I stab them.

If you’ve never worked in a restaurant, you may have only ever seen a check spindle on TV. I call it a stabber. In the kitchen and the bar, it’s used when a check is complete and the food/drink has been delivered to the guest.

In the office, I use it to signify the day’s end. I have a tall pile of stabbed to-do lists that goes back 6 months on my desk.

This is my to-do list for today. Got to much of it. More for tomorrow.

Reconcile cash
Update all house account charges
Update entertainment list on restaurant website
-Update beer lists in the bar books
-Update menus on internal website for staff
Re-order business cards for executive chef
Complete unemployment paperwork for former employee
-Follow up on upcoming food drive
Pick up tri-fold brochures from the printer (http://www.cranberrytwp.minutemanpress.com/ if you’re interested, and they’re going to deliver, thank goodness)
-Figure out how to make vacation days accrue on paychecks
Create agenda for manager meeting
-Tell staff that they did such a good job finding glass flaws that we’re getting 7.5 dozen glasses as credits
-Write down 10 strengths for co-worker
-Work on November e-newsletter
Post on the blog

Blogging (present participle of “blog”): Add new material to or regularly updating a blog

I’m the office manager at Restaurant ECHO, so I end up having quite a mixed bag of responsibilities, tasks and (okay, okay) fun. The blog was my idea, and I think it’s time I take a bigger bite of the job of blogging. I’m not entirely sure what kind of content I can regularly generate, but I’m willing to think creatively (and take my lumps). I’m also a more newly-minted restaurant person. I continue to make comparisons to the offices and corporations of my previous work experience. Some of it holds; some of it doesn’t.

Like many of you, I’m a consumer of food and (sometimes) the Food Network. A big part of their appeal seems to be the behind-the-scenes operations of creating food, especially in restaurants. We have one of those. I get to see the behind-the-scenes operations every day.

When chefs arrive, they get dressed and start the business of preparing their stations (sauté, grill, garde manger, etc.). This involves physically checking the station, butchering meat, preparing sauces, chopping vegetables, and verifying that every part of the station is ready for service. It involves a lot of list-making and checking-off. And it’s scored with the daily flavor of music, which yesterday was the Mumford & Sons channel on Pandora or Spotify (I forget which one). Mumford & Sons is a little mellow for us; you’re more apt to hear 1980s Michael Jackson or 1990s metal.

At this time of day, I like the energy in the air.

It’s not like office energy – typing or answering a ringing phone. It’s an energy that nudges each of my senses. My ears hear rhythmic chopping, sudden laughs and music. My eyes see bright colors and stark reality – a bucket of peppers or a pile of salmon heads, ready for compost. My skin feels the warmth and humidity of the room itself. My nose loses and wins at this time of day… I win when french onion soup is bubbling away and I get a whiff. I lose when the onions are being peeled.

Tasting is the strangest part of working in a restaurant. The chefs around me really love food and the process of cooking it. And any food I eat makes their work harder and their days longer.

Today I have canned soup.

Top 10

Top 10 Reasons We Have a Bistro

10. Cranberry likes casual.
9. All guests not (apparently) turned on by marrow bones.
8. Burgers go better with TV than osso buco does.
7. Hosts can stop fielding calls that begin, “Is it okay if I wear shorts?” (It’s okay.)
6. We love making flatware roll-ups.
5. Great for last-minute planners.
4. TVs can distract your companion when you start checking Twitter on your phone.
3. Happy Hour!
2. Needed appropriate venue for Radiohead.
1. We had to call it what it was: a bistro

Everything’s coming up green.

Last year at Restaurant Echo, we planted some herbs along the back of the building, about four varieties along a 40 x 2 foot strip of dirt adjoining the parking lot.  Thankfully, a lot of those herbs came back up in full force this spring. Oregano, thyme, mountain mint, catnip, and lavender that are storming the lot this year.

The inspiration of watching that growth in this early spring year, coupled with an abundance of space to the west of the restaurant, pushed us to take our growing program  a few steps forward.  Chef Chris O’Brien was the chief engineer of Echo Farm, a project that will be ongoing for years I’m sure. First we sent Pauly Walnuts (Paul Lesczynski), the greatest steward known to man and jack of all trades at Echo, across the creek with the lawnmower to mow half of the woods down (just scrub, brush, and thornbushes).

Phase two involved installing our bees.  Mandy Morales, our young Garde Manger chef, had put us in touch with her parents, who are very enthusiastic beekeepers.  Stephanie and Israel Morales, proprietors of Izzy’s Busy Bees, brought us a young queen, who we have named Elise (after one of our cherished servers) and ten thousand of her friends and progeny.

Part 2, Echo Farm, to follow…

Burning the early night oil.

Everyone at the Echoplex is working hard.  Restaurant Nephew (and son to Private Events Coordinator Nicole) Aiden Rasmussen having a crack at the books.

Beautiful weather tonight, a change of atmospheric sound in the Brew Room and the bar, and a fantastic new cocktail bringing in a lively crowd on a Friday night. A few folks in the bar tonight that wanted to talk bees, hoping to maybe relocate their hive in our direction.  It’s amazing how one thing can lead to another.  Building a community happens in so many ways when you put yourself out there, and I’m so proud of the team at Echo and the way that they’ve thrown themselves into the work with enthusiasm.  Anyone that walks into the building should get a sense of excitement that we all share.

The bees themselves are pretty chill, as Aiden and I took a trip cross-creek to investigate and found them lackadaisically buzzing on their respective stoops.  Everything is heading to bloom, and we are trying to mitigate the effects of the quasi-winter storm from the other day.

The First

The first time I’ve posted on a blog, but this is still the first time opening and operating a restaurant, so it’s less daunting.

Restaurant Echo is sixteen months and thirteen days old, and it still feels absolutely brand new.  There are no shortages of places to improve, of ways we can better express our mission, of ways to communicate with our guests and our potential guests.  This is one of those ways I suppose.

Right now it’s all about the garden and the changing season and getting the most out of the product, out of ourselves, and out of the building.  WIth 16,700 square feet to deal with and a few acres outside, you are never wanting for work.  I’m sure anyone doing this has a full dance card, but the focus now is on doing the most with our work.