Monday, January 16, 2012

fishy fish

We get a lot of crazy comments, questions, complaints & suggestions within the tolerant walls of the restaurant. For example, "this ice water is too cold," or "this hot tea is too hot," or "this Diet Coke doesn't taste like Diet Coke." One of my personal favorites is the argument over what the customers SWEARS we had on our menu last month. Even when a knowing manager kindly tries to explain (after being called to the table) that we have never had key lime pie or chocolate molten lava cake on our menu. Now we do love our customers but it's hard to understand why they would think we are out to intentionally sabotage them by serving freeeeeezzzzzing cold ice water. I apologize, but that is not our intention.
This past week has presented another common complaint but it's repetition during this particular week was fairly noteworthy. Here it is....dun, dun, dun.... "this fish is too fishy." 
Ok, fine, I will give a little credit to the varying levels of "fishiness" involved when ordering seafood. I get that. However, when you order fish, I think it is fairly safe to say that a dominant flavor characteristic is probably gonna be.... yep, you guessed it... the fact that it tastes like fish. Even better are the "fishy" complaints that come from those ordering sushi. Now I know that I am getting quite sarcastic here but sushi, by definition, is a style of food preparation that generally involves fish, and many times, raw fish. If a customer makes the decision to order raw fish, the likelihood of it tasting fishy is pretty high. I'm not sure what we're supposed to do about it once that decision has been made?? 
The climax of the week occurred when we got the complaint that the sushi was not only too fishy but it was rolled too perfectly. Yes, too perfectly. The explanation of the complaint went something like this... since the fish tasted fishy & the roll was rolled so tightly & precise, there was no way that we rolled it. A machine had to have rolled it because a human couldn't get it that perfect. Yes, this was a complaint.

I don't know how to respond to that. 

Friday, January 13, 2012


Lately (as in the last 6 years) I have concluded that journaling is an art form. I used to journal a lot & found a lot of satisfaction that came as a result. However, after getting married, opening a restaurant, moving from one construction project to the other, & raising 2 stubborn bullies... it is definitely a lost art form. Who really has time to sit down & reflect all of their thoughts onto "paper"? Or whatever their medium may be? I do wish I was that person. So this week, I wanted to journal. I don't have any exciting photos to post & the fact that I can barely walk up the stairs at work now w/o needing a break are less than noteworthy. However, there were still significant strides this week that I feel need remembered.... even if it is just in "words."

On a professional note: we are moving forward leaps & bounds in implementing new structure, management & delegation. With baby boy on the near horizon & Indianapolis in the distance, it needed to be done. Many lessons are being learned. For one, someone can only learn what you teach them.... duh, right? It is harder than it sounds. I am finding that to be a good manager or leader, one must teach. One must show. One must be patient & willing to answer any question that comes their way with detail & enthusiasm. How can someone do what you expect them to do unless you teach them? It sounds simple. It sounds like an easy plan to implement. It is not. I have found that even the most "saint-like" of creatures do not like to give away all their secrets. It is not easy to swallow your pride & allow someone to not only learn your job, but potentially do it better. It is not easy to delegate. It is easier to do it yourself & get the credit. We are working on this in the restaurant. Many of us (including, eh-hem, me) are learning the lesson that in order to be a successful leader, one must let go. And although it may be a tough road to get there, the end result is competent, successful managers who accomplish what you did... and yes, maybe better. So on my way to the "no one needs me" office I will find solace & a grateful heart that we do have staff who are competent. We have staff that are eager & willing. We have staff that are trustworthy. And yes, we have staff that.maybe.quite possibly.on a good it as well, if not better, than we did.

We are planning our structure for Indianapolis. We are talking flow charts & management structures & job responsibilities. We are talking about who is going to be where & when... 2 days a week, 3 days a week, full time? Caleb had an 8 hour meeting with our architect one day to start finalizing interior decisions & fixtures. We have to start choosing materials & furniture & placing orders within the NEXT MONTH! The allure of this new restaurant off in the distance is becoming a full speed cyclone blazing into our current anatomy. We had a feeling once the new year hit, it would come fast.... we are prepared to buckle up!

On a personal note: we are learning to be more responsible. Yes, I said it. We are "growing up" & taking more responsibility with the decisions that we've made. We are finishing a lot of the undone projects around the house. We are walking our dogs twice (twice!) a day. We are committed to creating a stress-free environment in our home that excites us each time we walk in the door... We are replacing unnecessary anxiety with responsible actions that are intentional & thought out. Instead of just getting frustrated, we choose to fix whatever is frustrating us. Now I am sure this sounds like common sense to many people... but in a world where work & home & friends & pets & rest have a very blurred set of boundaries, it is often hard to find the balance. It is hard to find peace. Because of those decisions, & despite the extra effort to accomplish those things, this has been a much more peaceful week.

So the picture of the post could be of a very pregnant lady trying to run around a restaurant & show her managers what exactly it is she does on a day to day basis. Or the picture could be of a man who is practically laying on the bar after 8 hours of going over blueprint after blueprint after blueprint. (If they were actually blue, that would make it a bit more exciting) Or it could be of a happy puppy who has discovered that his owners do love him enough to take him on walks & give him peanut butter bones. Or better yet, it could be of a laundry room that has been finished after discussing it for nearly 18 months! But the picture that I want to paint in my memory is not visual. It is the feeling of joy that comes when you see a "student" experience success. It is the thrill that comes when you greet the unknown with arms wiiiiide open. It is the love that you feel when all that little puppy wants to do is cuddle up & fall asleep with his head on your leg... or stomach... or chest. : ) It is the feeling of peace that transcends all understanding & the grace that allows you to finish a week... and then start a new one with renewed motivation.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Auld Lang Syne

It may seem that with so many other distractions, the restaurant has been taking a back seat in importance... but that could not be further from the truth. In fact, with everything that is going on- the priorities at the restaurant have only increased. 

  • New bar management
  • Assigning managers to take over my job when I have the baby
  • Preparing for Indianapolis
  • Daily maintenance & restoration
  • Planning for a new year
  • Reflecting on the past year
  • Adjusting to a new mindset
  • Making 2012 even greater than 2011
  • Meetings, meetings, & more meetings

Throughout the holiday gauntlet we enjoy the cRaZe but also look forward to the beginning of the new year. Last year we started the tradition of closing for a couple days after New Year's Eve to complete numerous projects within the restaurant that can only be accomplished with the restaurant closed. 
So, we celebrated the new year in the new bar...

...and then took a few days to relax, restore, & re-group. The restaurant took on a whole mess of maintenance that was much needed! New HVAC system, new water heater, new kitchen floor, clean booth cushions, new porch floor... it was literally like Holmes on Homes (restaurants) for a few days in there. I wish I had documented this "mess" with more photos because at one point I walked in the front door & could barely get through the front of house due to all the kitchen equipment taking over the space! Scuff marks, paint chipped & an exorbitant amount of dust does not even come close to the correct description. An anxiety attack almost transpired as I tried to imagine how all of it was going to be cleaned up by 11a the following day. 

However, despite the early morning following the anxiety attack- staff joined efforts, rolled their sleeves up, & had that place back in shape by 10.59am Wednesday morning. Just in time for 2 ladies to walk in the door for lunch at 11.01am... Show time!
And what a pretty porch floor we now have!

On top of the joy that ensued from having a freshly restored restaurant space, we also got some time to relax & restore ourselves. We did some resting & more resting & believe it or not... cooking?? At home??


What a great way to ring in the new year! We are now heated, cooled, sanded, re-finished, & polished for all the adventures that are waiting in 2012. May we not forget the times gone by & may we continue to let the good times roll.