended up marrying Jessica, whom he had worked with for several years. She had been in love with Simon for a long time but was afraid to confess her feelings to him.
After some more time working with Stephen, John, the chef, came to his senses and stopped complaining and behaving in ways that were harming the restaurant. His dishes became as tasty as they once were, and the customers were once again satisfied with the restaurant’s menu.
Stephen ended up with the woman who made him extremely happy and with whom he had two wonderful children.