Wednesday, July 25, 2007 by Ospite.
8 notations

Lunch lunch lunch and the Trattoria. Typical groove and I've got three tables presently with an open one nearby. The first one has two women with a binder and reading stats for some sales project. The second is a couple that won't say a word to me. The third is a table of two kind gentlemen over a business lunch. I turned around and the fourth was sat with a single gentleman with a Cuban-style shirt and wrap-around sunglasses.

Typical spiel up till:

"So you've been here before then?"
"I actually was one of the chefs when it first opened."
"Well, I can certainly skip all the speeches for you then. Can I get you a beverage while you look through the menu?"
"A Tanqueray and grapefruit, please. But can you make sure there's actually Tanqueray in it this time? Last time it was just grapefruit. And I'll just take spaghetti with meat sauce and meatballs."
"No problem. Thank you sir."
"You are most kind."

I got the drink, rang in the order, and headed back to the table. "How is that?" "Quite good. Thank you for following up."

The meal came promptly, was cheesed, and added a second drink to it. Returning with Drink #2, I asked how everything was.
"Everything is perfect. You, sir, are a gentleman and a scholar."
"Why thank you sir."

Less than 5 minutes later I found his table empty and a gift certificate laying there. I had not yet presented the bill. I ran the card through and discovered it was shy by about $1.30. What a wonderful past-employee, neither a scholar, nor a gentleman himself.
Thursday, July 12, 2007 by Ospite.
9 notations

One week into the new job I get a voicemail from Topher (owner of the Bistro).

"Hey man, we need to talk. Come in tomorrow at 3."

That day was a day I have off...not a good sign.

I walk in just before 3pm and walk into the kitchen. "So." him that look that says 'Let's talk, and now, and not beat around the bush.'

All he did was nod, wipe his hands, and exit the kitchen. We walked outside into the courtyard next to the Bistro where he sat on a bench and I pulled a chair up, sitting with my back to the Sun so that to look at my face, the light would hit him right in the eyes. I planned on making this as uncomfortable for him as it was for me.

"I am a total jackass. Seriously. I am, it's killing me. I talked to my accountant yesterday and he asked what I was thinking hiring a manager right now. I have no budget for it, even though I thought I did. I don't know what to do, I'm totally lost here. I had this great idea to bring you on board and now it seems I made a huge error in judgement. Not on hiring you! But that I can't afford you."

I said nothing. He paused awkwardly.

"So, basically, I'm at a loss here."

"Yeah, well, this kind of leaves me screwed over. I kind of on a whim reset my entire life's schedule so we could make this work ASAP. I asked you to crunch the numbers before you officially offered me the position so this exact event would not happen. I can't just up and go back to my old managers and say 'Hey, I know I asked you to totally change my availability a week and a half ago, now I need my fulltime position back.' It doesn't work like that."

"I'm so unbelievably embarassed by this whole thing. I'd hate to lose you even though you've been here for a week. The girls love you, the kitchen staff listens to you, I think you're a hugely positive influence around here and can help a lot. This place needs someone like you in this position."

"Well then, let's work out something where I stay here and make this work. I'm not going to just let you up and kick me out. Especially after only a week's work."

"Well, I don't know how monetarily, but I want you to work through this weekend." at this I actually laughed out loud.

"How about you let me work here for three more weeks because you're screwing me."

"OK. And in the meantime we'll see what else we can work out."

So I left shortly after discussing assorted details and came back the next day for work.

"It's just not going to work out. I cannot find a way."
"I'll figure it out...don't worry. I'm not leaving here without kicking and screaming out the door."

If I didn't love this place so much, I'd never had worked this hard...not to mention, I get "Manager" on my résumé.

All night I tossed and turned, leaving me barely able to work my lunch shift at the Trattoria (which I do 3 days a week for extra spending cash...i.e. cigar money)...but it was not in vain. Based on talking to a friend of mine which sparked an idea, I wrote Topher the following email at about 4am:

Topher -

So it hit me tonight while I was chatting with some friends... What
do I know more than anything else? Music and music business. I've
been a performer, stage manager, tech, and booking agent
for ten years. I know how they think, what they want, need, and how
they act, and am great with musicians in the business field. You're
looking to build a reputation as a place of not just fabulous dining,
and service, but also of entertainment. You've got the first part
down, but the last one can use some work. Here's where I come in.

Job title: Entertainment Manager

Job description:
Book bands, work out scheduling for live music for Friday and Saturday nights.
Work weekly/bi-weekly with advertising agents on encorporating the music aspect
into your business image. Perhaps talk to local colleges about music events and advertise
in their papers, etc.

Thursday night assist with open mic, and growing that area.

Friday and Saturday nights dealing directly with the bands.

Thursday, Friday, Saturday nights PERSONALLY providing acoustic music
from 6-9pm...(basically, I'd be your house musician also. this way
you'd always have a scheduled dinner musician on those nights)

Honestly, I think this is the best all around idea for our situation.
It allows you to achieve that reputation as an entertainment center.
But this is an area of expertiece on my part and something I am no
stranger to. I think this is the niche that works best all around. Send
me an email and let me know what you think, or leave me a voicemail

I could start THIS WEEK, and we can talk details Monday afternoon.
Honestly, I'm more excited about this than the Front End Manager part,
because this tailors the whole image of the Bistro and has potential for
a specific Bistro persona that I can give. Like you said, you know
service, you know restaurants, and you've figured a way to work those
out on your budget. This might work out the other end of this and
still stay in budget. Ciao.

It was, in fact, perfect. So presently I am the acting Director of Entertainment and Marketing for the Bistro. While I'm present Thursday through Saturday, I often host or work behind the bar, filling gaps as needed when I'm not playing. Topher finally feels comfortable enough with a new chef that he can take time off in the evenings, leaving me in charge...which is a huge weight lifted from his shoulders. On top of that, there's shockingly no awkwardness between us due to the initial hiring/firing spree after a week of employment.

Now that I've hit a groove on both fronts, expect more posts...

At your service, Ospite

I am not in the restaurant business, I am in the people business. I use every opportunity to people watch, because to me, even the most mundane is fascinating.

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