Although many restaurant owners look for culinary school graduates to fill the positions in their kitchens, and college students to handle the front of the house, I always looked for Common Sense University grads to join my team. Basically, that’s what the restaurant biz is all about. Brain surgeons need not apply. Although it would be nice to have an attorney and a psychiatrist on staff at all times.
But when it comes to common sense, we are the ones most frequently at fault for not using it or thinking about it.
And, that boggles me. Nothing irritates an opinionista as myself as to walk into a restaurant and be greeted by a Help Wanted sign in the front window. Usually, the next piece of artwork to appear is the For Sale sign. And, the owner or operator cannot figure out why.
Shoot yourself in the foot, you say. It happens all the time.
When I first moved to St. Paul, Minnesota I decided to score points with my mother-in-law and take her and my wife to W. A. Frost for dinner. Owned by another top-ten restaurant operator, John and Peggy Rupp, Frost’s was one of St. Paul’s nicest eateries. Upon the arrival of our meal, my steak appeared to be overcooked and after taking a bite or two, I asked the waitress if I could speak to the chef.
She said I couldn’t. He had gone home for the night and the dishwasher was cooking the food. Jokingly, I asked if I would get a discount on the meal since I was paying to have a chef cook my food. She had obviously left her common sense gene in the car. Or, it may have been damaged during the long cold winter. The manager was quite accommodating and explained the situation.
But he was also shocked that the waitress told me one of the team’s secrets. And, any owner would have been disgruntled that someone on staff would tell a customer something that should be vaulted.
Yet, owner’s don´t hesitate to post the same kind of information in their windows at whim.
Have you ever been in a restaurant and the owner comes out of the office, asks for quite in the dining room, and suddenly asks if anyone knows a sous chef, or a dishwasher? Of course not. Yet, the signs in the window broadcast the problem before customers walk in the door.
I refuse to eat in restaurant that has a help wanted sign in the window. Especially if it is the "Dishwasher Needed" sign. Who would go past that sign and have dinner? Somebody who never graduated from Common Sense University.
I was adamant about no signs in the window broadcasting our inefficiencies. Yet, I know a lot of restaurant owners who perform the task on a regular basis. And, it doesn´t phase them. But, it does make an impression on those people who walk by, see the sign, and keep walking. It is a sure way to discourage customers from walking through the front door.
If it only has an effect on one of ten people, it depletes your customer count by ten percent. And, in tough times, that´s the difference between making it or losing it. And, in good times, its the difference between paying the vendor, or stalling him.
Of course advertising is expensive but not nearly as costly as letting the customer know you can´t field a team. In today´s world there are numerous avenues to hire staff, whether on line, in chat rooms, college placement offices, or one of the numerous culinary schools around the country. But don´t think that putting a sign in the window is one of them.