(Blogger’s Note: Readers Write is a weekly feature that appears each Monday.)
Dear Restaurant Blog-
I am having one of those mid-summer moments. I live in an area where summer is the big season, and as it is with every restaurant owner in the area, we rely on students to get us through the busiest months of the year. College kids all flock to our restaurant during spring break and promise to stay until the end of August. They are already leaving because they made enough money to go to Europe or Yosemite. Any ideas on how I get through the remaining months? Thanks.
Holding the bag, again.
I am most familiar with the Two-Day notice from the Europe bound college waiter… It happens to everyone. Don´t feel alone. One of the most frustrating developments in the seasonal business is the loss of a just trained staff. I can almost predict the day they are leaving since I have been through this so frequently. The key is to run your dining room like a football team or an army. You have to have a plan. One of the best plans I developed, and it took me a season or two to figure it out was to promote the high school students, who I hired as busses in the spring, to take over as dining room waiters and waitresses once the college kids left.
This may seem a bit scary in the beginning, but, if you think about it it´s the most natural progression. Most of the high school bussers have already had a fair amount of dining room exposure and if they worked most of their shifts they recognize the customers. Plus, a senior in high school is not that different from the college freshman.
On top of this the senior high school student may be able to help you out in a pinch during the les busy fall and winter season. Let´s not forget your regular, professional, adult wait staff. They need to be reassured that you are not running a fraternity house dining room on campus.
So don´t let the sudden exodus of staff begin a panic. Pull your remaining staff together, find out what their plans are and adjust the schedules to fill in the vacancies. And remember most college kids like to take a break before they go back to school so plan better next year when hiring your summer temps.
Finally, make sure you remember who left their jobs early. I bet most will be back over Christmas break looking for a catering gig to help support their habits of the good life. Keep a list. And only hire the people who hung in, stuck it out, and made sure you were successful.
A word on Peas…
Who would have thought about it? Pea picking. Garden peas and petits pois are some of the most recent peas just picked, according to blogger, Colin Wright, Actually they harvest tons of peas weekly. Now for those of us familiar with the grape, lettuce and artichoke harvests of California, or the corn and wheat harvest of the heartland, or for that matter, the lobster harvest of Rockport, Massachusetts, the simplicity of the pea seldom enters our minds.
In reality, how often do peas even end up on our menus? Seldom, at best. Of course the salad bar emporiums along the Avenues of New York often have a container of peas snuggled between the carrots and the corn.
Of course the #10 cans of the bright green veggie are seldom seen in the storage rooms of any restaurant storage room. Therefore it is amazing that so much work goes into the slightly less than round pea. Most of us probably recall the Early June Pea in the silver labeled LeSuer can. Now we know where they come from. For an interesting read, go to the Pea Harvest Blog and take a look at what goes into those salad bars.