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This Is A Way To Run A Restaurant?
by Marvin Pinkis

Sam Goldstein bought the Chinese restaurant from Jimmy Soong. Members of Sam's family chipped in to help run the business. His daughter, Bernice, did the books. Leo, Sam's cousin by marriage, supervised the kitchen. His wife, Rose, shmoozed with the customers and put the messages into the fortune cookies.

One day Al Laidman came in for a glass of tea and to kibbitz with Sam who asked, "So, my friend, how do you like the new operation?"

"It's wonderful, Sam. You're turning this place around. You got a head for the business. Still, there's one thing."

"Something's wrong? Tell me."

"No, I shouldn't mention."

"You should mention. Al, we came over from the same village in the old country. We're like family. We moved together to this neighborhood. We play pinochle. If there's something I should be doing, a person who calls himself a friend should tell."

Al replied, "Well, it's nothing against what you're doing. The food and service is good. But you see, I got a personal problem with the dreck they use for messages in the fortune cookies."

"We get the messages from the same place the other restaurants get theirs. So explain what you mean."

"They're bland. There's no personal touch."

Sam reflected. "Personal, huh? You want personal. Come back tomorrow. I'll give you personal."

Al waltzed in the next day with his missus and her brother Barney. Barney had been to all the Chinese restaurants in Brooklyn and Queens. He knew his Chinese.

Their party ate and left the restaurant. Barney was ecstatic. Al said, "You know, the food was pretty good, but they got the same things on the menu every place got. And I think they're using chicken fat in some of the dishes. That ain't bad, mind you, but it ain't Chinese. So how come you're so crazy for this place, Barney?"

"Al," answered Barney, "we've both had the same complaint about the messages in the cookies. But this place, this place is a class act."

"Why? You never said once what you got in the cookie. I must've got one of the old ones. It said, 'Miracles will happen if you are kind to those who love you.' Did I need a message it could apply to anybody?"

Barney agreed. "That's pretty bad. Mine was simple and yet it said a lot."

"So tell us," pleaded Al. "We're dying you should tell."

"All right. It said, 'You should live and be well.' Can you think of anything more beautiful and wise and Jewish?"

Al was impressed. "You're a very lucky person, Barney. So, what was yours, my sweet wife who's been so quiet?"

"You don't want to know."

"What's so secret about a message in a fortune cookie. Tell."

"All right, but don't say I didn't warn you. It said, 'Your daughter, Sarah, the one with the mole on her cheek, is seeing the goy who lives in the apartment building next door, suite 3-C, and if that ain't all, he's already got a wife.'"