We'll be training this weekend. We've got our new hires coming in on successive days to start learning the ropes. The GM's plan is to be totally out of the restaurant by 4th of July weekend and I think we'll achieve that but when she made the plan we didn't foresee having to train 3 new people. I know she's a little stressed about it but I'm sure things will work out just fine.
Unfortunately this evening the GM has a baby safety class so she'll only get a couple of hours with the first young woman, then we both have a class tomorrow which is over before service and then I'm catering a wedding on Sunday so only the girl on Saturday will get both of our full attention. Next week we're going to SF so it will really be 2 weeks until we can really evaluate how these people might fit in and how they might do their jobs.
They're each very different. The first is a redneck workhorse, willing to try anything, she's worked construction clean up and sawmill operation shifts for a temp agency. She does breakfast shifts at a busy redneck deli. She will be a great addition provided we have the time to bring out the best in her. We have had lots of success in the Pygmalion department but our time is a lot more limited than it used to be.
The second is leaving another restaurant that recently changed hands. In her interview she told us she really liked her former employers and their philosophy (use of organics, community based restaurant) and that things were changing with the new owners. She's friends with one of our former bussers and may or may not know anything about who we are and what we believe in. She's a bit the wild card. She'll be fine as long as she understands that while we don't take ourselves very seriously, we take what we do very seriously. Some young people in this community have applied with us, telling us they've heard we are cool employers. We are, but to them that translates to being able to show up stoned, eat a great meal and think about working. Once they see the reality we are suddenly a lot less cool.
The third is leaving a local inn (along with just about everybody else there) and will also be doing breakfast shifts at a friend's place. The GM gets stoner attitude from her but I didn't. Not to say she doesn't sample our most famous agricultural export but I didn't get the slacker attitude from her. She's been dealing with guests for the past year who have spent considerable amount of money for their rooms and have expectations to go along with that money. I'm hoping she'll be a good addition in dealing with what the GM calls snooty people. To me these are people whose main gauge for whether they're having a good time is how much money they've spent. In their internal rankings we will not be thought of as a great restaurant because our prices are modest. These are the people who if they leave us a positive comment will say something like, "We were pleasantly surprised". Mostly these are people unsure of themselves. They need someone to validate their experience and they would never be the one to point out that the emperor has no clothes.
We've always had trouble serving these people. I think their insecurity plugs directly into ours and the charge generated is often unpleasant. So perhaps having someone who has dealt with people like that consistently will help us overcome some of our own failings, which translate into a chip on our shoulder. It's very hard just to be, to be yourself and to be comfortable with that, to not be defensive when who you are doesn't jibe with who someone else is and not be superior in other situations.
Like my writing about the young woman training tonight being a redneck. That choice of word carries an entire lifetime of history for me, none of it positive. It's also the least offensive or patronizing of the descriptors I could apply. Rather than amplify this young woman's obvious willingness to tackle hard physical work, her willingness to work 2 jobs one of which starts at 5:30am, the other of which doesn't end until 10:30-11:00pm and her ability to move to a rather expensive area and support herself, I, with my superior attitude focus on her grammar and set myself up as some sort of Henry Higgins. What bullshit.
What remains though is we have a standard of service and we expect everyone to deliver that standard. The only way we can do that is by teaching these people not only what we expect mechanically (how to set the table, don't remove the glass from the table when pouring, etc) but also by imparting some of who we are. These people are the representatives of our restaurant's personality. Indeed, they help define the restaurant's personality and the extent they are able to internalize our personalities will determine how much of ourselves comes through in our business.
Years ago when we still did lunch we got to the point where we were uncomfortable walking in to our own restaurant. The lunch personality was not who we were or wanted to be. We could identify the cause but by then it was too late.
It's important that our business has personality. That's why people return to us. It's also why people don't return to us.
The title of this post reflects our personality. The first person to identify why gets a copy of "A Meal Observed", by Andrew Todhunter, an account of a meal and some of the inner workings at Taillevant.