Jardines Update: Score One For The Little Guys

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Now that the documents are official, I can let the cat out of the bag and write a final chapter on the Jardines saga.  Jardines has been sold.  The new owners are vowing to keep it as a jazz club.  The former owner will stay on for a transitional period.  After that period it is uncertain if she will have a role in the clubs future.  The club will be open for New Years Eve with the new owners and some familiar faces in attendance.

Credit where credit is due, Charles Feruzza upheld his reputation as the most well connected restaurant guy in this city by scooping everyone with the details.  His article covers the sale and has confirmation from the owners.  His is the definitive site for such news.  He even stayed to cover the post after the blog had signed off for the year.  Kudos to Charles.

I am still waiting on a few more details and I will wrap this story up.  I stand by my quote to Charles that to the best of my knowledge only one of the fifteen have been paid.  This includes money for tips left by guests and wages from nearly a month ago and before the Christmas holiday.  I just want the opportunity to share the news with my readers.  Look for an update in the New Year.

A Jardines Update

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Some local blogs have criticized my coverage of the closing of Jardines Kansas City.  I will make no apologies about standing on the side of the servers and against this owner.  I try not to take sides in situations like that.  I do not speak out against owners of restaurants.  You will not find me critical of another local owner on this blog.  I have been asked to intervene in the past and refused.  This particular case was so egregious that I felt it necessary to provide a forum for the affected servers’ stories to be told.

If there were any doubts that this owner was fully in the wrong, I think they have all been resolved.  It is no longer just the employees of the restaurant who are seeking to receive the tips that patrons left for them.  Tips that the patrons would have been outraged to know were not being relinquished to the employees.  Tonight, I have just received word that the situation was far worse.  Last month, tour Jazz artist and major draw Dave Stephens played at Jardines.  A substantial cover charge was taken at the door and collected by the club.  Mr Stephens was cut a check by the owner, but it turns out she has stopped payment on the check according to this post on Mr Stephen’s facebook page:

Jardines Kansas City

There are two sides to this story.  One side has an owner claiming that her entire staff was stealing from her and therefore she fired them all.  She refuses to go on the record to say this, but has instead leaked it to local media sources.  The other side is being quite reserved in their public accusations and simply asking for the tips that are owed them.  I think this recent development should weigh heavily on which side you believe.

If you missed my original post on this topic, please read The Jardines Story

The Jardines Story

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Jardines Kansas City

Update: The sign currently on the door at Jardines.

Life in a restaurant is far different than life in corporate America, especially for the 15 former employees of Jardines restaurant.  Jardines has been a Kansas City jazz landmark for as long as I can remember.  Some of the greatest jazz musicians in the world have played this little club, but this weekend they showed up to locked doors.  At first they were told of a family emergency.  Later it was closed for repairs.  Soon the truth started emerging that the owner had fired the entire staff.  One question remains unanswered.  Why was the entire staff of this jazz institution fired just weeks before the holidays?

Answers began leaking almost immediately.  Former gossip columnist, and ex romantic interest of Jardines’ owner, Hearne Christopher began writing of new chandeliers.  Former nightclub owner, and notorious party boy, Craig Glazer came out saying that the entire staff was stealing.  When some news stations showed up at the restaurant, they were also told the staff was fired for theft.  It seems like just another case of a well connected club owner using media connections to squash the story.  Today, it is time for the other side of the story to be heard.

None of the stories I was reading were matching up with the stories I had been hearing for years.  I’ve known several people who worked at Jardines, including some for the fired 15.  I would vouch for their integrity and character.  These are not people who would steal.  When I have asked about openings there, they have always told me that the money was great when you finally got paid.  I have also seen pictures of what can happen when the owner was having a bad night.  Friends who refused to file assault charges out of fear of retaliation to co-workers.  Friends who refused to file labor law complaints because they loved the club and the people they worked with.  Now they have no one else there protect and they are willing to tell their stories.

The story began on Thanksgiving night when one too many late night tirades from the owner caused the manager to turn in his notice.  This event led to the owner taking over daily operations.  Many staff members were owed tips that the owner called “negatives.”  When at the end of the night a server’s credit card tips exceed their cash sales, the restaurant will give the servers cash or a check.  In some restaurants this money will accumulate until the next paycheck.  In this restaurant, several servers were owed back tips for weeks and even months.  Within a week, the owner had it with her servers asking about the money that was owed to them.

Last Wednesday, the performer scheduled for that night received a call stating that the club would be closed that night due to a “family emergency.”  When the employees arrived, they were instructed to rearrange furniture and perform cleaning projects.  For servers who are paid well under the legal minimum wage because they are receiving tips, this meant performing manual labor for $3.63 an hour.  No one knew quite what to make of this, but there was an awkward feeling in the air.  By all accounts, the owner was acting reasonably normal, but tense.  When an employee asked about his back tips being paid, it all went downhill.

On Thursday, employees began receiving calls one by one and told that they were fired.  Those that came into work were fired on the spot.  One employee who arrived at work to be fired implored the owner to seek help for the issue that was causing her to act so irrationally.  The owner called the police to have the employee removed from the property.  Everyone I have spoken with explained that the owner did not seem to be in a condition to be making major business decisions and decisions the effect the financial livelihood of her employees.  I am choosing to not discuss the causes of this because I feel it only clouds the issue.

On Friday, one of the hottest bands in Kansas City was scheduled to play at Jardines.  They were assured that day the club would be open.  When they arrived that evening, they found locked doors and a sign that said, “Closed for repairs.”

On Monday, the local television stations began investigating the story.  The owner was unavailable for comment.  The person who did answer the door at the restaurant told them that the entire staff was fired for theft.  No one I spoke to was told that theft had anything to do with the reason they were fired.  There was no investigation of theft.  No evidence was presented.  No charges were filed.  The owner has leaked this to media sources and tarnished the reputation of her former employees to any forum that would give her a chance.  This is a prime indicator of the lack of respect for her employees’ livelihood and labor laws that this owner blatantly displays.

There are three primary points that I keep hearing from the people I have talked to.  The first is that they simply want the money that is owed to them.  The back tips are being written off by some who have seen what happened to other employees who left.  This is money that was left to them by patrons that the owner has received and is not relinquishing to the servers.  The second point is that the owner has long demonstrated a pattern of abuse, irrational behavior, and manipulation.  They are all glad to be gone, but wished it was not as a result of being fired at the most lucrative time of year.  The third is a sense of guilt.

I have been in this type of situation and can relate to this guilt.  Those that were leaders amongst the staff feel guilty for helping to keep other staff members there.  The sense of camaraderie they showed cost them dearly.  They enter a Christmas season unemployed and wondering how they are going to provide for themselves and in some cases their children.  They feel guilty for not standing up sooner.  They feel guilty for fighting to maintain a Kansas City institution even though it was never in their power to do so.

All of the former employees I talked with still seem to have love Jardines.  They have stories to share of great times with the musicians and the patrons.  The finger points in just one direction for the current crisis.  This situation has cost many musicians and restaurant employees the ability to support themselves with their trade.  My hopes is that any server considering filling one of the 15 open positions at this restaurant knows what they are getting into and why that position is open in the first place.  I hope that every band who is offered a gig at Jardines takes the time to consider what this owner has done to her staff and musicians alike.  Is this truly someone you want to help support?

In nautical times, the captain always went down with the ship.  Things are a bit different nowadays.  The hole in the side of Jardines was caused by the captain.  This captain responded by throwing the crew overboard.  Even as she did, the crew tried to throw her a life preserver.  In the end, the captain will still go down with the ship and the loss will be felt by Kansas City for years to come.

UPDATE: If anyone had any doubts about this post being too biased towards servers, check out the following update from Dave Stephens, regarding his payment for his recent performance

Jardines

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.

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