Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy 'Ala Carte' New Year

Another year is upon us. But not just another year, another decade. When we look back, we think of where we were at the turn of the century. I remember that it was an exciting time as we watched it change throughout the world, one hour at a time. We worried that computers would throw us into turmoil and many of us stocked up on food and other provisions because of that.

Jake was still alive back then. The parkway was a thing of the future, partially done but not complete. Jake's was the primary truck stop for the area and was known throughout the country. We had articles written on us in national magazines and I made friends with a writer who called himself the 'silver fox'. He and his wife, Shirl, drove the country in a motor home while he wrote. I remember telling him how Shirl was going to need a more permanent home. I also recall the phone call as he sat in his new home laughing while Shirl was headed to Walmart to find things to decorate it.

So many things have happened both positive and negative We grasp and hold on to the positive and hope to let the negative go but to learn from it. We look at the future with anticipation and with positive thoughts. Change will come and we will grasp it and try to wrap our minds around it.

Just as no one back then could imagine what it is like today, we cannot fathom our future either. But, we can step into it with cheerful hearts, thankful for what we have and open to change to make things better.

With that in mind, I make one major change at the beginning of this year.....this decade. And that it in my dinners. I have looked at them for quite some time. We are creatures of habit and tend to just do what we have done in the past. Breakfast and lunch comes in plates that are delivered to the table at the same time. But dinner is different. You bring soup or salad before. And with most, you bring a hot dinner roll. All this makes the cost of that meal more and quite often, that soup, salad, and dinner roll is left behind on the table while the main part of the meal is consumed. So, I have decided to make a bold change and serve my dinners Ala Carte. By this, I will be lowering their price instead of raising them and then up charging for any diners who prefer the old style traditional dinner meal.

I believe this will do a few things. First off, and most important, it will make dinner more affordable. We all want that. Secondly, it will reduce waste. And lastly, it should improve service in a meal that is the hardest to serve appropriately. Timing on dinners has always been a problem. And with only one plate to serve, this should make the service much quicker.

Now, I will sit back and watch to see if the customer agrees and ready to adjust to my new thoughts if they do not. For I know that it is not about me but about them....which is you, the reader of this stream of thought.

Thank you all for the past year and I look forward to talking with you as I walk through the room and do my thing in the coming year.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A minor rant

We are soon to look at a new year. In some ways, we are excited while in others, apprehensive. I must admit that most of my apprehension comes from what the government plans to throw at us in the coming year to help pay for their increasing budgets and this massive health care issue.

Being a businessman now, I certainly see through some different eyes and will admit that. And in that same light, I see things that I would not have noticed before particularly how our state government is twisting this new tax program around to try and talk the people into voting for it. They try and increase their coffers by attacking corporations and saying that they need to pay more of their 'fair' share.

While their new plan will not affect me that much, it will increase the fees for having a corporation like mine by 1500%. They say that we are not paying enough in taxes but what they don't say is that we pay like anyone else. Every cent of profit that the corporation makes is added on to my wages at the end of the year so that I do pay my fair share. So, this just becomes another expense of the business which only in the end is a higher tax increase than one really imagines.

But it is not my type of corporation that is getting the worst of this 'fair' tax increase. It is the C corporation that will be affected the most and I feel we will see many of these dissolve. Maybe that is the underlying reason behind all of this, no one truly knows except the politician himself who as we all know does not always tell us those real reasons.

These C corporations are now to be taxed upon their sales and not their income. So, lets take a business such as mine. The actual income or bottom line is 5 to 10 percent of that figure. The staggering fact there is that there are corporations that will owe more taxes than they have income.

Those corporations will either dissolve or make wholesale changes from within.

The bottom line on all of this is quite simple. These are the creators of jobs that we direly need in this economy. We are in a state with a very high unemployment rate. Hundreds of people lined up recently for part time jobs in a new local restaurant.

The decisions of these corporations, in my thoughts, are very simple. Close their doors, lay people off, or change the way they do business. Either way you look at it, it means less jobs not more.

Now, equally in my simple way of looking at things, it also means that in the long run, less taxes for this same government.

Now, the second part of this is that they claim that they will create jobs with these tax increases. But, what they don't say is that those created jobs are short term and to sustain them we must continue a spiral of increased taxes.

Wouldn't we be better off creating jobs that are sustainable or that create more jobs? Who cares if some fat cat makes a bit of money off of that? At least their will be plenty of jobs for the people who need them.

I don't know about you, but I would rather feed that fat cat than that devouring vacuum called government who claims that they are acting on our behalf but in reality see only their own agendas.

Holy cow! I started off thinking that I was going to state the positive and ended up with all of this.

One thing that I do know. What ever the challenges that are placed in front of us, we will be resilient and creative. And we will keep our focus on what is the most important and that is people themselves.

My job and my crew's job is really quite simple. To serve our customers. To give them the best quality for the price in an environment where they feel welcome. To honestly and genuinely care for each person that walks through our doors. And then to reach outside those doors to a community around us and help out where we can. I truly believe that if we keep that focus, we can weather what ever storm that is placed in front of us.

Saturday, December 26, 2009


For 23 years, I worked Christmas. It was not that I had to or even if I wanted to. My reasons were quite simple. My crew had to work so I did also. I know it was hard on my kids but it was hard on theirs also. So, one of the first decisions that I made when I took over the diner was very simple. Thanksgiving and Christmas were to be family holidays and were going to be off for my crew.

We had plans for Thanksgiving and some of our crew decided it was important to them also but Christmas. The diner was to be officially closed. And so it became.

My Christmas started simply by getting out of bed. There were no responsibilities other than just that. Trinity needed some things so we decided to go out. We decided that if we found a coffee shop open, we would get a latte and bring one back to Judy. We noticed a store open and figured that the Starbucks within would be open also. We were right.

Two men were running the little shop. We ordered up our drinks. I told the man that I was sorry that he had to work. He looked right through me....not hearing a word that I said. I figured it was because he was busy so I let it go and just stuffed a couple of bills in the tip bucket.

I then stood in line waiting for our drinks. The man there had been complaining to the previous customer on how he had to work and what he had told his kids when they asked him. I told him also that I was sorry that he had to work. Instead of acknowledging me, he continued to complain about his demise. I said, "I am just trying to say that I understand. I worked Christmas for 23 years and this woman next to me didn't see her father every Christmas morning just as your child did today.". He seemed to not hear a word that I said so I just let it go. I walked away almost kicking myself for even coming in. After all, if people like me did not go out on Christmas morning, he would not be working and would be home with his kids. But, now I had my Mocha Truffle latte.

I think next year, I will not be going out at all except to go to the diner to get something. I actually enjoyed going to the diner in the afternoon. I walked through the quiet diner. It was all so peaceful and quiet. It reminded me of the day before we opened up there. I walked through the building, talking to it as if I was talking to a friend. I remember telling it to get ready. I told it that it was going to be filled with people like it has never been filled before. And those people would be happy and enjoying themselves. I promised the building that if it took care of me, I would take care of it. It was funny, but I knew this inanimate object would become one of my friends and it truly has. When I walk into her, it is like walking into my home.

And I believe that is a part of our success. Allot of my crew have that same feeling of sorts. They enjoy themselves there and see many people who over the years have become friends. In one day last week, three separate customers told me that they felt our employees were like extended family to them. Those words are so much more important than anything that the bottom line can give to me.

To all of the people who have supported us over these last five years. Who smile and talk to me both in the diner and where they meet me in other places. Who encourage, support, and make my job a happy one. A very Merry Christmas. Thank you for allowing me to survive in the building that so many including myself considered the worst location in town for a restaurant.

May God bless you all.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Thanksgiving in prespective

I have tried writing stories of Thanksgiving but nothing says the story better than pictures. Thanks to my daughter, Carrie, for showing you the fun that we had. The end result was that we served approx 450 meals and raised $1000 to help someone in this extra needy holiday season.

The pies are prepped and ready to be served

The food is also readyas are the greetersand Jimmy and family in the kitchenThe feeding beginsand so does the fun including Frank and his conga lineMusicians entertainand friends volunteerDeliveries are preparedwith more volunteers deliveringFriends are greetedand interviews are made The best part of the day are the friendsand the funSeating has to be adjustedand more interviews madeThanks to all of the organizations and businesses that helpedIt was great to see the kids get involvedBirthdays happenedand great food was servedMore musicians entertainedand more kids helpedSeniors had funas did the entertainersFriends were made
Food was served and consumed.....until all was gone

and every slice was sliced.
Thanks to all who made this years Thanksgiving such a great success. To the organizations and businesses who donated food and time to the donations given to pay for some of the seniors meals to the many volunteers and musicians to Jimmy and his family that joined my own.
Thank you all and God bless you.