Stacey Rice
Server, HaNa Restaurant, 210 Broadway E (Capitol Hill), 328-1187.

After nearly eight years of working the weekday lunch shifts at this popular Capitol Hill sushi-and-udon joint, Stacey is saying sayonara to her co-workers and regular customers so she can spend more time with her new family. Her swift and serene tableside manner will be greatly missed, so you should visit her before her last day on August 30.

Why are you quitting? "I just got married and I now have two little stepkids, [ages] four and seven. And it just doesn't make sense for me to work here anymore because daycare's too expensive. Plus eight years is a long time [to wait tables]."

So you're really ready to leave.... "Yes. But it is sad to leave--these people are my family. The boys in the kitchen have been working here since they were 15 or 16, so it's pretty close-knit. No one ever tells me what to do, and I have the best shifts. But I'll be happy to quit--I'm tired of working."

Do you believe that the customer is always right? "No. Hell no. Because I'm right [gleefully]! There are so many people who come in here and say, 'Your California roll doesn't have avocado?!' and I say, 'No.' But then they insist that they came in here 'two weeks ago and there WAS avocado.' It's so common. And I just want to say, 'Look, I've been here every day of my life since 1995 and we've never had a fucking avocado anywhere--ever!' So no, I don't always believe the customer is always right."

Damn straight! "And here there are so many regulars--you do pick and choose who you let be right. But we're so busy, I don't have to take shit. Throw a fit over your five-dollar lunch, I don't care--don't come back."

You don't seem to be sick of Japanese food. "Oh, I love it. But I'm kind of like a dog--I just eat the same thing every day [gesturing to her tofu dish]."

So what are you looking forward to the most when you quit? "Putting my feet up [laughs]! Not having bleach hands. And also, I have a really good memory--I can remember what people ate two years ago, so that tortures me at night. I dream about it."

Interview by Hannah Levin

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