Sunday, February 17, 2013
8:39 pm est
What a great week it has been! Like every Restauranteur I wish that every week had a Valentine's Day in it!
We get back into our mid-week specials this week with a return of our Lobster Fest! We will be able to get 2+
pound Lobsters upon request with a 24 hour notice! Lobster Mac & Cheese, Lobster Salad, Lobster Tails...
Please Please make reservations. We will be running this special Tuesday, Feb. 19th through Thursday the 21st.
Following week we will be setting our sights on an early spring with a return of our small plate Mediterranean menu.
Fresh items with a Tapas feel. Again these items will run from Tuesday - Thursday.
Dave the Intern
(heretofore referred to as DTI) returns tomorrow. When he first approached me with the idea of working with me in my
kitchen I was thinking that here we go, yet another person who thinks the restaurant business is all fun and games and good
wines. So after he as actually shown up - and his wife has allowed him to - for the past 3 weeks I guess maybe he is
mentally unstable enough to actually want to learn the restaurant business.
There are some great
restaurant books out there. "The Making of Chef" (Michael Ruhlman) and "The Kitchen Man" (Ira Wood) are
2 of my favorites. Also one of the best "cookbooks" in my opinion is "The Professional Chef" produced
by the Culinary Institute of America. This is my kitchen's most referred to book, you can tell by the wear and tear!
So for DTI and anyone else with the desire to even think about the restaurant business and for anyone who just likes a good
read I recommend picking up the first 2 books. For anyone who enjoys cooking "The Professional Chef" is a
Years and years (and maybe I even need a third years) ago I remember a Saturday that it
started to snow about 4 p.m. I, like almost every other employee at the restaurant, was getting excited! OMG, what a
different reaction the owner had. Snow on a Saturday, what will that do for business! is the question. At the
time I thought he was over reacting a bit but now, OH MY, how my attitude has changed! As I thank my somewhat lucky
stars that we made it through Valentine's week without a major weather related incident I look toward the next 2-3 weeks and
hope that we will miss the threat of any heavy snows through the rest of the Winter.
On a side
note, am I the only one who questions the validity of Punxsutawney Phil and all those other Groundhogs? While we can
see or not see his/her shadow how do we know that the Groundhog can or can't or even if they choose to look at it. So
even if they can discern their own shadow what if they just keep looking up and never look down does it still accurately predict
the remainder of the winter? But for the real question I have - Punxsutawney is somewhere in Central/Western Pennsylvania,
is there ever a year that they do not have at least 6 more weeks of Winter from February 2nd?
back on track we go. One of the hardest things to do in the food industry is to keep the correct inventory fresh during
the Winter months. This is always an issue, Tornadoes, Hurricanes and other weather related issues can occur during
any season but the threat is obviously much worse during the winter. Thursday afternoon comes and the Chef looks at
the upcoming reservations and the weather forecast. Hmm, lots of weekend reservations but a 50% chance of snow.
Take the chance and order 30 pounds of fish? Take the chance and make a 5 gallon pot of soup or just 1 gallon?
How can we lay people make the correct call when the "professional" weather forecasters are so often off base.
A storm that moves 50 miles either way along a north-south line can be the difference between heavy impact and no impact.
you may be asking yourself is the connection between Punxsutawney Phil, Bob Turk & DTI? Oops, getting busy, that will
be the subject of my next blog!
Thanks for following this blog, please remember to leave your comments.
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
9:33 pm est
Geez, this Blog post is feeling a bit like homework! Back to school I go it seems. I met
with a friend today who has started "interning" (reads - working for wine) with me in the kitchen. He is a
computer Wiz (reads - knows words like HTML, cloud based, computer...) and is going to help me rebuild my Website. So
one of the challenges that he proposed to me was that I need to Blog more frequently and regularly. So here I go with more
Blogging, sorry about that.
One of my issues with Blogging is that to write an interesting
Blog is one of the most time consuming forms of communication, which is not a bad thing if people are actually reading the
posts. My website is so rudimentary or I am so computer ignorant that I cannot see the ANALYTICS re my posts.
So throughout our meeting I kept stressing that if I had some feedback like the number of people clicking on the post and
how long they stay on I could get some idea of whether or not people are reading anything that I might have to say!
With that if you do read this please make a comment on the comment form. Anonymous
is okay and just a one word reply is great!
Whew with that out of the way we can now get
on with the rest of this homework assignment.
This past Saturday night I had and interesting
conversation with one of my bar guests. a young man who lives in the area and comes in with friends maybe once or twice
a month. Basically his "argument" went along the line that a small business had to take advantage of their customer
(guest) in order to make a profit, which of course is the whole reason to be in business. The conversation took me back
to my stint with Bennigan's in the late 80's. Everything at that company - as it needs to be at any business - was about
the bottom line. But two of the differences between many of your corporate restaurants and your locally owned restaurant
is how do you get to that bottom line and how big does that bottom line get.
the IR (independent restaurant) pay less for their utilities? Does the IR pay less for their food and liquor?
The answer to those questions is of course no. As an IR Bud's does not have the buying power of a Ruth Crhis'.
The IR can not make a deal for X number of FIlet Mignon at X price so therefore the IR pays more for the same quality product.
Many of my friends, customers, guests know my feelings about big businesses like Walmart
and McDonald's. Did these businesses just start up one day with 2 million stores or did they start with the vision of
one entrepreneur supported by a great family and many friends? Who does not respect Sam Walton and Ray Kroc? How can
you not? But at what point is enough enough? Ben & Jerry's sells to Unilever(?). They built their reputation
on the fact that the founders are paid no more than 10x the lowest paid employee. But when the company sells do the
lowest paid employees make 10% of the payout as "Ben & Jerry"?
we support business as usual and flock to the corporate businesses, and here I am not just talking restaurants, or are we
going to support the businesses that give back to this community? Do we frequent the business that we perceive through marketing
to give us the best value regardless of their commitment to our neighborhoods or do we support the businesses that really
do support and invest back into our community?
Friday, December 21, 2012
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays or Season Greetings!
As we move into the final weekend of the Holiday Season we look at how lucky we are to have what we have.
While one can go back and bemoan the turn of events that life may bring I go back to my glass half empty my glass half full
from my last post. While we may have had to pass on buying that new car or may not of gotten the promotion or raise
we wanted we still need to be able to look at the things we do have that make life great.
4:27 pm est
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Middle of nowhere or Center of the Universe?
10:17 pm est
There is a "photo" going around Facebook with a woman sitting at a table contemplating a glass
of wine and she says something like I don't care if the glass is half full or half empty there is clearly room for more wine!
As I look at our history here in Silver Run I think of that thought, pessimism or optimism. OMG, I only have a half
glass of wine left (pessimism) or Thank Goodness, I still have half a glass of wine to enjoy (optimism).
might argue that the person labeled the pessimist is actually the realist, oh goodness, I will need more wine. I better
start thinking about it now! Or that the person labeled the optimist is actually a slacker, hmm, still have wine, no
sense worrying about it now. I will worry about it later.
Either way you look at it there is room for more
wine. So while I realize that to many it may seem we struggle because we are in the middle of nowhere I like to think
that we succeed because we are in the middle of the "universe". Going from Westminster to Hampstead to Manchester
to Hanover to Gettysburg and Littlestown to Taneytown and back around to Frizzleburg and Snydersburg we are in the center
of the Carroll/Adams County universe!
But whether you look at it as the middle of nowhere or the center
of the "universe" there is clearly room for more business. So does unbridled optimism succeed where realistic
How do I convince one more table from each of the Metropolis within 15 or so minutes from the center
of the "universe" to drive inward towards the center instead of outwards towards the hinterlands?
As we move through our fifth year here in the center of the universe we have to look at what we do and what we have accomplished
and hope to accomplish in the next stage of our journey.
What would you like to see from your favorite restaurant
as we move through the next stage of our evolution?
Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Aarrgghh! I just had a great, well thought out, well written (all of this at least in my mind) blog ready to
go and PRESTO! gone! Oh well, let's try this again.
2:54 pm est
We need Ornaments
for our Beautiful Christmas Tree from Sewell's Tree Farm on the outskirts of beautiful Taneytown! Last year we had a friend
pass away and his Partner decorated our tree with many handmade ornaments that were part of the memory of a great man. After
Christmas we gave those ornaments away to dear friends who will cherise them in the memory of Bobby. This year we are carrying
on the Spirit of the Season working with Silver Run Food Pantry. Bring in an ornament and a $2 donation and you will receive
a $5 coupon for Bud's (to be used in January) and a chance to win a Chef's Tasting Dinner for 4 (value $400). We will also
be working with Sheppard's Staff to donate the ornaments to give them a good start on ornaments for next year's 8th annual
Festival of Trees at the Town Mall! So sort of a double reward for the community.
A while back a friend's restaurant
was reviewed in the Baltimore Sun. It was a very good review but none the less we started talking about the review and how
it seems as though very few corporate restaurants get reviewed in local print media. As long as the reviews are positive and
upbeat that is ok but what about the reviews where the reviewer is on the fence so to speak or actually gives a negative review.
Does the old adage that there is no such thing as bad publicity really an accurate statement? What about a rave
review creating an unreal sense of expectation? Is it a level playing field if the corporates are not represented in such
a broad context as newspapers and other print media?
In one sense it seems as though there should be mostly independent
restaurants reviewed. After all there are physically many more independently owned establishments than corporate. But on the
other hand the corporate restaurants tend to do many more covers and much more of the dining dollar. Do the reviewers and
therefore the general dining public hold the independents to a higher standard and if so should that be the case?
Many years ago I was working at a very successful restaurant and over the course of 2 months we received 4 very high profile,
excellent reviews. Obviously business increased and we were ready for it. We maintained our quality of food and service. All
of our repeat guests were happy with what we were doing which is what we had always done. Yet we wound up getting complaints
from 1st time guests! It seemed as if with all of the great articles their expectations were inflated. That, I guess, is a
good problem to have!
Many, many years ago (yes, I am old enough to say many, many) I was working at a restaurant
that got panned. After the review came out we pulled the reviewers check. Before anything to eat he had 3 Gin Martini's -
UP! Yet he felt as though he was able to give a fair and well balanced review. When we contacted the paper we found we had
no recourse equal to the power of the review. But on the other hand we had an incredible response to the article with a lot
of support from our regulars as well as many new customers who all pretty much said the same thing - we never listen to that
So what are the answers and maybe to a degree what are the questions? Do people really pay attention
to reviews, good or bad? Is the statement no such thing as bad publicity true? Do the corporate restaurants get reviewed in
newspapers at the same rate as independents or is it just my perception that they rarely get reviewed? And if my perception
is reality should local papers concentrate on locally owned and operated establishments or should independents and corporates
be reviewed equal to the amount of the dining dollar they receive? And last but not least if the corporates are rarely reviewed
is it fair that independent restaurants are subjected to the potential for a negative review in such a high profile way while
corporates are spared that possibility?
Just a few random thoughts as I ponder the ins and outs of the challenges
of running a small business in the middle of no-where. Or is Bud's actually located in the center of everything? Good Day.