Monday, June 10, 2013

New Job with High Quality Food

Frankie's Maggie Valley NC
I started a new job last week at Frankie’s in Maggie Valley. It’s a successful well-run restaurant and only three miles from my house. I had eaten there a few times and liked the food, so I applied for a job and got it. I was so happy the first time I went into the kitchen and saw that it was exceptionally clean and had new equipment. It’s the cleanest most organized restaurant kitchen I’ve ever been in. I’m given a meal every day that I work which is typically chicken with herbs and a vegetable. I don’t choose my meals ahead of time and the same meal is prepared for all of the workers. As most of you know, I normally don’t eat meat because it is so expensive and would push me over my $1 per day food limit, but since it is given to me I will eat it and not count it in my cost totals. The food is high-quality meaning they actually cook most of their food from scratch. The cooks use whole eggplants or broccoli and always have a crate of fresh herbs to put on all of the dishes.  

Another reason I applied there is because I haven’t heard anything particularly negative about the owners. I live in a small town and meet the same people over and over again, so if they were really horrible employers I would have heard about it by now. Restaurant owners typically have intense personalities because all of their money is tied into their business. I think I would be a difficult person to work for because I wouldn’t want to lose money due to lazy or wasteful employees.

I wish I knew how to use herbs like the Italians at the restaurant I work for. 
I had my first job when I was 14 cleaning motel rooms. I then worked in a deli, a plastic factory, a casino and even spent six weeks working in a fast food restaurant. I have worked as a server at five different restaurants. Not including self-employment or working for my parents, I have had a total of ten jobs. For a year and a half, I was self-employed and worked for a man on my meals on wheels route. He needed rides to the store and doctors so I would take him a few days a week to wherever he wanted to go. It was the most rewarding work I’ve ever done, but I didn’t make enough money at it and started taking classes so I couldn’t work for him anymore. I typically don’t have any animosity towards my former employers and say hello them in stores whenever I see them. There is an exception to that rule, though. Several years ago I was working at a highly dysfunctional restaurant and was accused by the owners of stealing money by not charging for mixed drinks. I had been there for five months and had watched them accuse others of stealing, but I didn’t think they would make such accusations against me.  They accused all of the waitresses in a group so it wasn’t just me. The owner said he had been drinking with some customers outside on the previous day and had counted more drinks than had been sold. I think it was all in his imagination because I knew approximately how many drinks they had and it wasn’t anywhere near what he thought. Well anyway, the owners were still going to allow me to work, but I decided I couldn’t work for people who thought I was stealing from them. The next day I brought in my freshly cleaned work shirts and apron and gave it back to them, so at least they couldn’t say that I stole their shirts and apron.      

My neighbor is going to open an organic smoothie and coffee shop in the near future. He would like me to manage it for him, but I told him I could only work a few hours a day and not be manager. It made me think about the successful restaurants I’ve worked for. My parents were small business owners and many of the people I know have small businesses, so I know what it takes to run a business effectively. Over the years, I have worked at two successful restaurants and three restaurants that were obviously floundering. My goal was to find the commonalities between the successful restaurants and I came up with a list of three basic qualities.

Social Awareness

Social awareness includes being aware of what people say about your business. People will gossip and it can be a good thing or bad thing, but a business owner has to be aware of their reputation. Criticism can be a good thing if it is acted on appropriately.

Small Leaks Sink Ships

The two successful restaurants I have worked for have both been efficient with their resources. Any food that is thrown in the trash before it is sold is essentially money being thrown away. Let me clarify that being efficient does not mean being cheap. An example of being cheap is serving food on a chipped plate because it costs money to replace the plate, but the business could potentially lose several customers by serving food on chipped plates which costs more than replacing a plate. Properly running equipment also means efficiency even if it initially costs money to repair.  

Being There


I mentioned that I was once accused of stealing by the owners of a business. In the five months I worked at that restaurant, I rarely saw the owners. They didn’t know anything about me or had said more than a few words to me after I was hired. The owners of the two successful restaurants are fully invested in their business and work nearly every single day the business is open. They know all of the employees and can usually accurately judge someone’s character. There is a problem when someone says that they want to open a business but they would like someone else to manage it. I see that as a recipe for failure because nobody should be more involved in a business than the people who actually own it.

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