Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Hard Day's Night

So I may have mentioned before... but living in the restaurant world is about the opposite of everyone else's world. Most Americans crave 5.00p Friday evening because it means their work week is over! Once that clock hits 5, say hello to a whole 2.5 days of freedom to "choose" what you want to do. (yes, even an evening away from work DEFINITELY counts as half a day!) In the restaurant world, however, Friday & Saturday are GAME TIME! This weekend was no different than any other in the restaurant. Friday lunch was madness. I sat in my office and watched the parking lot go from no cars @ 11.30a to 100 cars @ 12.00p. The lunch crowd really loves to space it out! Down to the restaurant floor I go...Wham, bam, thank you maam.... 111 people later it is 2.00p, I am sweating, the servers are about to cry, and my manager is asking, "what just happened." : ) But we don't think about sitting down because we have to clean it all up and re-set everything for round 2, dinner! 7.5 hours later @ 11.30p I walk home (so thankful it's just next door!) and settle on to the couch with my hubby & my bully & a glass of wine. Another successful Friday!

Saturday happened about the same way... Sunny skies, 5k race in the Village bringing hundreds of participants to run to fight hunger & then indulge at the restaurant once their finished... ha. I found the irony a bit amusing...

Unfortunately with the sunny skies came a sick call- no host! So the first hour of my day (at home) involves calling & texting & leaving messages to try to find a host within the hour... Quick, get a shower & run in to work while managing to re-arrange the morning schedule... Never a predictable day.

BUT, I am not complaining... I LOVE the Saturday lunch crowd. Laid back, a lot of out-of-towners, no rush, no business, ready for us to entertain them....Just as busy as Friday but not quite as intense. It makes it a little easier to face the dinner crowd. 

My most amusing story from the shift however is rather sarcastic... I had a woman send back her panko chicken, twice. The first time it was cold. Ok, that's fair enough. We are happy to admit a mistake and fix the problem. The second time, it was because it had honey on it. When I politely explained to her that the panko chicken always has honey on it, she proceeded to tell me she has "eaten it hundreds of times and it has never had honey." Over the past 5 years not a day has gone by without us putting honey on the panko chicken... Inside I know that. However, at this point, I don't know which card to pull?? Definitely not the owner one. So I smile and reply that I am happy to take it back & have the kitchen prepare the chicken again without honey. Then courteously remind her that next time she is in to just let her server know that she would appreciate her chicken sans honey.... : )

AND THEN comes Saturday night- I LOVE LOVE Saturday night. Same laid back crowd, no business, ready to be entertained! And this is how we entertained tonight:

Lamb 3 Ways

But, if there is one thing I must admit it is- one of the reasons I love Saturday is because I know it is followed by Sunday! : ) After the rush & the chaos & the comps & the congrats.... there is my home, and my 2 buds. Sundays are our days. Sundays are just us.

"You know I feel okay,
When I'm home everything seems to be right,
When I'm home feeling you holding me tight."

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Thursday is generally one of my most productive/laid back days of the week in the restaurant world. I get caught up with everything on my desk (there are usually stacks) and even have time to run a few errands outside of the Village. In fact, today as I drove off into the sunshine to the bank, I realized "this is the first time I have left all week." 

Anyway, today like any other Thursday, started out relaxed and basically agenda-less. But that doesn't fool me anymore! I hit the day running before I even walked up the 23 stairs to my office. The kitchen was awhirl with food deliveries everywhere & kitchen staff scrambling to get it all put away before the lunch shift. The storage room had a few stacks of wine cases which were also delivered and needing a home. The servers were cleaning & folding & polishing & cutting & organizing... The cooler was busted. We had no towels. Something smells like sulfur. Where do we get more scrap paper? Are we running a beer special today? Are we running a food special today? Who am I training with today? Are you coming to the meeting? And then....

I walk out of the kitchen and up to my desk.... 

...oh, welcome Thursday! Soooooo today, in its simplest form, consisted of:

  • A meeting about our website. I am really getting into this social media thing! I love all the avenues it provides for a small business like ours! Let's link Twitter & Facebook & a reservation system! The world of technology is endless. I also had the minor realization that I am the Public Relations Manager for the restaurant. Cool, another hat to wear! Let's add that to my resume (as if I would ever do anything else)!!
  • Arranging, organizing, and re-arranging a schedule where 10 of my 28 staff members are gone. That was fun. 
  • Giving a beer test to the lunch servers in which they proved a lack of knowledge & I will now have to make them re-take. But on the upside, gave the same beer test to the dinner servers & they passed with flying colors! 
  • Putting away those cases of wine.
  • Planning a new wine & beer special for the weekend- Chateau Bonnet Sauv Blanc & 2 Brothers Wit Beer!
  • Polishing, rolling, & tying catering silverware for 31.
  • Responding to a crazy amount of emails. (sadly, reading a two week notice)
  • Setting up an interview.
  • Running to the bank for more petty cash. 
  • Booking a Bridal Shower for July.
  • Planning to get new booth cushions installed. 
  • Clearing out the expired beer (ew!)
  • Memorizing a new sushi special.
  • Mailing gift cards & wine tasting tickets.
  • Coffee with a friend.
  • Walking the dog
  • AND, the list could go on & on....
This got me to about 4.30pm.... And then this was brought out...

There was a lid on it for presentation. As I took the lid off, smoke swirled out for about 2 minutes. What was compacted in this tiny jar??? Bourbon, bacon, maple, ice, smoke. The craziest concocted cocktail I've ever seen... wow...

... then we move on to dinner service...

Thank you restaurant world, there is never a dull day. : )

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

See-it-all in Seattle

In the past month I also had the privilege of visiting Seattle! One of my college roommates lives there now and of course, the other 2 college roommates had to come as well! We try to all get together at least a couple times a year. It is always a joy to have all 3 of them at the same time! This was my first time to the Northwest & I had a wonderful experience! Despite the rainy, cold weather, we had a blast....

Cheeeese please

Seattle is a town of hipsters & I have to admit, I kinda loved it. The laid back atmosphere, the carefree spirits, the appreciation of sustainability (in all aspects of the word) and the landscape of joining mountain ranges with ocean views. I mean, what would you be in a hurry for??! So, we tried to see all that we could while still maintaining that Seattle spirit.  

Our hipster hotel, Ace Hotel 
The Space Needle


Minor wine tasting @ Chateau Ste Michelle : )

Tanster's awesome pad

And, of course, we went to the market! Ahhh, the market! What I would give to live in place where there was a market like this in my town. Fresh fish, fresh fruit, fresh veggies, fresh pasta, fresh flowers.... fresh, fresh, fresh! It was so fun to shop there for dinner and I even had some fish sent back to the restaurant! They shipped it all the way back to Indiana to the eager chefs awaiting their arrival to create a tasty special for our restaurant menu. They created 2 different specials and they both sold out within days. Rockstars!



And, this was one of the specials produced @ Cerulean with the King Salmon! Delish!

Love my girls. Love the culture out there. Definitely a trip to remember! 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

What the heck?!

So a whole month has gone by and within that month I thought, "the blog just isn't gonna happen. Great first & last post Courtney!" But as I look over the past month, again, there is so much that I just don't want to forget. For starters, this past week alone was CRAZZZY! One encouraging thing was... the sun came out! 

Monday, I sat in a very long meeting discussing a 49 page lease. Yes, 49 pages. I am sure more will come later discussing that... But anyway, my brain hurt and we only got halfway through before I had to move on to my next activity- Headstart! Although I love my job at the restaurant, I find so much joy in spending time with 3 & 4 year olds once in awhile! There is so much energy, enthusiasm, & innocence that is so refreshing to me after hours & hours of managing a business. I love the funny things they say and I gain so much satisfaction from the little things I can (hopefully) teach them about life. For example, "what do you say to the nice lunch lady?" .... "THANK YOU!" Ahhh, makes me smile. : ) I also subbed at Headstart on Tuesday and discovered that one of our 3 year olds can read! He sounded out r-e-s-p-o-n-s-i-b-i-l-i-t-y on a bulletin board on the way to the cafeteria. Are you kidding me?!! He said it perfect. I then started throwing addition and subtraction problems at him at the lunch table which resulted in equal shock & awe- a cute little smarty pants! 

We also managed to undertake 22 catering jobs this week between breakfast, lunch, & dinner Monday- Saturday. It amazes me the strength, dedication, & work ethic that comes from the staff at the restaurant. I respect the commitment & perfection that results from each meal they provide. Everyone pulls together- the front of the house is rolling silverware in any spare moment they have and organizing all the phone calls. The back of the house is prepping every food item on top of what they are already responsible for to make the restaurant function. My dear husband and a few of our managers are up @ 5.00am four days in a row and then do not get home until 10.00pm at night. They are beasts and they know what hard work is.... seriously. And in the midst of all that, Alex butchered a mutton:

(which I learned is an aged lamb)

I am also in the process (again) of schedule stresses, interviewing, and hiring- on top of the daily responsibilities. By now I just know that it comes with the job and if I get a couple months of peace, that is a good stretch. 

We also came out with a new beer list (wine menu came out a couple weeks ago)! That is the SUPER fun part of my job responsibilities because in order to pick a beer list you have to try a lot of beer! Lots of work but lots of fun. Please try this one at some point in your life:

I also had the experience of "Cooking with Caleb" this week at the YMCA! This month he was asked to teach a kids cooking class. The director also asked if I could come along just to help the kids and be another person to interact with them. There were so many things about this that were exciting to me. First, I have never been to one of Caleb's cooking classes. It was so neat to see him in action. : ) He is so talented. Second, I loved interacting with the kids and seeing how passionate and focused they can be when they are putting their creative energies to use! 

On the personal side of the week it was a BIG week for the France family. Corri and her boyfriend, Brad, got engaged! It was SUPER to be involved in the proposal & planning leading up to it! Caleb and I are very happy for the couple & a fine pair they will make! Brad threw a huge celebration for the occasion on Saturday. We got to see a lot of the France family as well as meet a lot of Fiance Brad's family. His missionary parents even flew up from Mexico to surprise everyone and congratulate Corri & Brad. It brought back all sorts of emotions regarding that phase of life. So happy for them! 

On top of Saturday's engagement celebration was Caleb's 29th birthday celebration! I cannot even explain how proud I am of this man. Another year of life and SO MANY accomplishments! He said that his favorite part of the year was opening the Tapas & Beer Garden at the restaurant. So much joy came as a result of this project...

And a close second in regard to memories made... our 5 year anniversary trip to Ireland.

He has also recently taken up flying lessons. In the midst of his 22 catering jobs, expediting at the restaurant, advocating for a community garden, teaching cooking classes, running every day, and somehow consistently making me feel valued and deeply loved... he stills pushes himself to do more. And that doesn't even scratch the surface. I am SO BLESSED to have him in my life. So I took him to our favorite city to frequent, Chicago! We had a wonderful dinner with his college roommate, Jordan & his wife, Amie. We stayed downtown on Michigan Ave. We had brunch with family friends & a differnt dinner with my college roommate, Sara & her husband Dave. Unfortunately, because of all the fun, this is all I have to document the occasion!

So, despite the unreasonable-ness that was this week.... we survived and ended on a great note! Happy Birthday to my one and only... there is no one else that could make this ridiculous journey as fun as you do!