Leadership

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

5 Books to Read this Month: November 2022

5 Books to Read this Month: November 2022

by David Klemt

Flipping through an open book

This month’s engaging and informative book selections will help you hone your culinary, cocktail, and leadership skills to dial in your menus and operations.

To review October’s book recommendations, click here.

Let’s jump in!

Shaya: An Odyssey of Food, My Journey Back to Israel: A Cookbook

The next time you visit New Orleans, plan to dine at least once at the James Beard Award-winning Shaya. I’ve had the opportunity to do so and the experience was stunning. Of course, you’ll also want to check out Domenica and Pizza Domenica while in NOLA. To give you an idea of what to expect, pick up the Shaya cookbook.

Chef Alon Shaya’s personal journey through cooking is truly unique, embracing Israeli, Italian, and American Southern cuisines. Shaya tells Chef-operator Shaya’s moving story and more than 100 incredible recipes. Pick it up at Amazon.

Turkey and the Wolf: Flavor Trippin’ in New Orleans

After moving to New Orleans and working in fine dining, Chef Mason Hereford opened his own restaurant and put his stamp on the scene: Turkey and the Wolf. Both the restaurant and this cookbook focus on creative and enticing takes on Southern cooking.

Fancy deviled-egg tostadas? Fried bologna sandwiches absolutely heaving with potato chips? How about purposely burnt tomato casserole? Well, you’ll find these recipes and 92 others in this book, along with photographs and illustrations. This is sure to get you salivating and get your creative wheels turning. Grab Turkey and the Wolf here on Amazon.

Last Call at Coogan’s: The Life and Death of a Neighborhood Bar

As those of us in the industry know, restaurants and bars are the cornerstones of the communities they serve. Last Call at Coogan’s is the true tale of a neighborhood bar that, unfortunately, closed its doors for good during the pandemic after more than 30 years in operation.

From Amazon: “This book touches on many serious issues facing the country today: race relations, policing, gentrification, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Along the way, readers will meet the bar’s owners and an array of its most colorful regulars.” Purchase here via Amazon.

Spiritual Coffee

Bar co-founder, bartender, brand ambassador, and author Martin Hudak’s informative and exciting cocktail book is available now for purchase. Hudak is one of the brilliant minds behind Sydney destinations Maybe Sammy and Sammy Junior. Also, he’s a brand ambassador for Mr. Black, the ridiculously tasty coffee liqueur.

Spiritual Coffee focuses on coffee cocktails, a passion of Hudak’s. However, you’ll get more than recipes when you purchase this entertaining book. In these pages you’ll also find a wealth of coffee history, knowledge, and stories. Buy here!

The Future Is Analog: How to Create a More Human World

This book, from award-winning author David Sax, asks poignant culture questions about our rush toward a digital world, an undertaking that was supercharged during the pandemic.

“Is our future inevitably digital? Can we reject the downsides of digital technology without rejecting change?” Sax asks. “Can we innovate not for the sake of productivity but for the good of our social and cultural lives? Can we build a future that serves us as humans, first and foremost?” Purchase here via Amazon.

Image: Mikołaj on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

How a Chain Lost My Business Forever

How the Staff at a National Chain Lost My Business Forever

by David Klemt

Chocolate cookie and cookie crumbles

An unfortunate and entirely avoidable guest experience debacle guarantees that I’ll never spend another dollar at a particular national American chain.

What was supposed to be a small treat and excuse to get outside for a bit went downhill quickly.

Now, before I begin, I tend to shrug at poor service. Truly, a front-of-house team member has to go pretty far for me to do more than raise an eyebrow.

Given how the past two years-plus have gone, my tolerance has only grown. Everyone has bad days, including restaurant, bar, and hotel staff. In fact, I tend to assume that someone is simply having an off day due to an array of reasons: working several days in a row, opening and closing multiple times a week; having more responsibilities heaped on them due to being short staffed; a seeming increase in abuse from guests; stress spilling over onto the job; etc.

However, that doesn’t mean I’ll always return to be subjected to poor service in the future. What I experienced yesterday falls into this category: I won’t spend my money with this chain ever again.

Third-party Issues

As stated above, my visit to this national chain (600-plus locations) was intended to be a small treat. It was Halloween, they specialize in a particular type of confection, so why not?

Also, the temperatures have been in the 70s and lower in Las Vegas—perfect for a trip on my motorcycle. So, two treats in one, really.

Okay, so I’m going to do something I don’t like doing here: making an assumption or two. I think, however, I’m basing them on sound reasoning.

Additionally, I don’t like to use third-party delivery. In this case, the order was placed via Uber Eats for pickup using a monthly credit. Zero offense to third-party delivery drivers—it’s the corporations behind the services and the fees they charge operators I don’t support.

So, my assumption is that because the order came in via Uber Eats the staff figured I was “just” a delivery driver.

Downhill Fast

I’ll concede that this visit didn’t start off on the wrong foot: I received a decent welcome. Since I was picking up the order, I stood at the pickup counter, and confirmation came in before I arrived that the order was ready.

There were three guests waiting when I walked in, and one by one they got their orders and left. I didn’t think anything was going wrong until people walked in after me and received their orders. In terms of this chain, my order was on the smaller side.

After several minutes of being ignored, I was asked if I was picking up for Uber Eats. I clarified that no, I’m not an Uber Eats driver, I was picking up my order placed via Uber Eats.

Another several minutes went by as I watched larger orders get fulfilled ahead of mine. And then I was asked again—by the same staff member—who I was picking up for. Again, not an Uber Eats driver—my order.

At this point, I had been waiting more than 10 minutes. When I was finally given my order, I noticed another difference. Staff members showed guests their orders to confirm the contents before handing them over. My order, however, was taped closed behind the counter and handed to me.

It didn’t strike me that this is how this staff treats Uber Eats driver until I was on my bike. And that’s the problem.

Standards of Service

If this is how staff treats third-party delivery drivers, it’s appalling. There’s no excuse for treating drivers differently just because they aren’t the guest themselves or fellow employees.

Let’s be clear: anyone walking through a restaurant, bar or hotel’s doors deserves at least decent service. There are several reasons for this, and I shouldn’t have to address them. But, hey, we’re already here, so why not address a couple?

First, standards. If your staff is purposely treating a group of people poorly because they think they can do so without ramifications, your standards have slipped or there simply aren’t any. That’s a problem.

Are team members going to get to know regulars? Absolutely. Are they going to have favorites. Of course! And there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, that’s what should happen—every front-of-house team member should cultivate their own regulars.

So, yes, some guests will treated differently. There’s a huge difference, however, between subjecting some guests to poor service intentionally and delivering outstanding service to favorites.

Quite simply, the minimum standard of service should be great service. “Decent” sucks; great should be the baseline.

Regulars and guests who staff have rapport with should receive service that’s above and beyond the standard level. Rock star servers and bartenders deliver outstanding service to everyone, regular or first-timer, gracious guest or grump.

Different Treatment?

Second, your staff shouldn’t be treating third-party delivery workers like they don’t matter. There’s zero room in hospitality for treating people poorly—doing so is in direct opposition to the spirit of this profession.

In fact, they shouldn’t treat difficult guests with anything but your expected standards. Leadership team members should be confronting rude or difficult guests, protecting the rest of the team.

I’ve read and heard about restaurant staff treating third-party delivery drivers poorly. Always, of course, with justifications thrown in: retaliation toward rude drivers, drivers not tipping…pick a reason. Again, if there’s a rude driver, staff should alert leadership and they should handle it.

Look, I’ve made no secret of my view on third-party delivery apps. Their fees and taking advantage of operators, particularly during the pandemic, infuriate me. And it’s easy to point at me and say I’m part of the problem, using a credit to place a third-party delivery. I’ll accept that criticism.

What I won’t do is return to a business with staff who think it’s acceptable to allow standards to slip and treat delivery drivers poorly. Most people seem to take delivery jobs to make ends meet. Hell, some of them are likely service industry professionals themselves working another job or jobs.

The labor shortage isn’t a valid justification for slipping standards or poor service. Dislike of third-party delivery services is no justification, either.

In fact, this chain obviously sees these delivery services as a viable income stream. The fact their staff doesn’t is a problem. If there’s a standard of service for this chain, it certainly wasn’t met when I was there. And if there’s a standard that I didn’t receive, there are several other problems.

Either way, the damage is done.

Image: Andre Moura via Pexels

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

5 Books to Read this Month: October 2022

5 Books to Read this Month: October 2022

by David Klemt

Flipping through an open book

This month’s engaging and informative book selections will help you develop next-level leadership skills and dial in your F&B menus.

To review September’s book recommendations, click here.

Let’s jump in!

Down and Out in Paradise: The Life of Anthony Bourdain

First things first: This biography by author Charles Leerhsen about chef and modern philosopher Anthony Bourdain isn’t authorized. However, this book purports to offer a deep dive into the late, revered chef’s life, from childhood to his final days.

Just be forewarned that this book is already and for good reason considered controversial.

Down and Out in Paradise will be available on October 11. Click here to pre-order this book today.

The Ethical Leader: Why Doing the Right Thing Can Be the Key to Competitive Advantage

Written by Morgen Witzel, The Ethical Leader addressed ethical behavior in business. Far too often, for far too many business owners and leadership team members, behaving ethically isn’t a non-negotiable. Rather, doing the right thing in business is “nice,” not “necessary.”

For this leadership book, Witzel explains why gaining and maintaining the trust and respect of team members and customers is crucial to the success of any business. “Trust engenders loyalty and good reputation, which in turn builds brand value… Ethical behavior is the key to trust-building, but it needs to go deeper than something managers do out of a sense of moral duty.”

Pour Me Another: 250 Ways to Find Your Favorite Drink

It may not happen every shift but bar team members and servers do encounter the restless guest from time to time. Their go-to drink, for whatever reason, just isn’t cutting it during a particular visit. Of course, this is an excellent time to improve their visit and the guest experience. And it’s the perfect time to introduce a guest to their new favorite drink.

JM Hirsch’s Pour Me Another helps people find that new favorite. Bar professionals and servers will find it useful for guiding guests through a cocktail discovery process. Click here to pre-order this book for its October 4 release.

Twist: Your Guide to Creating Inspired Craft Cocktails

The classics are a litmus test for any bar professional. It’s all well and good to invent and craft signature drinks, but if you can’t nail the classics there’s something wrong. Author Jordan Hughes, over the course of 75 recipes, combines the classics with creation in Twist.

This new book, set for release on December 13, teaches the classics. However, Hughes also helps the reader develop the skills to riff on these timeless recipes to put their stamp on the industry. Pre-order today!

Boards and Spreads: Shareable, Simple Arrangements for Every Meal

So, you’re familiar with how much people on Instagram love a good cheese and charcuterie board. In fact, you have some artisanal, eye-catching boards just waiting to be photographed and posted to social media by your guests. But do they really just sit around until someone orders either cheese, charcuterie, or a combination thereof?

It doesn’t have to be that way. Yasmin Fahr’s book Boards and Spreads provides plenty of other uses for your fancy Instagrammable boards. Oh, and there just happen to be several dip and spread recipes to refresh your menu.

Image: Mikołaj on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

5 Books to Read this Month: September 2022

5 Books to Read this Month: September 2022

by David Klemt

Flipping through an open book

This month’s engaging and informative book selections will help you develop next-level leadership skills and dial in your drink menu.

To review August’s book recommendations, click here.

Let’s jump in!

Your Restaurant Culture Sucks!: Stop surviving. Start thriving. Escape mediocrity

Donald Burns, the Restaurant Coach and friend of KRG Hospitality, completes his Your Restaurant Sucks! trilogy. For the third book in the self-improvement and hospitality industry leadership series, Burns tackles culture.

In Your Restaurant Culture Sucks!, Burns helps owners, operators, and leadership team members understand the importance of workplace and company culture. Instead of complaining that “nobody wants to work anymore,” look inside and find out why perhaps nobody wants to work for you. That kind of honesty helps implement real change, change that sets you apart and improves recruitment, hiring, and retention.

“All restaurants can buy from the same vendors and hire from the same labor pool. What separates the good, from the great to the outstanding is culture!”

Subtract

Sometimes changing our outlook and improving our leadership skills is about streamlining.

“We pile on ‘to-dos’ but don’t consider ‘stop-doings.’ We create incentives for good behavior, but don’t get rid of obstacles to it. We collect new-and-improved ideas, but don’t prune the outdated ones. Every day, across challenges big and small, we neglect a basic way to make things better: we don’t subtract.”

With Subtract, Leidy Klotz explains how changing how we approach solutions can be life changing. Maybe we need to stop adding and start subtracting to improve our strategies.

Cure: New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix ’Em from the Award-Winning Bar

If you travel to New Orleans and you’re in this industry, you probably make sure to include Cure on your itinerary. For more than a decade this 2018 James Beard Award winner (Outstanding Bar Program) has been integral to the city’s craft cocktail scene.

Whether you’re after a deceptively simple beer and shot or a cocktail made with a rare, allocated bourbon, Cure is there to elevate your French Quarter visit. And soon you’ll be able to bring Cure home with you, and to your restaurant or bar as well. Available now for preorder, Cure includes 100 cocktail recipes that tell the tale of NOLA from past, present, and future.

Craft Beer Design: The Design, Illustration and Branding of Contemporary Breweries

Anyone who pauses to consider beer can design knows that it’s becoming nearly as important as the liquid. With thousands of breweries all over the US alone, how does a brewer stand out? How does a small, independent craft brewer grab a potential new customer’s attention in a sea of options? In part, through their can designs. Of course the beer itself is crucial and the most important element. However, a consumer has to be motivated to try a beer before they learn how good it tastes.

Craft Beer Design dives deep into craft beer design, featuring real-world examples and interviews with the designers themselves.

Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know

Curiosity keeps us learning. The pursuit of knowledge keeps us sharp. Learning helps us improve ourselves, our leadership, and our operations. The belief that we’ve learned all there is to know, however, prevents us from learning to our own detriment.

Much like Subtract teaches us how to remove rather than add, Think Again proposes a new approach: unlearning and rethinking. Why do we get defensive when we’re wrong? Why are we so afraid of challenges to long-held beliefs? Admitting when we’re wrong and seeking facts is a strength, not a weakness.

Image: Mikołaj on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Viral Post Highlights Real Leadership

What a Viral Reddit Post Reveals About Leadership in Hospitality

by David Klemt

Reddit app icon on smartphone

A text exchange between a restaurant manager and delivery driver posted to Reddit went viral last month.

Refreshingly, it didn’t make the rounds on news sites for the wrong reasons. Rather, the text conversation is a succinct example of emotional intelligence, empathy, and leadership.

Those interested in reading the text exchange in its entirety can follow this link. However, I’ll sum it up here.

Posted to the subreddit Kitchen Confidential, the conversation begins with the manager checking in on the driver, asking, “You doing OK?”

The driver says they’re “doing better but” is still dealing with a lot. After the manager asks if they should cover their shift that night, the driver reveals they may need to quit the job.

Instead of blowing up at the driver, trying to talk them out of their decision, or cutting the exchange short, they say, “It’s alright [sic].”

Going further, the manager says, “You’re [sic] happiness is more important.” They add that the business hopes the driver will return to the job when they’re ready.

Shall I Cover You Tonight?

Now, I tend to believe that most members of restaurant, bar, and hotel leadership teams are empathetic. I also lean toward believing that most are competent problem solvers.

However, we’ve all come across people who don’t belong in a leadership role. In some cases, a person’s lack of leadership qualifications doesn’t manifest until they’ve been in the role for some time.

My business partner Doug Radkey and I have had conversations about leaders who don’t seem to lead. At best, they’re examples of what not to do. At worst, they’re chasing away a business owner’s staff and guests.

Most recently, these conversations have centered around managers insisting that staff solve scheduling problems themselves.

Before I proceed, I acknowledge fully that we’re facing an unprecedented labor shortage. That’s no excuse for poor leadership.

What, exactly, is the leadership team doing that they can’t manage the schedule? Further, with today’s modern scheduling platforms, why is filling available roles difficult for leaders? Several scheduling apps make it a painless, automated process.

The manager in this Reddit text exchange doesn’t demand the driver find someone to cover their shift. Instead, they behave like a manager and handle it themselves.

Don’t Ever Discount Yourself

If you’re active on LinkedIn and have a sizeable hospitality-centric network, you’ve likely seen posts about how the industry needs to be more people-focused. Not in terms of guests—that’s obvious.

Rather, the consensus is that we’re not going to solve the labor problem if we don’t treat staff as well as we treat guests. Some of these posts may be a bit saccharine, but they’re not incorrect.

Let’s review the texts from this manager:

  • “You doing OK?”
  • Your “happiness is more important.”
  • “We love having you here.”
  • “You’re an awesome person.”
  • “Don’t ever discount yourself.”

When’s the last time you and other members of the leadership team asked a staff member if they’re okay? And if you’ve asked recently, did you get an honest answer? Did you want an honest answer?

A restaurant or bar team that doesn’t trust leadership isn’t going to bother providing an honest answer to that question—they feel like the leaders don’t care about them.

Looking at the rest of the texts above, do you and your leaders take the time to recognize and thank staff? Even the shyest team member wants recognition for a job well done.

Those in leadership roles need to develop their skills constantly. Contrary to some in those positions, leaders aren’t there simply to lord their authority over others and dish out punishments.

So, before your next team meeting, gather the leaders. Find out if every member of the team is checking on staff, valuing their health and wellness, and tackling the mundane tasks that are inherent to their roles.

The maxim is true: People don’t quit jobs, they quit people. If your leadership team isn’t leading with empathy, you can expect your labor issues to compound. No amount of excuses will turn that around.

This article by KRG Hospitality director of business development David Klemt was first published by Bar Business and can be read in its entirety by following this link.

Image: Brett Jordan on Unsplash

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Back of House Report: The Labor Challenge

Back of House Report: The Labor Challenge

by David Klemt

Employees wearing black staff T-shirts

A recent report from Back of House reveals opportunities for operators amidst the current staffing challenge.

In their report, the restaurant technology platform suggests effective hiring and retention solutions. For example, helping staff find meaning in their work.

To download and access the report in its entirety, please visit BackOfHouse.io.

For some of the platform’s insights into staffing, keep reading.

Why People Leave the Industry

Obviously, people take jobs for a variety of reasons. Often, a person’s first job has one or two motivations: money and/or experience.

Some estimates put a gig in the restaurant industry as the first job for a third of Americans. In Canada, restaurants are the top employers for those under 25 years of age.

However, Back of House sees value in looking at a different metric: Why people leave the industry.

As Back of House states, knowing why someone would leave their job helps an operator determine what benefits to offer to retain talent.

Now, it may be tempting to assume pay is the top reason people leave jobs. Per Back of House, however that’s not the case. Broken down by age group, below you’ll find the reasons people are leaving hospitality:

  • Pay: 26 to 35
  • Schedule: 46 to 55
  • Lack of opportunities: 26 to 35
  • Lack of benefits: 26 to 35
  • Work environment: 18 to 25

Look at these issues through the lens of someone moving through life. When first entering the workforce, more people want to find the right employer and workplace. From their twenties to thirties, more concern is placed on moving up, making more money, and receiving benefits. And, per Back of House’s findings, time becomes more of a consideration as people age.

Meaning and Value

Per Back of House, there are two important elements of employment that keep people engaged.

One, meaning in the work they do. In other words, feeling that their work has value. Two, staff want to feel that they’re employers value them.

Of course, both make sense, no? If a person doesn’t see their role in the industry as valuable, they’ll always be looking for the escape hatch. And if they feel that they’re employer doesn’t value them, why would they continue working for them? People, as they say, quit bosses, not jobs.

So, Back of House recommends that operators demonstrate they value their team members by:

  • investing in their staff;
  • supporting their staff; and
  • respecting their staff.

Now, good leaders should already do all of the above. It should go without saying but if someone feels a lack of respect, support, and interest from their employer, they’re not going to remain in their role for long.

And who could blame them? That seems like a terrible workplace and a waste of a hospitality professional’s valuable time. Time, of course, that can be better spent finding a good leader to work for who will help them progress in their career.

There are further insights one can glean from Back of House’s report. To download “Understanding the Staffing Challenge,” please click here.

Disclaimer: Neither KRG Hospitality nor its representatives received compensation to promote this report. The team at KRG simply feels all operators will find value in downloading and reading it, and considering the information contained therein.

Image: Joao Viegas on Unsplash

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5 Books to Read this Month: June 2022

5 Books to Read this Month: June 2022

by David Klemt

 

Flipping through an open book

These engaging and informative book selections will help you develop next-level food and beverage skills, and motivate you throughout June, 2022.

To review May’s book recommendations, click here.

Let’s jump in!

Doctors and Distillers

As the historians in our industry have known for a while, cocktails were once considered medicinal. Of course, in some ways that’s still the case.

Industry author, speaker, and educator Camper English shows us how medicine and alcohol have long been connected throughout human history in Doctors and Distillers. Have you head of using wine as a dewormer? How about treating wounds with beer? Would you ever consider using spirits to heal a snakebite? Well, humans have done those things and more with booze. Pre-order this book today!

A Bartender’s Guide to the World

I’m just going to be blunt here: Lauren Mote probably knows more about spirits, liqueurs, and cocktails than you. That’s not a slam—she loves sharing her knowledge and helping people improve their craft and business.

Available for pre-order now for an October launch, A Bartender’s Guide to the World shares not only Mote’s journeys around the world but also more than 75 cocktail recipes. The book’s recipes are organized by their base ingredient. Additionally, there’s an entire chapter just addressing alcohol-free drinks.

The Portugal Cookbook

Chef Leandro Carreira shares well over 500 recipes in The Portugal Cookbook. These dishes range from traditional Portuguese cuisine to modern recipes.

Every region throughout Portugal is represented in this informative and mouth-watering book, including the Duoro Valley and Algarve coast. Portugal is known as a global destination for foodies and this book will definitely help you add some delicious, on-trend recipes to your menu.

Hacking the New Normal: Hitting the Reset Button on the Hospitality Industry

The world around us has changed. The food & beverage industry has changed. The hospitality industry has changed. But will some ways of life change for the better? In Doug Radkey’s second book, Hacking the New Normal, he asks the following: “Do you think you can hit the reset button on your approach to business? Do you think you can help hit the reset button on this industry? I have made the decision to do so. The question remains, have you?”

Trust and Inspire: How Truly Great Leaders Unleash Greatness in Others

Stephen M.R. Covey, author of The Speed of Trust, addresses the leadership crisis we face today. As the author of Trust and Inspire points out, the world is changing but leadership styles remain the same. That simply won’t work moving forward. It’s crucial we change how we view leadership, and develop new leadership styles and strategies if we’re going to succeed from now on.

Image: Mikołaj on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

5 Books to Read this Month: May 2022

5 Books to Read this Month: May 2022

by David Klemt

Flipping through an open book

These engaging and informative book selections will help you develop next-level beverage skills and motivate you throughout May, 2022.

To review April’s book recommendations, click here.

Let’s jump in!

Rum Rebels: A Celebration of Women Revolutionizing the Spirits Industry

Written by authors Martyna Halas and René van Hoven, Rum Rebels raises a glass to women in the rum world. Readers will learn the inspiring stories of Lorena Vasquez from Zacapa, Joy Spence of Appleton, and more women driving rum forward and shaping this iconic spirit’s flavors, aromas, and textures.

In addition, this book serves as a masterclass in rum production, from tasting to aging. And since that’s enough for these incredible and ambitious authors, Rum Rebels also contains rum cocktail recipes.

Drink Lightly: A Lighter Take on Serious Cocktails

Operators, bar managers, and bartenders should see value in the driving ethos behind this cocktail book. Drink Lightly, authored by Nitecap bartender Natasha David, pairs precision drink-building techniques with a relaxed drinking experience.

Drinking lightly doesn’t mean sipping drinks bereft of complexity and depth. Along with 100 recipes, readers will enjoy a foreword by Alex Day of Proprietors LLC, whose concepts include Death & Co. and Nitecap.

Call Me Chef, Dammit!: A Veteran’s Journey from the Rural South to the White House

Hospitality is rooted in sacrifice and a commitment to serving others. Chef Andre Rush and his story embody service. Call Me Chef, Dammit! is the inspiring story of Chef Rush.

The storied chef has led an incredible life which includes a career in the US Army that spanned 24 years, advocating for military personnel and veterans, and winning multiple awards as a chef. Oh, and Chef Rush and his 24-inch biceps have also worked in the White House for four US presidents.

While there are no recipes in this book, there is one hell of an inspiring story in these pages.

The New Kindred Spirits: Over 2,000 All-New Reviews of Whiskeys, Brandies, Liqueurs, Gins, Vodkas, Tequilas, Mezcal & Rums from F. Paul Pacult’s Spirit Journal

Anyone looking for a spirits bible need search no further. F. Paul Pacult’s The New Kindred Spirits includes over 2,400 in-depth reviews spanning a wide range of spirits. This tome evaluates a massive number of brandies, gins, liqueurs, rums, tequilas, vodkas, and whiskeys.

This all-encompassing compilation of spirit evaluations doesn’t just cover the usual suspects. The New Kindred Spirits also takes a deep dive into the craft side of the beverage industry.

Drinking & Knowing Things

Author and certified sommelier Michael Amon would like to know a couple things from those considering picking up Drinking & Knowing Things. “Do you want to uncork a bottle of whoop-ass on every winedouche and uppity sommelier?” And, “are you too lazy to spend any time whatsoever learning things?”

Anyone who answered “yes” to either or both questions needs this book. Amon says that readers who commit to spending five minutes reading the weekly wine recommendations found in Drinking & Knowing Things will give sommeliers a run for their wine-knowledge money. Wine intimidation? Not after reading this book.

Image: Mikołaj on Unsplash

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This Simple Test Reveals Process Problems

This Simple Test Reveals Process Problems

by David Klemt

Server helping guest in restaurant

There’s an easy way to identify whether there are changes that need to be made to processes and practices that only requires observation and time.

Luckily, it doesn’t take much time, either. In less than a week, an operator can determine if there are issues relating to onboarding new hires.

This simple test was shared during the 2022 Restaurant Leadership Conference in Scottsdale.

Interviews are Just the Start

It should go without saying but here we go: The hiring process doesn’t end with the interview.

An operator or their leadership team found an amazing job candidate? Awesome! That’s no small feat these days.

However, that’s just the first step in hiring and building a rock star restaurant, bar or hotel team.

Step two is onboarding, step three is training, and step four is advancement.

For KRG Hospitality, onboarding goes far beyond filling out federal and state paperwork. There’s more to it than setting up direct deposit and getting a new hire on the schedule.

Rather, operators need to implement a fully developed onboarding process. The key word there is “process.”

True onboarding includes the review of an employee handbook and an introduction to the business. During this process new hires should become familiar with the brand’s history, vision, culture, mission, and core values.

By the end of this process, a new team member should understand what’s expected of them, both in their individual role and behaviorally. Additionally, they should be introduced to the entire team.

In reality, the onboarding process is the development of a professional relationship.

The Test

Technically, the actual test for operators is for them to have in-depth hiring, onboarding and training processes in place.

So, operators should take a moment to review whether they have those processes.

However, the test I’m talking about here relates to onboarding directly. It’s simple and it was shared during RLC 2022 by Jim Thompson, COO of Chicken Salad Chick.

The only requirement is a few days’ time and an observant operator and/or leadership team.

Let’s say a candidate nails the interview. In particular, their personality is perfect for the available role. As the the hospitality industry maxim goes, hire for personality, train for skills.

The new hire works their first shift but their personality doesn’t shine through. However, that could be first-day jitters. Unfortunately, that personality the leadership team hired for is nowhere to be seen during their next few shifts.

According to Thompson, if a new hire’s personality doesn’t shine through within four shifts, there’s likely a process and practices issue. The lack of personality is an indicator that the new team member doesn’t feel confident in their role.

The onboarding process—either too shallow or nonexistent—is a likely culprit. Operators can use this test, a simple four-shift observation of a new hire, to determine if there’s a problem.

Once identified, the operator and their leaders can put their heads together, review the issue, and implement effective, positive change.

Image: Caroline Attwood on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

The Uber Effect: Recruit and Retain

The Uber Effect: Recruit and Retain

by David Klemt

Person using Uber app on phone

To better understand how to recruit and retain top talent these days we can simply look at what’s known as the Uber Effect.

We just got back from the Restaurant Leadership Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona. The education was top-notch, featuring a wide range of restaurant industry experts.

One outstanding session illustrates the need for operators—chain and independent—to change their approach to recruiting and retaining staff.

Flexibility in the Workplace

According to Jennifer Grimes, senior vice president of client services for Service Management Group, people in the labor pool are after three things when seeking employment.

Generally speaking, they want better pay, better benefits, and better scheduling. Gone are the days of people focusing only on their paychecks.

And per Jim Thompson, chief operating officer of Chicken Salad Chick, the Uber Effect is largely responsible for this shift in focus. The Uber Effect refers to people realizing they can be much more in control of their careers.

In simplest terms, Uber drivers are in control of their workdays. They can work as often as they want, whatever hours they want, and wear what they want while working.

Of course, it’s not complete anarchy. There are rules, there are expectations, there are standards. However, there’s also flexibility.

Along with more flexibility in scheduling, people want the following:

  • workload balance;
  • ability to trade shifts;
  • better communication; and
  • paid vacations.

Today’s modern scheduling platforms make it simple for operators and their leadership teams to meet these expectations. With these apps, operators and leadership can:

  • assign specific roles to individual team members;
  • communicate clearly with staff;
  • allow staff to trade, drop, and pick up shifts; and
  • fill available shifts.

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

Thompson has an interesting anecdote about availability.

A Chicken Salad Chick manager conducting interviews didn’t proceed with a candidate. Asked by Thompson why they wouldn’t be moving forward, the manager pointed to the candidate’s availability.

During the interview, the candidate provided only a single day and the manager felt that wasn’t enough. However, Thompson disagreed with the manager’s assessment.

What if, Thompson posited Thompson, their availability filled a currently open shift? At least there would be one less shift for leadership to worry about.

But it went deeper than just that point. Good operators and leaders know that job interviews aren’t one-way streets. Candidates are also interviewing their potential employer.

What if this candidate provided limited availability because they’re unsure about a particular employer? They may not know the brand all that well, they likely don’t know the leadership team, and they don’t yet understand the workplace’s culture.

As Thompson says, “One size fits all is over.” Operators and their leadership teams need to be flexible.

It’s highly possible that just a few shifts in, if the narrow-availability team member is a good fit and finds the job engaging, they’ll broaden they’re availability.

Developing the Culture

Of course, the above scenario comes down to culture. And Thompson has an interesting thought on that operational element.

If an operator isn’t constantly developing their culture, it will grow stagnant. Maintaining the current culture isn’t good enough.

Failing to do so will ultimately lead to a decline in guest satisfaction. When that happens, a decline in traffic comes along with it.

It’s really rather simple: How an operator and the leadership team treats employees trickles down to guests. Unhappy and unsatisfied staff provide poor service. How long are guests going to tolerate negative guest experiences?

And no, simply offering competitive compensation doesn’t automatically equate to treating staff well.

“Competitive pay, to me, is the cost of entry,” says Thompson.

To this point, the COO, also the self-appointed chief smile officer, addresses how the restaurant chain respects personal time.

Chicken Salad Chick, founded in 2008, is closed on Sundays. This isn’t due to any religious influence. Rather, the founders, per Thompson, were influenced by what they perceived as a high divorce rate in the restaurant space.

So, the brand wants employees to have family time. That’s also why there stores are also closed by 8:00 PM. In some cases, they close at 5:00 or 7:00 PM. Again, personal and family time.

Could they generate more revenue if they opened earlier and closed later? Probably. However, their culture is crucial to their success.

Takeaway

If operators want to begin the process of truly developing a positive workplace culture, there are several questions Thompson suggests operators and their leaders should ask.

Is the brand purpose driven? Does focus on fun, family, and culture?

How can the business offer incremental value to staff? Are the pay and benefits competitive? Is the workplace safe and are their opportunities for staff to advance?

What’s the community like within the four walls? How’s the energy within those walls?

Are the processes and practices in place helping or hindering recruitment and retention? How can the processes be simplified so employees learn what they need to know quickly?

How flexible is the business, honestly? What’s being done to truly help leadership create better relationships with the team?

Finally, I’ll end on something interesting from Grimes. Analyzing employee engagement, SMG has found that isn’t just about compensation.

In fact, when it comes to what makes most people perceive their job as fulfilling, the top influencer is working with people they like. Second is salary and benefits. Third, rewarding work.

Operators need to adapt to employee expectations, just as they need to focus on those of guests. Sitting down with their leadership teams to discuss Thompson’s questions is a great first step toward developing a culture that works and rewards.

Image: Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

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