A World Without Tips

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A world without tips

I am still incredibly grateful for my recent guest post on tipping.  It inspired my response that discussed the economics of tipping.  It also raised a few other interesting points that I am now learning are common misconceptions about restaurants.  For people who have never worked in a restaurant, these misconceptions can easily be mistaken as facts.  Upon further consideration they may not be wise to pursue.  One interesting idea that she raised in the post was raising the wages paid to server by restaurants to replace tipping.  While on the surface it seems quite logical, it would have a disastrous impact on the industry.

Restaurants are operated on incredibly thin profit margins.  As discussed in a previous post, large corporate restaurant chains are extremely susceptible to anything that affects their stock prices. With a huge spike in the cost of labor, restaurant stock prices would crumble.  Independent restaurant owners struggling to stay afloat would shutter.  Consumers would lose choices.  A vast majority of restaurants would survive this initial wave, but be forced into the next step.

The remaining restaurants would set a wage for servers considerably lower than what the servers make now.  Professional servers with years of experience would have to settle for the new rate or venture into a new career field.  Between servers quitting and terminations, restaurants would reduce the size of their server staff by about a third.  Servers who worked four table sections before would now be required to work six tables for less money.  This would reduce the damage to the restaurant’s bottom line, but also drastically reduce the quality of service that was provided to guests.

Read the full post at Tips For Improving Your Tips

The Economics of Tipping

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A reminder for all of us.

I still occasionally get the guest who will say, “I can buy this wine for half this price at the store.”  Which is true, but it doesn’t come with a staff to serve it and a crew of chefs ready to cook you an incredible meal from a fully stocked kitchen.  I wonder if the same people have ever priced grapes at the grocery store.  If they want to get really serious about cutting out the mark up, that would be an even cheaper place to start.  Better yet, if they buy seeded grapes they could plant the seeds and never have to pay for a bottle of wine again.

Most of you understand the absurdity of this logic.  Those who do not understand have already stopped reading to go buy grapes.  At each step along the process of making the bottle of wine the cost of goods and service, along with a healthy profit margin, are passed along to the next stage.  From grape to cellar, farmers, vintners, bottlers, distributors, and restaurants all add to the price of the bottle in advance.  There is one exception to this rule.  The person who opens the bottle and pours it actually makes that wine less expensive.  At the most basic level, the person who serves the wine pays for part of the bottle for you.

Read the full post at Tips For Improving Your Tips

Restaurant Etiquette: Quiz Answers

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If you missed the quiz portion, go back and check it out.  If you are coming from the quiz, welcome.  Please pass your tests to the left to grade.  We are working on the honor system here folks.  No cheating.

Read the full post at Restaurant Laughs

Aspirational Dining Defined

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Aspirational Dining

I am a Mac guy.  This means only the occasional interruption for updates from Microsoft.  These are most often for Word for Macs.  Yet in none of these updates have they added to my spell check dictionary words like “Barack Obama, Al Qaeda, or Facebook.”  If they do implement this change they can use this as my “Windows 27 was designed by me” testimonial. When they do develop this technology they should also add the word “aspirational” to my spell check.

The phrase “aspirational” has been used to describe many things you might find endorsed by Martha Stewart.  It is used to describe the desires of people to own, do, and consume things they view as entitlements of the rich.  Anything from a new luxury car to really expensive cheese can be labeled as “aspirational.”  They are the things we want even if we know they are not truly in our price range.  These are the adult versions of that cool bike you thought would bring you a lifetime of happiness as a kid.

Read the full post at The Manager’s Office

The Greatest Customer Complaint Response Ever

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Meet Chef Jonathan Justus, your new restaurant hero

I had lunch today with my friends Emma and Senor Esparza.  They ate at Justus Drugstore last night.  Justus is on the outermost outskirts of what could be considered Kansas City.  In the few years that it has been open it has developed a reputation of being well worth the drive.  I personally have never dined there.  A little to pricey for my blood, but after reading what I am about to share you will see why I have never felt a restaurant owner was more deserving of my hard earned tips.

They were telling me about how incredible the food and wine was and how the chef joined them for a glass.  Then Emma full of glee interjected with a story.  She said she had read an incredibly negative review.  As we waited in line at Oklahoma Joe’s for America’s best meal served inside a gas station, she conveyed the details of this complaint.  After coming home and reading it, I can say she did not do it justice (HA! Get it a complaint about Justus Drugstore).  Enough of my puns, here is the review from Yelp!:

Read the full post at Restaurant Laughs

Dr Strange Salmon

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An AquAdvantage Salmon and traditional salmon of the same age.

or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Genetically Modified Salmon

Earlier this week I posted a link to a story regarding the AquAdvantage genetically modified salmon.  In the days since, I have become fascinated by this concept.  I have consumed dozens of articles on the topic and several related topics.  I have also read the companies literature on the topic and reviewed the data they sent to the FDA.  I have come to a very specific conclusion on this issue.  Everyone needs to take a deep breathe and look at the big picture.

The AquAdvantage Salmon is for all intensive purposes an Atlantic Salmon.  As you might recall from a previous post on salmon, all commercial Atlantic Salmon is farm raised since it was fished to near extinction in the Atlantic.  The AquAdvatage Salmon has two major differences.  They introduced the growth hormone of the much larger Coho Salmon and a cool water tolerance gene found in the eelpout.  These modifications allow the salmon to grow to market size in half the time.

Read the full post at Foodie Knowledge

My Response: 25 Things Chefs Never Tell You

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Like I would pass up an opportunity to post this picture

I am trying to fight through the worst bout of writer’s block I have had since I started writing this blog.  I started at least three different posts yesterday that ended up in the recycle bin.  In my last post I promised to get back to some server related posts, but my brain has forced me to break that promise.  In the meantime I have been holding this one back for just such an occasion.

An article recently came to my attention that I am surprised none of my fellow bloggers jumped on.  The Food Network recently did a survey of chefs around the country.  They wrote up the results in an article titled “25 Things Chefs Never Tell You.”  For the most part I think it was a balanced and informative article.  There are probably a number of points that most diners are not aware of.  I recommend the article for those of you who have not put in time working in a restaurant.

Read the full post at Restaurant Laughs

Ranch Dressing and Why We Love It

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Some people really love their ranch

When Escoffier defined his five mother sauces, he did so based on a proud culinary tradition that dated back to Careme and others.  These were flexible sauces that stood the test of time.  Fortunately, he could not predict how boring the average consumer would become.  In most modern chain restaurants the mother sauces would be redefined as marinara, alfredo, ketchup, gravy, and ranch.  It is said that if you stand perfectly still above Escoffier’s gravesite, you can actually feel him spinning.

Of these sauces the newest and most commonly used is ranch dressing.  It became America’s favorite salad dressing in 1992.  It has since only gained popularity as a dipping sauce and suspected beverage (“the lady at table 24 wants another side of ranch, what is she doing, drinking the stuff?”).  Ranch’s rise to the top is a modern day success story.  The reason behind it will change the way you look at food.

Read the full story at Foodie Knowledge

A Food Critic Intervention

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Above My Computer

There have been several instances while writing posts for this blog where I have felt the need to place blame for the things that drive me crazy about the restaurant business.  I have always managed to stop short of that because I do not want this to be a blog that complains about the problems we are all aware of.  My mission is a little different.  I want to help servers make more money by exceeding their guests’ expectations. Whenever I find myself kvetching too much I only have too look at the Woody Guthrie quote that I keep hanging above my computer to get me back on track.

I consider myself fortunate to have worked with some great “old school” waiters who instilled in me a respect for the industry and the way things used to be.  I have heard tales of the days when people dressed for dinner, left the kids at home, and did not ask for ranch on their Caesar salads.  Since I did not cause the mass corporate casual restaurant to become the norm, I do not complain about it.  I try to adapt to a world where anyone with a yahoo username can be a food critic and hundreds of cooking shows allows everyone to consider themselves a chef de cuisine.  I do so because this is an industry that I love and respect.

Read the full post at The Manager’s Office

Regional Barbeque Styles

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Christmas is just around the corner

As a rule I attempt to be unbiased in my writings on this blog.  When I express a controversial opinion I try to balance it out with a contrasting opinion.  The advice I give on serving comes solely from my experience, testing, and observation.  Opinions just convolute the message and make it less applicable for the reader.  Today however I do not think I can be objective.  I was made fortunate through the grace of whatever power you believe controls this universe to have been born in Kansas City, the greatest Barbeque city on the planet.

Wherever you are from is no doubt a wonderful place too.  I am sure you do many things as well or better than we do here in KC.  Barbeque simply isn’t one of them.  There are some regions that would dispute that though.  In an effort to be fair, I will address their styles too.  Each of the main barbeques regions has a different style that lead to a very unique taste.  Knowing what style of barbeque you prefer will help you easily pick the restaurants serving that style.

Before we breakdown the regional styles of barbeque, a glossary of BBQ terms is probably in order:

Read the full post at Foodie Knowledge

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