Hotel F&B Observer Blog

Hotel food and beverage professionals share experience, skills and commentary. These hotelier blogs reflect a variety of unique career perspectives and real-life workplace stories, observations and opinions.


I have a relative in her eighties. We had a chance to talk for an hour the other day. She was totally amazed by some of my restaurant stories and I with her’s.

• She had never operated a business
• She had never hired or fired anyone
• She never had to make a bottom or top line shine
• She never crawled under an ice machine
• She never unplugged a public toilet
• College was her fifth option
• She had never stopped a bar fight
• “86’d” was never in her vocabulary
• “You-bet-your-boots” has never been in my vocabulary
• I have never gone to night school while working full-time
• I have never served as a nurse
• I have never raised livestock nor brought it to market
• I have never shot a coyote
• I didn’t have to continue anything after my husband died
• My children have not all graduated from college
• My house is not completely paid for

In my job, I have met thousands, upon thousands of people, and maybe 15 would come to my funeral. Read more of this >>

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#Restaurant #epic #fail

With all due respect to the comedy of Jeff Foxworthy and his classic riffs on “You might be a redneck if…” I’m helping myself to a new theme that is a little closer to home.

“You might be a #restaurant #epic #fail if…”

• Lights or letters in your outside signage are broken for weeks on end
• Without speaking a word of greeting, your host turns heel, grabs menus, proceeds across the room and exasperatingly gesticulates for the guests to “get a move on it”
• You serve any “food” item that rests on a coagulating pool of iridescent orange grease
• The servers use oven mitts to deliver hot plates, and the mitts look like they have just come from a farm and were used during delivery of breached calves Read more of this >>

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The Daydream of a Five-Tool F&B Player

Summer is flying by. MLB has just completed its All-Star game, and baseball, like any well run sport or business, loves statistics. Baseball (at all levels) takes a very serious (fanatical?) approach when tracking, measuring and quantifying. In baseball you’ll find categories for RBI, HR, BA, ERA, saves, wins, and many other metrics of the game. If you’re in the F&B business you’d be well served to watch (like a hawk) your ROI, ROA, EBITDA, SpSqF, comps, “saves,” “wins,” and other business metrics.

In baseball, I’ve always been most intrigued by the rarity of a “five-tool” player. A “five-tool” player is thought to excel in all the skills necessary to become an elite player. As you might imagine, these skills include hitting prowess (which some measure as “on-base percentage” plus “slugging” or “OPS”), base-running and speed, throwing ability, and fielding abilities. In each era of MLB, there seems to be only a handful of players recognized as processing all “five tools.” Read more of this >>

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Inside Scoop: Being Wrong the Right Way

And now I will shed some light on a—not so little—secret of organizational life. There are some over-eager beavers, who deftly scramble up the political and positional ladder, seemingly salivating at the prospect of power. Their mastery of corporate gamesman/woman-ship does not guarantee that they are the “sharpest knives in the drawer.” All too often, my experience has shown that if you were to strip away their job titles, many lack the influence or substance for making critical decisions.

Ironically, at times it is the awkward foot-draggers who are more capable of making good decisions but are unwilling to be pressured into making them and don’t want to be held accountable. This leads me to an important point: Lots of smart and entirely good people have discovered they don’t have what it takes to manage things or lead others. Read more of this >>

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Leadership Is Like Ice Cream

The words “leader” and “leadership” used to be widely accepted definitions of person(s) at the very top. Now, they have been widely broadened to reflectively include those who contribute to the process of moving things forward at any level, in any business setting.

I like to think of it this way: leadership is like ice cream, and the specific business, industry, or circumstances are the flavors. It is impossible to use chocolate chip and make it work when pistachio swirl is required, unless you only care about the fact that you used “leadership ice cream” and not about the outcome or how it tastes. Now you know why poor leadership leaves such a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. Read more of this >>

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Tebow and Turnarounds

Unless you have been living in a cave or immersed in the opening of a new international property, you have heard about the polarizing and perplexing story of Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos. Now, you may not follow the NFL or even like sports, but most anyone in our/any business can appreciate the turnaround of a brand name franchise and creating “fandemonium.” I thought I’d pass along a quick note from the eye of the Timmy Typhoon.

The NFL’s Denver Broncos turnaround story (worst to first in the same season, after years of irrelevance) is being written by many contributors. There have been clutch stops, picks, runs, throws, catches, kicks, and fumble recoveries. As is almost always the case in a team sport (read as your business), it takes a united team effort (“running on all cylinder,” “in the zone”) to win.

As the early season losses mounted and the Bronco brain trust was feeling as if there was nothing left to lose, they unleashed Tim Tebow. What was initially significant about this “strategic” move was that Tebow, the third string quarterback, leapfrogged over the 2nd string quarterback to become the starter. It was the harbinger of many strange and wonderful (if you bleed orange and blue) things to come such as, downgrading the playbook to a high school level and trading last year’s leading receiver and starting QB mid-season. Now, we have the incredibly fashioned string of wins and a self described “higher-calling” individual playing his position in an unorthodox manner—a truly compelling drama for fans and non-fans of all persuasions.

I have no idea how many more rabbits will be pulled out of the hat by Tebow & Co., but up to this point, there are a few practical turnaround takeaways and leadership affirmations worth sharing. Read more of this >>

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Code of the West

I have lived up, down, in the middle, and on both sides of the USA, but I was raised in the West. I’m not a farmer or rancher, but as I was growing up I had a chance to spend some time “learning the ropes” from my relatives who were. You had to be hardy, smart, and tough to make it in either place. Savvy skill-craft was prized, and so was an even disposition. You had to hold up your end of the bargain or you were sent packin’.

There was also a code, an unwritten agreement that bracketed your conduct. Lying, cheating or stealing were absolute no-fly zones, and you had to offer the other guy a “fair chance” in just about everything you did. I know some people will pass off my code recollections as myth, but I was not hanging out in Hollywood with A. Ladd, G. Cooper or J. Wayne—just with real people living real lives. In fact, responsible conduct was a major contributing factor to their sense of community and stewardship of the land. Read more of this >>

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Leadership @ or 4?

“Low-down, dirty good for nothin’…”

I still remember the first time I heard my grandfather deliver his ultimate displeasure with another human being. It was his considered opinion that you could be good at something and still be “good for nothing.” As he saw it there were people who were darn fine farmers, welders, mechanics, truck drivers, hunters, and so on, but if your positive character flag wasn’t flying high, he’d keep his distance.

When it comes right down to it, leadership is influence. Yes, most organizations hold high the tangible metric “results” of the system/process/push and pull, but when it comes to people, the influencers at every level are the true leaders.

For generations there have been debates about the concise definition of leadership. The truth is, it depends. Leadership definitions are dependent on the team, situation, fate, timing, and most certainly upon the width or height of your travails. Additionally, it depends if you are speaking of leadership in the arena of business, military, science, religion, or politics. And, it depends on whether you’re seeking a descriptor of leaders who are edgy or plain-Jane, powerful or powerless, figureheads or headless figures. Read more of this >>

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