Matthew Lickona 2:43 p.m., June 19
In the Last Resort
“Don’t rush me!”
Dion’s voice cuts through the noise. She’s barking at a customer who wants to pay up and go.
It’s all part of the schtick. The crew gives customers a hard time from the get-go. People love to be insulted, pushed around, as long as it's done in the right way. And here they've got it down so it helps keep the good-time thing going.
Dion walks away muttering something about how the guy hasn’t drunk enough yet. The canopy of bras she’s walking under looks like a flight of butterflies.
Ya don't mess with Dion
Me, I’ve just arrived, around ten at night, here at Dick’s Last Resort (345 Fourth Avenue between J and K Streets, Gaslamp, downtown, 619-231-9100). Sit at the bar just as a long table of pretty drunk people are getting up to leave.
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry!” one of them practically sobs at a girl. He looks like Harry Potter’s sidekick, Ron Weasly. “I’m really, really sorry… Uh, can I have a hug?”
The gal looks at him a moment.
“Outside,” she says.
Dion comes up to me. “Hope you’re not going to give me trouble,” she says.
Just need a snack. Can’t afford their Southern main dishes like crawdads or ribs. They run $13, $20 a plate. Can’t even afford a beer at this end of the day, truth be known. So I ask for water and a plate of Gator Bites ($7.99). Here’s what the menu says about them: “Dat der be deep fry’d alligator baby! Served with chipotle ranch fer dippin’. Oh, go ahead & try ’em, ya sissy!”
The gator tastes great.
No fishiness. More like chicken. It’s cooked in batter, and when you dunk it in the chipotle dip, it’s dee-licious.
“So who is Dick?” I ask Dion.
Dick, rear view...
Dick, in all his glory
“He’s a guy in Texas who started this fine dining place, in Dallas,” says Dion. “Wasn’t doing that great. Then they had some kind of an accident. A wall fell. It destroyed the business. So they took what they could, kinda set it back up haphazardly, got a bunch of crummy, loud-mouthed waiters, and created a new atmosphere. They didn't care that they weren't cool, smooth, and it worked. Still going after 25 years; [there are now] 11 Dick's Last Resorts. San Diego was the third.”
Two tables over, a bunch of girls — okay, young ladies, seven of them, are giggling and shouting up a storm.
One of the waiters has put a sorta chef’s toque, or like what whirling dervishes wear, on Anna. It’s her party. She’s 19 today.
The waiter has scrawled a message on it. “Lookin’ For Hot B’Day Action,” it says.
But you can say this stuff in here. Dick says so.