Category: inside restaurants

October 21 / inside restaurants

how to get a restaurant jobWant to find a great job in the restaurant industry? If you want to get hired, the best thing you can do is to be impeccable and pay attention to every step in the process. It doesn’t matter if restaurant work is your life-long passion or a way to pay the bills. How you approach your job search will directly impact the chances of you finding and keeping a great job.

The first step in finding the best restaurant job is to slow down and pay attention to the process. Take a little time to understand what kind of job you really want to get.

Remember: it’s better to send out four great cover letters and four great resumes than blanketing craigslist with a slew of resumes via your smart phone.

  1. Figure out what kind of job you really want.  Before you send out a single resume, get clarity on what kind of job you really want. Are you seeking a full time job as a bartender at a fine dining restaurant or a part time counter job as a barista? Do you want to make the transition from server to manager?
  2. Don’t send a resume to job posting that you don’t really want. Sending resumes for a position you aren’t really interested in is a waste of time for you and for the people looking to hire you.  Don’t let financial stress or fear motivate you to send resumes for a job you wouldn’t enjoy doing.  Only apply for jobs you would actually want to go to every day.
August 31 / inside restaurants

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Most businesses don’t have the time or money to teach their staff what true hospitality is. Instead of investing in teaching compassion and genuine hospitality, most restaurants and retailers invest their time and money in teaching their teams how to recite a finely-tuned script for making friendly and efficient sales.

Rare are the shop keepers and restaurant employees who craft their language to suit the buying needs of their particular customer. Instead, it’s “what can I get for you” or “are you ready to order?” Rather than take the time to share stories of how customers were won over or made regulars through a few key exchanges, businesses focus on encouraging number of sales per hour, check averages, and a high score on a secret shopper report.

The problem is, the more we focus on speeding things up, the more we lose an important part of building business: connection.

July 15 / Business

When you open a new restaurant in Los AngelesI recently received an email from a business student who wanted to know how most restaurant consultants get into the industry. Though I may not have the official statistics on restaurant consulting at my finger tips, I do know my own story. I’m happy to share my perspective on the business of restaurant consulting with you.

How do restaurant consultants get into the industry? 

For me, I started young. I was a teenager when I got my first restaurant job. I worked in the 110 degree kitchen making milkshakes at a fried seafood shack. My intention getting into restaurants at that time was to make some spending money. I never imagined the food and beverage industry would be where I would make my profession.

I became a waitress and bartender in my twenties. I enjoyed taking care of people and found comfort in the camaraderie I felt with my co-workers.  I knew I had a unique talent for service and my entrepreneurial spirit helped kept me rolling in the tip money.

From Part time to Full Time

I went from dabbling in restaurants to taking things a lot more seriously when I started managing restaurants in my 30’s.

The more I poured myself into my job, the more I discovered that the work I did in restaurants fulfilled me in a way that writing never could. I enjoyed building a community, being of service to others, and getting passionate about the products we sold. I saw how leading others not only helped transform their lives, but also mine.

It was also around this time that I began to see that restaurant work was an honorable profession. It was a job I was learning to enjoy from the inside out.

Then, after six years of thriving as a restaurant General Manager, I went to work for Nancy Silverton, Joe Bastianch, and Mario Batali as part of the service team of Pizzeria Mozza and later, Osteria Mozza. It was there I honed and developed a service vocabulary and systems.  I became a trusted leader in the dining room — in sales and in happy, return guests. Then, after more than four years of putting my service theories to the test through personal research and development, I felt ready to begin my work as a Service Consultant.

June 5 / Business

cranberry date juice blend

If you’ve even played around with the idea of opening a juice bar, you’re not alone. Lots of people–about one in ten new restaurant owners today–want to invest time and money into turning fruits and vegetables into liquid gold. I work as a restaurant consultant in the city of Los Angeles and in a few city blocks there are at least one or two juice bars and there are more on their way. Fresh juice bars are a $5 billion dollar business that’s projected to grow from 4% to 8% a year.

So why is a fresh juice bar such a popular idea? Well, if you think running a juice bar is easy, think again. There is no such thing as easy in the business of food.

Search the internet for suggestions of how to start your own juice bar, and you’ll find advice that suggests that location is the most important thing to figure out first. After that, they say, come up with a business plan, and then come up with a concept.

As someone who has worked in the restaurant industry for over two decades, I humbly suggest you consider something else first: is running a juice bar something you want to do for the next five years?

Freshly pressed juices are the newest food fad. Lots of people want to get in on a business that promotes a healthy, on-the-go lifestyle for health conscious people who want to take care of their bodies in a fast and efficient way.

Juice, my friends, is the new cupcake.

February 14 / Business
February 23 / Gluten Free

“I’m not usually a difficult customer,” The Beverly Hills housewife said out of the corner of her red lipsticked mouth.  “I just don’t understand why getting me a drink is such a production.”

It was a Friday night and the restaurant was packed. I had spotted the guests’ unhappiness across the room when I scanned the dining room for signals of possible problems. My glance bounced over happy customers curved over plates and full cocktail glasses, and stopped hard against a squared edge of a black suit and the stiff neck of the man wearing it.

I was already moving across the room towards the four-top when the suited man’s friend, a man with gray hair and no drink, swiveled in his chair in search of assistance. I stepped up to the table and took my place next to the ladies perched in their seats. The women were two rigid examples of a 60-something Beverly Hills housewife.

“Good evening,” I said with my most soothing voice of leadership. “May I help you?”

“I should hope so,” the white knuckled man with no drink said. “We’ve been here thirty minutes and our server hasn’t been able to get us a drink.” I nodded. Time warps and stretches into large increments when you’re a desperate for something. I had seen a trusted server working hard to find a single malt scotch for the suited gentlemen, surely their thirty minutes were—in real time—actually just five or six.  But in the world of the customer, perception and reality don’t always meet.

The make-up primed blonde housewife continued. “I don’t want anything crazy. I just want a glass of chardonnay.”

I smiled. A deep breath would fuel my calm. This would not be an easy turn around.

November 8 / inside restaurants
Zingerman's Deli

Some people go to churches for inspiration. Others go to shrines, nature, the farmers market, or a synagogue for a higher message. For me, mecca is a tiny delicatessen in Ann Arbor, Michigan named Zingerman’s.

I never expected to find bedrock inspiration from inside a humble brick deli with crooked wood floors. But ever since I took my first step inside the tiny footprint that is the deli, being there feels like I’ve been given a triple dose of hope. Within the overstocked walls of the hundred-year old building, there are employees who smile and gush about the products, and practically jump through hoops in order to please each and every customer. These employees—cherry cheeked teenagers, college students, young mothers, sisters and brothers, and gray haired men in bandannas–exhibit the kind of enthusiasm that one expects to see from the chorus of a big stage musical, just before the music starts.

They don’t serve Kool-Aid, but they’ll sample you on any product

At any of the Zingerman’s Community of businesses (or ZCob for short), the senses are bombarded. Colorful signs, packed shelves, freshly baked breads, and deli cases are filled with cheese and meats so appealing they have the power to make just about any food lover blush. With just one sample taste and an engaging description by an enthusiastic employee, many customers find themselves feeling the positive effects of the place. They loosen up. They smile. And, unsurprisingly, the soothed customer happily hands over piles of cash for a jar of wild flower honey, preserved lemons from Tunisia, the loaf of deli-sourdough, a chunk of Italian Pecorino, a vial of garum (an Italian fish sauce), a bar of chocolate imported from the Ecuador, and a buttery/spicy olive oil. Items that just moments before the customer had no idea they really, really wanted.

Look, if you’ve never been to Zingerman’s Deli, Creamery, Bake House, Mail Order, Candy Manufactury, Roadhouse, or Coffee Company in Ann Arbor, then you might think all of this positive work ethic stuff might sound a little bit hippy dippy. The thing is, there are no camp songs, no hokey character outfits that everyone is required to wear, and no corporate brainwashing. It’s simply a place where art and commerce meet and happiness and profit are friends.

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