How To Make Hostile Guests Love You (Part Two)

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Like the old saying, "you catch more fly honeys with vinegar..." or something like that.

Years ago I had the good fortune of working for a man named John Maria.  I have had many bosses over the years, but none had a better fundamental understanding of human nature than John.  One day he gave me a book and told me to read it.  He said the answer to almost every life problem was found in this book.  It was a pretty bold claim, but I did learn a great deal from reading the book.

I pulled out the book recently and read the chapter regarding this topic.  The book is called, “Get Anyone To Do Anything” by David J. Lieberman, PhD.  While the title is a bit of hyperbole (hence me writing this blog rather than living in Bill Gates’ mansion with Alyssa Milano) there is a great deal of wisdom in it.  Dr Lieberman gives incredible insight into human nature and how to use it to your advantage.

In the book, Dr Lieberman makes a very convincing argument that there are two important factors that primarily determine whether or not people like you:

Read the full story at Tips For Improving Your Tips

Recommended Viewing 11/15

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For this week’s recommended reading post, I decided to try something a little different.  Normally on Mondays I post a series of articles that I found interesting over the last week.  This week, I decided to highlight some of the funniest videos on the internet about servers.  Most of us get to work with some incredibly talented people. Some of those talented people spend their time in side stations trying to come up with ideas to make us all laugh.  After spending a few hours looking up old favorites and finding some new ones, I wanted to share some of the best groups out there making funny videos about serving.

Read the full post at Restaurant Laughs

Weird Restaurant Stories 11/13

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As I perused this week’s restaurant stories, one thing became very clear.  It was an incredibly bad week for restaurant managers.  Several of this week’s stories contain the “manager’s behaving badly” meme.  There are also some great follow up stories that will sound familiar to long time readers of this column.  All of which have been painstakingly compiled for your weekend reading enjoyment.

Read the full post at Restaurant Laughs

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

Weird Restaurant Stories 11/6

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This week I ran across an article of particular relevance to this series.  Most of the regular readers know that each week I give an award to the restaurant hero of the week named after Chef Jonathan Justus.  I guess the bad review he received on yelp did not hurt him too much.  His restaurant was recently named the best restaurant in Kansas City by the new Zagat survey.  Congratulations to Justus Drugstore.  What makes it noteworthy in this series is that the byline on the story is the namesake of the restaurant jerk award, Charles Ferruzza.  Worlds are colliding.  With that lets turn to the real news stories of the week.

Read the full post at Restaurant Laughs

Prosciutto, Pancetta, and Serrano

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Pancetta in rolled form

I had dinner last night at the newest location of Kansas City’s best tapas restaurant, La Bodega.  This was actually my second trip in as many weeks.  I’ve always enjoyed the small plate concept and no one executes it better.  It also led to a foodie discussion of the difference between the different pork products that were offered.  No conclusions were formed at the table and no clear answer was found through a quick google search.  This lead me to decide it was a topic worth posting on.

Here is a quick set of facts on each.

Read the full post at Foodie Knowledge

Plaza Art Fair

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For those of you from Kansas City, I wanted to provide a recap of the most popular part of the Plaza Art Fair.  Sure they call it an art fair, but by far the most common activity is eating the food offered by Plaza restaurants while walking the streets sipping a cocktail.  When I made passing mention of it in a previous post, I searched unsuccessfully for a site detailing the food offerings. So on Sunday afternoon I went back to the art fair to photograph the booths.  Hopefully this provides you with fond memories during the 51 weeks worth of waiting for next year’s event.

For those of you not from KC, this is interesting on a different level.  The Country Club Plaza is Kansas City’s premier dining and shopping district.  During the art fair over 100,000 visitors will come to The Plaza to see art and sample some of the local restaurant’s fare.  This not only represents a great marketing opportunity, but also a huge opportunity to generate revenue.  A successful art fair booth can generate $20,000-$50,000 in revenue on top of a large spike in business inside the restaurant.  In order to seize this opportunity you must build, staff, and stock a freestanding restaurant complete with kitchen.  The visual appeal of your booth, the quality of your offerings, and the value you provide will determine your success.  It is a high risk venture with the potential to do more volume in the free standing booth than most restaurants in America will do in a week.

Some restaurant chose not to participate this year.  Notable no shows included The Cheesecake Factory and Buca Di Beppo.  I tried diligently to document all those who did participate.  I also did some research and as best I can tell will be the first to reveal to the internet the winner of the Plaza Art Fair best booth award.  Here are the booths in alphabetical order.  Click any picture to see a larger version.  A breakdown of their food offerings can be found here.

810 Zone

Blanc Burgers and Bottles

Bo Lings

Brio

Classic Cup

Figlios

Fred P Ott's

Houston's

In gre di ent

Jack Stack

Kona Grill

M&S Grill

O Dowd's

PF Changs

Plaza III

reVerse

Ruth's Chris

Starker's

The Capital Grill

The Granfalloon

The Melting Pot

Tomfooleries

Topsy's

And The winner of the 2010 Plaza Art Fair best booth award goes to……

McCormick and Schmick

I hope everyone who attended had a great time.  I hope everyone who didn’t get to make it found this post a nice way to enjoy it vicariously.  I hope everyone who worked it for three days straight recovers soon.  This is a great event for the area and one that definitely draws customers down to the Plaza.  Only 51 more weeks until the 2011 Plaza Art Fair.  I hope my body has recovered by then.

Best of KC 2010

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Every year the local alternative weekly rolls out their ballot for the “Best of Kansas City.”  They solicit a bunch of votes and then decide on their own who wins relegating the actual winner to a single line at the bottom.  Sounds like fun huh?  This year I decided to use this blog to publish my winners.  If you are not from KC, this might be kinda dull.  May I recommend one of the tabs above to find something interesting?  If you are from KC, you probably get a little intimidated by these polls.  For this reason I am publishing my complete ballot to help you fill in any holes you might have.  This is just my opinion, but it might inspire a few places to check out.

3) Best Media Personality- Tony from Tony’s KC

4) Best Politician- Bill Skaggs

5) Best Do-Gooder – Alonzo Washington

6) Best Blogger- Tony’s KC

7) Best Facebook Group- Tips on Improving your Tips

8) Best Place for a First Date- Blue Koi

9) Best Place for a Breakup- Buzzard’s Beach

10) Best Place to Meet Mr or Ms Right- Crossroads @ Grinders

11) Best Place to Meet Mr or Ms Right Now- Tomfooleries (or so I hear)

12) Best Place for a Night Out- Country Club Plaza

13) Best Day Trip- Columbia, MO

14) Best Grocery Store- McGonigles

15) Best College Athlete- Blain Gabbert

16) Best Professional Athlete- Tamba Hali (best tipper on the Chiefs)

17) Best Coach- Gary Pinkel

18) Best Sports Blogger- Nick Wright

19) Best Sexy Musician- Bob Walkenhorst (not based on personal opinion, but us grey haired guys gotta stick together)

20) Best Cover Band- T-Marv and Hammerdown (at my sister’s request)

21) Best Outdoor Festival- Plaza Art Fair

22) Best Public Art- Plaza Art Fair

23) Best Art Exhibit- Andy Warhol at Union Station

24) Best Artist- Matthew Crim

25) Best Actor- Brett Buffum

26) Best Actress- Jessalyn Kincaid

27) Best Theater Production- 1776

28) Best Homegrown Product- Boulevard Beer

29) Best New Restaurant- Westport Café (I defy you to name more than 5 that opened in the last year)

30) Best Brunch- M&S Grill (Walk in, sit down, and eat before you can make it to the front page of the waitlist anywhere else in town)

31) Best Burger- Blanc (for the last 15 year the Flea Market has gotten my vote, but gotta give it to Blanc)

32) Best Pizza- Northern Lights

33) Best Vegetarian Food- Eden’s Alley

34) Best Late Night Food- El Rancho

35) Best Place to Eat at the Bar- Westport Flea Market

36) Best Server- David Hayden (better to lack humility than play favorites)

37) Best Bartender- Penny Shultz (this is a no win for me too, but Penny trained me.)

38) Best New Bar- Grunhauer (also best place to discuss you fixed gear bike)

39) Best Smoking Patio- Kelly’s

40) Best Happy Hour- Blanc

41) Best Sports Bar- Chappels

42) Best Karaoke Bar- Westport Flea Market

43) Best Trivia Night- Westport Flea Market

44) Best Neighborhood Bar North- 54th Street on Englewood

45) Best Neighborhood Bar South- Coach’s

46) Best Neighborhood Bar East- 54th Street Independence

47) Best Neighborhood Bar West- Danny’s

48) What Did We Miss:

Category: Pompous Food Critic

Winner: Charles Ferruzza

Those are my picks.  You can complete your ballot by visiting the Best of KC Poll at the Pitch Website.  If any of my winners would like to receive a personally signed certificate signifying they won, you must be really desperate for things to hand on the wall.  I will still make you one though.  Visit again in October when I will share the link to who they decided should win.

Tomorrow I will get back to server related stuff.  I promise.  My 100th post week has been fun, but I want to get back to writing about serving and how to make more money at it.  Thank you for indulging me. This week.  Nest week we get down to business again.

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

Designated Drinker: Harry’s Bar Bellini

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(Note: This installment of the Designated Drinker first appeared in abbreviated form in the February 2010 issue of Tastebud Magazine.  Full format versions of her articles appear periodically on this blog.  Today it appears because I have spent the day hiking around Colorado.  Ok, well mostly downtown Denver in flip flops.  I can see the mountains though so I call it hiking.  It also provides a convenient opportunity to remind everyone in KC to get out and support our very own Designated Drinker, Paige Unger, in the 2010 Greater Kansas City Bartending Competition this Sunday at the Uptown Theater.  For those not in KC, visit the site to find the recipe for her drink, THE Socialite.)

I only know a handful of famous bars. In fact, I suspect if I were to ask a random stranger the name of a famous bar I would most likely receive Cheers as my answer. Those of us addicted to the fun factoids of mixology, however, know there is only one true famous bar: Harry’s Bar in Venice.

Read the full post at Foodie Knowledge

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