Office Ingredients

Life is all about cooking, eating—and recipes. From time to time, I allow a little exercise and socializing in for variety. I have garnered quite a few items over the years having been a chef and now a restaurant owner. The heart and soul of an eatery is the menu. It can’t be a static thing. So, I keep on experimenting and searching for new tastes to tantalize the customers. You can image that I have amassed quite a stash of stuff. I feel like my office is overflowing with paper. No wonder my latest purchase is a heavy duty shredder from Shredder Lab and a pair of filing cabinets. A clean and high-rated restaurant means organization top to bottom. My kitchen is an exemplar of pristine cleanliness and order. The office is just as perfect.

I call the new acquisitions my “office ingredients.” They are a practical mix of everyday, utilitarian objects. The shredder might be the oddball in the group, but, frankly, I use it more often than the stapler, hole puncher, paper cutter, or collating machine. At least, this is the case in recent weeks. My printer is always in production as I am requested to provide recipes and cookbooks upon demand from patrons and friends.

Thinking I would get ahead of the game, I once made over a hundred copies at once—consisting of 50 pages each. So, what do you do when you revise your cookbook and have to get rid of the obsolete version? So as not to mistake the old for the new, I got out the trusty shredder, ever grateful that I had selected the heavy duty model. I didn’t want any breakdowns before I was finished. No such bad luck. I had bags and bags of scraps—all books were neatly and consistently destroyed.

What else do you do with a shredder once it has performed its basic task—and has done it well. You don’t want to disrespect it and toss it out. It can’t help anyone in the kitchen, that’s for sure. I wouldn’t think of trying to julienne beets or green beans with its hefty blades. After all, you can’t regulate the size of your shredding. I learned my lesson about overprinting, so perhaps I will now give it a new home. My sister has a home office and enough space to house my sturdy friend. As for me, I will have room for a new color copier. I can make more recipe books at a time since it has a sorter and stapling system. No more hard labor assembling the cookbooks. I will have more time to run the kitchen and try out new dishes for the new season. Goodbye shredder. It’s been fun!

Restaurant Quality Equipment in Your Home Kitchen

I am a restaurant owner and chef, here to pass on some handy tips for you. After working in commercial kitchens for so long, there are a few things that I got used to using, like a commercial kitchen faucet, quality knives, multiple utility and bar sinks, etc. For me, it makes a huge difference in preparation and cleanup time. If you don’t know about restaurant equipment, let me tell you some of the basics. Many of them can be used in a home—and well they should if you take cooking seriously.  One of the first things to think about is the right kitchen faucet. There are many choices, and most are versatile as long as you install them correctly. Any faucet works most anywhere, commercial or not. You will want to decide on a wall or deck mount device. I like the former because it sits higher up and you have plenty of room to fill large pots. A commercial kitchen is also likely to have a pre-rinse model with spray attachment for streamlining washing. Of course, you may have a dishwasher on the premises. This type of faucet is great for getting all that stuck-on food off dishes. In some smaller restaurants, there is no time to recycle by running a half-hour long washer.

It is important that you can find the best commercial kitchen faucet, appliances (six-burner stove, for example) and sink for your restaurant’s needs. It may require a bit of remodeling. Your contractor will talk about connections and inlets (most faucets have two). Your preferred model must be compatible with the existing water lines. The there is the issue of the mounting holes in the sink if you wish a deck mount faucet. Did you know that you have to match the spacing and size of your home’s water lines? Let me give you an example to show why this is important., A pantry or pot filler faucet, commonly found in restaurants, has a single inlet. But don’t panic. Most hand sink faucets have flexible connectors and they work in most situations.

Once all this is resolved, it is time to choose the perfect nozzle or spout. Each type delivers water in a different way. It can be movable and is aptly called a swing or swivel. They come in all shapes and styles. It is wise to see a demonstration. Next comes spout length. Your faucet must fit within the sink. Don’t be surprised after the fact! Take measurements right from the start. It is comforting to know that you won’t necessarily have to buy a new sink. What is really fun is that you can have a hands-free touchless faucet to cut down on contact and the spreading of germs. Many restaurants use single lever or gooseneck faucets. The latter give you more clearance for hand washing and doing pots and pans. All these come in deck or wall mount.

Dreaded Restaurant Upgrades

I love the restaurant business and still consult with my partners on all facets of ownership. You can’t sit idly by and expect success. Owning a fine restaurant brings many responsibilities with it and it is not just about food—my realm. Sure, we labor over the menu and make sure it suits contemporary taste, always with an element of surprise. The world of cuisine is so competitive and one bad review can kill a restaurant for months. It is hard to come back. Meanwhile, it keeps you on your toes as you maintain a forward pace and continue to make your mark. Novelty is big these days but it can be too far-fetched rather than creative. The best chefs know where to draw the line.

While food planning is my forte as a chef, sometimes other tasks fall in my lap. Recently, I have noticed a lingering cooking smell in the dining room and became very concerned This is a big “no no” in the business. The only food you want patrons to detect is their own. It is not a negative. Nothing is more alluring to restaurant guests than a wonderful scent greeting them as they enter the space. It draws them in and titillates the palate. Cooking smells are another matter. They can be acrid and unpleasant because they are combined and intense. What to do? We have always dealt with the issue by using a large-scale air purifier with a HEPA filter. This is the preferred appliance compared to the other types that are powerful but some models emit the dreaded ozone. The ecologist within balks at the thought.

Now the question is which route to take to remedy the pervasive problem. I could get another HEPA model and put up with a tad less energy efficiency or opt for a “HEPA-like” unit that does it at a much lower cost. I went online and found this page that weighed up the options: https://www.nomoresmokesmell.net/hepa-hepa-like-key-differences-consider/. Both styles take care of your average pollutant including chemicals, toxins, and allergens. I require the best air purifier for deodorizing. Many reviews promise effectiveness with pet smells, bathroom odor, and cigarette smoke. I don’t care. All I want is the best treatment for cooking residue in the air. You can’t always tell from the product descriptions if this is a primary feature.

Given that the old filter is no longer pulling its weight, I hesitate to replace it with the exact same type. On the other hand, I know that it is quite old and has been taxed by running 24/7. Nothing lasts forever in the restaurant business. You are always making upgrades ad things wear out. It is part of the business. Meanwhile, I am leaning toward power with the HEPA despite more cost. An alternative would save on electricity bills and every penny counts when you are looking to make a profit.

So, the HEPA goes out and another is right behind it. I accept the expense and move on.

This New Dessert is Trouble Already

A restaurant is rewarding most of the time, but there are times that drive you absolutely crazy. This happens when you run out of the evening’s favorite dish, the sous chef doesn’t show up, a waiter drops a tray, or the lettuce has wilted. I can give you another apt example of aggravation. My pastry chef wanted gold leaf to add to a fancy new dessert. He couldn’t find it quickly and a local supplier said it would take more than a week. No dice. He went online and when it arrived, it didn’t look real. Was it a fake? Should he ask for a refund? It had to be the edible kind. He wanted to send it back out of fear of fakery, but he thought he could test it first. How do you tell if gold leaf is real? Surely not the same method as jewelry or nuggets.

He asked my advice and I said why not trust the online company, but if it will make you feel better, let’s try to find out. It looked authentic and was super thin and it did not break apart. This was the first bit of good news. The next point I offered was this: if it looked good and was guaranteed edible, why care if it is real? He didn’t accept this at all. I pride myself on quality, he maintained. I understood. What if it tasted funny, like something synthetic or with a chemical smell?

If we were dealing with jewelry, it would be simple. I found this blog to help me: https://www.findingafortune.net/how-to-tell-if-gold-you-found-is-real/. Experts apply nitric acid and try to attach a magnet to a piece for verification. Gold does not respond to a magnet. There is no such thing as plated gold leaf. I have never heard of such a concoction. We tried the magnet but the paper thin stuff lay flat as a board. I could see that we were getting nowhere. I started to think that gold leafing used on furniture is surely real; but for food purposes, it would not be edible if it is pure. I believe that food grade gold leaf isn’t alloyed with other toxic metals such as tin or lead like some gold for jewelry or coins. I suppose that it is pounded into a thin layer as it surely doesn’t come that way. You have to make it in easy-to-use transfer sheets.

We both continued to speculate until we were about to give up. A metal detector would be absurd and we already had tried the magnet. After conducting a visual taste, the last step would be to taste it. An experienced pastry chef would have eaten it many times before. Mine soon realized this. We both put a piece of a sheet in our mouths. No aftertaste at all. It had no taste at all. More good news. We were both satisfied and he went on to use the gold leaf on his pastry that night.

Lame Guy’s Night Out!

I love cooking and planning a future restaurant so I do it all the time without a break. I love to daydream and fantasize about all the smiling patrons devouring my delicious fare. What else would bring me more pleasure and satisfaction. I like to invest new dishes with unusual ingredients as people’s tastes these days are getting more eclectic. It is a challenge to stay ahead of the game in the competitive food industry. So many chefs have opened eateries that have failed, much to the chagrin of their backers. I will be ready to launch at the proper time. For now, I am completely preoccupied. My friends are always trying to get me out of the house without success. I always have excuses.

They try to lure me with appealing outings like eating in a new place, watching a movie about food (such as Like Water for Chocolate, the animation film Ratatouille, a personal favorite, and No Reservations). While I have seen them all, sometimes a gem is missed like the movie about food trucks – Chef done in 2014. Absolutely riveting. You don’t have to cook to love it. So, you can get me out of my shell. I set a date with my friend to visit the local indie movie house and was looking forward to a change of pace.

I didn’t get it. He showed up in the early evening at my door and as we settled into his car, he told me he had to run errands first. No, we are not going to the market, he comforted me. My son has an emergency, he said apologetically. He needs new soccer cleats for an upcoming game and there is no time to buy them online or else I would have gone to https://www.topcornermag.com/best-soccer-cleats/. We were now headed to the nearest sporting goods store, not my idea of a fun outing. I am not athletic and would have preferred a trip to the mall to survey the new items at Williams Sonoma. This was turning out to be a lame night out. Being an agreeable soul, I went along for the ride, literally, and helped my buddy make his selection. There were plenty of choices for kids in snappy neon colors. Mostly I just stared at the offerings and muttered a word or two now and then. Without asking, I got the scoop on soccer cleats and the best brands.

By the time the cleats were placed in a bag and we exited the store, we were hungry and made a beeline to our favorite Italian café. After an hour, it was too late for the movie. Sure, I was disappointed but we managed to salvage the evening by sharing a good meal. We can always go to a “foodie movie” another time, assuming that there will be one! My friend says that his wife watches the Hallmark channel and most of the movies are about chefs or bakers. It is a super popular subject for women.

What Does Your Morning Smell Like?

Dogs aren’t the only beings that have a super sense of smell. People do too. Think of those who work in the perfume industry. They must have a “nose.” I suppose cooks also have this trait; I think I do. When preparing food, taste is not the only determinant of success. I pride myself on a good sense of smell to help me know when to stop adding spices and other ingredients. My nose saves me from too much attention to a dish that spoils its appeal.

Since I love the smell of food to whet the appetite, mine and my guests, it makes sense that I would prefer an aromatherapy alarm clock over the other types. My friends all rant and rave about the sunrise simulation they program into their devices so they wake up to wonderful colors. If you are oriented to sound, you would love the various options for nature sounds such as a babbling brook, waves crashing against a sandy shore, crickets and frogs, birds chirping, or whatever else you like. You can even tape your own sounds and add it to what comes with the alarm.

By contrast, I insist on waking up to the smells of morning, whatever they may be. Some like a perfume scent and others go for brewing coffee. As long as it is pleasant and does the job, it is fine. In the field of aromatherapy, there are dozens of essential oils that bring relief and relaxation, and some, like lavender, are best at bedtime. In the morning, you can switch to a lemon fragrance, for example. The machine diffuses the oil in a fine, refreshing mist. The newest wakeup alarm systems combine all of these features so you can program them according to your mood. They are also called natural wake systems, but basically, they work the same way. You can select the colors of sunrise, news or music on the radio, subtle scents, or nature sounds. It is an entirely new way to greet the day. Whoever thought of this invention, no doubt had trouble getting out of bed.

I am a sleepyhead and like to linger under the sheets. This is a bad habit that makes you late to work or appointments. I am too groggy, especially if I have had a late night, to arise on my own. I need a little help from my friend, the aromatherapy clock that I found on Be Right Light‘s web site after I discovered them on Twitter. Alarms are a growing business to meet the demands of people on a schedule. Isn’t that everyone these days?

It feels like a spa experience when I use the mist function. My bedroom is filled with essence. I can have a different one every day. I found out after a while that my clock, being the deluxe model, has an ultrasonic humidifier built in. What a comprehensive design! I love the easy touch controls, the programmable timer, and the automatic shut off when the appliance is empty (it has a water reservoir). Let’s not forget the soothing sunset simulation night light.

Surround Yourself with a Good Team

A good chef needs time to develop recipes and try them out on people other than the regular customers. You want to give yourself time to adjust the ingredients and seasonings to make the dish perfect. A restaurant is not an easy business. Everyone wants specials and new tastes for their jaded palettes. I get ideas from everywhere. There are so many cuisines in the world. The globe is shrinking when it comes to dining out experiences.

New dishes are exciting for me, my family, and my employees as well. They love being guinea pigs and are always willing to whip up something I have concocted in the restaurant kitchen. Sometimes I have a party featuring all new recipes. It takes place at my house where everyone can feel comfortable and at home. Recently, when the staff was present, I encouraged them to play a pickup game of basketball using this in ground basketball hoop in my driveway. I installed in years ago and it has helped me hone my shots. It was meant to share with company and one or two of the staff have dropped by to be indulged. Imagine the entire crew in the front of the house tossing coins to see who goes first. Wouldn’t it be more pertinent if they tossed them to see who gets to try the new dishes. No matter, I am surrounded by a good team in two ways.

Everyone is a critic when I do this trial parties. They know that comments are welcome and anything not positive is taken with a grain of salt. I want the truth but in a pleasant manner. I don’t want anyone to make faces or mock the food. I want a real response to something that may be foreign to their tastes. If the meal is not pleasing, I will move on. Most of the time there is something they like about it. I might have to add salt or spiciness at best. When there is a consensus, the recipe is written down in final form and archived. If it fails, even after I tamper with it, the whole idea is trashed.

Writing and preparing a new recipe takes some concentration so you don’t accidentally misadd an ingredient. While the restaurant employees were enjoying their basketball, I was busy in the kitchen in the midst of creation. How I wanted to be outside with them! I think I could outshoot any one of them. They don’t know about my secret skills. Anything I do in life is eclipsed by my cooking talent. We all have another side to our nature, and often it is expressed in a favorite pastime or sport. Some people sing, dance, do artwork, garden, hike, or travel. Others gravitate to the court, field, or gym. It is pretty obvious when you drive by my house what I like. The hoop is eye-catching for sure. It makes the men remember their glory days and kids want to come over and join in.

Opening a Restaurant is not for the Faint of Heart

You have to be a little crazy to open your own restaurant. I should know, I just opened one. Most of them are doomed to failure—more than half go under in the first three years. That’s pretty terrifying.

Before you even make a single purchase toward getting your restaurant up and running, there are all kinds of things to consider. You have to find a location. It may have great foot traffic, convenient parking, and already be set up with every appliance you need. But if your dream is to open a bbq restaurant and there’s already two on the same street, you might be out of luck. If you’re thinking fancy French cuisine and most of the locals can’t even pronounce Bœuf bourguignon, you are going to fail. On the other hand, if you are thinking of opening a casual pizza restaurant right near a little league field and there isn’t another one for miles, you might have found a sweet spot.

And once you find the right location, have the right concept, and have a menu, there’s even more to do. Here are just a few of the things that were (and still are) keeping me up at night.

First of all, the cost to open the doors is more than you think. Finding the right location was hard, then outfitting it was even harder. The décor, which I never really thought about anywhere else I worked, suddenly was a factor. All that little stuff added up like crazy. And that’s not counting the problems you run into (nobody plans to have to update wiring or stuff like that)! I am cautiously optimistic that I’ll make a profit in a couple of years.

Secondly, there’s the cost-profit ratio. I didn’t have a lot to do with this prior to now, either. My boss would say, “hey, I got a great deal on this steak, do something with it.” I’d make a dish and he’d determine the price and put it on the menu. I didn’t pay his bills so I had no idea how much we were actually making. It’s actually hard work to figure out that fine line between charging people enough to make a profit and what people are actually willing to pay. That takes a lot of investigating and research. Guess wrong and you could price people right out of your restaurant, or have a packed house every night and still have to close because you can’t afford to keep the lights on.

Third, you need a good staff. You can have the best ingredients and the most appealing menu, but if your chef can’t cook, you might as well set that money on fire. If the waitstaff is lazy, rude, or lacks knowledge about the menu, you’ll suffer the consequences as poor reviews and a lack of repeat business. And they all have to be clean freaks. A dirty restaurant at best fails a health inspection and at worst can make people sick or even kill someone. Nobody wants to eat at a gross restaurant.

The thing is, I can do everything right and still fail. I know that. The last couple of months have been difficult but also amazing. I love making all the decisions and executing my own menu. Even if I do fail, it will be worth it.

Pros and Cons of Cooking Competition Shows

There are lots of cooking competition shows out there and they all seem so tempting. Get on one, make a name for yourself, and you’ve got it made. That’s what they want you to think. Now, I am sure that is the reality of some contestants on shows like this. I know others who have not had the same luck. First, remember that this is actually incredibly hard work. The talent pool for auditions is incredibly fierce, especially with popular shows like Top Chef and Next Food Network Star. And if you are selected for the show, you still have a lot of work to do—stressful and timed competitions, crazy challenges that have no application in your day-to-day life as a chef, and decisions potentially made based on ratings and not your cooking. Here are a couple of things you might want to think about before you send in that application.

Consider the amount of exposure you’re going to get. People will see you on TV every week. If you work for a chef or at a restaurant, there will be name dropping and references. Business may pick up. People are going to remember you. That can be good or bad. Have an off day for whatever reason (tough challenge, lack of sleep, irritating teammate, illness, friction with a judge)? Maybe at work, you would have gotten a few dishes sent back or you could have just gone home. Not so in a cooking competition. Your bad day is broadcast to millions of people. It’s like failing miserably at a service where every customer is a restaurant critic. You can’t guarantee that all the buzz about you will be good, even if you win every challenge and are crowned the winner at the end.If you screw up and make yourself look bad, you also make any chef you’ve ever worked with look bad. It can negatively impact any restaurant you’ve ever worked for as well. Do it right, and it is better than any bullet on a resume. You may land your dream job or get the capital needed to open your own place. However, if you aren’t a standout, it might be a waste of time for you.

How you carry yourself is going to matter. Having a personality will get you noticed but it may backfire if you don’t have the skills to back it up. Gordon Ramsay didn’t start out smashing plates of food and calling people donkeys; he already had the cred to back it up. If you are portrayed as difficult to work with, unskilled, or without leadership ability, it can cause some serious damage to your career as well.

While I understand that all of this may be very tempting, unless you are really comfortable in front of a camera, I suggest just working your way up. To me, being a chef is more about making good food than making good television, but I do see the allure in a competition show. If you do try out for one and make it, let me know. I’ll root for you!

Getting Started as a Chef

I was a picky eater as a kid. I hated just about everything my mother made. Finally, she got so fed up that she would make me go grocery shopping with her. We would walk down the aisles together and I would pick the things I was willing to eat. For every snack or sugary cereal I wanted in the cart, I had to have one fruit or vegetable in there as well.

One day, I saw my mom looking through a recipe book. She was trying to figure out what she could make with the jicama I had chosen (I remember I picked it because I thought it was a funny word at the time). I sat down with her and we went through it together. We found a fairly simple recipe for a salad and I wanted to help make it. It turned out that I wasn’t so much a picky eater as my mom wasn’t a very good cook.

That was it. At the age of seven, I knew what I wanted to do.

Not everyone has that moment. I have met chefs who start out taking a line cook job because it is there and work their way up. Others start by cooking for family and then find themselves taking cooking classes, which leads to culinary school, which leads to a job in a kitchen.

I think the thing that anybody who puts on that chef’s apron will tell you is that you have to love food. Whether you love eating it, experimenting with it, or simply serving it to others, that is the one thing that you really need to get you started. I know lots of chefs who can’t make a cake from scratch (that’s why we have pastry chefs!) and others who couldn’t tell the difference between eggplant and chicken if their eyes are closed. Nobody is born with great knife skills or the inherent ability to know how to make an excellent red sauce. It comes from recipes, trial and error, and most of all: hard work.

If you are interested in becoming a chef, or even simply developing better cooking skills, start in your own kitchen. Watch cooking shows or check recipe books out of the library to learn different techniques. Tweak existing recipes to build your confidence. Challenge yourself when you go ingredient shopping; get things you aren’t familiar with and test them out. The results might not be gourmet, but you’ll learn every time you make something. Take a class or two—there are classes offered at community colleges, culinary schools, and even some grocery stores or restaurants. Travel if you can and learn about the local cuisine, or start right where you live with popular local fare. Then get yourself into a professional kitchen. It doesn’t have to be at a 5 star restaurant. You’ll learn something at a diner or even a chain restaurant. Just keep challenging yourself. Ask questions. Experiment. Take notes. Some dishes are going to be terrible, and that’s fine. Figure out why. Don’t do it again.

Just get into the kitchen and get cooking.

Developing Relationships with Vendors

One of the best things you can do for yourself as a restaurant owner is to make good friends with the suppliers you work with. You deal with these people often and it can be a beneficial relationship to both of you. Coming from a head chef job, I had actually known a few vendors prior to this and was happy to continue working with them. It helped me out a lot, honestly. After a few years of working with people, you come to rely on each other’s’ business and develop good relationships. You want them to succeed because it means they’ll continue to provide you with what you need, and they want you to succeed so that you’ll continue to buy from them.

Having a good working relationship with a vendor is helpful in a few ways. First, they are more willing to give you good prices. Be a repeat customer and maybe you will start getting a discount. Another thing I have noticed is that by being a good customer, you are more likely to have an ally. If something comes in at a good price, the vendor might think of you first. When you need something in a rush or for a special event, a good vendor relationship can really work to your advantage. There have been several occasions where my old boss would decide to add something to the menu at the last minute and an awesome vendor would hook me up with some out of season ingredients. Something I have learned recently: if you’re just starting out, they might be willing to be a bit more flexible in the payment schedules. Might.

So how do you develop a good relationship with a vendor? I usually just ask questions. I tend to ask the foodie questions: What’s in season? What has seemed like really good quality lately? Maybe you’ll get a standard answer but maybe they’ll surprise you. And if the vendor grows or raises the food themselves, they will usually be willing to talk about it. You benefit because you learn what’s fresh and how to spot the good quality stuff when you get it. If you’re dealing with a rep from a company, I have found that questions still work, they’re just different questions. Sometimes I’ll ask how long they’ve been with the company, what their bestsellers are, or what their favorite item they sell is. People like to talk about themselves and they want to express their opinions. I listen to their answers. I’ve gotten some great tips on products this way. Salespeople and deliverypeople know what is popular. What they sell can translate into what will be most successful for me as well.

And speaking of vendors, I have to go place an order. Until next time!

Wearing More Than one Hat

The downside of running my own restaurant is that I can’t just focus on food. I have bills and employees to pay, investors to keep happy, and customers to get in the door. Eventually, I hope to be able to hire somebody to do a lot of the external stuff for me. An accountant, a marketing consultant, a manager. Somebody. I want to be in the kitchen and not in this office all day every day.

It’s not really an option at the moment. Financially, it is an expense I certainly can do without. And to be honest, right now, I also like the idea that I am in charge of everything. I set the menu (for the most part), hired and trained the staff before we opened our doors. So as long as they execute the plan, we should be OK and I have plenty of time to wear my boss hat as opposed to my chef hat. Opening night was pretty good, all things considered. More covers than I thought we would get, the kitchen staff did well, table turnover went well. We didn’t think we’d be the next hotspot but figured we would be OK.

Then a few weeks later and we’re at a Tuesday night and the place is kind of dead. That was disappointing and obviously, the staff looks to me to do something about it. I can’t just send them home all the time when we’re slow; they’ll stop coming back. I had to start thinking more about promotions and ads to get people in the restaurant. My sous chef is a big digital fan, so he checked yelp to see if we had any bad reviews or anything—we didn’t. No angry trolls or anything. So he kept digging, found a few other sites. Again, there wasn’t really anything there. Which was good in that there wasn’t a lot of bad stuff out there about us, but at the same time it meant there wasn’t a whole lot of good stuff out there, either. We had some press opening weekend but it had tapered off. It’s possible that someone with more restaurant experience would have figured this out earlier than me. I am much more comfortable breaking down a pig than sitting in front of a computer. I had my sous chef spice up our website a little and we bought some internet ads. I also did a radio commercial. We shot a cheesy youtube promo video too. Randomly in the middle one of my kitchen crew yelled, “Mention this ad and get a free app!” I thought at first it was odd. But he had a point. If someone mentions it—and we’ve had a few now—we know that at least someone was paying attention.

We’ve noticed things are picking up again. Not overwhelmingly so, but I am ok with that. Maybe we get a few more covers a night than we did the week prior. I’ll take that as long as we’re going in the right direction. I don’t need to be booked solid for months, but a steady flow every night we’re open would be great. Fingers crossed.