Where is the common sense that once existed in the business? I know he celebrity factor that has stormed on the scene over the past decade has many operators blinded by the light- some have lost focus on what the real goal of hospitality is in search of a larger stage- while others are depleted because after years of work they are still limping along without much success.
I don’t want anyone to really think that I am sour on the restaurant business. I am not. I love it. Yet, I find that the actions of some owners and their staff is so fatigue-filled that they have lost sight.
Last week while walking the San Francisco’s Marina District- a Tony spot for culinarians, yuppies, puppies and people from all countries round the world to congregate and shop- we decided to duck into a small Italian restaurant that has been a staple of the neighborhood long before the J. Crew set took over.
We hadn’t been to the place in years and even when we owned a restaurant in the neighborhood we would opt for Dragon Well – a great Chinese eatery with a modern flair in both food and ambiance.
As soon as Kranston sat down I knew we had made the wrong choice. Although the faux- Italian ruins motif was once a popular scene, what I saw in front of me was a sign that time had taken is toll and the lingering of previous linguine fame had blurred the vision of the owner.
To further my suspicion that time had past this place by the waiter- a John Turturro look alike- gazed in we when I ordered an ice tea. Once the deer in the headlights look disappeared from his face, he told me he could make a cup of tea and pour it over ice.
I thought not. Water would suffice.
The mea was sufficient and its warming tendencies proved to be filling.
However, when a table o six walked in and I overheard one of the diners ask for ice tea, my attention was quickly diverted to the comments. Explaining that ice tea wasn’t available the waiter made the same suggestion to the other ice tea patron. She opted to give the procedure a try.
Quickly the waiter returned to the table, with a glass filled with ice., followed by a cup, saucer, tea bag and tea pot with hot water. He placed the bag in the cup, poured the water over it and let the tea steep, tableside, for about two minutes. Then in one quick swoop, he lifted the cup, approached the ice filled glass in his other hand and poured the steamy hot tea, again, tableside, over the ice. Naturally, for those who have done this we know some of the tea ends up on table or floor, and the remaining brew hits the glass.
The spectacle was amusing. The outcome sad.
Why didn’t the tea-man prepare the brew in the backroom was my first thought. The second thought was more business like.
Tejava Ice Tea costs $1.29 retail at Safeway Foods. One bottle serves three people. At $2.50 a glass the profit margin is better than any other item on the menu.
Let’s not forget to use common sense the business we are in is just a puzzle with ever changing pieces. Our goal is to put that puzzle together. I would have paid $3.00 for an ice tea that evening.
You do the math.