Friday, December 29, 2006

Hocus Focus

Tom says:
Even though we finalized the lease today and I met with our interior designer, Ariel Duffy, and had another meeting with a payroll vendor, it feels like I accomplished little today.

That's far from the truth--I discussed bar build plans with the contractor, cleaned up areas of the kitchen, and started my small wares needs list--but productivity, for me, has always had its basis in product. An order comes into the kitchen, I fire it up, plate it and scrutinize the presentation before approving it for the table. Clear start, clear finish. Clearly, I need to adjust my definition of productivity and, while I'm at it, stop judging myself.

What can I say? This part of a restaurant opening--the true startup phase--is completely new to me. I've been on the opening staffs of four restaurants in my day, in both back-of-the-house and front-of-the-house positions. In all cases, I came on board in the final weeks before we unlocked the doors. Vendor contracts were signed. Suppliers in place. Decisions around design and decor, smalls wares and table settings, and menu design and service protocol were already made.

At that stage, there's an easily definable rhythm to the day as, believe it or not, the pressure of the impending grand opening focuses the mind. Where I'm at isn't exactly soft planning, but without firm dates to structure a timeline around, it's not hard planning either. Right now, the challenge for me, is to focus.

But I'm fortunate that I have a sizable support group to call on for counsel, support and advice. I risk sentimentality here, but I'd like to acknowledge the members of that group. I'll shout out to Jack, too, the finance broker without whom I wouldn't be thanking anyone on this blog. In no particular order, then:

Bill Lee, owner of Bahama Billy's, who instilled the confidence that led me to the knowledge that I'm read for this challenge.

Noel Young, who was a gale force in helping me to realize my potential.

Tim Poplar, whose leadership and friendship heavily shaped my career.

Ed Aloise, who showed me, during the years we worked together, the blueprint for operating a successful restaurant.

And the passionate, energetic Pam Kelley whose encouragement and resources have been invaluable since we returned to Manchester.

Thank you to each and everyone one of you. The more frantic things get, the more and more I hope you keep taking my calls.

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