Putting the Towing & Comedy Themes Aside: Back to Food!

Greetings! I’m so glad you’re back. The other day I shocked a lot of readers with my funny stories about towing but these people weren’t shocked by the stories but by the fact that I don’t usually blog about those topics. So have no worries! That won’t be a regular thing. For my restaurant owners from Kitchener to Vancouver and back again, I owe you quality content. And so today we’re going to kick things off right with a list of 5 things you should never do when looking to hire new employees for your start-up restaurant!

Five Things NOT to do when Hiring for Your Start Up Restaurant!

  1. Don’t hire a cook with no cooking experience like an appliance repair mechanic or a tow truck driver, because training them may not pay off like you expected and they’re already used to being paid more so they won’t take work seriously.
  2. Always say no to people asking for a raise in the first few months of working for you. This is to create a sense of authority and principle. They’re here to work for you. If they want a higher wage then they an go start their own restaurant, until they gain your trust.
  3. Don’t hire immature teenagers. This is a universal law of wisdom that needs no explanation. Teenagers are fine, but mature ones!
  4. Don’t judge a highly qualified candidate by their tattoos! This is 2019 and no one’s going to boycott your business because someone has a tattoo! If they’re highly qualified and ready to work, you should learn to put up with some appearance issues.
  5. Don’t hire old people who have a bad track list of hopping from job to job. I personally made this mistake more than I’d like to admit. If a man in their late fifties says he worked at 20 different restaurants and looks like he has a drinking problem, then that says everything right there. I’d rather train a teenager!

There we go. This was a list requested by a Taco Shop owner in Vancouver, BC, CA. I hope this helped you. Starting up a new restaurant anywhere in the world can be fun, well, except for a war-torn country, of course… Good luck out there!

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Speaking of Towing, Here’s Another Funny Story from Kitchener, ON, CA

I got such great feedback on my last post today that I wanted to share another story with you tonight. After all, it’s been so long since I posted so my readers (that’s you!) deserve an extra treat. I remembered this funny story because I was thinking about towing and how my neighbor in Kitchener used to be a tow truck operator when I lived there many years ago. I’ll never forget this man. He was quite the character. Now it’s time for you to hear about him. So get ready to chuckle again!

funny story

My neighbor, since he worked for a small company at the time, is what you would call an on-call, 24/7 roadside assistance driver. He was always on-call and would laze about at home until his phone rang, and then he would head out the door to help people on the roadside with his truck. He always wore overalls and had messy orange hair. I never knew exactly what company he worked for. Remember that because that’s what makes this story so funny.

I had only been living in Kitchener, Ontario for eight months or so. It wasn’t really my kind of place. I much prefer Vancouver, British Columbia, but anyways… One night, when I came home late in a hurry because I really needed to use the bathroom, I raced home from work at the restaurant and it just so happened to be a really rainy day. I think it was Fall if I remember right, so the roads were all covered in wet leaves, making hydroplaning and swerving too easy. You might know where this is going…

I came home, speeding more than I usually do for the above-mentioned reason, and drove my car right into the ditch in front of my property. In the moment, I need to use the toilet so bad I barely thought anything of it and ran inside to do my business. When I came back out I realized just how bad I had crashed, knowing there was no way I could get the car back out of the ditch on my own. In other words I really needed a to hire the fastest towing Kitchener possessed because I needed to be at a meeting in the next hour!

At the time, probably because I was in so frantic of a hurry and panicking, I completely forgot my neighbor was a tow truck driver. Now that I think of it I could probably see his tow truck in the corner of my eye as I pulled out my phone and used Yelp to find the first towing company that had the word “fast” in their description and called them. They said a tow truck would be at my place in the next twenty minutes, and I was very pleased. Next thing I knew I was walking to my door when I heard a man’s voice calling my name. I looked over and my neighbor was walking onto my lawn saying, “So, apparently I’ve been dispatched to here.”

As you’d expect, we both started laughing and slapping our knees, and once again to make a long story short I arrived at my meeting two minutes early. I remember that vividly because I was so worried I’d be late and it was an important meeting. So I guess the moral of the story is to not drive when you really, really need to use the washroom. I hope you got a few more chuckles from this story and hope you have a great night!

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Showing Up to Fancy Dinner in a Limo that’s Being Towed!

This is more of a funny story I want to share than anything else. As a restaurant owner you’ll get to see some hilarious things over the years. One thing I not only saw but experienced was arriving at one of Ontario’s finest dining centers in a limousine that was being towed by a local towing company. It was a hilarious sight, because me and my friends were all dressed up and we were treated with full services as we stepped out of the slantwise limousine. The tow truck driver tipped his hat and drove off, towing the limousine along with him. The look on the people’s faces outside the restaurant was hilarious and something I’ll never forget.

limo ontario

Now, how did we get in this situation? That story is even funner…

My friends and I hired a limousine, but the driver was pregnant. She was a really nice girl in her late twenties and we were all concerned for her because it looked as though she was about to give birth at any moment. To make a long story short she dropped her water halfway to our destination, and we just happened to be a few blocks away from a hospital so we helped her there where she successfully gave birth that night. But now we were stranded, drunk outside a hospital with a limousine and no driver. We were way too drunk to drive ourselves so we called the limousine company and they apologized, saying they’d call a towing company and our experience in the limousine would be free of charge. We offered to pay anyways and ended up agreeing on a 30% discount because we felt bad for the pregnant girl who probably risked her job driving at such a late stage of pregnancy.

Anyways, when the tow truck driver showed up we told him how we were stranded, all five of us, and he said sorry but there was no way he could give us a ride to our destination because we couldn’t fit in his tow truck. But, he was kind enough to let us get inside the limousine after it was boosted, and he finished our route to the restaurant where we enjoyed grilled steaks. I still don’t know if what that kind tow truck driver did was legal, but we do know it was very nice. A part if me felt he had been in a similar situation before, because he was actually eager to help us and felt sympathy.

So, that’s my funny story. I hope you got a chuckle or two from it. I wanted to share it here because next time someone asks me tell this story again I can just refer them here. Anyways, thanks for visiting and expect more content soon!

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How Often Should You Give Your Staff a Raise?

The key to answering this question properly relies on the answers to two important pre-questions:

  1. How does your staff split the tip money?
  2. How long and how well has each staff member been operating for you?

raises at work

If the answer to question one is they split tips evenly and actually make a lot of money by doing this, then it might be possible to find a way to enhance the rate and amount of tips they get by adding “please tip” jars to the counter as well as getting debit machines that ask for a tip instead of giving them a raise. If your staff is getting tipped well and so have never asked for a raise, there’s no reason to give them one unless you want them to know how grateful you are to have them. But if the answer to question one is that they don’t split tips very evenly and in fact don’t get much tip money at all, then after a while a raise might be the only motivation they have to keep satisfying customers as much has they can. Now let’s move onto the next pre-question.

If your answer to question two was “my staff works very hard and have been with me for years” and they ask for a raise, give them one! Even if it’s just a minor one. If you can afford it, this is a great way to make sure you don’t lose your team. If you’re staff are doing well and everything is gravy, why ruin this by saying no to a raise. People say don’t fix what isn’t broken, but I also like to say don’t ruin what’s working well. If you can keep the gravy train going, do it, no matter what! But if the answer to question two was they don’t work very hard and have only been with you for less than a year, it might be a lot wiser to hire new staff instead of giving these monkeys a raise. Just saying.

So now overall we can see there are factors to the ultimate question “when should you give out raises.” In the restaurant business I believe raises should be earned and used as a tool by the owners and managers to make sure everyone is satisfied, especially the customers. Don’t say “yes” too easily because if your staff doesn’t deserve the raise, there’s a good chance their quality of work won’t improve when they receive it. There is a profound psychology to the whole thing and giving a raise to one guy and not another can be dangerous, so you’re doing a smart thing by thinking this through.

My concluding advice is to do whatever it takes to keep those staff members that are crucial to the success of your business, and don’t be so nice to the ones that not only should get replaced but are lagging you behind. After all, you’re not Santa Clause. Let your staff understand you’re planning to keep this restaurant going for many years and decades and when you give them a raise it means you’re hoping they will stick around to see your future success and therefore receive many more raises down the road.

I hope that info helps, because it sure helped me when I was in the hell of things. Well, bye for now and see you soon!

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Best Tip for Maintaining Your Restaurant Appliances

appliance repair tips

Keeping all your appliances working optimally means that your food will cook better, chefs will work faster, which in turn means your customers will be happier. Trust me, you don’t want to know what it feels like to have your gas range break down when you have forty customers waiting for steaks. If this does happen to you, the tip I’m about to share now may just save your skin! So let’s begin.

What is the best tip for maintaining all the cooking appliances and machinery in your restaurant kitchen?

As you may know from reading about me on my history page, I used to operate a restaurant in Vancouver BC. This is what gives me the authority to share this vital tip with you. The tip is plain and simple: Build a long term friendly relationship with a local appliance repair mechanic and gain his or her personal phone number. Tip them well at every job and ask them if it’s okay if you can call them on weekends in cases of emergencies. Having someone you can rely on to drop what they’re doing to come and help you and your businesses is extremely helpful. This is yet another strategy I gained from watching my father. My father was even more careful, and had two appliance repair companies ready at his beck and call at all times just in case something went wrong on a busy night.

What is the easiest way to go about doing this?

There are two ways I know of to gain a trusted appliance mechanic to your side:

  1. If you know other restaurant owners or managers, ask them if they can refer an appliance repair technician to you. When this is done, the appliance repairman already has a reason to like you, as you’re friends with one of his good customers. Call the appliance mechanic over for a general maintenance check up and tip him well. Use this time to tell him what your intention is, and make sure you get his or her personal phone number for weekends.
  2. This way might be the easiest. Start cold calling local appliance companies. Prepare to have a long conversation. Try to talk with the company owner if you can and tell them straight up what you need. Doing it this way, you won’t be able to get a personal number per se, but you can become a VIP customer for an entire company, which in some ways is even better. It’s even better than a personal number because this means there is a higher chance that they’ll have someone free to help you when you need it. When you’re dealing with just one appliance repairman, this chance is lower. But make sure the company you’re setting up this relationship with is open on weekends and holidays, because these busy nights are when you’ll most likely need emergency service.

How did I build a relationship with an appliance repairman?

I did what my father did and chose option 2. I cold called four places before I found what I was looking for. The Vancouver appliance service I built a relationship with understood my needs, and had set up similar relationships in the past. Kind of like how a Taxi company builds a relationship with an airport, this appliance company treated me like a VIP. In turn they knew I’d call no one but them. So it’s a mutual set up we both benefited from.

Surely enough several months after taking this precaution I needed their emergency service and, like we promised over the phone, they sent someone over ASAP. It was a busy Friday night and our industrial dishwasher stopped working. The company I chose sent a guy out so fast that my dishwasher was only able to clean three dozen dishes by hand before the industrial dishwasher was working again. This saved our night and the customers didn’t even notice the hiccup. If I hadn’t taken the precaution to set up this relationship, our night could have gone a lot differently.

I hope this tip helps you!

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Don’t Fall In Love with Your Menu & Learn To Change It Regularly

kitchen life is everything

One of the biggest reasons why a restaurant has a hard time growing is because the owner is so stubborn when it comes to improving his menu. This is especially true of chefs who move over from Europe and have been cooking the same dishes for years and years. They have such high egos that even when customers complain about their menu items they can’t see the truth and think all their customers don’t know what they’re talking about. Don’t make this mistake if you plan to open a second restaurant in the next city over. Rarely a restaurant’s menu never needs to change, and it’s not because of luck. Usually these people did immense research before making their menu in the first place. They handed out surveys to figure out what kind of restaurant was needed in this area and what people were expecting when it came to taste and variety.

So I warn you as soon as you get more than 3 complaints about one item on your menu, remove it and replace it with 2 new items because another big mistake owners make is not having enough options to choose from. Of course some customers will order the same thing every time but all the ones who don’t will stop coming once they’ve run out of new things to order, so change your menu!

A perfect example of why this is so important is this story: My father ran his business so strictly and was so unwilling to change his menu that he openly argued with customers whenever one said his menu sucked. My father moved to Vancouver BC from Italy and he made all his sauces the same way every time. When someone said his sauce was too plain he lost his mind. His ego was so attached to his food that it was a personal insult to him whenever someone complained. Watching him fail was how I learned so much. Of course he learned to change over time. To have that attachment to your menu is dangerous and will restrict growth for your business. Learn to adapt and change, and only then can you grow. Think of McDonald’s and all the other big timers that constantly update and improve their menu.

Get into the habit of adding something new to your menu every month and you’ll find that it acts as a form of free advertisement as customers tell their friends about it. With more variety in your menu, you’ll get more variety in the kind of people who come into your restaurant. And unless your an idiotic racist, you’ll know that’s a very good thing; variety!

So take this lesson seriously, study your menu. Hand out a survey to your customers at the door. Learn how to improve that which is your service and in turn what you earn and deserve will improve. Thanks for reading and good luck with your endeavors! More coming soon!

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How to Deal with the Stress of Running a Restaurant

stress

Dealing with anything that is stressful can be difficult, but the running of a restaurant, especially a bustling, busy one, brings a few extra nags to the table that have unique difficulties of their own. After running a successful bar and grillĀ in Vancouver BC for several decades, I can share my tips and opinions on the best ways to handle such stress. Let’s begin!

Firstly I’d like to point out a few things you SHOULD NOT do.

  1. Don’t turn to drinking and smoking on the job to cope, as this will ultimately make things worse in the long run, as you become too cloudy-minded to handle new problems.
  2. Don’t lose patience with your employees, no matter how hard you want to smack them. Instead, stay calm and in control. With that said though, don’t be too nice, as being too nice will make them think they can get away with more than they should.
  3. Never kick your broken appliance in front of customers. The reasons are obvious.
  4. Don’t hide in the bathroom for hours out of shame. Even when mistakes are your fault and you feel too embaressed to show yourself, stand up to your problems and face them like a proud feminist.
  5. Don’t get angry with customers. When they leave a bad review of your business, smart readers will be able to see the authenticity of what they’re saying. If they mention nothing about you getting angry or being rude, than the review is nothing more than an opinion rather than a hard fact that says “never eat here.”

Now that we got those “don’t does” out of the way. Here’re some tips on what you CAN do when stress comes your way.

  1. Simply step out for a walk around the block to clear your head. Remind yourself how grateful you are to have a successful business, or the chance to become successful, and assure yourself that it’s worth it to deal with your problems now. Who knows? You might be reviewed on TV one day or become a franchise, but only if you can handle your stress in the right way now.
  2. My favorite advice: Fire employees without mercy. I know this can be tough or seem harsh, but the worst mistake a restaurant owner can do is keep an employee around whom you know is the cause of your stress. Over time their mistakes will continue and it’s best to get rid of them sooner than later. Trust me!
  3. Have that one employee or business partner who you can trust to talk to about your problems. Having no one to talk to in the kitchen, ready at hand, means you have to deal with everything internally by yourself. It’s healthy to be able to reach out and talk openly ASAP, rather than let the stress build up over time. Having an employee who wishes to help, one who doesn’t just come for the money, is vitally important, but hard to find. Hold that special person dear, and don’t take them for granted.

Know that more tips and advice are coming soon, and stay strong. You have one of the most unique positions in the world, and people look up to you to have a fine evening and a meal. Keep yourself firmly grounded in the belief that things will get better if you work towards it, and never quit.

For a bonus, this might help, too.

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