I’ve been looking at a collection of possibilities over the past couple of weeks and have met some great new people in the business, and learned some things that are unsettling. One of those unsettling things arose out of my responding to a Craigslist ad for a restaurant for sale in Saratoga. It sounded good, certainly worth a look. By the description I had a feeling I knew the spot, but was surprised when it was confirmed because it has only been open for a very short time. It’s a spot I’ve looked at before and foresaw the potential for serious issues arising with the landlord as a result of my conversations with him. I’m not saying this is the case now, but the space was available for several years before it was occupied by the current tenant that now wants out. It’s actually a nice space. When I sent a message to the current restaurant owner to cancel our appointment I received no response as seems both customary and socially important. “Thanks for letting me know you were no longer interested” would have been nice.
At the tail end of most interviews it is customary to visit the kitchen and other inner-workings of the restaurant. A couple of weeks ago I saw one of the dirtiest kitchen I’ve seen in quite some time which led me to continue looking at the entire restaurant instead of paying attention to the interviewer. I noticed that cleanliness was not a goal of this establishment. Last week I visited the kitchen of another Saratoga restaurant and saw the cleanest and one of the most impressive kitchens I’ve ever been in. The latter is where I very much want to work. I did have an interview scheduled for today, but I cancelled it after a conversation with a former sous chef of mine, Colin. He said it was a great place to work, and that I could run the kitchen blindfolded but my ability to control my own culinary destiny would be limited by the lack of creative freedom. I kind of suspected that, but needed to hear it. Thanks, Colin Gill for watching out for me.
When failure is a victory: I recall many conversations and consultations with my friend Dennis about a cocktail bar he wanted to open. One of the things he stressed is that he wanted it to be a craft cocktail bar first, and a place for great food second. The intention was not to draw a dinner crowd, but to be able to feed the cocktail crowd that wanted something good to eat. We discussed how he could keep the food secondary without sacrificing quality. Within his great success is a small failure, but not a failure in the negative sense. The cocktails at Hamlet and Ghost are inventive, and skillfully made. The “problem” is that people go there for dinner. I’ve been there for dinner. Good job, Chef Colin Murphy. Good job to the entire H&G team for having it all.
Restaurants can often be one-dimensional which can keep them from greatness. I’ve run kitchens that produce excellent food only to see the level at the bar, or the service suffer. I’ve sat at bars with great cocktails, but poor service. I’ve had excellent servers apologize for the horrible food. Putting all the pieces together is not easy, it takes a tremendous commitment by ownership. If you think owning a restaurant is a hobby or part-time job, you’re mistaken.
I was recently on Phila St. in Saratoga one afternoon with about 20 minutes to kill before meeting someone so I decided to grab a beer in one of the sports bars not named Seven Horse. I sat at the bar among a sprinkling of regulars and ordered a beer from the less than willing bartender, a young lady of very few words. When it came time to pay, I had to have another employee go find her. Here’s your tip: the wearing of clothing one size too small may be working for now, but at some point you’re going to have to pick up some other redeeming qualities as your current “skill” becomes less in demand. What I miss is a bartender that’s glad to see me. When I lived in Saratoga and walked home from work I used to like to go to the bar at Wheatfields because it was generally quiet, by the time I got there, there was no one there that worked in other restaurants so I didn’t have to talk about work after a 12 hour shift, and I could just be left alone aside from the friendly bartenders. One such bartender is a guy named Colin, and he was always happy to see a customer come in, he was up for light conversation with all of the patrons equally, and part of the overall good experience.
I’ve seen more bartenders that are good mixologists more than I’ve seen good mixologists that are good bartenders.
What Colin Kaepernick is doing doesn’t bother me, the fact that he needs to do it does. He’s leading a peaceful protest to bring light to a serious issue and it seems the only ones bringing attention to the problems of race relations and inequality in this country are those feeding into the problem. The point that we’re so divided is troubling, and If were going to focus on his protest method that hurts no one instead of the message, an important one, then I cannot see a solution to our problem.
I’m not convinced he would be protesting if he still had a QB rating of 98 and was the starter on a good team rather than a rating of 78 and a backup on a bad team.
The freedom to kneel during the National Anthem is reason enough to stand during the National Anthem.