Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Headwinds are taking their toll

Fight, fight, fight against the dying of the light. This is so wrong on so many levels, however individuals have different headwinds they must navigate their fragile vessels through.

Crain's blog post:

The downturn may be dampening small business owners' independent spirit.

Thirty-six percent of respondents in the June Discover Small Business Watch survey say they are willing to walk away from their own business to earn more money working for someone else. That's a jump from 30% last year.

Train, Train, and oh by the way Train

Joe "six pack", the fabled American consumer has been trained to expect things his way when he is visiting a business. It is very frustrating for that customer to place an order at a business which has processed the order before without incident and be told that "we do not do that here" or "it can not be done that way". Generally the issue is because a different server is handling the transaction. The new server has not been trained properly and that fault lies totally with the manager/proprietor.

Do not place your staff in your customer's line of sight unless they are ready. Being ready includes training, training, and oh by the way training.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

There are benefits to doing social media right

Meet at Panera is a nice social media program.

Phone manners pandemic

Texting is epidemic in our world today, however phone manners have reached a pandemic state. Road rage has been transferred to phone rage. Individuals on their phone are completely and totally oblivious to everything and everyone around them and rage levels against those individuals are skyrocketing.

You never know when you are going to create a memory!

Restaurants are all about experience. It might be just another day in the kitchen for you, however it is impossible to know when you are creating memories for your guest.

Always, always, always give the guest 110% of the best you have.

Succession planning gone awry!

You walk into a restaurant ready to experience the sights, smells and dance of life. Immediately you are greeted by a sour faced unhappy individual who is unhappily earning a living in their parent’s restaurant. The dream of owning and working in a restaurant is not theirs. They are here presumably because they are still going to school or worse yet, have completed school and are unable to find a job in anything that is not restaurant related.

Restaurant owners need to evaluate whether having their children work in their restaurants is good for business? Yes you might save some money on payroll and they can help in a pinch, however if your child is not happy working for you, they will communicate that displeasure to the guests you have spent your lifetime nurturing.

Summer Nights and Beer

NYTIMES' piece on Chicago craft beer

Chicago’s growing interest in craft beers can be sated at venues all over town.

Michael & Louise’s Hopleaf Bar (5148 North Clark Street; 773-334-9851; www.hopleaf.com) opens at 3 p.m. daily.

The Half Acre Beer Company (4257 North Lincoln Avenue; 773-248-4038; www.halfacrebeer.com) is planning to start tastings in August.

The Metropolitan Brewing Company (5121 North Ravenswood Avenue; www.metrobrewing.com) gives private tours (e-mail: minion@metrobrewing.com) and welcomes drop-ins on Monday, the brewing day.

Piece Brewery and Pizzeria (1927 West North Avenue; 773-772-4422; www.piecechicago.com) opens daily at 11 a.m. There is occasional live music and sports on the TVs.

Bar DeVille (701 North Damen Avenue; 312-929-2349) opens daily at 5 p.m.

The Map Room (1949 North Hoyne Street; 773-252-7636; www.maproom.com) serves alcohol daily from 11 a.m. but also offers coffee and pastries weekdays starting at 6:30 a.m. It runs an occasional Beer School.

State and Lake (201 North State Street; 312-239-9400; www.stateandlakechicago.therestaurantsatthewit.com) is on the ground floor of the Wit Hotel.

Tiny Lounge (4352 North Leavitt Street; 773-463-0396; www.tinylounge.com) opens at 4 p.m. every day.

Goose Island has two brewpubs in the city (1800 North Clybourn Avenue; 312-915-0071, and 3535 North Clark Street; 773-832-9040; www.gooseisland.com). It offers brewery tours at the Clybourn location at 3 and 4:30 p.m. on Sunday (reservations are necessary); $5 buys six beers and a souvenir glass.

Three Floyds (9570 Indiana Parkway, Munster, Ind.; 219-922-4425; www.threefloydspub.com) opens at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday to Friday and at noon on weekends. Brewery tours are offered Saturday at 3 p.m. ($1).

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Recession's Impact Permanent, Not

I continue to read dribble about how the consumer's behavior is going to change because of this recession. Wrong, if a direct strike failed to alter behavior, it is unlikely that missing a few dollars in your pocket is going to change anything. There is a need for credit and once the credit spigot is reopened and it will, there is pent-up demand waiting to be unleashed.

Go out and play!

Hazelnut fed Pork

I love hazelnuts and I love the other white meat. Leslie Cole introduces us to them together

Get ready for hazelnut-fed pork, the latest entry in a hog-happy food scene that echoes what can only be called a national obsession with swine.

Nuts and pigs have nurtured a happy marriage for centuries -- think paper-thin slices of Prosciutto di Parma from pigs fattened on chestnuts and whey, or Spain's incomparable Iberico ham, from free-range hogs that gobble acorns as they roam.

Bliss Point!

This explains everything. Tara's interview explains the mechanic's of taste

In “The End of Overeating,” Dr. Kessler finds some similarities in the food industry, which has combined and created foods in a way that taps into our brain circuitry and stimulates our desire for more.

When it comes to stimulating our brains, Dr. Kessler noted, individual ingredients aren’t particularly potent. But by combining fats, sugar and salt in innumerable ways, food makers have essentially tapped into the brain’s reward system, creating a feedback loop that stimulates our desire to eat and leaves us wanting more and more even when we’re full.

Dr. Kessler isn’t convinced that food makers fully understand the neuroscience of the forces they have unleashed, but food companies certainly understand human behavior, taste preferences and desire. In fact, he offers descriptions of how restaurants and food makers manipulate ingredients to reach the aptly named “bliss point.” Foods that contain too little or too much sugar, fat or salt are either bland or overwhelming. But food scientists work hard to reach the precise point at which we derive the greatest pleasure from fat, sugar and salt.

Snickers bar, for instance, is “extraordinarily well engineered.” As we chew it, the sugar dissolves, the fat melts and the caramel traps the peanuts so the entire combination of flavors is blissfully experienced in the mouth at the same time.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Texting epedemic

Walk into any restaurant and you will see employees texting. It matters little if they are standing behind the counter or surrounded by opulence at a fine dining facility waiting for a table to be seated.

Texting by employees is out of control. The message the customer receives from this behavior is that"the personal life of the server is more important then providing service to the customer"

I have a solution. If a wait person texts at any time during any during the course of a meal, the tip is zero, zip, nada. If a counter person texts while my order is being processed, walk out, period.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Tech Stress.

What causes the most stress in your business? If you are like me you can handle the business piece fairly zen like. When the stress is cause by a tech breakdown, I go ballistic. The stress is because I have no control and nothing I do will fix that. My business is at the mercy of some faceless tech at the other end of a phone line. That is if I can get through to technical support. The business is completely crippled if there is no redundant back system in place. Always have a backup plan if you lose power or if your POS server goes down.

Trust me on this one, when stress level exceeds 13 on a 10 scale having a backup plan will help moderate the tech disaster.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

End the isolation

Kieth Ferrazzi's new book "Who got your back" encourages individuals to:

end the frustrating and anxious isolation of the past year and create a new era of prosperity.

• We’ve chosen to help others and stop worrying only about ourselves.
• We’ve chosen to let our guards down so others can help.
• We've chosen transparency and candor over politics and BS.
• We’ve chosen to hold each other accountable so that we don't fail.

Nonstop Learning

You never know where the next great idea will germinate from so continual learning is a requisite of leadership. Sangeeth Varghese's piece offers the following:

True leaders are beings who go around with a permanent learner's permit. They use their minds to learn from even the most mundane things in life, and thereby they grow unceasingly.