I must confess. One of the other things that was keeping me from feeling completely on top of the world was the impending publication of Zagat 2008. I know Zagat is a popularity contest. I know I shouldn't judge how I feel about myself or my restaurant based on the results of a popularity contest, and I wonder how much people actually use the Zagat Guides anymore. With the explosion of food writing and social-network restaurant criticism everywhere you look, is the Zagat Guide just sooo 90's?
I'm not sure, but I have a hunch press people may still refer to it somewhat when doing initial investigation on a place. Whether they're doing it on-line or with the actual book, I don't know, but I believe it is probably one of many tools a writer might use. I know we don't get very many click-throughs from the Zagat website to ours. My guess is that consumers participate in the survey and get free copies of the guide and thus don't subscribe to the on-line edition. They obviously sell books though, so someone's buying.
This year was nerve-wracking because my role at the restaurant is so thoroughly changed. I have really been out of the kitchen and on the floor or doing bookwork. I'm still in the kitchen in the day, somewhat. Working on new things, trying to improve old ones, seeing where the cracks are and getting people to fill them. Before the GM came on board, I had tried to do everything. Cook, pay bills, do data entry, do payroll, program the POS, supervise the waiters (ha ha) from behind the counter, train rookie cooks, pay the taxes, do marketing, scrub, etc. It didn't work. Vendors didn't get paid, waiters didn't get supervised, employees always got paid though. I however, didn't get much time off.
So this time around I have a better grasp of my limitations and I am fortunate in that the GM left me with a bunch of systems that I have slowly tweaked and made my own. I also have help with some of the more mind-numbing aspects of the job, like data entry (of bills) and going over and reconciling nightly sales reports.
This is all a long winded way to say I sometimes have doubts about the effectiveness of my new role. Payments are current and the diners seem happy, though I do get the occasional odd email about a situation that escaped me. And I was also wondering what others would have to say, when the guide was published. I saw the publication date listed as 9/21, the day after we were leaving SF.
In the grocery store line, two days before the published publication date, I saw the guide. Nervously, I flipped to our entry to find our food and service scores had both climbed two points, the write-up glowing and we were listed for top service in our area. We should have been listed in the top food portion as well but weren't. I think there are more contenders and they allocate those based perhaps on number of responses. Only one place in our area had a higher food score and theirs comes with a "low response" caveat. Only one other place had an equal score.
It sounds silly but I was really stoked. I have been consistently feeling better health-wise. All the things I wrote about in my previous post are still true. I had had 3 days off with my family in SF which included my son's first zoo experience. I really am feeling fabulous.
Another thing I hate to admit but I was thrilled to see that our scores for food and service were higher than any of those of a certain Bay Area restaurant group whose corporate chef had questioned my lack of "cosmopolitan experience" after we had dinner together to (at least I was under the impression we were) discuss my becoming the chef of their flagship. Have a Cosmopolitan on me sir!
I was also pretty thrilled to see so many of my colleagues here doing so well point-wise compared to places in SF proper. That is except for one blow-hard who got reamed, which, I hate admit, makes me happy also.
I'm trying to come up with a good reward/acknowledgment for the crew. Maybe a group lunch, so we could all go. Any thoughts?