Wednesday, May 21, 2014

THE BASICS - THEY'RE PERMANENT

May 21, 2014

Because we have been eating out quite often I have become more aware of the differences between good and bad, distinguishable and blah.  I would rather write about good and recommended those than the forgettable.  The bundle of features that makes an eating out experience special  has not changed over the years and are the BASICS. 

New restaurants are sprouting up much faster that the tulips during our no spring season and I do hope that the essentials of the BASICS will be tattooed on whatever space is left on the bodies of the new wave operators and cooking staff.
1. Arrival, sign working, clean windows and sidewalk.
2. Immediate greeting.
3. Positive first impression, buzz in the room, general orderliness.
4. Seating choices.
5. Menu presentation, clean, crisp, easy to read, amble choices even if a speciality house.
6. Sparkling bar, bottles & glassware.
7. Glass of wine, choices & not overpriced.
8. Personnel sharp and clean even if some of today's wild ones.
9. Music not overbearing, we do like to talk to each other and our company without yelling.
10. Service prompt & thoughtful, taken & delivered as ordered, condiments at hand.
11. Sharing policy no problem; (we are at an age where we don't eat copious amounts of food so appreciate sharing the entree & even the appetizer & dessert, please forgive us!).
12. Neat presentation, nothing hidden under the main course;(is it still in to pile it on?). Presented as advertised. Fair portions, realistic. Hot food or cold as advertised. Are hot plates an impossibility?  Taste and quality as expected & assumed.
13. Availability of  bread, butter or oil; give me a choice.
14. A few made in house products, whether baked of bread & rolls or bread sticks, always fresh! Desserts, simple and not always Dufflet!
15. Table visit from the head person, or Host, Owner, Manager, Supervisor.
16. Payment prompt and thorough.
17. Server vigilant but non intrusive.

I will look forward to comment, deletions and additions.  Of course not all restaurants have the same style of concept that demands this type of detail but is it really that much different for a Hamburger or Breakfast Only Operation when it comes to cleanliness, keen staff, value, & customer care?

I recommend ZEE GRILL & OYSTER BAR - 641 MOUNT PLEASANT ROAD, after 32 years he really has it working well.


   

Friday, April 11, 2014


April 11,2014

SANITARY PRACTICES
Tonight there is a special about restaurants not performing in accordance with best practices in sanitation, cleanliness, CBc,  Most mentioned are the chains. Our industry is a major target when it comes to media attention (negative that is). We are constantly being watched.  You as an operator are under a microscope.  An exposure like this hurts us all.
But that is not the only reason to operate under a culture of "Best Practices." A clean, sanitized, and orderly store is more profitable, a better place to work and simply more attractive to your customers.

FOOD ARTS
I was an original subscriber when they first started to publish and then stopped as I was too busy and it was expensive. Knowing too much is a fallacy, you never can stop learning so I renewed my subscription and relationship with this great publication. Check it out: foodarts@mshanken.com 

FOR CONSIDERATION
On Sunday we had dinner with some friends and a young Korean student was part of the group. She is in Toronto to learn English and finish her degree in Accounting and then move to Alberta for her internship.  In the meantime she has a  part time job working weekends in a Korean restaurant as a waitress, she is paid $7.00 per hour and she gives 50% of her tips to the Owner Manager. Is this right?  

Sunday, August 26, 2012


THE MOST IMPORTANT

A wonderful debate would commence if I only asked the following, "What is the single most important activity that restaurant ownership must immerce themselves in that is essential to their continuing success?" 

Their is a long list of activities that would be put forward: personnel, food quality, cleanliness, sanitation, administration and customer relations, etc., etc. But the single most important in my experience is: THE MENU!

The menu touches every aspcect of a restaurant's success. Here is my listing of important reasons:
1. Meeting the market needs.
2. Pricing that represents the potential cash flow.
3. The kitchen's staff and equipment's ability to produce skillfully and quickly.
4. Staffing requrements, front and back of the house.
5. Creativity to present and address the current popular treads and tastes.
6. Present signature item.
7. Recognize seasonality and calendar celebrations.
8. A demonstration of the coordination and team work between all staff  
    members.
9. Recognizes the customers dietary needs and the Owners ability to adjust and
    present. 
10. Profit is the result of skilled menu planning; pricing, portions, salesmanship.

Most Operators DO NOT spend sufficient time on this activity.


HELP ME UNDERSTAND

On a recent trip to Calgary, it was Stampede Week, we were told that check-in time was 3 p.m. Now tell me, do all guests vacant their rooms precisely at the checkout time of say 11 a.m.? Do Room Maids only start to make up rooms when all the guests have left? Do rooms become available for use as they are being made-up?

If they do become available on a staggered basis then why not make them available for to guests on a staggered basis?

Is this another convenience for the Management; easier to say "NOT UNTIL 3 PM." This was the case at The Travel Lodge Hotel on the The McCloud Trail in Calgary.


MANAGERS and CHEFS

There was a time that the cooking staff in restaurants and kitchen were on the lower end of the hierachy in the organization chart of foodservice operations except perhaps in Hotels. 

Things have certainly changed. The CHEF is the king or queen, They rule the roost and it is their name that receives the attention. They produce the signature items and in many cases they are the signature.

If a Chef is fully responsible for the food operation's success, should this responsibility not include the following:
1. Teamwork and training between the front and back of the house?
2. Profitability, food cost, labour cost and inventory control?
3. Menu creativity?

Many Chefs are concerned with self grandizment, looking for more credentials and their next move on to the brighter spotlight. Many times leaving their previous position without recipes, and trained staff to carry on.

Loyalty is a contentious subject and works both ways but if the quality of the industry is to continue to progress it will not be by graduating finger painting Chefs or Food Network Stars only!

   

Saturday, August 18, 2012

SERVICE
I have a question. Should the used cutlery be replaced with clean cutlery if it has been used for the appetizer?
I advocate for clean every time I don't like the used cutlery placed on a table or sideplate to be used for the entree.  The saving is minimal but the impact of fresh cutlery outweighs the saving. Surely you have enough cutlery! 

Friday, August 17, 2012

August 16, 2012
If you don't think washrooms are important there is a half page in the Toronto Star about them.  Canada's Best Restroom, two of the best are in Toronto, and one of these is a restaurant; the Earl's operation on King Street and the other is the This London on Richmond Street. Aside from absolute cleanliness, they are well manicured, beautified, appointed and supplied.  Obviously the facilities are well worth careful consideration and should be considered as part of the overall experience. It's possible to become flushed with success!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

It has been awhile since my last communication. Developing a new habit really is quite an effort; I have had to remove an old habit from my inventory with the anticipation that writing my blog will be more gratifying. What was the habit I had to change from?  More about that later. Of course there is always work to do but for some reason I feel I am entitled to a break. Hence the procastination; hence the habit I had! Poker on line (not for money) though, tending to the emails I want to read and delete.

There is just so much information available, interesting some even useful.  But it is rarely immediately benefical.  Deleting has become obsession I am afraid I'll miss something!

I had an interesting morning two weeks ago in our neighbourhood

Sunday, October 9, 2011

This Blog is dedicated to those people who are interested in the Hospitality Business. It will offer, some education, items of interest, history, how to infomation, deal with operational situation, personal experiences, book reviews, marketing information that will create sales, stories regarding the industry. The difference will be that hopefully I can establish and maintain a personal relationshipthatwill prove to be interesting, helpful and fun.