Tuesday, May 6, 2008

It Hurts!! It Hurts!!

Growing pains, in any form, are never fun, but they are very necessary. Before I begin, I would just like to place a small disclaimer here. Nothing I write here can be held against me. Fellow STARS who read this should not to take anything I say personally. This is my personal place to voice my frustrations, concerns, hopes, etc... and I will not accept any type of negativity at work. I love that my fellow STARS visit here and want to see them continue. I truly like, and have the utmost respect for, everyone that I have the pleasure of working with and for, but a little venting, sharing and feed back is sometimes needed. Thank you for your understanding.

So, with all of that said, again, let me say, that growing pains are never fun. It is a new restaurant, with all of these very talented people trying to learn how to work together, and it is becoming very strained. The majority of us share the same frustrations and really do want to make it work, but there are a few who just seem lost, and may even be looking in a different direction. Unfortunately, what they don't realize is that it will be the same in whatever restaurant they choose to go to. Every place in this awesome facility, is new, and I am sure they are experiencing similar issues.

A lot of us who are in the kitchen, in various culinary positions, are finding that communication from our immediate supervisors is creating a lot of confusion. There are three Sous Chefs and an Executive Chef. They are all very good at what they do, however, they all seem to want the rest of us to do different things. Depending on who the "Chef in Charge" is, determines how things are done. When the Executive Chef is there, and we, in the pantry, get an order for a salad that is to be split, we put the salad onto two plates and split it, it is not a big deal, it is the way the guest has ordered it, and it really does not take any extra time. But then, when one of the Sous Chefs is in charge, we are told to NOT split it, just send an extra plate. So, then, confusion begins. Personally, I would prefer to meet the guest's needs and split it for them, but when we are given an order, regardless of our personal opinion, it is to be followed. Things would be so much less stressful, and more efficient, if they were all on the same page. It is very frustrating to have to think about who is on duty, and how they want things done. It is a lot to remember, and I am sure that the pantry is not the only section feeling this way.

The system that is set up for ticketing, and food delivery, also seems to have some quirks. Again, in the Pantry, when we get tickets for our salads, we do the tickets in the order that they are received. If we receive a ticket for 2 salads that are appetizers and 1 salad that is an entree, we make all 3 at the same time. If we don't, we get lost and have a difficult time deciphering which salads were done. We do all of the salads on a ticket, for the same table, at the same time. We have requested that our food runners not take any salads away from our station, until the ticket is completed. When they do, they risk taking the wrong salad to the wrong table and then we end up doing extra because we don't see the number of salads needed for a particular ticket. We get a lot of special requests, like "no bacon, no cheese, dressing on the side, etc... " and sometimes the food runners are in such a hurry that they don't pay attention to which salad they are grabbing. Then, 10 minutes later, we have the server coming back asking for another salad, because "that one went to the wrong table, or my table is missing a salad" and we end up having to do things twice. None of the salads should leave our station until the ticket is completed. The tickets should stay with the salads for a particular table, until they are ready to serve to the table. It is very frustrating, and I know that there has to be an easier way. What I like to do, is finish the salads for a particular ticket, and place the ticket on the one that is different. How else is anyone to know which salad is different????

Also, it amazes me how many of our servers continue to ask the same question, over and over and over... Few of them actually seem to have brains. A HUGE pet peeve is that they like to wait until we are completely out of something, before telling us that they need more. For example; butter... each night we prep trays of butter for the servers to deliver with the bread. Instead of telling us when they are down to 1 tray, they wait until the trays are completely empty then come to us, in a panic, "where's the butter!?!?". It's like they expect us to drop what we are doing, to run back to the dish area to retrieve a butter dish, so they can be served butter. After a month, they should know that they need to be helpful, and a bit assertive, and go get the butter dishes, bring them back to us and say, politely, "could you please fill these?". Last night I had the wonderful pleasure of a new server's assistant who actually did that, without being told. She actually came to me and said "We are running low on butter, where do I get more?" I asked her to go back to the dish area, ask the dishwasher for the butter dishes and I would help her get them filled. There was still half of a tray available, but she thought ahead and none of us in the pantry was rushed. It was great!! I praised her and told her how wonderful it was to know that there really was someone with brains on their shoulders. She proceeded to periodically bring butter dishes back, and we got them filled, in a timely, un-rushed manner. So KUDOS to Maria!!!

Another issue I would like to vent about is inappropriate conversations and behavior. The last thing I want to have to listen to, while trying to get my work done, is other people's opinions on favorite sexual positions, partying, drinking, etc. Boyfriends and girlfriends should keep their hands to themselves while at work. There does not need to be any kissing or hugging or anything else going on while they are on the clock. Supervisors should not be touchy-feely with fellow STARS who are under there command, because it makes others uncomfortable, and leaves them wondering about supervisors "playing favorites". It also makes it very difficult to feel like you can go to them with a problem or concern, especially if it involves one of their favorites. They become very defensive of their favorite, and that can create resentment. I love my job, but I feel like there is no option when it comes to wanting to discuss an issue with someone. I am not the only one who has said that "there is just no talking to him about him/her", so those of us that feel that way, just let it brood and get pissy about it later.

There are a few more issues I could cover, but I just am very time limited. My biggest concern is that it seems that the overall morale seems to be on a steady decline. Everyone was so excited and happy in the beginning. Many of us could hardly wait to wake up and get to work. Now, there are a lot of us who wish it could be postponed. Many of us walk from the parking lot to the door with a feeling of dread vs. excitement. Many, in our kitchen, are looking for greener pastures. I can honestly say that I am not one of them. I have been through this before, and understand the growing/learning process. I will say that I have thought about moving to the front of the house, though, because the money is better. The issues are the same, but the money makes it bearable. However, moving to the front would take me out of the place I want to be, around the food, creating, learning, and the feeling of pride when I do something beautiful. I do wish, however, that I felt like I was actually learning something and gaining more technical skills, but I understand that it will take time. This restaurant has to get running smoothly, get some of the kinks straightened out, and the staff has to learn to work together and become a great team. I am a patient person who has her goals in sight, and I know that I am in the right place to achieve them. As painful as it is, I will push through, and hopefully the "growth process" won't take too long.

Have a wonderful day, thank you for listening, and if any of you have any suggestions please share them. Will try to write again, sooner rather than later.


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