Thursday evening at LJ’s & The Kat Lounge was both a reward for a year of participation and a lesson in etiquette for a group of young women and a young man from the Boys & Girls Club at Noland Village.
The group arrived at LJ’s in style, pulling up in a limousine provided by E.G. Specialized Limo Service.
Once inside, they sat down for their seven-course meal with each setting having a dozen knives, forks and spoons on a wine-colored linen tablecloth.
As each course is served, LJ’s owner Alex Tiches told them before dinner, the diner goes from the outside utensil inward as the meal progresses.
There was, for example, a different type of spoon for the roasted chicken broth with egg noodles and garden vegetables than was to be used to consume the tomato bisque with grilled cheese croutons, Tiches said.
“What do I notice on the table that may not belong?” Tiches asked his guests.
“Elbows,” a couple of members of the club said, as a couple of others removed theirs from the table.
Tiches also told them that, once seated, each person should put their napkin in their lap. He went on to explain the uses of the various pieces of silverware and some of the do’s and don’ts of dining.
“It’s a reward for all the hard work they’ve done this year,” said Jackie Barrett of the Boys & Girls Club.
That included community service with senior citizens and organizations such as Teen Choices/Teen Voices, she said.
Club members Marlynnes Reyes and Desire Lovelace, both 15, said they both put in hundreds of hours of service with the club in the past year.
For Lovelace, the evening was also an opportunity to explore a possible career path.
“I always wanted to be a chef,” Desire said. “It’s really cool cooking and learning how to prepare and serve food.”
Tyaisha Neblett, 13, was looking forward to an evening of elegant dining as another new experience.
“I get to learn something new everyday in the Boys & Girls Club,” Tyaisha said.
“We’ll be going through some basic manners that some of us may take for granted,” Tiches said before the group arrived. “It’s about exposing them to the proper way to dine, whether it’s at McDonald’s or Burger King, or LJ’s or some other nice restaurant,” Tiches said.
Proper manners, Tiches said, “shows the character and caliber of an individual.”