Sunday, May 18, 2008

Ego….the number one killer of restaurants!

As I was watching another episode of one of Chef Gordon Ramsey’s “F-bomb” laced shows, I was truly reminded as to WHY restaurants usually fail……EGO.
Now we can go back-and-forth pontificating on whether ego is good or bad (I subscribe that it is both) but for restaurateurs and chefs it can be a recipe disaster.
Most restaurants that fail, do so because their menus are too big, too expensive, to confusing or a little of all of the above.
What and who sets those menus…..hmmmmmm?
Do you really think that 95% of the public goes out twice or three times a week to drop 60 – 100 bucks a shot on each dinner?
Do you think that foie gras milkshakes will drive the majority of diners’ ga-ga? Yes, those dishes can at times look divine (thanks to food art) and yes the ambiance is awesome. Do you think your tiny portioned “CREATIVE and EXCITING” dishes are truly the way to culinary success?
Yes, they can be, in the right place and given the right chef but those places and chefs are few and far between.
Remember, there is an extremely small number of people frequenting those locations and an even smaller number of chefs and owners that have what it takes to make it successful.
Yet, year-in, year-out the numbers that try are amazing.
I know one owner that will not put grits and biscuits and gravy on his menu….he is in the heart of Georgia….the South and has a breakfast and lunch place. He doesn’t do it because he doesn’t understand it….how can people eat that? He is not doing nearly the business he could and should be doing. Another better known chef was going to take the city of Atlanta by storm with his “culinary and edgy genius” like the aforementioned milk shakes and when it failed, very quickly, the chef condemned the palates of Atlantans. I guess we just don’t get it!
Now I have watched my third episode in a row of Gordon Ramsey’s rantings…it all boiled down to failing restaurants that did not give the people what they "the customers" really wanted.
The owner and or chef gave the people what “THEY” (the chef / owner) wanted. Fortunately, GR turned the places around….until he left, only to go back later to find most had slipped back into their own egocentric ways.
Owners, chefs, I beseech you. Study your market, LISTEN and OBSERVE to what has worked and not worked, let the PEOPLE speak…follow THEIR whims …NOT YOURS and do it well, price it fairly, and give them reasonable portions of what they understand.
The greatest and most humbling experience you can have is when someone comes back to your restaurant time-and-again and tells his or her friends about it.
Why not try and get some of that great feeling, be happily humbled (if you can) for if you do, I have a feeling YOU will be as successful as you ever dreamed and you and your chef can enjoy the exhilaration of success rather than the pain of bruised egos and busted checkbooks.

I wonder what Ray Kroch would say, after all it’s only a hamburger, fries and shakes…hmmmmmmmm?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

I'm proud of my Country, my troops and my first responders....I will not apologize!

A couple of weeks ago we were taping a show at the 14th Annual Atlanta Garden and Patio Show in a beautiful facility known as the Cobb Galleria. Thousands of people streaming in and out and we had standing room only crowds for our 2 tapings....very humbling to be sure (I have to set this scene up...that's what a host does)! We were playing some rousing patriotic type music, the crowd was worked up, then I came out to greet the crowd. I always like to tell a little story usually unrehearsed this is how it went.
A few months ago we had been approached by a TV producer about the possibility of taking Chef and the Fatman to TV. Although not extremely excited (I personally am not a HUGE fan of TV)Chef and I met with the producer and after a couple of meetings things seemed to be progressing well. While we were in the throws of trying to finalize the concept for a "shoot", the producer (whom I shall not name) went to our site, listened to a couple of shows and proceeded to tell me what he liked and felt needed to be "fixed". We were in total agreement up to the last point....then it completely fell apart. The producer noticed that we always sign off with a salute to our troops and first responders and that we might be a little over the top on our "patriotism"....we might want to think about dropping that, as there are some people that may not agree or may not feel as I do. I took his advice!
I dropped it....the TV show thing I mean.
I never called or e-mailed him back!
I will not make excuses for or be told I can't be what I am. I am a proud former member of the military, flag wearing, flag waving American that is truly proud and thrilled to have been born in a country that has given me and mine so much.
Now I know for certain Presidential candidates wearing the flag on their lapel WON'T happen, and the wife of said candidate may NOT be proud of our countries past, that's OK, that's their choice and I will defend their right to voice that choice no matter how distasteful I find it. That is what our country stands for....that is "the American way".
As a proud American I make you this pledge!
I will NEVER dumb-down my core beliefs in order to be accepted by those who DON'T love our country (but claim they love it more than I).
I will NEVER make excuses for my outward display of pride in America, God and Country!
Finally, I will to the best of my efforts, at the end of every show make sure "that we pray for our troops and our first responders for they are the reason we have the freedoms we enjoy so much....the price of never free! God bless everyone, we look forward to being with you again next week!"
That my friends I BELIEVE is the American Way!


Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Merry Christmas . . . Finally

I hope this blog finds all well and that you had a most enjoyable Christmas and New Year!

This particular Christmas was especially MERRY for me. This year, for the first time in many, people wished ME "Merry Christmas" before I could wish it to them...yes, I know this comes as a shock but a huge number (as high as 25 - 30% of folks who came thru my cigar store this year) wished ME "Merry Christmas".

My friends "Merry Christmas" was everywhere (well almost)!

For me, it started at Dollywood the first weekend in December (no surprise there, Dollywood has ALWAYS been a bastion of Merry Christmas) and, as we returned to the reality of post-Dollywood everyday life in a PC world, I was re-energized, ready to be the lone wolf in the wilderness of the holiday spirit once again, howling out my "Merry Christmas" to the vast bitter and lonely world of PC'ers.

It has been that way for the past 10 to 15 years as the insidious demons of PC continued to wage war against the Christmas spirit!

You all know the demons. They are easily identified....the ones who want to be their kids "best friend" instead of their parent. They want their child to learn the proper technique for putting on a condom before they can read, write or even learn math. They want their children to know that Heather has Two Mommies. Finally they want their family to be "in touch" with their feelings and take charge of everyone else's and heaven forbid their child should OFFEND someone.

These PC creatures have been coming out in the light and out from under their murky shadows (where they belong) way too much for my taste.

I truly believe the PC life style was created so left wing wackos could have access to the mainstream....and by God (sorry if I offended anyone for invoking the name of the almighty...NOT) they succeeded.

It started out with the little subtleties like saying "happy holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas". We wouldn't want to offend our Muslim or Jewish friends (in all my years of growing up I never heard one person, Jew, Muslim or atheist protest to a hearty well intentioned Merry Christmas) but then, as they always do, the demons sleazily infiltrated our schools, pandering their bilge to the young and innocent.

First they ban traditional Christmas Carols, then renamed Christmas parties as "Winter Solstice parties", and they have even gone so far as to ban the playing of ANY Christmas related music, the use of red and green, and candy canes for God's sake...yes, it's all true and documented, then came the removal of ALL Christmas symbols....the odorous Christmas tree, the sickening manger scenes and the hideous Santa Claus...from our squares and towns. Well, as usual, they went too far. They crossed our "line in the sand" and this year "Merry Christmas" was beginning to roll of peoples tongues with vigor, and smiles of "thanks" and appreciation for the greeting was more the norm than not.

Now don't get me wrong, it wasn't nearly what it was as I remembered as a child growing up in a small Northern Illinois town (OK, if you must know; Sycamore, IL)...but it's a start to the new year and a reinvigorated Christmas spirit!

A wonderful, cheerful and most glorious start, I now feel that one day I will be allowed to drive a stake of holly through the heart (if I can find it) of the PC demons, and banish them to a Christmas Village where maybe, just maybe, they will "get the spirit". Who might happen, the PC'er you know just may wish YOU a "Merry Christmas"...and to all a good night!