How are you? How are the reindeer? I was going to send you an e-mail with my list, but Mom says this is more personal, and I want you to know it’s from my heart. I may suffer from unbridled holiday avarice, but at least I’m sincere. (Not that it should factor into what is delivered…but have you lost weight?)
I’ve been very good this year. Okay, good might be a stretch, at least when accompanied by “very.” Personally, I’ve tried to be a good husband, friend, and father. I think that I’ve done okay there, but you’ll have to check with the others on your list to be sure. Professionally, it’s another story.
I am, after all, in the hospitality industry, and we have had a good and bad year. I’ve been good at doing more with less: less revenue, less hours for my cooks, less of an opportunity to do many of the truly fun things in the business of Culinary Piracy such as wine dinners, educational trips, etc.
Managing in a recession, which has become squeezing orange juice from a brick, can only help make me a better manager and that has got to be considered good, I think. By the way, I know the phrase is blood from a turnip, but I don’t like turnips and seeing a bloody one would just be kind of gross.
I’ve been bad because we’ve been bad. We’re losing money every month. I may have become a savings and money management machine, but I haven’t been within spitting distance of budgeted revenue even though much of that is out of my control. I may like to thump my chest about how great I am and how delightfully evil the sales and catering department is, but as they say in Backdraft, “If you go, we go.” My ability, and the ability of my restaurant and banquet managers, to manage costs simply means we suck less. I don’t have to tell you, Mr. Kringle, that phrase is never making a t-shirt or one of those cool motivational posters. (By the way, I’m thinking of copyrighting the phrase, so keep your corporate paws off.)
So, let’s call this year a push.
Since the great gift grab is seemingly about competition with the whole naughty/nice thing, I would think I’m entitled to a few requests. Since I’m neither an executive member of the banking, home loan, automotive, or insurance industries, nor am I a member of congress, I like my chances.
I want the economy to recover. Not only for all the folks who have taken a beating over the last few years, but because my industry depends on it. People need money to spend, and we need them to travel and spend. I want us all to be able to stand proud with our products and services and not have to automatically reach into the bag of discounts with every single phone call. I promise to do solid, highly thought-out, flavorful menus with the very best ingredients I can afford. The more money I can spend, the easier that is. Tell you what…fix the economy and we’ll figure the rest of it out. No? Well alrighty then…
I want my sales team to understand that I understand RevPAR, CPOR, and how the numbers for the STAR report are derived. I started to learn all these things when my personal financial success started to be tied into GOP (for those of Chef types who don’t know these acronyms, get on board, as they are WAY important). I can read a P&L. However, the vast majority of you don’t have any idea what it costs to do what I do, nor do you have any inclination to learn about it. So Santa, I’d like for them to think of F&B as a revenue maximizer rather than a necessary evil to be processed and discounted. Protect my budget like you protect your room rate.
I want my cooks to care, and I mean really care, about the work that they do. I want them to pass over “good enough.” I want them to work clean, safe, and at the top of their game everyday. I want them to label and date as a rule without me telling them to do it, to rotate their product faithfully, and to not play the oldest game in the book of day shift versus night shift. I know much of all that is my responsibility, but I can’t teach “want to.”
I wouldn’t mind a Red Rider BB gun at the risk of shooting my eye out.
I want my purveyors to continue to send me push lists so I can uncover hidden gems in the products they’re trying to get rid of. Pork shanks for $1.99 a pound? Why, yes, I’ll have some. I want them to realize I do my best to NOT run them around due to my lack of organization. I also want them to realize that in the big scheme of things, they work for me. When I call, you answer the phone. When I say “I need,” you go and get. I’m fine with you winning your sales incentive trip to Greece on my business…congratulations, you’ve earned it…but in knowing that I’ll not be nickel and dimed.
I want peace on earth and goodwill toward men. Run that by your legal department and see what they think. Generally, the cost on both is fairly small but the buy-in is pretty steep.
I’d like all the talented F&B folks who got bumped, displaced, laid off, canned, or cast out as a cost-cutting measure to be able to get back into the industry they love. We need their talent and passion in our industry. Also, my jolly fat man, for those who were pushed out not only as a cost savings but because it was a good excuse to cut ties with the untalented and uninspired, I’d like for them to keep walking and not take up our time, energy, and space anymore.
So, Santa, there it is. Do whatever you can for me and my industry…lots of us are really counting on it. If none of this is possible, do you think we could just settle on everyone being happy and healthy and have an elf scare me up a cocktail?
Stop in if you’re in the area, I’ll get you a good room rate. Send my love to the missus. Oh by the way…Happy Holidays.