Member Document Archive

Operations Manager’s Report: May 26, 2017

Heather Brooks

In the past couple of weeks I feel like I have finally managed to get some semblance of control over the wild octopus of duties that seem endless. Shift leaders seem more empowered. The schedule is a bit stabilized. I feel it’s a good time to bring everybody up to speed as to what’s been happening recently and how things have been changing in the FOH:

  • Attempted a “table service” lunch. After consulting with Derek and Kyle, there are several things that need to happen to smoothly facilitate the transition.
    1. We need at least one more experienced waitstaff person with good availability.
    2. We need to add a station (via the handheld) for the waitstaff to use to enter orders – OR- alternatively, take the handheld to the table with them. But we would need more than one in that scenario. So in the interest of thrift, we are opting for the station choice at this moment.
    3. We need a good training day and procedures.
  • Kim occasionally does table service for one group or another – and it goes pretty well. For her and the café. It will really help once we can do this officially.
  • Tested out cold brew. It sold ok – but I think an educational campaign and marketing stuff will help. It’s lower acidity and HIGH caffeine – which makes it extra special. We only made two batches and there was some miscommunication about it and iced coffee – despite my numerous notes. I think everybody has an understanding now, and I will be forging ahead with a regular cold brew day. Since it takes 24hrs to brew it will be set up at a certain time on one day, then strained and put up for sale the next. Pluses – it is really good and it lasts like a week. Minuses – It requires a lot of coffee beans, and more labor than regular coffee – and yields less product – therefore it’s expensive. Which is both good, and bad, I suppose. We are selling 10oz cups for $3.55. Sarah (who worked at Board and Brew) said we could do as much at $3.75 because it’s such a specialty item. There was some concern it wouldn’t sell for over the price of iced coffee ($2.95 for 16oz). My consensus is that if we can’t charge $3.55 and sell it for that, then we shouldn’t make it at all. We did sell it, with very little info about it up – so I think it’s worth it to make more as long as we charge enough for it.
  • There is now a log book up front (converted the problem book, to a general log book – problems could be logged there as well). It is to be written in and checked by each shift.
  • Instituted a checklist – both for arriving and ending shifts. This is located in a binder at the front counter. Anybody working the shift is supposed to check the list and check it off and initial that all the work on it was done. This helps eliminate missing inventory, messy counters, carafes that need to be washed – etc.
  • Put up Free Wifi Signs (with the proper login – some people were trying to login to the wrong network and kept asking for passwords.
  • After putting up the big menus on the wall – which was totally a good thing and a lot of people have wanted for a while, of course there was then backlash because Sundays are different. I mitigated that by adding a Sunday sign with what happens on Sundays. Of course it requires reading the signs, and not everybody wants to do that, or they get overwhelmed with signs. At some point I would love to have a nice streamlined display that shows all of it in a concise manner.
  • We are going to start Monday morning coffee service on June 12th.
  • I am hoping to get high quality pastries from Bonaparte pastry in Savage Mill starting June 12th as well. Will keep you posted.
  • We have started selling high quality treats from Sweet Cascades confections at the front counter. This is the same company that sells chocolates at the theatre. We are carrying different items than the theatre does. The man from Sweet Cascades is named Rick and he’s very nice. He’s the one that got me interested in doing panini sandwiches for breakfast (could also be done between 2-4 on Sundays). Anyway – currently we are selling his chocolate covered oatmeal cream pies and handmade, hand dipped (milk chocolate and dark chocolate) coconut macarons for $3.95. We are also pushing the gluten free aspect of the macarons. We’ve had a few requests for vegan chocolate treats, so I let him know – but he doesn’t currently make any. This all came about because I let him in early one morning a couple of weeks ago to get some coffee – he was waiting to make a delivery at the theatre and it was about fifteen minutes before we opened, but we had just finished a pot – so I opened the door. We had a long talk about his restaurant and stuff. Then last week he brought us several cream pies, some chocolate covered Twinkies and two dozen of the macarons – for free – to test the market. He brought them Friday morning and they sold out (save a Twinkie) by Saturday night. So…we’re not doing the Twinkies – but we ordered some macarons and cream pies. If they sell out again this weekend, I think we could make them a regular item. (Am am really hurting for counter space and proper bagel/pastry storage tho – doing the best I can with what I’ve got).
  • We started using the toaster to toast bagels. We have a system down for the cream cheese and upcharging for extra schmear. It took a couple of days to get it all figured out, but it seems to go fine now. We just need to make sure everybody is trained the same. This is our non-sweet vegan offering also – since we offer vegan cream cheese. I don’t have a sweet vegan offering yet. I really need to find a source though for vegan cream cheese that is a bit cheaper.
  • We added whole fruit (apples and bananas) to the front counter. I’m sure Toast can tell you how they’re doing. We’ve only had to throw away a few – so it seems to go well. I will be happy to add more items up front as the counter gets bigger and we get some refrigeration up front.
  • I am slowly turning maintenance and facilities duties over to Trevor. He seems to be able to handle those things just fine, so far. I’ve been having him listen in on the plumbing and other issues. As well as leaving him notes regarding inspections and such – for him to handle. As well as come up with lists of when things should be cleaned, and so forth. So, future plumbing things, and facilities things, and also cleaning inventory and such – that all will be handled by him now. He is doing a few things I will soon be taking over – like getting the calendar to the News Review. He’s going to continue to do the menus for the time being. He’s doing a good job with those.
  • I started to discount pastry that is older. We are wrapping them in plastic and putting them in a basket on the counter. This helps reduce waste and loss.
  • I’m going to cancel our Monday deliveries of Clement’s. It’s too problematic. And when we switch to Bonaparte’s I may just go to the co-op for bagels for a while because they are actually 11 cents cheaper at the co-op not counting our discount – and they are decent bagels. I want to get bagel delivery and I understand Bethesda Bagels will make smaller delivery – so I may do that. But for the sake of smooth transitions, I’m going to keep it simple at the moment. This will also help prevent loss and waste – since we can just get a little at a time from the co-op. In the meantime, I’m holding Monday delivery from Clement’s and still getting Weds and Friday.
  • I am attempting to hand some of the scheduling over to Kim. The lunch and dinner scheduling only. We are working on that together. It will take a few weeks for her to get a real feel for it. And we don’t want any mistakes – so we’ll just keep working together until we are both confident she can do that. I am going to continue to handle the manger, opening, coffee schedules.
  • Amethyst and I have interviews with two people on Monday for FOH positions.
  • I have put up an ad in for experienced waitstaff.
  • We have re-vamped and edited and edited the takeout menu and Trevor got a bunch printed up. We printed them on cardstock, which looks kinda nice and makes them studier. When we get the “final” menu rolling I can probably have them printed at Vista for a lot cheaper than printing at local print places.
  • I have designed postcards for the coffee service. I am going to do a special of buy 5 regular coffees, get an iced coffee for free. This works well because iced coffee is loss prevention already – we really do well in this if we get new customers, and if they drink from re-usable cups – all the better. Fingers crossed. Anyway – the postcards are all designed and will be applicable through August 31. Raul has said he and a crew are ready to volunteer to go all over the place and hand them out to make the coffee service known.
  • That brings me to Raul getting a café and office key. He now is able to open on his own. Which gives him extra incentive to advertise – but also allows payroll to have a little morning slack, because nobody has to come unlock on the days he’s working. This is a big step and we have impressed upon him what a big deal it is. He said he is ready to be great at it.
  • Reservations can be taken over the phone or walk-up at any time now. Several of the front employees now know how to login to the website via the Toast terminal and check the reservations. This has closed the gap I was worried about in overlapping reservations.
  • Next week I am going to train Johnson in opening procedures. He will be working for both front and back of house.
  • Dorian and Michael have both offered up volunteer shifts. I will utilize them as needed.
  • I have several contacts for events – now that Trevor is handling more of the facilities stuff, I can probably focus more on that kind of thing. Events are a great way to make some guaranteed cash. Especially the catered ones, so long as the costing and labor is done well.
  • Mike Samson approached me about an event that might bring in a younger crowd on the weekends. It could really be great for the café. Amethyst is working with him on a date for that.
  • We have started counting out at night. Amethyst and I are taking turns training people how to do that. We also feel counting out their own drawer will give them more a sense of responsibility. I figure it will take a couple of weeks to have everybody trained well enough. This evolved from the idea of beginning to do the count-outs at night because it’s too stressful to do it in the hour before opening. It makes a big difference to do it at night and have the drawers ready in the morning. Also, it gets the deposit in the bank right away.
  • We have switched a good number of the products we have been buying on Webstaurant to sourcing them at Restaurant Depot – mostly Dennis does that. FYI.
  • Alicia will be getting a key to the café and office – she is also willing to open some mornings – and willing to do it for tips only until the breakfast shift picks up.
  • I will be instituting volunteer logins. May take a couple of weeks. But per Frank K’s assessment about being able to see how much labor it takes to run the place – that’s a great point and I think we should be tracking it.
  • The fliers for the Goddard discount went out. The general flyers are in Dorian’s possession and will go out as soon as we have a bunch printed up.
  • The inspector came by and we need to replace some ceiling tiles (I’ve sent Trevor a note and Mike Samson says he is bringing some soon).
  • The $5 mimosas are doing pretty good. Amethyst and I are teaching the staff how to upsell by saying things like, “Would you like to try one of our $5 mimosas?” Also – when I’m at the counter at lunch I have a lot of success selling beer and wine with our new happy hour. We will make sure everybody mentions that at lunch.
  • The grease trap is in and the inspector came by today to give us a green sticker of approval (which he said is on the inside of the electric panel). He also dropped off a sheet for cleaning the grease trap – it has to be cleaned weekly and extra-cleaned monthly – I left a note on the desk with the sheet for Trevor, so he can hang it in the closet and keep track.

There’s more, but that’s the big stuff.