The Restaurant

The Restaurant
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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

What Food Can You Remember?

This was an interesting questions asked of me the other day, but my Grandmother asked if I remembered the soup she made on election day. Well, that was about four years ago, so I had to tell her I couldn't quite remember it, but it got my gears turning. What food can I remember? Yeah, lunch yesterday is a no brainer but do I remember the last time I had an exceptional Reuben? When is the last time you had an exceptional meal that the food really stood out? Do you remember the occasion or the event? Was it some place local or was it while on vacation? Food is such a massive part of our lives. We eat three times a day and it's such a significant part of our lives. Food provides the fuel that allows us to take on the challenges of everything else in the day. A pint of ice cream can sooth a bad break up, a chicken pot pie can warm the soul, or a grilled cheese can bring us back to our childhood. I know this blog is predominately about getting a job, but you need to understand why food is so important to really be able to want to get a job and to excel at your job in the restaurant.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Fired, Terminated, Laid-Off: Not good

The hospitality industry is like many others in that it is loaded with liars, thieves, and other low lives. I am not saying that all are this way, and it is not fair to generalize, but when the majority of the staff are making minimum wage and can't afford to feed their family it really is no surprise when food starts disappearing. Needless to say, if you are stealing you will eventually get caught and get fired - as you should. If you assault someone while at work or throw a burrito across the front line, again expect termination paperwork in your near future. Unfortunately, the argument that only the minimum wage employees are the thieves is not really valid either. Managers in our industry are commonly promoted when a shift manager happens to be at work when the area manager comes in to fire the general manager. I've seen managers "borrow" money from the safe to buy drugs and sell them during the shift and then "repay" the petty cash and pocket the rest. There is very little accountability for a lot of managers out there. A lot of these problems are because it is such a hustle to get out of work. Area managers are responsible for ten or more restaurants covering a span of miles or states even and are expected to keep the general managers in check? The general managers are working 50, 60, 70+ hours a week and if they see an opportunity to get out of work they jump at it. They show up late, leave early, etc. The point of this introduction is to illustrate the fact that hospitality industry has a high turn over for a couple reasons, but it basically boils down to a bad work environment. Good employees leave because the bad ones are allowed (almost encouraged) to carry on with their behavior. Bad managers run good employees off when they feel threatened. The saying that "people don't quit jobs, they quit managers" is true. Everything rolls down from the top. Bad area managers lead to bad general managers which in turn allows for a bad staff. So, what happens as a GREAT manager when you find yourself muscled out of a job because of a bad boss? You might find yourself in this situation if you are taking the time to read blogs about being a restaurant manager. Good managers try to improve situations and don't feed the fire of workplace drama. Here's what I suggest you do: - Get references from your employer while you are still employed and while you are still on good terms. After assisting heavily with the closing of a location I asked my area manager for a letter of recommendation that explained that I was performing additional duties and explained that I saw it as an accomplishment. I wasn't even looking for a job at the time. Get good references when you can before it is too late. - Keep in contact with former bosses. It doesn't hurt to check in occasionally. Use networking sites like LinkedIn if you are so inclined. It's good to avoid burning bridges. - Keep in contact with former employees. In the restaurant world you see a lot of different people coming and going. While you may have a cook working for you now to put himself through college, who knows where he will be in a few years once he is graduated. - Keep your resume up to date and relevant. Don't list the six months of construction work you did while you were between jobs as relevant work experience. If you struggle with writing a resume or knowing how to present one, you can get all kinds of help online from various websites or contact me ( and I am willing to help you! If the writing is on the wall and you already know you are not going to keep this job long term, the best time to find a job is when you have a job. Start the job search today.,,, ,, and the list goes on and on! Once you've been terminated - assuming it wasn't for drugs or a legitimate offense - file for unemployment or you may forfeit your benefits if you wait too long. As a great manager you may think you will bounce right back, but as you already know things don't always go according to plan. You need to be prepared to be searching for a job for the long haul. I know you came from a decent position and just made a bad choice or got a new manager that just didn't like you, but don't be too proud to take a couple lower paying gigs to get by until your big break. Take some time and look into selling some junk, picking up a side hustle, or even blogging! There's lots of options out there. Keep your chin up and work through it. Keep busy, keep improving your skill set. Don't stop working at improving yourself and providing value. Set a schedule, maybe something like this: 8: Wake up and prepare for the day, shower, shave, breakfast, etc. 9: Check e-mails for interview requests, scan the websites, check the local paper, get in contact with your network. Keep track of the places you applied. 12: Lunch! 1: Do something productive you've been putting off because of work - cleaning, etc. 2: Check for late posted job openings between 2-4 p.m. as this is when many restaurants slow down. It wouldn't hurt to start driving around and inquiring in person at various locations. 5: Dinner! 6: Relax, movie, workout, etc. Obviously this will change when you get an interview or something similar! That's the important thing. You might have a late night side gig playing drums in your band or you may end up working through the morning at a side construction job doing manual labor, how ever it works out keeping a schedule and being productive is essential if you don't want to sleep half the day away and then bum the rest of the day sitting on the sofa!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Entitlement Complex

Any time you make a mistake, or maybe you don't, maybe someone else did or maybe it's just a general complaint or the customer misspoke and as a result things were not perfect, but occasionally you will run into these people that have these entitlement complexes. If you ran out of something or if it took too long they expect to be compensated. This is only really in the hospitality industry.
If a guest orders a baked potato, but you just sold the last one and they need time to cook more they basically expect to eat dessert for free. If I walk into an auto part store and ask for a specific bolt they can get me one, but they have to special order it and it will take a week, shoot in some stores I might even have to pay for the shipping of the part.
No body demands to see a manager when the clothing stores or shoe stores don't have their size. You suck it up and order a pair or you just get a different kind.
If a guest feels they waited too long for their chicken or steak to cook they feel the need to call a manager over and gripe. How many times do you think someone cried about how long a surgery was taking to a doctor? Basically unless you want to make a trip to the doctor's office because of food borne illness let the food cook.
A lot of the problem is that restaurant employees are so concerned with dealing with irate customers they have to approach every situation like a stand off. No one wants to deal with cranky customers. Be a reasonable person and things should work out for you.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Shoes and Uniforms

Many of my posts get a lot of hits, but strangely enough one of the most common ones is SHOES!
I suppose it makes sense because working in the restaurant takes a huge toll on your feet, ankles, knees, and back. It is hard work when you stand or walk on hard tile floors for 40+ hours a week.
Shoes are by far the most important part of your uniform. Everyone makes a work shoe or some kind of slip resistant shoe. You can get shoes from Wal-Mart or Payless to high end shoes like Birkenstock or SAS shoes. I believe you get what you pay for. Shoes for Crews, Saf-T-Step, and the like aren't the best. I recommend a solid work shoe from a company like Wolverine or Timberland.
I've written about it briefly, but I prefer Birkenstocks. They are a solid piece of rubber like material. Totally waterproof. They wash up easy and will take all kinds of abuse from sauces, oils, grease, gunk, and grime. They are slip resistant enough to keep me safe. They have arch support and removable insoles. They fit my wide foot really well and have a spacious toe box. There's not much worse than the feeling of smooshed toes at the end of a 12 hour day. The clogs don't have laces to fumble with and never come untied or anything of that nature. They really work well.
Most every uniform in the industry is different. Most will require black, slip-resistant shoes, in fact beware of any restaurant that tells you to wear whatever you want, not a good sign. You'll have to wear socks. You'd think that goes without saying but multiple times have I seen people without socks on. Depending on where you work you'll probably need to provide your own pants, again typically that will vary from restaurant to restaurant. At Domino's Pizza it seems like the employees are allowed to wear shorts, at Applebee's they were blue jeans, khakis at Dairy Queen, and black pants at Burger King. Dickies are a solid choice for work pants or shorts. Your manager will let you know what is accepted. You're generally provided a shirt, coat, or whatever the top is. Most places you'll be wearing a hat or visor, some require a hair net. It's a difficult topic to write on since so much is different between restaurants. There's not much of an industry standard. Jewelry and fake nails are generally frowned upon, but some places that's totally fine. There's just a very diverse world out there.

Friday, July 10, 2015

General Managers wear many hats & are a hat rack!

General Managers, like myself, are responsible for the day to day operations within the restaurant. Obviously that means the General Manager must know how to perform every function within the restaurant (from busser and dish washer to bartender and grill cook) as well as many, many unseen jobs, to include:
Plumber plunging toilets and repairing the three compartment sink. Leave the gas lines to a professional.
Psychiatrist dealing with and giving advice on everyone's problems and trying to sort out the schedule when employees call in.
Electrician resetting the hood electronics, changing light bulbs and ballasts, new receptacles when one burns up, new wiring, switches, or plugs, changing breakers. Ice machine stops running, oven switch not working, fryer timer stopped beeping.
IT setting up pack monitors, resetting routers, new printer, credit card machine, POS systems stop working, software downloads, security cameras.
Painter parking lines, walls, equipment, ceilings, railings, handicapped zones, cabinets, pretty much anything.
Landscaper pulling weeds, spraying weeds, laying mulch or rock, pulling dead shrubs, planting bushes, flowers, trimming bushes, mowing grass (if you're unlucky enough), power washing, etc.
Detective to sort out where the missing cash is going or the lost inventory.
Interior Designer decorations, advertising, plants, tables, chairs, booths, new equipment, old equipment, registers, table settings, lighting, front of house as well as back of house.
Mason or carpenter to lay floor tile, coving, walk-ins, brick, stone, FRP, dry wall, ceiling tiles, or build walls altogether.
Caterer and Planner to organize, sort, assemble, and execute parties, dinners, lunches and all other kinds of gatherings. People may call and say they have a family reunion or they are bringing food to a wake, there's no telling how much you'll have to do in a week.

The list is never ending. Cab driver to pick people up for shifts or drop them off at the end of the day, weatherman, news anchor, travel guide, mechanic, locksmith, security, singer, etc. Etc.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Value Your Employees

Its been a while since my last blog, but true to form I remain steadfast in my employment as a general manager. My duties haven't gone away and the daily struggle is always real. There is always something going on in my restaurant. Our week is filled with the basics: inventory, truck ordering, scheduling, but inevitably corporate will decide that I can be doing just a little bit more. Some times I am asked to travel to other restaurants and act as a consultant to identify problems and make suggestions and apply a little training to the current management team. Some times they ask for more simple things that simply bog my employees down. Customer service surveys, new deployment charts, customer cleaning points, new promotions all the time. Promotions are necessary. They just can't pile new products on top of coupons and the first of the month, and ask us to push new surveys expecting amazing speed of service. It's enough to drive you crazy. I find that treating my employees right is the most important aspect of running my restaurant. They are my key people. They are the ones cooking the food and exchanging the dollars. If corporate is asking too much from me, to ask more from them I make my voice heard. I stand up for my employees. It is important to never forget that hospitality is not only extended to our customers who may be back tomorrow or we may never see again, but also to the guys and girls that come in day in and day out that we depend on. Take care of them first and everything else will fall in line. I hope to find myself writing more. Time is always the limiting factor. It seems like I have a fair number of visitors, but very few followers. What are you interested in reading about?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A Certain Kind Of Person

Basically it takes a certain kind of person to work in the restaurant world. If I knew then what I know now I wouldn't change my life, but I might have made better decisions based on what I know. I would like to explain what working in the restaurant can look like for you if you decide you're a long term kind of person:
Long hours: 50 a week or so. Which isn't horrible, but if you have family then its a little rough. Also, it limits when you'll be free and days you can get off. While that's not bad consider that in most of the rest of the work place you will only work 40 hours with paid holidays and vacation time that you can use without wondering if the building is burning to the ground. Other industies have better hours.
Pay: You'll work like a dog and get paid like one. If you're accustomed to the minimum wage or low shift manager pay a salary wage may look amazing, but when you divide it down its not stellar. In addition to the pay the benefits are typically rough too. All of this will depend on if you work at a mom and pop restaurant or a hotel or country club too though.
Public: Many jobs deal with the public but everyone eats. We see every kind in restaurants. These people love to complain and nag. If you go to a shoe store you don't ask to get a discount because they don't have your size in a certain style. Same goes for restaurants but people want something free.
No respect: Pretty much. This industry has earned a reputation for uneducated labor and as such even as a manager most people look down on you and there's little respect for the title.
Stress: Super high stress. Some people cope with it better than others and some are alcoholics.

It can't all be bad?

You will meet tons of people. You will see things that you never imagined, you will hear stories that may haunt your dreams, you will earn some respect from people that have been in your shoes. You will have a story to tell at nearly every occasion. You won't have as much trouble as some finding another job or a new job. You'll learn customer service skills, cash handling, problem solving, management skills, and all kinds of HR skills. Its not all bad, but for me I dont want to work until I am 80 because I can't make enough money to save any or my employer doesn't offer 401k. I don't want to be forced to retire because my body can keep up with the work pace. Its a hard life we live in the restaurant and the time we spend in is amazing, but there will come a time to decide on an exit strategy and then act on it.