Yesterday, we did a walk-through of the ridiculously overpriced place that's for sale. Wow, can you say filthy? It was completely redone three years ago, how did the food prep areas get so dirty in just three years? Perhaps they're shooting for proof of Quentin Crisp's famous quote about cleaning, " the dirt didn't get any worse after the first four years".
The owner was a total chatterbox. We just stood and listened. He does seem in a hurry to sell, which might work out well for us. He got the place for cheap, he did put quite a bit into it and he probably will reject our offer, should we make one because it will be about half what he's asking. The space could work. He just set it up weird. Which means we'd have to put a little more into the space ourselves.
Right now we're pondering. Like my old sponsor used to say, "Honey, you've got high class problems now." And it's true. Having the dilemma of wondering whether we'll be able to extend the lease on our current space, make an offer on a building to move to (with money we don't have, that's the rub), or partner with a friend in investment property, these are high class problems. And I'm grateful we have them.
I'm also grateful it has rained, gotten a little cold and now the sun is out because we are starting a mushroom festival here. And it needs to be a little wet and cold for the 'shrooms to start popping. The sun helps the pickers and keeps the mushrooms from getting too soggy. The festival is somewhat disorganized this year, friends in the press have complained to me about the lack of information coming from the umbrella organization charged with promoting it. I'm a board member of the organization and will be raising hell with staff about this. We did get coverage, (for what it's worth) in the Examiner this week.
Today I've got a photographer coming to take pictures of pot pies. One of my press pals called desperate for a Thanksgiving leftovers story. She wanted to run our pot pie. I sent her a few other recipes as well, we'll see how it turns out. For those of you in the restaurant biz here's a little advice in dealing with the press. Be prepared, be responsive, be flexible and be thankful.
By being prepared I mean, have your recipes ready. When you put dishes on your menu, make sure you've got a reader friendly version of the recipe in the computer ready to go. This means a realistic quantity for the home cook, clear directions without professional, or even semi-professional jargon (words like mirepoix for example), with your name and contact information on each page. Have photos ready, 300 dpi or greater quality. The paper I'm dealing with today is unique in that they are sending a photographer, increasingly these days papers and magazines don't have the budget for sending photographers on-site. If you've got images ready to go you've got a leg up on anyone else in the story.
Be responsive means exactly that. When journalists call quite often they are "on deadline" which means they need the information NOW. Stop what you're doing, pay attention and give them what they need. It is certainly appropriate to feed them some other information (upcoming events, other things you think they might be able to use in the future, local news, etc) but make sure you give them clear answers to their original questions. Be respectful of their time and ask them how they prefer to get news from you in the future (email, phone, fax etc).
Be flexible means also don't be attached to the results. I spent about 20 minutes on the phone with the woman from the Examiner. She didn't end up using anything we talked about, but did use the photo I sent and we were in the calendar listing. Being flexible also means you wind up in a different piece, at a different time, sometimes years later.
Be thankful. I think this is the most important part. Whenever anyone writes about us, even if it is the barest mention, I send them a thank you note. A note, not an email, not a phone call. A card, hand-written with genuine thanks.
These may seem obvious. They are. But they're also rarely practiced. Ask any friends you may have in the press what it's like getting information from chefs. We are not as a group, typically organized and ready in a way that works for our journalist friends. If you establish a reputation as someone who can deliver in a pinch you will be called again, and again.