Best of Kansas City 2011

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Every year the local weekly paper has a “Best of Kansas City” ballot.  Every year it is a bit disappointing to see these picks relegated to a small corner of the page as they write about their favorites.  Despite all of this, when I was voted “Best Server” it was one of the coolest things that has ever happened to me as a server.  This year I am going to help some other great folks and restaurants win in their categories.  In order to vote, you must fill out 20 categories.  In order to make that a little easier, I have listed my picks in the food and beverage categories.  I have also included some other awesome folks in the non-restaurant categories at the bottom of this list that I hope you will support as well.

Here are my picks for the Pitch’s Best of Kansas City 2011 Awards
 

•             Best Bar for People Watching

                Harry’s Bar and Tables

•             Best Bar to Meet People

                Buzzard Beach

•             Best Barbecue

                Oklahoma Joe’s

•             Best Bartender

                Shawn Moriarty- The Majestic Restaurant

•             Best Beer Selection

                Blanc Burger’s and Bottles

•             Best Bloody Mary

                McCormick and Schmicks

•             Best Breakfast

                Eggtc

•             Best Brewhouse

                McCoys

•             Best Burger

                Blanc Burgers and Bottles

•             Best Burrito

                Burrito Bros

•             Best Caterer

                Brancato

•             Best Cheap Eats

                El Rancho

•             Best Chef

                Jonathan Justus

•             Best Chinese Restaurant

                Ming Garden

•             Best Chocolate Shop

                Christopher Elbow

•             Best Cocktail Menu

                The Majestic Restaurant

•             Best Coffeehouse

                Scooters on the Plaza

•             Best Cupcakes

                Cupcake Ala Mode

•             Best Delicatessen

                Adrian’s

•             Best Dessert

                Carrot Cake and Justus Drugstore

•             Best Dive Bar

                Helen’s in NKC

•             Best Farmers Market

                City Market

•             Best Food Truck

                Port Fonda

•             Best French Fries

                Mc Coys

•             Best Fried Chicken

                Corner Cafe

•             Best Gay Bar

                Missy B’s

•             Best Grocery Store

                McGonigles

•             Best Happy Hour

                The Bulldog

•             Best Hot Dog/Bratwurst

                Dog Nuvo

•             Best Hotel Bar

                The Drum Room

•             Best Ice Cream

                Glace

•             Best Indian Restaurant

                Swagat

•             Best Italian Restaurant

                Garozzos

•             Best Korean Restaurant

                Sobahn

•             Best Late-Night Eats

                El Rancho

•             Best Liquor Store

                Red X

•             Best Local Beer

                Boulevard

•             Best Margarita

                Ponaks

•             Best Martini

                The Majestic Restaurant

•             Best Mediterranean Restaurant

                Jerusalem Cafe

•             Best Mexican Restaurant

                Frida’s

•             Best Neighborhood Bar

                54th Street Grill and Bar

•             Best New Bar or Club

                Coda

•             Best New Restaurant (opened since August 2010)

                Beer Kitchen

•             Best Patio

                Harry’s Bar and Tables

•             Best Pizza (Non-Chain)

                Art of Pizza

•             Best Place for a Business Lunch

                The Majestic Restaurant

•             Best Place for a First Date

                The Drop

•             Best Place for a Romantic Dinner

                Blue Grotto

•             Best Restaurant

                Justus Drugstore

•             Best Restaurant Ambience

                Pierponts

•             Best Restaurant With a View

                Starkers

•             Best Ribs

                Oklahoma Joe’s

•             Best Sandwich

                Cuban at The Farmhouse

•             Best Seasonal Beer

                Boulevard Farmhouse

•             Best Service

                Savvy Dave Hayden @ The Majestic Restaurant (Who says I’m not humble?)

•             Best Service-Industry Hangout

                Helen’s in NKC

•             Best Specialty/Gourmet Store

                McGonnigles

•             Best Sports Bar

                54th Street Grill and Bar

•             Best Steakhouse

                The Majestic Restaurant

•             Best Sunday Brunch

                The Majestic Restaurant

•             Best Sushi

                Matsu

•             Best Taco

                El Rancho

•             Best Takeout

                El Rancho

•             Best Thai Restaurant

                Hot Basil

•             Best Vegetarian Menu

                Eden Alley

•             Best Vietnamese Restaurant

                Pho Hua

•             Best Wine Bar

                Tannin

•             Best Wine List in a Restaurant

                JJ’s

•             Best Wine Recommendations (Store)

                Cellar Rat

Here are a few non-restaurant categories where friends and fans are nominated.  Consider giving them your vote as well.

                Best Trivia Night

                The Record Bar on Thursdays

                Best Local Bookstore

                Prospero’s

                Best Category We Forgot

                Best Server

                Best Local Columnist

                Charles Ferruzza

                Best Local TV News Personality

                Curtis Jay

                Best Sexy Musician

                Kandi Kos of The Crybaby Ranch

                Best Smokin Hot Kansas Citian

                Meesha of Kansas City with a Russian Accent

                Best Local Activist

                Tony Botello of Tony’s Kansas City

                Best Talk Radio Station

                 KCUR

                Best Twitter Feed

                @hrdlyclvr

Those are my picks.  I would appreciate you supporting them.  Have some picks of your own?  Leave them in the comment section.

Updates, Redirects, and “Aren’t You That Guy Who…”

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You should be over here right now

Recently I have noticed a small spike in subscribers to this blog.  That is great.  I appreciate you choosing to subscribe.  I hope to reward you with outstanding content that will make you glad you did.  The problem is that this is not where I am doing that anymore.  In December, I transformed this humble blog into The Hospitality Formula Network.  The network consists of five specific blogs that each focus on a different facet of the hospitality industry.  There is a blog for restaurant servers, restaurant managers, restaurant guests, and even one filled with restaurant humor.  You can learn more about The Hospitality Formula Network here or just visit the home page for previews of the content available on each of the sites.

So I am not going to ask you to take the time to click a link without giving you some reason to do so.  Here are three reasons why I think The Hospitality Formula Network is worth visiting or revisiting if you haven’t in a while.

Weekly Skills Focus: For the last 6 weeks, I have been laying out what I believe are the fundamental keys to improving sales, tips, and creating return guests.  We are currently on week 6 of an 8 week series.  I have dug back through the archives and am spotlighting on key post each week.  I am adding further explanation on the server blog, but doing much more on the manager blog.  Each lesson at The Manager’s Office is also accompanied with key teaching point to make this your pre-shift meeting topic of the week.  In addition, I am including a “lesson plan” as such to explain how to teach the topic throughout the week to increase understanding and server buy-in.  I fully believe that restaurants that follow this plan for all eight weeks will see a dramatic improvement in revenues, morale, and guest happiness.

In-Depth Knowledge:  When I started this blog, I felt it necessary to cover the big picture issues first.  This lead to a lot of posts that introduced philosophies that create the paradigm by which I analyze the restaurant industry.  This is where topics like the 10 Rules of Serving and my Leadership vs Management series for managers came from.  Now I am able to simply reference and link back to those posts when discussing more situational topics.  This blog provided a great deal of background information, the current posts deal more with the real world applications of it.

The Writing is Better: If I am going to be honest with you, I cringe when reading some of the early posts on this blog.  I never claimed to be a great writer.  I have found though that writing like most other skills is something you get better with the more you practice.  300+ posts and over 250,000 words later, I think my writing has improved a bit.  I have a stronger voice and feel more confident writing in it.  I address a number of topics now that I was scared to when I started this blog.  The transition was most apparent to me when shortly after starting the network I began a final round of rewrites and edits on my book.    The blogs and the book both benefited greatly from the efforts that began trying to peck together posts for this blog.

Speaking of which, did I mention that I released a book?  My first book Tips²: Tips For Improving Your Tips was released just two months ago.  I truly believe it is the finest book available on the topic of the skills servers need to make exceptional tips.  I do not say that because I wrote it, I say that because I have spent some time looking into other books available on the topic.  I did not write the book to make a quick buck.  I did not slam some information together and print it up on a Xerox machine.  I did not release an eBook and hope to sell a few copies.  I spent two and a half years writing, testing, editing, rewriting, copy editing, designing and publishing.  I am not looking to sell a few copies while I am working a desk job.  This is not just another product I can sell my consulting clients.

This book is my manifesto on serving.  After 16 years in the business and countless misguided server training programs, I distilled the information that has allowed me to be a successful professional server into a simple format that servers can benefit from immediately.  I founded Hospitality Formula Publishing to help provide this information directly to the hospitality industry.  I have two more books in developement and am on the lookout for other strong voices within the industry that I can help be heard.  This is not a way to market myself.  This is my attempt to fundamentally change the way that servers are trained.

I take seriously the fact that I am not just some consultant who wrote a book.  In less than five hours I will be tying on an apron to start another week serving at The Majestic Restaurant in Kansas City.  I have to say it is a bit odd at times living the double life of author and server.  Over the last two months I have received a bit of publicity.  I have been featured on/in KSHB, KCTV, KCUR, The Pitch, The Kansas City Star, The Employee Lounge, and Tony’s Kansas City.  This leads to the inevitable, “Hey aren’t you that guy who wrote a book?”  If you ever really want to increase the pressure of serving, try to be the server who wrote a book on serving.  There are no more off nights.  You are expected to bring the show to every table every night.  I refuse to be a hypocrite about the things I write about.  I know they work because I do them. 

So thank you for visiting this site.  I hope you enjoyed the post, now get over to The Hospitality Formula Network and let’s change this industry together.

The Reviews Are In

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Read any good books lately?  When I sent out advanced copies of my book, I was hoping someone would say something nice about it.  All of the people who had read it previously did so to edit it.  Something about getting back all the previous copies covered in red ink made me wonder if it was ever going to be ready to be released.  It turns out that it was better than I thought.  I have written a lot about why I think you should by this book, but here are some unbiased reviews from around the web.  Click on the link below any of the quotes to read the full review.

“If all servers in Kansas City took their profession as seriously as David Hayden — waiter, blogger, consultant — the local restaurant scene would be a very different place.”

-Charles Ferruzza, Restaurant Critic, The Pitch June 23rd, 2011

“If you also want inspiration how to increase your tips I recommend the new book of David Hayden.”

Crazy Waiter June 23rd, 2011

“Servers:  go here and buy this book.  Once you read it and apply Mr. Hayden’s techniques and insights, you will start making more money immediately.”

Do You Do That At Home? June 23rd, 2011

“I Recommend This Book For Everyone Who Wants to Make More Money.”

Waiter Extraordinaire June 23rd, 2011

“Everyone involved in the restaurant business can benefit from “Tips².” I’ve been waiting tables for a couple of decades and I got a lot out of reading it. If you run an independent restaurant, unburdeded by the advantage of company-mandated corporate training materials, you should buy several copies of this invaluable resource for your staff. It’ll undoubtedly make your store better and everybody more money.”

These American Servers June 23rd, 2011

“This is a gem of a book.  It’s a detailed took at the guts and sinews of our business, full of tips and techniques that can easily make any restaurant shift more pleasant . . . and more profitable.”

Life On A Cocktail Napkin June 23rd, 2011

“What you need to know about this book is that it is not a collection of stories about serving and it is not a Dummy’s Guide to Waiting Tables. This is a book designed for someone who is in the industry and wants to advance themselves.”

Sock Puppet Army June 24th, 2011

“Let me be blunt – if you are a waiter/server/bartender and you don’t buy this book, then you really don’t care about how much money you make. This book is a multiplier of skills and bank. It’s written in a clear, concise yet comprehensive style. It’s laid out logically and covers just about every topic that a waiter needs to know in terms of maximizing his or her earning potential.”

So You Want To Be A Waiter June 24th, 2011

Each of those bloggers received an advance version of the book because I respect the writing they do and the passion they have for the industry.  I recommend checking out their reviews and their blogs.  They also do a much better job of selling the book than I do.  I still try though and I even made it on television to promote the book.  You can see me discussing the book and the state of service on the local CBS affiliate’s morning show by clicking here.

It has been a tremendous honor to have so many nice things said about something I wrote by writers who I enjoy reading so much.  Thank you to all of them for taking the time to review the book.  I hope that it has the same effect on everyone that reads it.  Want to be one of them?  Head over to the official site of Tips2: Tips For Improving Your Tips and pick up your copy today.  Enter the coupon code “REVIEWS” at checkout to receive $4.00 off until July 31st, 2011.

Announcing Tips²: Tips For Improving Your Tips

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David Hayden

It is with a great deal of pride and excitement that I can finally announce the release of my first book: Tips2: Tips For Improving Your Tips.  I have been teasing this big announcement for months and am glad to finally be making it, even though for regular readers it may be akin to Mitt Romney announcing that he is running for President.  We all know that he hasn’t been in Iowa and New Hampshire for the last two years because he loves the weather.  Today, I am making it official and wanted to take a moment to discuss the book and why I truly think it is something that should be on your bookshelf.

When I was a young server in the nineties I used to pay very close attention to some of my more experienced co-workers.  I noticed that when I was in the weeds other servers were handling far more tables, helping me out, and looking completely stress free.  I wanted to see what they were doing that I wasn’t.  They had a secret and I wanted to know what it was.  I would ask them, but no one could really put their finger on anything they were doing differently than what all the other servers did.  Over the years, I watched my best co-workers like a hawk.  Learning how they phrased things, how they dealt with the dinner rush, and why it was that their guests seemed to enjoy them so much.

As it became more apparent to me that serving was something that I wanted to be able to support myself with, I began to seek out books to help me.  I read books about sales, but found that few of the techniques were easily applied to serving.  I read books about customer service, but they seemed to all be written for managers.  I read the seven habits, found out how to win friends and influence people, discovered the thinking without the growing rich part.  All of these books were great, but very little of it could be directly applied to making me a better server.

Over my years of serving I have been through the training programs of a dozen restaurants.  Each time I finished training, I made a sincere effort to try to follow their system.  It led to disappointing tips straight out of training until I started integrating the techniques that I knew had worked for me in the past.  Each of these training systems had the same two flaws.  The first was that they were written by someone who had not been in front of a table in years.  They were filled with rambling scripts that came across as an infomercial rather than a service oriented interaction.  The second problem was that they were written to be easily understood by the least intelligent person the restaurant could hire.  They often bordered on patronizing as they explained only the very basics.

Fast forward to two and a half years ago when I found myself relaxing on my couch after training a new server on a lunch shift.  The server delivered their “pitch” as the training manual had taught them to.  Not one thing about that pitch would have made me want to purchase what they were selling.  After following me for the shift, this server seemed excited to learn to do it my way.  It reminded me of how I must have looked trying to watch the great servers at the restaurant I started at.  They had asked me how I made it look so easy and I didn’t have a better response than the servers I had asked years before.  I decided to come up with an answer.

Over the next six months I began outlining and writing a book.  I would go into work each day and try to test very specific techniques.  I would tweak and fine tune the tricks I used to find out exactly what worked and why.  Then I would write about them when I returned home.  Once the book was finished it went through numerous rounds of edits and rewrites.  With each time I reviewed it, I put the techniques back into the forefront of my mind and started trying to polish them.  The finished product that I am announcing today looks very little like the first draft.  The first draft was good, but the end result is a book that I think will make a significant impact on server’s income.

I know this book will help any server that implements the lessons in it to improve their service and increase their tips.  That is not hyperbole, exaggeration, or bragging.  I know this is the case because it has improved my tips.  I knew everything in the book because I wrote the book.  Even on the seventh round of edits and rewrites I was finding things that I was slipping on and by reintroducing them found my tips improving.  It is not all revolutionary and new information.  Many of you will know most of the information in it.  Seeing it explained in a different manner and choosing to apply it will place it in the forefront of you mind and help you increase your income.  Those that have been serving long enough to know most of the information will respect more than anyone how one good technique or trick can improve your tips.  I would not put my name on this book if I was not convinced that you could improve your income by more than the price of the book in the first week.

It is not my intention for this post to turn into a sales pitch.  Instead, I would like to sincerely invite you to check out the website for the book at www.tips2book.com.  There are a number of sample chapters available for you to read and reviews from other bloggers who received advance copies of the book.  Take your time to consider whether you feel the book will improve your income.  I have every confidence it will and hope you will consider buying a copy today.

The Best of Tips For Improving Your Tips

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Welcome to the final installment of “best of” week on The Hospitality Formula Network.  Today I am looking back to where it all began.  Tips2 was the original focus when I began blogging.  It is still the largest blog on the network and in my opinion the one that can have the most impact on the income of those who read it.  Lately, posting on this site has been a bit more limited.  The reason for this will become apparent over the next few months.

You will also notice that the blog looks different today.  I changed the format of it from the layout of tipsfortips to a layout more similar to the rest of the blogs on the network.  Today’s “best of” post will also have a different layout from the rest of the posts this week.  The same reason is behind both changes.  For some reason search engines really don’t like this blog.  While a site like foodie knowledge can get over 100 views a day from search engines, this site will be lucky to get five.  Hopefully the format change will help solve this problem.  It also explains why listing the most viewed pages is less informative.

Instead, I am going to focus this post on recapping the articles that I feel have the most potential to increase the income of servers.

Read the full post at Tips For Improving Your Tips

The Best of The Manager’s Office

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The Manager’s Office joined The Hospitality Formula Network as the smallest blog.  I had tried to avoid discussing issues related to management on tipsfortips.  To the extent that I did discuss them the posts were designed to provide greater understanding of how restaurants worked to servers and foodies.  After I started the site, I realized that I had a great deal to say about restaurant marketing and leading servers.  I have managed for three different companies.  Understanding restaurants from both an hourly and salaried viewpoint provides an interesting perspective on how they are run.

This is also the blog that I am most looking forward to developing.  I have several posts already written for this site.  There are numerous topics that I am looking forward to addressing.  The human resources aspect of a manager’s role is next up on the agenda.  I am also working on a way to revive the “Restaurant Industry Insider” in a new format.  This site is ripe for a major overhaul in layout that should be unveiled in the next few weeks.

Read the full post at The Manager’s Office

The Best of Foodie Knowledge

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Foodie Knowledge was one of the concepts I had when I started my original blog tipsfortips.  The food posts started right away with my first feature “Foodie Fridays.”  Eventually I discovered that writing food related posts on a weekly basis was a bit of a strain.  Instead, food related posts were featured on the blog as they occurred to me.  They fell into two basic categories: posts about food and posts for foodies.  When I started Foodie Knowledge, I wanted to make it about more than just food.  It also covers dining out and posts about restaurant culture from a guests perspective.

More than any other blog on the network, Foodie Knowledge is based on search engine traffic.  Search engines traffic is not always based upon how often the subject of the post is searched for.  Instead it is based upon a combination of how often it is searched for and what spot the post comes up in the results.  This means that the most commonly searched for posts are not always the ones that receive the most traffic.  Instead it is usually the posts that are written about by others the least.  That should explain a lot about this list.

Read the full post at Foodie Knowledge

The Best of Restaurant Laughs

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(Note: Someone asked me why I was celebrating my first year of blogging when it had been so long since I posted.  Apparently, they missed the memo that I moved my blogging from this site to my new set of blogs at The Hospitality Formula Network.  This week I will post my “best of” posts on this site as well to give some of my older readers a taste of what they are missing on the new sites.) 

As part of my recognition of the “birthday” of my first blog, I am recapping each of my blogs this week in a “best of” post.  Many of the posts on Restaurant Laughs originated on my tipsfortips blog before migrating to The Hospitality Formula Network.  I wanted to give a peak behind the scenes and show you what some of the most popular posts have been since the migration.  Then I am looking back on some of the posts that are my favorites to give my new readers a chance to catch up on some of the best posts from the past.  Let’s start with the most popular.

Read the full post at Restaurant Laughs

I’ve Been Doing This For A Year?

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It has been an entire year since I started my original blog Tips For Improving Your Tips.  Over that time I have posted over 250 times with an average word count of around 1000 words.  That is roughly five posts a week and approximately a quarter of a million words.  If these posts were a novel, they would be as long as Lord of the Flies, Fahrenheit 451, Slaughterhouse-Five, and The Picture of Dorian Gray combined.  They also would not be anywhere near as well written.

So I decided this week to take some time to focus on the best of each of the blogs in the network.  I am going to address this is two separate ways.  I will first post a list of the top ten most viewed posts on each of the blogs.  There are a handful of posts that receive a large percentage of my search engine traffic on each of the blogs.  This list should be an interesting behind the scenes look at the blogs.  I will also be naming my favorite posts on each of the blogs.  With so much content available, great posts often go unnoticed.  My goal with this is to point out some of the most interesting material to new readers and provide a walk down memory lane for those who have been around since the beginning.

Today though, I wanted to take a moment to wax poetic about this blog.  I generally try to avoid blog posts about blogging.  Always seems to “meta” for me.  This seems like a nice opportunity to do so.  When I started this blog, I was at a crossroads.  I had written a book about serving and had sent a large batch of query letters to literary agents.  Those that replied (a shockingly low number) told me that I needed a platform to show that people would read what I had to say about the hospitality industry.  I decided a blog was the best way to go about it.  I asked some blogger friends for advice and set up a page on wordpress.  I came home from work the next day and wrote a post about how to get permission to sell to your guests.  I posted it on my facebook page and told everyone I could.  I was so excited when it got almost 100 views in the first day.

Later that week a local blogger linked to one of my posts.  It hit nearly two hundred that day.  A writer for the local weekly paper saw the link and asked to do an article about the blog.  I was pretty sure I was on my way.  Then the lull hit.  About three weeks in my blog was consistently doing 30-50 hits a day.  I was convinced most of these were my mother.  I always had the fear that no one was really all that interested in the thoughts of a server who wanted to say positive things and help others do their job better.  These fears started to seem pretty valid.

That is about the time when many of my fellow server bloggers found my site.  They put me in their blogrolls and I discovered that there were a lot of other people who had something to say about this business.  Their focus might not have been the same, but their passion was unmistakable.  I will never forget how important they were in keeping me motivated and the encouragement they provided.  This got me over the hump and left me inspired to keep on writing.  Yellowcat, purplegirl, teleburst, CJ, SNMT, and skippymom will always be names that I hold in high regard.

Pretty soon the blog start hitting thresholds of 200, 300, and 400 hits in a day.  The content also became far more diverse.  I decided that it was time for a move and The Hospitality Formula Network was born.  This was a tremendous undertaking.  Dividing all of my posts and setting up five new sites during the Christmas season was a questionable decision.  I had a vision of what I wanted it to become.  I sat back with a legal pad and drew a detailed diagram of how the network would work.  After a few weeks of holding my breath, it started doing what I anticipated.  The readership grew significantly as did the opportunities it afforded me.

Today, I look back upon my original goals for this blog and smile.  I wanted to hit 250 views a day by the end of the first year.  Now if my traffic dipped that low I would panic.  I wanted to prove to literary agents that I had a platform.  Now I have a platform and have decided to bypass the agents altogether.  Honestly, I wanted to get this site big enough to impress some people who were important to me.  Instead, I developed a great deal more confidence in myself and determined those people’s opinion shouldn’t have been so important to me.

Before I go back to writing about the industry, I want to take time to thank one more group of people.  My friends have spent hours listening to me ramble about this blog at length.  I have been known to dwell on it.  So to all of the people who listen to me ramble, thank you.  This list includes my co-workers past and present, the Brambles, the Burtons, all the Haydens, Senor Esparza, and many others.  Most importantly, thank you to my girlfriend, Ali, who has to suffer through the bulk of my ramblings.

For the rest of the week, I will not blog about blogging.  I will however post some “best of” lists on each of the sites in the network.  These should be a good refresher on the posts that I think are too often overlooked on each site.  Today though is my chance to thank all of you for taking the time to read this site.  I will never stop being honored or forget that I have the best audience of readers in the world.

The Updated Indexes

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When I started transitioning away from this site in December, I posted an index for each of the new sites.  This all seemed pretty helpful to those who ended up here by accident.  Well that was months ago and plenty of new content has been added since then.  Here are the links to each of the new blogs and their newly updated index pages.  Enjoy!

Tip²: Tips For Improving Your Tips

The Manager’s Office

Foodie Knowledge

Restaurant Laughs

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