Sunday, July 4, 2010

Sweet Home Chicago.....

It's a 106 miles to Chicago, we've got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes; it's dark and we're wearing sun glasses. Hit it!
- - - The Blues Brothers

Wow, What a differance a month makes! My friend Declan called me two weeks ago with the news he was opening an Irish Pub in "Old Town" chicago and would I like to be the chef. It was a hard decision considering I was commited to starting my business in Las Vegas and wqas getting a few hits but alas the draw of having my own food showcased to the public drew me in like a flame so...I am back in Chicago!

This being my 3rd attemt to carve out a life in this big city I feel I am well seasoned enough to pull this off! Declan has been a friend for 10 years and is originally from Belfast, IR. Being a friend made me both leary and excited...excited do to the fact we know each other well enough to trust each other without question...leary in that this could end a friendship should this all go south!

We opened (soft opening) last week and have been pushing ever since. I drove here in 29 hours from Vegas and hit nthe ground running. So far my menu looks like this:



Grilled Chicken Tenders $7
Chicken tenders “tossed” in our own spicy wing sauce Dip $6
Our Delicious chips served with Spicy Aioli or your choice of sauces
Pulled Pork Sliders $9
3 Mini versions of our pulled pork sandwich served with chips
Chicken Wings $7
Chicken wings tossed with the Chef’s own Spicy or Honey Mustard Sauce
Mozzarella Sticks $7

Mistral Spinach Salad $8
Fresh Spinach, Orange Supremes, Candied Walnuts, Grape tomatoes, tossed in a Raspberry Vinaigrette
Heirloom Caprese Salad Special of The Day $13
Buffalo Mozzarella & Heirloom Tomato served with Balsamic Reduction and First Press Olive Oil
Mixed greens Salad $8
Baby Lettuces, Baby Greens, Endive and Radicchio tossed with fresh fruit, strawberries tonight, grape tomato & Raspberry vinaigrette

Grilled Pesto Chicken Sandwich $12
Grilled chicken breast, Homemade Pesto, Roma tomatoes Roasted Red pepper, spicy aioli, red onion, Asiago and romaine served on an herb Ciabatta.
Grilled marinated Portabella for the
Vegetarian alternative of this great sandwich

Build your own burger! $10
1/2 LB. fresh ground beef served with your choice of Romaine, Tomato, Red Onion, Caramelized Onion, Sautéed Mushrooms, Irish cheddar,
Wisconsin cheddar and Swiss
Pulled Pork Sandwich $9
Slow cooked BBQ Pork on a sourdough roll served with chips

Classic Fish & Chips $12
Beer Battered Fresh Cod served with Fresh Chips
Full rack of Baby Back ribs ½ Rack $12 $19 Chef’s own BBQ recipe for rubbed, marinated, and
slow cooked, Ribs finished on the grill

Hollywood is hype, New York is talk, Chicago is work.
Michael Douglas

.....All this is just a start We are located @ 1240 N. Wells in Old Town if you want to check it out.....I will be updating soon enough! BTW Still doing Catering & Private Chef....Just now in CHICAGO :-)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Becoming a "Private Chef"

"When you reach an obstacle, turn it into an opportunity. You have the choice. You can overcome and be a winner, or you can allow it to overcome you and be a loser. The choice is yours and yours alone. Refuse to throw in the towel. Go that extra mile that failures refuse to travel. It is far better to be exhausted from success than to be rested from failure."
- Mary Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics

A Personal Chef, AKA "Private Chef", is a culinary professional whose job is to provide chef services to a private individual or family. Broadly speaking, this can mean many things, but the most commonly understood definition of "Personal Chef" is a chef who comes into a client's home kitchen and prepares a number of meals which are then stored in the refrigerator or freezer to be eaten later. In these cases, the Personal Chef will probably visit once a week to do the cooking, although this depends on the client's needs, schedule, and so on.

What I am trying to do is start as a personal chef eventually becoming a private chef for one family. The hardest part in becoming a private chef I have found so far is the fact that EVERY single add for a private chef insists that you must have 3-5 years minimum experience with a private family in order to apply! Taking into account the fact I have been cooking in a commercial kitchen for more than 15 years I ind this odd but I have to figure something out to a personal chef service seems to be the logical choice at this point!

“If you do build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful.”

Richard Branson
Founder and Chairman of Virgin Group

First things first I am currently writing my business plan on how I can cater to my clients needs with time/money spent on marketing as well as creating some standard menus to start with. I do plan on being able to adjust every menu to the individual clients/families needs which should be a great least I hope..:-)

I am also researching what type of cookware (preferably a recycled or green product)I should purchase that can be taken directly from the freezer to the oven if need be. Labels also need to be ones that can be read clearly as well removed easily.

I am looking into local laws concerning what I can and cannot transport as well as what has to prepared at the clients home however with my catering background I don't see where it will be all that different yet.

As far as the marketing I am starting with fliers at the top ten condominium complexes here in Vegas that tend to have busy professionals that would prefer healthier diet but don't either have the time or knowledge to prepare it themselves. Who fits this criteria and who else should I look at after this? I believe working mothers,elderly and busy two income families could use my service as well as those with special diets and of course wealthy clients that just want the best food they can get at home.

“The only thing I had was this recipe, and with that recipe was a dream. And those were the only things that I had to build my business: a recipe and a dream. And there was no way, no way, I wasn’t going to see this dream through.”

Steve Jobs
Founder and CEO of Apple Inc.

What I intend to bring to the table (so to speak) in the beginning is:
1. I will do all the grocery shopping with a budget agreed upon with the client.
2. I will write out a menu for the week or perhaps two with the approval of the client.
3. Have labels ready in advance of my visit with the appropriate containers ready for storage.
4. Charge a set fee as opposed per hour? (This could be a wrong approach so I need advice on this one) That way I can take care of other clients if need be while not worrying about billable hours.
5. Arrive and leave with my own Knives, Tools,Pots & Pans Ect.
4. Clean-up the kitchen and leave it as I found it.

Any suggestions out there? Please let me know. I will try and post how its going as I get the ball rolling until then......

Live to Eat!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Staying Positive in my Search for a Chef Position

A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort. ~Herm Albright

The hardest part of being out of work for an extended period of time for me is keeping a positive attitude.

When my job search turned from weeks into over a month I found myself applying for any culinary related job I could find from line cook to management....for most I was overqualified and some I was under. Not having been a line cook in 5 years really hurt me because the speed needed for the line is not something you have to stay at it and you can loose it which means I did not fare so well in the first couple places I worked! LOL What I run into alot of the time is "why are you applying for this job when you have so much experience?" answer was "I just need a job" ...and that or course is not the right approach!

I realize I need a job but the right job matters as well and it's imperative that I keep a positive attitude, both for my own well-being as well as for the impression I give to potential employers.

Thinking outside of the box:

The notion 'thinking outside the box' is far more than just another management cliché. It is a very powerful concept worthy of deeper consideration.
Being out of work means that I have some serious extra time on my hands to market myself in ways that might have been too labor intensive if I were employed. However outside of the traditional resume and cover letter, how you can I differentiate myself from the competition?

My resume is short and concise with bullet points highlighting accomplishments and everything else I was taught in school yet I don't use that as my focal point. Instead my focus is on the cover letter. I make the cover letter personalized to each application so it looks like I researched that company in-depth (which is something I do anyway) I have had moderate success with this and am thinking of including some of my portfolio with what I send to recruiters and am putting all that together now.

Do not take the first job unless you are %100 sure! I found this out first hand and it's not fun to drag yourself halfway across the country for a job only to find out the place serves terrible food and there attitude bites! Be choosy if you can and take your time...I know I will this time.

Action is the foundational key to all success.
Pablo Picasso

I have found out through trial and error I simply have to have a positive attitude to be successful. I have alot of energy when I am positive and quite the opposite when not. As researchers have discovered, this also holds true in sports. You have to go into a game believing sincerely that you can succeed at it, or your performance will be less than optimal. Creating an internal image of doing what you need to do and then making it happen physically is what good athletes do and as professionals in the culinary industry we need to do that as well.

Adopt a positive attitude … Think positively … These words have been said so many times -- they don’t have much impact any more, which is a shame because it is so terribly important to have that mind-set. So much has been said and written about maintaining a positive attitude that the words often fall on deaf ears.

In job-hunting, I believe, keeping a positive attitude can’t be stressed enough. It is absolutely necessary to build and maintain a positive, forward-looking frame of mind because:

• It keeps me motivated in the face of constant rejection.
• If I have a negative attitude, it distorts my outlook and affects everyone around me.
• A negative attitude cuts me off from avenues that I might otherwise explore.
• Negativity comes across subtly in interviews, often without being aware of it, and it counts heavily against you.
• A negative attitude slows you down, encourages you to do less, the end result being that you see fewer people and make fewer contacts and thereby begin limiting our chances of finding a new job.
• A negative attitude undermines our feeling of confidence and belief in yourself.
• A positive attitude, conversely, makes the hard work of looking for a job easier or at least more pleasant.

Look outside your market!

Be open to relocation.
I live in one of the boni-fide culinary capitals of the world and I am sure I am not the first tell you Las Vegas indeed has some of the best chefs in the world. What I have found is that this is not the only place to look for a great chef position....Chicago, Seattle,NYC,Portland,San Diego, Los Angeles just to name a few and all have great restaurants so I am not limiting myself to Vegas instead I am sending out my resume to everyone in the hope I land at a decent place.

I am writing this not only to describe how I am approaching my job search but to help anyone else in there search if I can. I know how it feels to be rejected and what it feels like when the phone doesn't ring for interviews but I am not letting that stop me! I would love to hear from you if you are searching as well or if you have any positive advice for me.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Changes in Attitude.....

“If you don't create change, change will create you”

Introspection is good tool to see how on the “management side” of being a Chef the next time I come across a situation where my culinary ethics are tested I need to respond in a more diplomatic way…instead of like a bull in a china closet….lol….nothing a book could have taught me I assure you. Keeping my cool may help me keep a job or least until I find a better situation.

“Anyone can hold the helm while the sea is calm”
Publilius Syrus

Looking at my career as a professional chef I have learned to carry a tremendous amount of pride for a profession that, like myself, fought long and hard to be where it is today. I have been lucky enough over the years to have learned from some truly great chefs, both men and women, and what I took from them besides the cooking is the dignity and respect for the position that I hope resonates with my peers in the industry.

“Show class, have pride, and display character. If you do, winning takes care of itself.”
Paul Bryant

I know I have many more years of learning new techniques, styles and preparations but the base of knowledge those chefs have given me will always give me a sense of pride. Sometimes this pride comes off as arrogance or cockiness to others outside the culinary world yet to be “The Chef” is to be “The Chief” and leading from the top is just the way it is.

He is the first chef-restaurateur who has dared to admit openly, and even elevate to the status of a doctrine, his belief that a chef can serve his customers with the world's finest food without constantly slaving at the stove himself. ... I have a very modern way of thinking; the chef is there to lead the team and not just to sit behind the piano.”
Alain Ducasse

In my search for another restaurant my hope is that someday one of the chefs that have shaped me into what I am today walk though my kitchen and can see how they influenced me.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Pre-made Food VS. Scratch Food in My Kitchen

Pre-made Food VS. Scratch Food in My Kitchen

When do I make my food from scratch and when do I just bring it in?

It's not quite as easy a decision as one would think. A “scratch kitchen” is a wonderful thing to me but to a whole lot of restaurants all they see is food and labor costs. I have had the honor of working in scratch kitchens the majority of my life and now that I am running my own place I appreciate even more what those Chefs’ went through on a daily basis to keep it that way.

"I learned that the only way you are going to get anywhere in life is to work hard at it. Whether you're a musician, a writer, an athlete or a businessman, there is no getting around it. If you do, you'll win-if you don't you won't."~Bruce Jenner

I do remember, not so fondly, the few times I worked in places where 85%+ of the food was “brought in” and how I and everyone else it seemed felt like a cog in the machine. The food , if that’s what you want to call it, was subpar at best with a distinct focus to what I call a sheep mentality which is “Get them in, Get them out” attitude which permeated throughout not caring if they produced a decent product only the bottom line.

The food in the kitchens where the majority is from scratch took time and a team effort to produce often with delicious results and a feeling that we actually had some input in the end result. Stocks & Sauces in particular I find have a distinct difference in flavor and texture when made from scratch and provide a wonderful base to a well run kitchen. The soup bases and powders a lot in the industry use have a distinctly weird powdery texture I can spot instantly not to mention an unusual amount of sodium as well. Desserts have a very special quality about them when made from scratch. While I must admit the pre-made ones can taste pretty good I still prefer scratch.

The question is does the average American customer even know of much less appreciate the effort that went into scratch cooking?

"We only serve what we make ourselves" is a motto I once saw over the door of a restaurant I went to and that stuck with me as a pretty good idea however that is not the case in any of the “box store restaurants” I can assure you.

Please keep in mind this is not some crazy bloviating rant on big production kitchens that have seen budgets slashed, jobs lost as well as having a difficult time just staying afloat instead I just want to see if anyone out there thinks like I do?

As Americans we have a not so great mentality of “Eat To Live” instead of “Live To Eat” meaning most of us could care less if the food tastes amazing all we seem to care about is the oversized portion and reasonable price, no wonder most of us as well as our children are so fat. So in mock defense of those places that buy EVERYTHING pre-made I can see where it all reaches a point when scratch cooking, especially here in the states, is impractical and in fact counterproductive to the bottom line. I can tell you right now after a lot of time spent in large hotel kitchens and buffets as sad as this is the public just does not care about good food there.

So, when is it worth the extra expense in effort, labor and food cost to do it myself? Bake my own bread? Roll my own pasta? Make my own desserts? Cut my own meat?
What about making our own salad dressings and coleslaw? I know for a fact that everything I have mentioned so far is available in ready-made form from someone!

Here are some common battlegrounds for the debate between from-scratch vs. ready-made. To me premade food tends to make chefs/cooks 'stagnant' and non-innovative. When you work for a person who requires 100% from scratch such as myself you will work your ass off yet the food will be ten times better in my opinion, all very rewarding from a Chef's point of view.

What this has done for me personally and professionally has turned me into a very discerning person food wise. I will not order a dessert in a restaurant because I know it was store bought and just plated. I am willing to pay extra for food that I know has been done from scratch.

One mentality I face consistently is the people that frequent the “Box Restaurants” as these restaurants have to hire "bodies" that can produce the food on a consistent basis with little or no actual culinary skill. They use pre-prepared products that are best heated in a microwave and are what we as chefs call "idiot proof" so that any worker can be able to prepare it. They usually only have kitchen managers with little or no real culinary background cheering them onto food cost victory while dolling out over salted, over prepared cookie cutter food.

Unfortunately these restaurants are the norm for casual dining in the US which in my humble opinion is the problem us as chef’s face in today’s world.

I will serve as much from scratch as I can with a focus on quality instead of quantity. Hopefully we will be a success doing so.

As always I value you’re opinion.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

My "Recipe Guide" and How it Affects the Bottom Line.

If you want to manage somebody, manage yourself. Do that well and you'll be ready to stop managing. And start leading.

Handling our restaurants food costs is a major task. One sure-fire way to do that is by what I have learned as a "Recipe Guide" what this essentially does, in basic terms, is show all the food coming in at cost and mapping where it goes on my menu and from there I can set my price points. I got most of my ideas about this from research and experience so I am sure I am repeating what most people in the industry already know however just in case others may need clarification I am spelling it out the best I can.

Success in the restaurant business is often measured in very small percentages. Throw in a wrong order here, a trash can of wasted product there, mix in a bit of un-managed labor and you’ve got a recipe for slim at best profit margins .....isn't that why we are in the restaurant business. ....besides our passion for food..profit?

Standards are in place from the beginning to set the standards for consistency and these standards include food cost controls.

For good recipes to become great menu items, I had to learn to make them pleasing to both our guests and our accountant. I break them down into stages that assist purchasing and inventory controls, organize prep and mise en place, reduce production time, and maximize yield. Then I must build the recipes up to serve (hopefully) hundreds of covers.

I break it all down into three stages

Step 1 – Add all Ingredients (no matter how small) to a master inventory list.

Every restaurant should maintain a Master Inventory List that includes all of the ingredients that a restaurant must use in the preparation of their menu items and mine is no different. This list can be maintained using a spreadsheet format (Excel/Peoplesoft will do) that includes purchasing information such as the pack, size and "as purchased" price of the ingredients — information that is useful when creating other management forms such as inventory and order forms.
I then have to accurately calculate the real cost to produce a menu item, the master inventory list should not only reflect the purchasing cost and unit of measure, but also the corresponding recipe cost and unit of measure. Any and all ingredients used in American cooking can be expressed in one of three units of measure when using it in a recipe — weight measure (typically oz or lbs.), volume measure (such as tsp.,tbsp.,cups, qt. or gal.), or by each. Many products are purchased by weight units of measure but are measured for recipes in terms of volume (fluid) measure. To determine a true recipe unit cost, it can require measuring a pound of product to determine its recipe yield.

Step 2 – Prep Stages/Mise En Place

Here I identify parts of the menu item that can be prepared prior to final cooking and presentation, to reduce the time from order to service. Even a simple, single menu item often requires sub recipes that are produced in batch and become part of our daily preparation. Each sub recipe is then added to the Recipe Manual for reference by the kitchen staff. The cost of each sub recipe ingredient is calculated by multiplying the number of recipe units used by the recipe unit cost listed in the Master Inventory. The sub recipe batch is then assigned its own recipe unit and cost based on to total cost to produce the batch and how much it yields.
Step 3 Calculate Menu Item Cost.

Finally, the cost of the menu item is determined by calculating the cost of each individual recipe or ingredient needed to produce the menu item, then affixing a selling price that produces the desired profit. I will review my menu item cost every month to ensure that cost expectations are accurate. With our POS system we are able to Red Flag market wide price increases per bulk item. This helps me determine which food vendor that product will be purchased from as well as if I should make a recipe change.


Generally, my food cost should be around 20-28%. This means that if I pay $1.00 for something, I need to charge minimum of $3.34. It may seem like I am charging a lot more than necessary, but keep in mind that we aren't just paying for the food itself. We are paying someone to prepare the food, serve the food, and clean up after the food. Everything in our restaurant, from labor costs to the "Set Costs" IE: Electric and Gas bill needs to be covered by the food we serve. As our first restaurant is a QSR we have a great advantage in that we have a smaller food cost and depend on volume more than covers or "Butts in Seats" like a FSR does. While a Get them in Get them out mentality exists in a lot of QSR's that will not be the case at our restaurant where we will do everything we can to provide a great experience so the customers want to return.

I am quite sure I have left more out than I put in however this is a great place to start.

As always I welcome your feedback.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Am I Going To Work The Line?

Yes, as much as I can, however a better question is why should I?

As Executive Chef EVERYTHING comes back to me so why would I not work my line? Granted I will do my best to hire the right staff and train them the best way I know how yet at the end of the day it's my name and reputation riding on that menu item. Whether or not myself or any member of my staff is having a bad day the customer does not give a damn and they expect for there food as well as service to be outstanding no matter what.

How do we pull this off every day you may ask..... Leading by example!

In all the time I spent as a line cook and sous chef I have only seen a handful of Executive Chefs actually get on the line and show me how they want there food to be prepared. They usually delegate it to another line cook that learned it from the cook before him therefore perpetually reinterpreting the dish!

It's funny that I remember the names of the Executive chefs who actually showed me how he/she wanted there menu prepared where as the other chefs..not so much.

First let me explain to all the industry people out there about what I mean exactly about "working the line." This DOES NOT mean being a line cook for every shift as this is what I have hired able bodied cooks for.
My Point is this,unless you show your cooks by Actually cooking with them every day, at least one entree,special etc., they will never have respect for your abilities as a chef because first and foremost as chefs we must be great cooks!

In my restaurant,until the customer walks in the door, sits down, orders a drink and reads the menu I have the opportunity to get on the line and teach my cooks the way I want MY food to be prepared and I consider that an honor. This also empowers them with the knowledge I have of food thus opening lines of communication and preventing less returns and screw-ups that cost me money!

Words mean absolutely nothing to cooks unless they know you can cook circles around them. I like a Thomas Keller quote I read once "I am only going to Promote one person to Sous Chef and that will be the person that is already acting like the sous." You have to walk the walk before you can talk.

As Executive Chef I must know how to cook, how to lead, how to delegate, how to be humble and proud at the same time (not either or), how to keep my restaurant going financially, know how to show other cooks how to make delicious food and know when to ask for help and when to tell them in, a manner in which cannot be misunderstood, "I Need This Now!!"

Based on my experience by doing these things they will not only respect me but my food as well. Usually they will even return the favor by not cutting corners, keeping there workplace clean and organized, tasting food and knowing when it's perfect and asking for help if it's not and accepting constructive criticism, treating the expensive equipment like its NOT disposable! In turn I will show them how to cost out every plate on there station and why it was cooked the way I have shown and expecting a special at least once a week from there station.

All this leads me back to why I will work the line....because I lead by example.

And I hope someday ,when they have there own restaurant, they may remember which chef showed them how he likes it done.

As always I welcome your comments.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Marketing for our Restaurant at this point.

"Don't bring your need to the marketplace, bring your skill. If you don't feel well, tell your doctor, but not the marketplace. If you need money, go to the bank, but not the marketplace."Jim Rohn

I t seems to me that Restaurant marketing is both an art and a science that is shrouded in mystery for many restaurant owners. Unfortunately, many advertising sales people don’t seem to want me to know what’s really working. They want me to think that the television & radio spots everyone else is running with them will be the answer to all of our marketing challenges. Do not make this decision very fast I say because marketing done correctly is crucial to my restaurant(s) success yet if done wrong can close our doors very quickly. I see advertising as a tool and in the hands of the wrong people will cost us dearly yet in the right hands will become a partner to our success. This is what I have compiled so far , based on my endless hours of research, as our “keys to marketing” and that being said once I find a company that is like minded I will trust them to go to work for us.

What are the keys to great restaurant marketing?

There are several components of successful restaurant marketing based on what I have seen work in restaurants I have worked in as well others I have admired over the years.
Branding There has been lots of hype over the last few months about our branding as this seems to be the big buzzword most salespeople like to throw around in the initial meeting with marketing executives I have had to this point. From day one I have been told we need to do a lot of branding and to “focus on the branding”, but no one has really stopped to ask us what our brand is and how we should build it. To me a brand is a promise. It’s what guests, employees, vendors, the media and all other key customers come to expect in dealing with our restaurant. Brand-building is closing the gap between what we promise and we deliver. From what I have found a strong brand is one that has alignment between the promise and execution! IE: Take what I have going on in my kitchen every night! I have a menu, that through expert execution from my line cooks, must be delivered on a consistent basis by our wait staff to our guests or we could be out of business no matter how good our marketing is! From what I can tell as a non-expert in marketing it’s not something that just happens when you advertise, and it’s not that people recognize our logo or recall our advertising, it’s how it is all executed. It’s all about how the customer perceives us as their perception is our reality.

"You've got to learn the footwork, the positioning, how to box out, how to pass, how to shoot your free throws. All these things are necessary, not to be the No. 1 player in the world, but maybe you can play against him." Oscar Robertson

Positioning is an under leveraged restaurant marketing component and it was something that I saw owners do with regularity throughout my career. Positioning is the place we hold in the customers mind relative to the competition (the cheaper choice, the higher quality choice, large portions, family oriented, great atmosphere terrible food, et cetera). Effective positioning involves incorporation our Unique Selling Proposition (U.S.P.). The USP is the one thing that only we can claim. It’s a point of differentiation that the competition either cannot or does not claim. An example is Burger King versus McDonald’s in a classic struggle of two marketing giants. If Burger King can convince you that a flame-broiled burger tastes better than a fried burger, they’ve won the war because McDonald’s will never go into all 34,000 stores and rip out there flat-top griddles to install char-grilling pits. However McDonald's is doing just fine because they way the market is second to none so there place in the higher of food chains has remained #1 for decades.

Marketing doesn’t happen in a vacuum

From what I see effective restaurant marketing must be built on a foundation of fact and knowledge about the market, our competition and last but not least our customers. It’s a lot to worry about, but restaurant marketing has to factor these considerations into the overall strategy. Not even Coca-Cola can afford to market to everyone all the time, so effective market research and due diligence can help us be more effective in our restaurant marketing efforts.
Our Menu Mix every three to six months we will conduct an analysis of our menu. This will include profitability analysis and a competitive restaurant menu analysis. To keep our menu fresh, relevant, and profitable, I need to know specifically how each item on our menu is performing and also how it stacks up next to our top competition. I think of each item on my menu as a tenant leasing space and it has to earn its right to the space we have granted it and must turn a profit or it’s gone.

New Customers

These are first-time customers dining with us for the first time. First impressions here last a lifetime and can never be erased. They will establish their opinion of our company during this first purchase and decide what percentage of their paycheck to award us in the future. Based on experience new customers are the most volatile sales-builders because if we depend on new sales only we will not survive in the harsh environment of the Las Vegas strip. However, it is impossible to increase frequency of these first time customers even if they are only in Las Vegas for a few days, because there is too much here to do. What we are intending to do is establish a customer base and to do this we will focus considerable efforts on these steps.


This is how often our existing customers return to us for future purchases. Frequency is generated by developing enduring relationships and loyalty among our customers. While it is rare to disagree that frequency is important, an alarming number of businesses fail to appropriate the needed time and resources to developing successful programs. Consider that the average Papa John’s loyalist purchases a pizza every 30 days. If Papa John’s can get there loyal customers to purchase just one more pizza in those 30 days, they’d double their sales. What I see missing in Las Vegas is the repeat customer! Why don’t people come back? It could be a myriad of reasons however the one I can affect the most is customer service! I feel my employees are ambassadors for my business and if they do not treat the customer as I direct them, in a positive friendly manner just as one example, I get rid of them. So why do most Strip restaurants blast the airwaves versus developing more successful frequency programs, such as bounce backs, loyalty programs and the like? You’ve got me, I just know customer service.
When asked what was the single most important event in helping him arrive at the theory of relativity, Albert Einstein was reported to have said, “Figuring out how to think about the problem.”

How much should we spend on restaurant marketing?

I believe as a pure start-up we should allocate 3% - 6% of our sales to marketing. It’s also a good idea to allocate our money proportionally to our sales volume. Meaning, if July is our busiest month, we should spend a proportionate amount on our restaurants marketing budget in that month. Some restaurant owners I have worked for in the past look at slow periods and think that’s when they need to spend money to drive sales, so they spent a big chunk of cash trying to build a happy hour business and forgo building on top of our busy periods. Fact is, there is a reason people aren’t coming in from 4:00 PM- 6:00 PM and we’ll be sending valuable marketing dollars down a black hole if we try to build this period. There are nearly one million restaurants in the United States and probably only 2% of them are busy from 4:00 PM- 6:00 PM. Restaurant marketing cannot change behavior; it can only influence existing behaviors. We will only spend our restaurant marketing dollars where it will have the best return for our restaurant.

How do most market restaurants themselves?

It’s sad really, but 80% - 90% of restaurant marketing budgets are spent on getting a new customer to visit for the first time. This is the least effective place to spend our money. The majority of new customers require mass media advertising, which is costly and has dismal return on investment. The fact is obtaining new customers is 7-10 times more expensive than building restaurant sales through increased frequency, check average and reward marketing efforts. IE: Restaurant operators see that their competitor is on television or in the yellow pages or on a billboard and Believe that they should be there as well. They do this without regard for what’s working. Restaurant owners have to wear so many hats that sometimes they just do what’s easiest versus what’s prudent they simply write a check for mass media advertising and hope for the best. From what I have seen mass media is often more about feeding egos than driving sales. It’s also impossible for most independent companies to compete in a toe-to-toe battle with the big guys. Subway spends $290 million per year just on television. They can do that because they are a multi-billion dollar enterprise, what our budget for advertising……not 290 million I can assure you!

As I have said I am not a marketing expert and base what I am saying here on my experience only. If you have a better strategy or suggestions I would love to hear from you.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Independant Restaurants VS. the Soulless Chain's

What does a Soulless company chain have over an independent restaurant as far as quality?
Nothing, as they produce very little fresh and instead rely on massive amounts of
pre-prepared frozen food, laden with salt and sugar while marketing to the masses and somehow convincing them there food is good.
While employing low skilled low paid employee’s that receive very little actual culinary knowledge or training besides how to use a microwave.
They also tend to re-heat pre-cooked food that was prepared at a central commissary kitchen, sometimes states away. then shipped to that location.

As an independent restaurant partner/chef I will know my purveyors and maybe even the farm the food came from. We are part of the community and actually take pride in the fact we employ culinarian's instead of just people wanting a job to execute food we actually cook from scratch every day.

What does a Soulless company chain have over an independent restaurant as far as consistency?
A lot unfortunately as most Americans will visit an “Olive Garden” before the little Italian restaurant on the corner that painstakingly makes there pasta and sauces from scratch sometime using age old recipes.

Why?.. Mainly because the food in the chain is the exact same as they ate before & before that as well ! Not because it’s “better food” but because they are used to it and the prices seem reasonable. As Americans we have been dumbied down into thinking that food needs to be in large portions to be considered good for our buck. What they don't mention to customers is the insane amounts of sugar and sodium that is some cases is used to mask the taste of otherwise bland overproduced food.

I have to admit it’s tough getting people away from these chains as well as even my own Mother simply adores Red Lobster and at 73 y/o that is unlikely to change despite them doing so little from scratch.

How do I combat this way of thinking? Quality and exceptional customer service to start with as well as the ability to change. What was that I said, ability to change? See what most customers don’t realize is as an independent making adjustments to my menu based on factors such as seasonality, adverse market demand, food cost and food trends is relatively easy compared to that of a corporate chain. My food is consistent, just not the same day in and day out, instead it’s just consistently delicious and hopefully that still means something in today's market.

In the corporate setting food chains employ food scientists and mass marketing giants to get you in their door. They will spend thousands of dollars on advertising to convince you they are “fresh” while bringing in 90% + frozen food. They continually “roll-out” the great new menu items with fantastic fan fare & flare while all the while it’s just a sauce added to another bland severely overcooked chicken breast of with a pre-frozen side dish, reheated for your enjoyment! but hey…’s new right ;-)

What does a Soulless company chain have over an independent restaurant as far as retention of employee’s?
Very little. An independent restaurant for the employee’s as well as owners becomes an extension of our immediate family. You go through countless hours of prep, sides the weeds and two hour waits only to clean it all up and do it again the next day! This leads to a bond most outside the restaurant industry will never understand.

One striking difference between a professional wait staff and what I politely call a "corporate clone" is easy to spot…just ask for your food a little different from what the menu states and you will see the clone’s eye’s flutter as he/she scurries to find a manager or Kitchen Manager for permission to change an item while leaving the guest to guess as to weather there wish will be granted.

Ask the same thing of a professional waiter/waitress in an independent restaurant and you won’t see them flinch while they relay you’re request to the Chef. What does this have to do with retention? Through this the waiter feels “empowered to take care of the guest” and if you let them they often times do just that! Yet when an employee has to ask permission to take care of the guest the guest tends to suffer as well as their tip.

What I do for the FOH I do for the BOH as well in cross training at every position which leads to empowerment for them as well. This is done through daily specials coming from different line cooks as well as family meals where the employees are asked to contribute family recipes or just something they would like to try. In example I also take my time and explain to new cooks why we are sauteing the fish for this menu item instead of frying it. This teaches as well as reinforces my vision to the cook for that item.

In closing these are just some of the ideas I have of how to compete with chains and if you have some ideas of our own please let me know I would enjoy hearing from you.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Taking the Mystery out of Making Money in My Restaurant

If you're like me in that most of your adult life you have been working in the restaurant industry, you may have been told ,and just accepted as fact some co-called "standards" about how certain things ought to be done in this business.

One of the practices in my restaurant will focus on is handling costs by implementing standard operating procedures & formula's from the beginning to maximize profits. In my case it means doing things a little different than others do it. As a person with A.D.D. I find these formulas help me stay on track and focused on what matters most when running a restaurant. I will attempt to show what I have learned from my past mistakes and success to take the mystery out of making money in the food industry.

Making Money in a Restaurant...How to Take the Mystery out of it!
Initially I was taught the "formula" or "percentage" method of pricing. The idea is that the primary determinant of price is the cost of the ingredients required to prepare a menu item.For example, let's say a restaurant wants to put a new appetizer on the menu: Duck egg rolls. Based on the recipe, cost of ingredients and portion sizes, the raw food cost of making one order of duck egg rolls is $1.25. What I used to do with a food cost target of, say, 30 percent I would take the $1.25 cost and, using the formula method, do a little arithmetic and come up with a sales price of around $4.15.
While this method in fact helped me initially achieve my most basic food cost objectives, I started to ask myself, what is it I am ignoring? I am ignoring the fact that my customers may be very willing to pay more, possibly much more than $4.15 for a specialty appetizer like Duck egg rolls.
This is what I call "Perceived value pricing".
While calculating the cost of producing a menu item should be one aspect of the pricing process, it isn't the most important component. The critical component for me is determining the "perceived value" of an item in the eyes of your guests and how much they will likely be willing to pay for it.
My restaurant's are in the tourist heavy market of Las Vegas Strip where specialty appetizers typically sell elsewhere for $7.95, $8.95 and even more so if I don't pay attention to trends in my sales I could be losing close to a dollar or more profit per item if the menu costs are not priced based on perceived value.
These are the 13 steps I am implementing to realize a profit in our restaurant:
First, "Consider our competition!"
At least once a year or even seasonally it's good to see what local competitors are up to and this includes, but not limited to, analyzing the price points in each section of their menus as well as where they cross utilize food items. One thing I look for is how does my restaurant stack up in the pricing continuum of similar restaurants in my area? This provides me with at least some guidelines of what types of prices our market will bear.
Second, "Consider our customers."
What are the characteristics of my customer base? Because visitors to Las Vegas are a broad mix of income levels, ethnicity, nationality and characteristics catering to just one type of guest is the kiss of death here. We get everyone from the super rich with full comp privileges to the family on the tightest of budgets looking for a deal and everyone in between! While it may be hard to generalize, I have a keen sense of the price sensitivity of the people who should be attracted to my restaurant. For The Cup (QSR) the guests will be looking for something fresh but fast while being reasonably priced. Volume is the key to success there. For The World News Kaffe (FSR) perceived value of all our items from the fine coffee to our full bistro menu will come from our presentation as well as our ability to sell the food through our wait staff and menu placement. Paying attention to the weekly, monthly as well as quarterly sales reports will dictate which items I can realize a profit with and those that are potential loss leaders.
Third, "what's selling at our existing price points?”
By comparing the popularity of our menu items in each section of your menu in light of each item's price we will get a better understanding of which menu items to raise and to what extent my market will bear that raise. The objective is to get a sense of how price sensitive my customers are based on what they're buying
(or avoiding) and this also gives me a chance as the chef to either adjust the menu item to better suit my customers or get rid of it altogether.
Forth, “Involve our staff.”
After opening a restaurant I like to engage my servers in the pricing process. Just think for a minute about the people working in my restaurants and who is closest to our customers?

Chances are it isn't me or my managers; they're our servers, Batista's, bartenders and counter people. They will have hundreds and even thousands of interactions with my guests while their buying decisions are being considered and made and believe me when I say this, they do influence what is sold. Not all, but some of our employees will develop a keen sense of our customers' buying habits and sensitivity to prices. Based on my experience in most restaurants, who are the last people to find out about menu changes or new prices? Right, it's usually servers, bartenders and counter person! By making a point of including our service staff in the pricing process, when new menu items are evaluated, the service staff is shown the plate presentation; they sample the product and then indicate on a comment card the price they believe they could sell that item for.
This goes far beyond just including you're wait empowers them to sell what they feel they helped create! Involving our service staff in the pricing process will be a real double-win because not only are I and my management team getting valuable pricing information to help with our pricing decision but we are training future managers and star performers! They'll feel more involved in your restaurant, knowing their opinions and insights matter. It should be a genuine morale booster for our people as well.
Fifth, "Keeping Food Cost Low Means Larger Profit Margins"
This is where I expect I will get some both positive and negative feedback from chefs and F&B managers I have worked for in the past! Having a higher food cost percentage isn't always a bad thing, nor does it always indicate a food cost problem of some kind.
If we can calculate the very best food cost our restaurant could have during the busiest period assuming there is no waste, spoilage, perfect portioning and no other food cost problems. This is often referred to as "theoretical" or "ideal" food cost and in this case it's 29 percent.Now let's change just one factor: the sales mix. If my restaurant instead sold 750 bagels & pastries and 2,000 sandwiches per week, the ideal food cost goes from 29 percent to 36 percent. If this was your restaurant, which would you prefer, a food cost of 29 percent or 36 percent? Compare the two scenarios.I've seen this example before and when I implemented it in the last place I worked got a few knee-jerk "29 percent" responses. However, by selling sandwiches this restaurant would be making nearly $1,000 more in gross profit despite having a much higher food cost of 36 percent.
This is also the case with many operators. When they see an increase in their food cost percent, it's automatically assumed that they have a food cost problem. Maybe, maybe not.For example I will use The Cup's Menu: My bagels & pastries ,while they require little prep, are relatively low in initial food cost because I buy them par-baked and frozen therefore avoiding costly prep/labor to make them yet I make them in bulk and what is not used that day part will be thrown out. The sandwiches have a food cost that is initially higher yet priced at what the market will hold and with that realizing a higher profit margin for us. That's why it's smart to look at the change in gross profit dollars before going any further. It's very possible that when food cost are higher, along with gross profit, the restaurant had a shift in sales mix and sold a larger number of menu items having a high-percentage food cost but that also generated more gross profit dollars.
Sixth, "Buying Larger Quantities to Get Volume Discounts Saves Money"
It's common for ALL suppliers to quote products at one price for a small amount of a product and a lower price per unit for purchasing a larger amount. After doing the math it may appear to be an easy way to save some money but if it leads to purchasing more food and more products than are needed, this practice can easily lead to higher food cost and less profit.
Carrying an excessive amount of inventory often leads to the following problems:
1. Having excess inventory ties up our valuable cash. Every dollar of product on our storage shelf is a dollar we don't have in the bank or that can't be used for other purposes.
2. having excess inventory leads to over portioning. When storage shelves are stocked with more than enough product, employees tend to be less careful in how they use and handle our valuable inventory. ...incurring my wrath in the process!
Now take that mind-set into our kitchen, with hourly employees who are among the lowest-paid people on our staff. Do you think that if our storage rooms are always filled with product and we rarely, if ever, need to be concerned with running low of anything, do you think they will use more products? Guaranteed. Do you think they will be less careful with the products they handle? Guaranteed, again.
I recently read about a very successful operator with annual sales in excess of $10 million in one restaurant who said, "If you buy salad dressing in 5-gallon containers instead of 1-gallon containers, employees don't measure as strictly." He's convinced that the way to save money with his food is to buy only what he needs and then make the most of it, not buy more than he needs to get a quantity discount.
3. Having excess inventory encourages theft. ...Imagine your employee goes into the walk-in and he notices 12-15 boxes of New York Strips. He knows that's enough steaks for the next 2 1/2 weeks and that one or two boxes would probably not be missed so he sees no reason not to take one case out with him while presumably taking out the "trash" this happen more than you think and I find it's a costly mistake chefs and managers alike make when they are new to the industry so teaching my management staff what to look for helps my bottom line. But what if there were only four boxes on hand, just enough to get through to the next delivery, the day after tomorrow.
4. Having excess inventory results in more waste and spoilage. A good many products in a restaurant have a limited shelf life. If the products are not used within a certain time frame, the products become unsafe for consumption and must be thrown out. The more products a restaurant keeps on hand, the greater the risk of more products exceeding their safety date.

There aren't many absolutes in this business but if there is one this is it: Consistently, ordering more products than you really need will cost you money. In fact it's one of the most expensive things you can do in this business. And a mistake that takes restaurants out of business quickly! A good rule of thumb: Buy just want you need and make the most of it.
Seventh, "An Ongoing Competitive Bidding Program Will Get Us the Lowest Prices"
I recall several times being told by people "who knew the score" that to get the best prices and keep suppliers honest it was imperative that you bid out your food, beverage and supply products on a regular, ongoing basis. If you neglected to do this, your suppliers would take advantage of your inattention and ratchet up your prices. Now there may be some truth to this but I've found that some of the most successful independent operators don't engage in ongoing competitive bidding on the majority of their products. Instead they purchase most of their food and supplies from one, prime supplier or vendor.

Their reasoning is that by consolidating the bulk of their purchases with one supplier they can get lower "overall' prices for a lot less time and effort. They get lower prices because the supplier is willing to lower the "margin" they charge to get a larger share of their business and have the opportunity make more gross profit dollars on their account.

Also, there are some economies of scale, particularly in terms of delivery costs. Drop costs for a supplier are primarily fixed. So it costs about the same to deliver five cases to a restaurant as it does 50 or 100 cases.
That savings along with other supply chain efficiencies and the chance to secure more sales is a strong motivation for suppliers to lower their margins to become a restaurant's prime vendor.
Prime vendor arrangements are often structured like this: The supplier will agree to provide certain products at their cost plus a fixed markup or margin, which is expressed as a percent of cost or a fixed dollar amount per box or case. The operator generally has the right to audit invoices of the supplier to verify the supplier's cost. The prime vendor agreement, which spells out the markups and other conditions, often runs for a period of one year.While prime vendor arrangements are not a panacea, many independent operators cite numerous advantages over ongoing competitive bidding. Lower "overall" prices, less time spent in purchasing activities, few supplier and sales people to deal with, and better service and more attention from their prime vendor are a few pluses that are commonly heard. Instead what I have found at times in these agreements is a drop in overall product quality and a lack of attention to detail once these agreements are signed. Sometimes the prime vendor will continually push an item or items they have too much of trying to get rid of their excess inventory while increasing mine!
Note : I am not in business to keep my vendors inventories low, I am in business to make a profit for my investors and my restaurant.
Eight, "Paying Higher Wages Increases Labor Costs"
Early in my cooking career I was involved with a restaurant franchisee that owned a popular restaurant chain with three locations in Miami Beach. On our busiest nights, typically Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, it was customary to schedule three line cooks for much of or the entire shift doing as many as 250-400 covers a night......we worked our ass off! When one of the line cooks gave notice that he was leaving, the remaining two of us and asked if we could be given a chance to handle the line ourselves, just the two of us even on the busy nights, a gutsy move. If we could do it, we wanted to be paid a little more because we'd be saving the restaurant that third position therefore making them more money.Management was intrigued and gave us a week to prove it and prove it we did. Shortly thereafter, we became the highest-paid line cooks in the franchise. We were thrilled to be making that kind of money and remained loyal employees for quite awhile.
The truth is every restaurant has its superstars. These are the employees who, for whatever reason, are more capable and have a greater capacity to get things done than your average workers. I will identify our superstars, pay them more but also expect them to do more work.
Paying our superstars more, if done right, can result in having fewer, more productive employees who stay with us longer because they're making more money at our restaurant than they can anywhere else. It can also reduce our overall labor cost by less turnover and fewer hours spent "Training the new guy."
Nine, "Paying Overtime is a Sign of Bad Management or Poor Scheduling"
Not necessarily. Overtime may also be a sign that a well-conceived, tight schedule was prepared and the restaurant was busier than expected. The absence of any overtime can be indicative of padded schedules and having more employees than needed.Many restaurants have a policy that either prohibits or discourages management from scheduling any hourly employees more than 40 hours per week. The goal, of course, is to keep from paying the 50 percent premium on overtime wages.While this may appear to be a good business move at first, it can be shortsighted after considering what can happen when a few hours of overtime are regularly scheduled for certain, key employees.The key employees are usually kitchen workers who don't have the opportunity to earn tips and have been known to switch employers to make 25 cents more per hour or sometime less.Scheduling a few hours of overtime for certain back-of-the-house employees will keep us from hiring additional people and give them a reason to stay at our restaurant.
In a time when good workers are hard to find and expensive to replace, anything we can do to reduce turnover and improve employee retention is worth considering.
Ten, "Teaching our Staff Suggestive Selling Techniques and Having Sales Contests are Effective Ways to Increase Sales and Profit"
The National Restaurant Association says that 60 percent of sales in fine dining restaurants and more than 80 percent of sales in casual restaurants come from repeat customers. Clearly, the success of most restaurants depends on creating a large number of happy, loyal, returning guests.
While suggestive selling and sales contests can be an effective way to boost check averages I believe that just because we've always done something a certain way doesn't make it right or best. One thing I've learned about the restaurant business is whenever you think you've got it figured out someone will show you something new or different that tests your conventional thinking. Maybe that's why some of us should be in this business and others can't handle the constant pressure. It keeps us humble and open to new ideas when they present themselves.By pushing only check averages and sales in the short term, over time these tactics can have a detrimental effect on guest satisfaction and frequency.
Making them resentful they came to your restaurant is not a way to stay in business. Guest's today are not stupid. They can tell when they're being hustled to spend more money as opposed to being genuinely served and taken care of.It's often a matter of training and emphasis the restaurant places on the servers to either "sell" or "serve." If job one is creating more loyal, returning guests, then the emphasis will clearly be on "serving," not "selling."I fully realize that servers need to be knowledgeable about the menu and be able to guide guests in making menu decisions yet often it's just a matter of how it's done and the motive behind it.
One successful operator I know doesn't care about how much his guests spend and he doesn't pressure his servers to sell. He simply tells them to do whatever it takes to show them a marvelous time so they keep coming back again and again. If we provide our guest with a great experience for their first impression they are more than likely to return again as well as tell their friends. If we do not make a good impression we can be assured they will not return and will tell seven people not to bother coming to my restaurant because it sucks.
Eleven, "It Is Better to Have Cash Overages Than Cash Shortages"
When our servers, bartenders and cashier’s check out at the close of their shift, I want their actual cash deposit to be within $1 of what the register says they owe. While neither an overage nor shortage is good news, a cash overage is our worst nightmare because it signals the possibility of unrecorded sales.
Unrecorded sales often become an issue when employees who handle cash try to steal. One of the most common ways of pulling this off is to come up with a system of selling something but not recording it as a sale.For an employee who handles cash it's often a simple process of placing all the cash they receive exactly where it's supposed to go: in their cash drawer. But, every fifth soft drink or small order of fries isn't rung up or an item is recorded at a lower price. The customer, however, is still charged full price for everything.This means more cash is going into the cash drawer than the amount of sales getting rung up on the register.

The dishonest employee will have some type of counting scheme to keep track of how much unrecorded money has accumulated. Then, at an opportune time (when no one is looking) they will pull the excess cash out of the drawer and pocket it. Here's a way to tell if one of our cashiers or bartenders is failing to ring up all their sales I, on a surprise basis, occasionally will pull a cashier's or bartender's cash drawer(swap it out with a different one). I then read the register receipts to tell me how much cash "should" be in the drawer. Then I count the "actual" cash in the drawer (less the beginning bank) and if I come up with a cash "overage," we either have a problem with serious incompetence or someone's stealing. It's usually the latter I am afraid.The threat or possibility of a surprise cash count can be a very effective way of keeping people honest and minimizing unrecorded sales. I have even done this to managers on occasion just to keep them honest.
Twelve: "Using Trash Cans in the Kitchen is a Good Way to Dispose of Trim and Waste"
NOT IN MY KITCHEN! I am reminded of one of my favorite culinary instructors from New England Culinary Institute, Chef Bob Long, he said kitchen trash cans have are referred to in the industry as "black holes of profitability" and for good reason. Any restaurant, including ours, is at risk for losing good, usable food products to the kitchen trash cans. If there's training gap or people are careless when slicing, dicing or prepping anything in our kitchen, good, usable (and expensive) products can and WILL end up in the dumpster. If we are losing money in our kitchen first go to the prep trash can at 10am on a Friday morning and you will find the money!
Say a prep cook is preparing a piece of fish or meat and inadvertently makes a slice in the wrong place. Might then he be tempted to hide their mistake in the trash instead of bringing it to me or my sous chefs attention? You bet! It could be happening all the time unless we are doing something to control it. So I do.I know of chefs who have removed all the trash cans in their kitchens and replaced them with clear plastic food boxes. They start by assigning a food box to each prep cook with their name on it. The prep cooks are then instructed to place all of their scraps, trimmings and waste into their own food box.At the end of each shift, a chef or sous chef briefly inspects the contents of each employee's food box. If good, usable product is discovered, it's immediately brought to the employee's attention and, if necessary, they receive some on-the-spot training.
I always say, "don't expect what you don't inspect." Ditching our kitchen garbage cans for plastic food boxes, even for a just week or two, will give us the perfect opportunity to find out exactly what's leaving our kitchen and ending up in the dumpster.
Thirteen, "Only an Owner, Manager or Chef Should Check In Deliveries"
Although receiving is an extremely important activity, let's face it, it's basically a recurring, almost clerical-type function. It should be done the same methodical way over and over again.Under normal circumstances it doesn't make much sense to have our decision-makers and highest-paid people performing repetitive functions when you've got capable staff members who could get the job done just as well and probably even better.Here's why. Who are the two or three people in any restaurant who usually have the least amount of time? Who are the ones constantly putting out the fires, dealing with problems and are frequently interrupted by someone? Invariably, it's the people in our management positions.
Often, when a manager checks in a delivery, they begin the process but are interrupted or diverted to something else before every product is properly inspected, counted and put away. Just think about how difficult it is for a manager or sous chef to have more than about 30 seconds of uninterrupted time, especially prior to opening, when most deliveries come in. As a result, managers don't always do a very thorough, complete job of the receiving functions every time.
Some restaurants have I worked in train a good hourly employee to perform the receiving functions during certain hours of the day as I saw done at Mon Ami Gabi in Las Vegas. The person they select is a solid performer and is thoroughly trained to do the job. I have found that it's much easier for an hourly employee to have the 10-20 minutes of uninterrupted time so they do a more complete and thorough job of receiving than their managers can.
Another reason to have an hourly person double as the receiving clerk is that often our managers and sous chefs do the purchasing. Unless it's unavoidable, you never want the same person to do your purchasing "and" receiving. There are just too many games someone can play and ways to obscure their tracks when they do both.In most restaurants a good, well-trained hourly employee can usually do a consistently better job of your receiving functions than your managers and it frees your managers to do the things only they can do.
Just because we've always done something a certain way doesn't make it right or best. One thing I've learned about the restaurant business is whenever you think you've got it figured out someone will show you something new or different that tests your conventional thinking. It keeps us humble and open to new ideas.
As always I value your opinion...