Monday, November 15, 2010

It’s In The Books

We are officially a month and a half in the books and things have somewhat stabilized – not necessarily my hours but everything else seems to be going swimmingly to a certain extent.  I seem to have a million things swimming in my mind, but almost nothing simultaneously.  So I decided to write this blog in segments which is the only way I could strategically tackle everything.

 

“Really, dude, really!?!”

Our battle with ABC and the bevy of organizational issues that they seem to pass of to the restaurant owners and merchants alike are still ongoing – 5 months now and counting (now two months past their expected completion date of 90 days).  With that said, the most recent issue – requiring clarification from the Planning Department for zoning in this space – was not even brought up or vetted until the very end of this process.  This is of course the type of basic thing that should happen at the beginning of an application process, but that would make too much sense, wouldn’t it? 

Not sure if you’ve heard recently during the election season, but the spin on the political season was basically the promise of untangling the government knots that effectively put strangleholds on small business entrepreneurship and kill our local economy.  As with many things, the promise of things to happen are normally far from the reality of those situations.  We represent a small business with thin margins and sometimes support ourselves with customers that may or may not sit here for 8 hours on a $2 ice tea.  We have a staff of 15-20 and try our best to be responsible, fair and positive with our staff – but, for those who have been sleeping in a time capsule, it gets hard to pay them towards the pay scale that we wish we could and the amount that many of them really deserve.  This basic wine and beer licensing issue is pinching every single nerve with each additional barrier – whether that stems from ABC’s disorganization, poor staffing and or pointless array of technicalities – its not going to help businesses hire and thrive in an environment where payroll and fees are the killer.

 

Be Your Own Food Hero

Well, aside from the sobering reality of basic job economics, I have had more time recently to start playing with new menu specials and random ideas in my head.  The fun part of having creative control is that when I like something out of my test kitchen, I just put up a sign and sell it.  I recently had a chance to talk to a writer and we started to get into some of the ideas and inspiration behind the food concepts at the Summit.  I didn’t quite know how to place the terminology at first and then I started to reference the approaches that appeal to me the most, the metaphor of guitar hero riffs began to swim in my head.  And thus, I started to coin the phrase “food/cooking hero” to describe the type of restaurant that I was most smitten with.  The items or types of menu where certain things borderline the realm of ridiculous, wonderful, abstract and even excessive.  Sometimes that means putting foie in profiteroles and selling it as dessert and sometimes that means stuffing a pig trotter with more massive quantities of pig and duck sausage – or it can be fluffing a pillow with smoke and serving it as a tray for a course.  And sometimes considering how long, hard or lucky you need to be able to invoke your inner food hero – you might as well take that opportunity by the balls and have fun with it.  There isn’t a written rule sometimes to whether failure or success is a given in this industry – its always just a matter of how much time you have with either.  I’m sure the rock and roll greats don’t get on the stage to find their guitar hero, you get on stage to become the guitar hero.  All I’m saying is I dream of the day when people can all cook to be their own food hero.   

 

Happy-Bunny-You-Suck.jpg You Suck image by SpeedyHedgehog

The Golden Rule

Moving on to a new topic, I fired my first cook a few weeks ago.  It was a poor fit with a bevy of issues and going into the details wouldn’t be the right thing to do– but I think I decided a long time ago that team cohesion and basic respect between kitchen staff would be the first and most important rule of my kitchen.  It is rule #1. 

 

Time to ramp up again – The Summit’s Inaugural Art Show on Thursday, 11/18

We are finally ready to get the art show on the road.  Our first exhibition gallery is a collection of album covers from a list of local merchant record owners, DJ's, writers and friends that agreed to put on display their interpretations of what a “third space” concept meant to them and how it reflects in their LP cover collection.  Some featured include Mark Farina, Cool Chris, Dick Vivian, and others.  It should be pretty nice to finally fill these wood walls with our vision of contemporary art.  Check it out here.

 

Bringing The Debate For Milk To Food

As with my other blogs since we’ve opened, I’ve been tracking our use of Straus milk , which has been consistent and pretty nice.  And with the changes of the fall menu, I started making my butternut squash soup strictly with Straus milk.  People dig it because it’s richness – almost a meal in a bowl.  With that, we’ve started to see a nice steady increase in requests and we’ve started ordering more of it progressively with both the soup and coffee featuring it.  I think there is still a lack of basic education and its hard sometimes to really get people to understand that milk has a fundamental flavor difference that is qualitatively tangible.  In the end, I have the feeling that people need to start experiencing milk in their own homes and refrigerators to start asking for a better product throughout.  It is a luxury though, that’s not lost on me. But if you haven’t thought to try it, you should.  We’re thinking of ways to spread the word a little more. 

 

And finally some pictures of specials, butchers blocks and such… you know, food porn.