If, and that’s a big ‘if,’ if restaurant customers are back, the major problem is restaurant owners are scrambling just to find staff to serve those patrons.
As I blogged last month the industry in Wisconsin continues to struggle mightily to rebound according to an exhaustive study.
Reminds me of the dilemma faced by restaurants back in 2009. Granted, no pandemic, but a rotten economy had owners staring at the real prospect they seriously needed to adjust, but how?
Last month, Wisconsin Commerce Secretary Richard Leinenkugel delivered a grim message at the Wisconsin Restaurant Association’s quarterly board meeting at the Best Western Midway Hotel Riverfront Resort in La Crosse. Leinenkugel said 2009 would be “very difficult” for Wisconsin restaurants.
Wisconsin Restaurant Association President and CEO Ed Lump told the La Crosse Tribune that the industry is flat, in other words, slow. Lots of new dining establishments have opened, but in a rough economy, Lump says that only means “the pie is sliced pretty thin.”
The National Restaurant Association reports industry sales are expected to reach $566 billion in 2009, with the industry employing 13 million individuals in 945,000 restaurant-and-foodservice outlets nationwide. Overall restaurant industry sales will increase in current dollars by 2.5 percent over 2008 figures.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that those numbers translate to an inflation-adjusted decline of 1.0 percent.
Technomic, a Chicago consultant has been tracking the performance of the food service industry since 1972 and expects 2009 will be the industry’s worst year ever.
The first quarter of 2009 will be especially challenging for restaurants when patronage drops after the heavy holiday season as cash-strapped diners are thinking about their wallets, tax time, and not to mention New Year eating resolutions.
“People need to understand how tight the margins are in the restaurant business,” Alfred Portale, the chef and one of the owners of Gotham Bar and Grill in New York told the New York Times.
Every dollar, every butt in a restaurant chair seat counts.
So what’s a restaurant to do to survive?
Simple, according to New York restaurateur Stephen Hanson. The man who closed two restaurants in Manhattan says “the consumer will just shut down” in 2009.
Unless restaurant owners decide to get physical.
The NY Times reports Hanson told a group of his colleagues at a Manhattan conference in January that this is the key to keeping their businesses: “You need to hug the customer.”
What does that mean? Whatever it takes, go the extra mile to go out of your way for the customer. That could mean discounts, providing more for less, being less demanding (we’ll get into that later), throwing in some perks.
It starts from the second patrons walk in your establishment. Personally, I’d have the equivalent of Miss America standing at there to greet diners, dressed, how I shall put this…provocatively. But whoever is stationed there to deliver the all-important first impression, the welcome better be friendly, warm, natural, and real.
If a caller phones in asking for a reservation that simply can’t be met, do not sadly reply that you’re sorry, goodbye. Implore the caller to book another day and/or time. Do not hang up before you get a contact number to call back in case a cancellation results in an open table.
Wait staff, and this is tricky because it borders between attentive service and being too bothersome, need to check as efficiently as possible that everything, and I mean everything is OK.
How about some wine discounts or special lists highlighting vintages that won’t cost a house payment?
Have some early bird specials….discounts at those early hours when no one’s walking in and wait staff is folding napkins.
If you’re that stuffy (and not many restaurants are these days so you can walk in looking like a bum to one of the best places in town), think about easing up and being less demanding on that dress code. To be honest, I hate this suggestion, but in the long run, if the guy spends a bundle and tips well (odds are he won’t), does it matter if he’s wearing a tie?
Free parking? I like this idea, being used at the Chicago restaurant Everest. Drive 15 miles or less to Everest and you can get luxury car service for $15.
And would it kill you to send a plate of onion strings or whatever to the table of a regular patron? Not too long ago, I dined at Casa di Giorgio, my favorite Franklin restaurant. My good friend, Joliet, a waiter there whom I’ve known since his days at the Boulevard Inn,knowing that I liked both the clam chowder and the minestrone, brought them both to my table. It did not kill their business.
Restaurants have been trying to cope with rising food costs, but it’s not enough now that the economy has gotten even worse.
Work harder. Be nicer. Give deals. Lots and lots of deals.
The culinary no-no is that if you don’t hug real good and tight, your customers aren’t going to hug back.
2) FDNY union members, municipal workers and others demonstrate during a protest against the city’s COVID-19 mandates on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, October 28. Another look. Photos: REUTERS/Mike Segar
3) Attendees embrace at a candlelight vigil for the late cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, Oct. 24, 2021, in Burbank, California. A prop firearm discharged by actor Alec Baldwin, while producing and starring in a Western movie in Santa Fe, New Mexico, killed Hutchins and wounded director Joel Souza. Photo: AP
12) In Taxco, Mexico, a Catrina skull made with 18,000 cempasuchil (marigold) flowers is displayed outside the Church of Santa Prisca as part of Day of the Dead celebrations. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty ImagesA view of the sculpture ‘Together’ by Italian sculptor Lorenzo Quinn, son of late actor Anthony Quinn, is seen in front of the Great Pyramids of Giza, on the outskirt of Cairo, Egypt, October 23. Photo: REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
14) A woman visits the Olympic Park 100 days before the start of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, which are followed by the Paralympics in March 2022. Photograph: Roman Pilipey/EPA
15) Runners in the women’s elite division race to the first set of stairs during the 43rd annual Empire State Building run-up in New York. Runners climb 86 floors, 1,576 steps, from the lobby to the observation deck. Photo: Justin Lane/EPA
18) Green Bay Packers’ Robert Tonyan catches a touchdown pass in front of Washington Football Team’s Jamin Davis during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021, in Green Bay, Wis. The Packers won 24-10. Photo: Matt Ludtke, AP
19) The Arizona Cardinals suffered their first loss of the 2021 regular season on Thursday night, falling to the Green Bay Packers 24-21. It was a game that came down to the wire, and one that appeared was headed to, at the very least, overtime. With the Cardinals just 5 yards away from the end zone and 15 seconds left, Kyler Murray threw a pass to A.J. Green on the far right side of the field, but the wideout did not see the ball coming. Packers cornerback — and former Cardinals practice-squader — Rasul Douglas grabbed an interception to seal the victory for Green Bay. Photo: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
20) Wisconsin tight end Jake Ferguson catches a touchdown pass during a football game between No. 9 Iowa and Wisconsin at Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021. The Badgers won 27-7. Photo: The Daily Iowan
21) Wisconsin players hoist the Heartland Trophy after defeating Iowa Saturday 27-7. Iowa has yet to win at Wisconsin since 2015. Photo: The Daily Iowan. AND FINALLY…
Stunningly beautiful, St. Anthony’s offers a liturgy that’s high quality. It’s not uncommon for visitors to briefly stop in just to take pictures and videos.
Located on Milwaukee’s near south side the church isn’t situated in the best of city neighborhoods. As an usher at weekly Mass since 1970 my role has often been to be a protective gatekeeper against individuals who don’t walk through the doors to worship reverently.
I’ve just about seen it all.
People passing out.
People having seizures.
Animals somehow getting loose.
Families of all sizes.
Babies that grew into parents who then had babies.
The sad reality is that the St. Anthony’s neighborhood of my childhood is nowhere near what it is today. Crime is common. The area is unsafe. A security guard patrols where cars are parked for Sunday Mass. If not, there’d be break-ins.
In fall and winter transients and the homeless descend upon Sunday Mass. As ushers we allow all to enter. But unfortunately we have to keep eyes focused on some churchgoers more than others.
St. Anthony’s is a perfect spot to celebrate the Eucharist. I recommend to all. People come to take photos and videos. They claim they’ve not seen nor heard anything like it.
But like many churches on Sunday, St. Anthony’s is wide open. Anyone can waltz right in brandishing who knows what.
We’ve had some wild characters show up, shirtless, yelling incoherently, making a scene, stinking of booze. Thankfully no one’s threatened with a weapon. Not at my Sunday morning Mass. There has been shocking violence, however, at my beloved St. Anthony’s.
Sunday March 22, 1998.
My 10:00 a.m. mass that day proceeded without incident. Then came the 7:00 p.m. mass.
During the Holy sacrifice shots rang out. A 15-year old boy named Israel Rodriguez took bullets to the head from drive-by shooters as he stood on the steps of scared St. Anthony’s. With blood streaming into his garments, Father Larry Dulek, the church pastor and a very good man cradled Rodriguez and administered the last rites while the boy lay dying.
That’s why on occasion people question my Sunday ritual. I recall a grumpy curmudgeon once questioning may sanity. “You still go there?” It was futile trying to explain. I refuse to judge his or anyone else’s decision to stay home, even if I choose differently.
On this Sunday today’s read is from Kathy Schiffer, a Catholic blogger. Here’s an excerpt:
I got into a discussion recently with some good Catholic friends about going to church on Sunday. To my surprise, several of them had recently failed to fulfill their Sunday obligation to attend Mass.
I’m pretty sure this is not a unique phenomenon among believers, even among those who consider themselves faithful Catholics.
Sometimes, people will explain away their having missed the Sunday liturgy — they had a headache, or they were out late the night before, or they have company coming, or [eye roll] they can pray just as well on the golf course.
Sometimes, it comes down to something the parish is doing wrong: The homilies are boring, or the church is ugly, or the music is not to your liking, or no one ever talks to you, or the air conditioning isn’t working properly. Let’s talk about this. Read the entire column here.
It was so very odd (Sorry, Mom, it was!). But that didn’t make it bad by any means. Instead, it made my mom so very cool. Or as the kids have been saying since the 80’s, awesome!
Let’s take a trip with Mr. Peabody and Sherman in the Way Back Machine (If you have to ask, you’re barely beyond puberty) to when Kevin Fischer was just a little tyke. My older brother Greg, a relatively quiet introverted chap was already in his hip teens, playing rhythm guitar on his candy apple red Fender Stratocaster in the neighborhood band.
Because Greg was a musician, he got to do cool things like perform in dingy, dirty, smoky clubs late at night wearing psychedelic shirts with go-go girls dancing in cages next to him onstage. Not bad for an introvert!
While my brother was living the life of a rock star, albeit on the cheap, I was home with mom and dad (if mom and dad weren’t there watching Greg which they’d often do).
I recall many Saturday nights. Greg was off somewhere and I wouldn’t see him until Sunday when I woke up. Dad was asleep after the 10:00 news. Mom wanted to stay up. That’s because Shock Theater hosted by Bob Beringer was on Channel 18. The best part was that mom would let Kevin stay up!
Looking back, Shock Theater was primo TV. No “The Thing That Ate Pittsburgh” on this program. No sir. Shock Theater concentrated on the monster classics churned out by Universal Studios:
I watched in utter horror and amazement right up until Beringer at the end of the movie would promote the following week’s flick. I couldn’t wait to see “Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman.” And as I grew up, I noticed my mom‘s love of horror movies continued after Universal’s monster productions ended. The TV would be on whenever a 50’s “B” sci-fi movie was featured. Occasionally, there’d be a real winner, like, “The Day the Earth Stood Still.” There were the Vincent Price, Christopher Lee, and Peter Cushing offerings. And “Jaws.” And “The Howling.” And “Dark Shadows” on TV. And “The Twilight Zone” and “Outer Limits” and “Kolchak: The Night Stalker.”
Here was this kind, sweet, gentle, lovely, warm-hearted woman all excited about, “Silence of the Lambs?”
Oh, yes. Wouldn’t dare miss the re-runs.
As she would proudly tell folks, she loved those spooky movies, “the scarier the better.” My mom would leave them in total disbelief.
Because she was so good to let me stay up very late those Saturday night, my mom exposed me to the Universal monsters that I have a strong affection for to this day.
This weekend, a remake of what is probably my favorite Universal monster hits theaters across America, “The Wolfman.”
How could you not sympathize with Lawrence Talbot, the cursed werewolf who only wanted to die so he wouldn’t kill anymore?
My mom would no doubt want to see the 2010 version.
But after seeing it, my mom would would have said she wasn’t happy with some of the scenes and the original was far better. And she’d be right.
“Thank God you are not on the Supreme Court. You should resign in disgrace.” Senator Tom Cotton to Attorney General Merrick Garland
“Biden wants to pay illegal immigrants $450,000 for their hardship while breaking our laws. For perspective, if a service member is killed in action, their next of kin gets an insurance payment of $400,000. Let that sink in.” Congressman Dan Crenshaw
“When you’re president … they [the media] get to ask you all kinds of questions and you try to figure out how you’re gonna avoid answering them sometimes.” Joe Biden talking to children
“GOP message for 2022: More people have died of COVID under Biden than Trump; Thanksgiving costs are at an all-time high; gas prices are at an all-time high; parents are treated as domestic terrorists for being involved in their children’s learning. Good luck, Democrats.” Erick Erickson
“The Right thinks pornography and critical race theory should be barred from schools. The Left thinks Dr. Seuss should be barred from schools.” Ben Shapiro
“Life has a funny way of coming back around. The Left injected themselves where they didn’t belong — in sports — by putting pressure on companies to punish the city of Atlanta and the state of Georgia because they didn’t like a bill put forth by a Republican governor. And now, six months later, all eyes will be on the states of Texas and Georgia as Major League Baseball crowns their 2021 World Series champion. If you listen closely, you can hear the Left screaming in anguish.” Joe Morgan
“We’re never going to learn about how safe the vaccine is unless we start giving it [to kids]. That’s just the way it goes.” Harvard professor Eric Rubin. Sounds familiar. “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.”Nancy Pelosi.
“Gender equity is actually gender discrimination. You can’t force equal outcome without discriminating against somebody.” Liz Wheeler
“The original 1913 income tax was 1% for people with incomes above $3,000 (about $80,000 today) and 6% on $500,000 or more ($13 million). About 3% of the population was taxed. Just keep that in mind when Democrats lie and say the wealth tax will remain targeted at just the top. There has never been nor will there ever be a type of tax that remains relegated to its original low rate and small base of payers.” Ben Shapiro
“Today, a white family is 30% more likely to own a home than a black family. This present-day gap in home ownership rates is larger than it was in 1960.”Attorney General Merrick Garland
“This is an example of how critical race theory leverages statistics to advance a subjective narrative that contains a built-in and unquestionable assumption. In this case, that the purported 30% ‘gap’ is solely due to ‘racism’ and that we’re entering a new era of redlining.” Darrell B. Harrison
“The Taliban is allowed to tweet. But not [Jim Banks] — a United States Congressman and Naval officer. Yep. Twitter is favoring terrorists over Americans.” Congressman Jim Jordan
The Barking Lot is a regular weekly feature of This Just In…Originally written by both my lovely wife, Jennifer and me, this blog brings you the latest news about our furry friends including articles, columns, photos and videos. Enjoy!
THE WEEKEND DOG-WALKING FORECAST: We grade the weather outlook for taking your pet outdoors.
TODAY: Partly cloudy. High of 58. “B”
SUNDAY: Intervals of clouds and sunshine. High of 52. “C”
Time now for DOGS IN THE NEWS, canines that made headlines the past week.
Dear Abby: Am I violating the rules of dog walking?
My wife Jennifer blogged about this in April of 2020:
Most responsible dog owners understand cleaning up after a dog poops is a must. No ands, ifs, or buts. That’s not a critical issue. But this makes for interesting discussion. Published in papers all across the country about a week ago:
DEAR ABBY: When I take my dog for a walk, I always carry little doggy bags and pick up his business. I live in a residential neighborhood with alleys behind the houses. After my dog does his business, I pick it up and often throw the tied-up bag in a trash can along the alley.
Is this rude? Is it illegal to put things in other people’s trash cans? My dog may make several stops along our long walks, and I don’t want to carry his waste with me the whole trip.
CONSIDERATE IN COLORADO
I’ll get back to how Abby (Phillips) responded in just a bit.
Mike Gutman was out walking his dog, Wyatt, when it happened: The dog pooped.
Gutman was a mile away from the park and two miles away from his house, so he plopped the waste in a bag and threw it in the nearest trash can.
That was his mistake.
He and his Siberian husky-American Staffordshire terrier-mountain dog mix made it maybe half a block before he heard a man yelling at him. A very angry man.
“Did you seriously just put your poop bag in my garbage can?” the man said.
“Yeah, it’s garbage,” said Gutman, a self-proclaimed serial poop-bag-depositor. “That’s where garbage goes.”
“He was like, ‘That’s your garbage, not my garbage. This is my garbage can. You take your garbage and go throw it in your garbage can,’” Gutman recalled, a month after the encounter.
He and Wyatt high-tailed it out of there because the man seemed “pretty aggressive.”
He posted a poll about it on Nextdoor.
Nearly 600 people cast their votes in his poll, titled, “Are you OK with people putting dog poop bags in your garbage can?”
The poll was split 80/20, with most people saying they didn’t mind.
In this next example, there was a decidedly opposite view. The source was New York, a habitat with a well-known reputation for being belligerent.
A bit much, wouldn’t you say?
The Dear Abby reader asked if what he/she did is illegal. Could be, depending on where you live. Consider that you probably pay to have your garbage hauled away. Now someone has dumped junk in your trash and doesn’t pay for it go away. You do. That’s called theft.
Somewhat complicating matters is the can itself. Odds are you don’t own it. The container is the property of the municipality or the company contracted to do the job. There goes the whole “Don’t dump that poop in my garbage can” argument.
Not yours, hey. Can someone then walk across your lawn to get to a bin to toss the poop? Well, that would be trespassing. But if the bin is in an alley, or at the end of a driveway curbside awaiting pickup, it’s essentially fair game.
Here in Franklin our alderwoman Kristen Wilhelm informs that our containers are owned by the city’s contractor, Johns Disposal Service, and they stay with the home. If we move the containers remain. maintenance and cleanliness are the responsibilities of the homeowners. Replacement due to damage is decided on a case by case basis that generally favors the resident (s). Wilhelm suggests taping a notice on the cans saying if you approve or disapprove.
OK, let’s return to Dear Abby. What’s her take? What was her reply to the dump and run culprit?
DEAR CONSIDERATE:Whether it’s illegal in your community is something you should check locally because there may be an ordinance that forbids it. While I can’t speak for everyone, some of the homeowners those trash cans belong to would strenuously object to someone throwing dog doo-doo into them. That’s why my advice is, “When in doubt — DON’T.”
That was this past week. But in 2009, when asked a similar question, Abby wrote back:
As long as the bag was securely sealed, I don’t think adding it to someone’s trash bin was a social no-no.
Another advice columnist is Dear Prudence.
“In the interest of my guiding principle of never getting yelled at, I generally hold out until I find a public waste bin.”
(For the record, this hasn’t happened to us and we’re not aware of this occurring in our neighborhood).
Finally, my view on the topic: The proper etiquette should be to seek a public garbage can or bring it home to your house.
Is it rude to dump in someone else’s can? You bet it is. —-Jennifer Fischer
That’s it for this week. Thanks for stopping by.
We’d really appreciate it if you forward this on to other dog lovers you know. Let them have some fun!