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Hello....struggling owner

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
Hi Chefs...I posted this to the welcome thread but after looking at it, I though it may be better suited for this board....here is what I wrote on the other board.....

Hi all. I've been using this site for helpful info for a very long time. Thanks to everyone for all your posts, ideas, recipes, encouragement, etc.

I'm a owner, operator, cook, server, janitor and fix it person of a small restaurant/pub. I've been doing it for 3 years and this year, like for so many, my struggles have been the hardest. I'm giving it one last push to maximize my summer revenues and make enough to try to pull me out of the hole from this winter. This is my last chance push with lots of effort and hope. I've never posted here...but thought...maybe I should.

Here's my first question that might benefit others as well..

Knowing that I own a pub style restaurant...high quality ingredients...house cooked everything, but very simple menu of sandwiches, soups, chowder, salads and some stand-by standard pizza to keep the tourists happy.....

If you were to add just ONE menu item that is knock-your-socks off good that is virtually prepared 100% ahead of time and has good shelf life....what would it be?

Thoughts I've had in past....but haven't drilled recipes, prep or execution....

Tuna salad Sandwich-addictive yummy
Chicken Salad Sandwich-addictive yummy
Crock pot meat sandwich....keep the meat on low all day, ladel onto a high quality hand twisted Kaiser and Serve....

Anyone got any high quality, great shelf life, addictive recipes that they would want to nominate as the ONE new menu item to try? Not limited to my suggestions....any ideas would be great....high quality, great life span, yummy and FAST AND EASY TO SERVE.

Look forward to talking to more of you in future.
post #2 of 22
A kick-azz soup, or a kick-azz stew. Both of these can be prepared way ahead of time and frozen--in small a'la carte portions or larger portions.

You've got the right idea and plan: Simple, but the best of ingredients
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
post #3 of 22
Whereabouts are you from? Perhaps there are some local specialities you can take advantage of?
"If it's chicken, chicken a la king. If it's fish, fish a la king. If it's turkey, fish a la king." -Bender
"If it's chicken, chicken a la king. If it's fish, fish a la king. If it's turkey, fish a la king." -Bender
post #4 of 22
Every pub/tavern should have a great shepherds pie, in my lowly, uninformed opinion.
Finally following my heart to do what I love.

1 ACF Bronze
Finally following my heart to do what I love.

1 ACF Bronze
post #5 of 22
ditch the pizza, add burgers or a thick juicy steak (leftover unsold steak could be used for steak sandwiches). along with homemade french fries or sweet potato fries. these would all stay within the same theme of the pub.

very true, almost every pub ive been to, has shepards pie, bufallo wings, or an 'irish plate' on it.

lastly, a 'wing night' is usually good for a boost in business... around these parts they do .25 wings, with 2.00 drafts and ppl come out of the wood work for this. if youre looking for a quick 'shot in the arm' maybe this will help?
post #6 of 22
Wings have jumped into the "treacherous because everyone and their brother does them" category in my mind. That said, if the town that the OP is in doesn't have that niche filled... it could be gold. They are quick, simple, but the margins are pretty narrow. I guess it you ran a special that every table that ordered a pitcher gets 25 cent wings all night, that would play because pitchers have wide margins and by nature don't like living alone. Yes, it's true, the patrons will be incline to purchase multiple pitchers to keep the first one happy.
post #7 of 22
Brother if you're praying a tuna salad sandwich will be your savior, you're in a world of hurt.

Off the top of my head, one of the few single things that could be a real turn around for you is fresh, home-made potato chips. Part of it though is that people can see that they are fresh and home made. Another thought is bringing an electric or gas smoker to your kitchen and adding barbecue -- including barbecue sandwiches to your menu. Whether beef, pork or turkey, two of them, or even all three might depend on your region. In addition, you might be able to do a pretty healthy business in ribs. Ribs are always a good seller.

But several things already mentioned -- great burgers, wings, steak sandwich (I know he said steak, but the sandwich is killer), and fries are solid pub foods and should make a difference if well executed. The problem with these, as well as with most good, fresh foods is that they're labor intensive and must be cooked as ordered -- and so are tough tunes for a one man band to play.

You're confronted with a rather obvious choice. If you want to do quality food, you're going to have to add another person (assuming you have a kitchen on premises). I know this is difficult advice to swallow when you're holding on by your shoestrings, but the world isn't going to beat a path to your door to get crock-pot leftovers and toaster oven pizza. It just won't. If you set your emotions aside for a minute, and give it some thought, you'll realize that it shouldn't. If you were a customer, you wouldn't. Your suggestions seem doomed to failure.

I... we ... can't provide as much help as we otherwise could if you gave us the real rundown on your circumstances.

What's your shop like? How many tables? What's the kitchen like?

Where are you located? Specifically, where are you located? A huge part of making money in this business is location, so while I don't really care about your mailing address it would be helpful to know if you're on the water, in an alley, adjacent to a tourist site, and the actual name of your town. That sort of thing. You know. Location.

What's your clientele like? Proportion of tourists/locals? Who would you like to attract? Will your location allow it if you provide the right food?

What's your food background? How well do you cook generally? If you're not a great cook, are there things you do particularly well?

Finally, I'd like to see a complete version of your current menu along with any particulars you can give me about each dish as to its preparation, and your own opinion as to whether it's any good or not.

Etc. The more the better.

post #8 of 22
+1 on the steak sandwich. This is something that a bunch of commnunities are without. I despise chains with every drop of blood in my body but every time I go home to good old Miamisburg, Ohio I visit PennStation and get the big cheesesteak sandwich. I simply can't find a replacement up here in Michigan. Great burgers, amazing beer, a few decent late night dives but no cheesesteak.

But the specifics asked by BDL are pretty imperitive. I would consider getting the book "Entrepreneurial Small Business" ISBN 978-0-07-128807-1 available at amazon. Then think about writing a businessplan like you were just opening up. The book is designed to help you with this task. You'll find out how to find the numbers that you need to know. You need to know the foot traffic, the competition (and trust me, you have competition wether you think you do or not), the location costs, the sales mix (product), the client mix, and much more.

You've mentioned to me that the location is vey season dependent, this means you need to cover the slow times with the busy. This scream Revenue Goals. There is a ton of information that you need to know, fortunately the book I suggested points you in the right direction.
post #9 of 22
id like to know where the OP is located, as this is key in giving helpful advice. also if you can team up with other pubs/bars and create a softball league then alternate each week which pub hosts the 'post game celebration' its a good way to get ppl through the door... there are many many suggestions, or ways to approach this but with out knowing location, or what exactly youre looking for, its difficult to advise.
post #10 of 22
meatloaf..really good, or an also really good hot turkey sandwich with REAL mashers with REAL gravy..good meatball or italian sausage sub, or maybe just a plain ole plate of spaghetti and real meatballs..as everyone says..where are you?..can never go wrong with good hearty soups or stew/chilis/gumbos...just my 2 cents

food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne


food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

post #11 of 22
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all your replys

You all rock. All of yours, but particularly, Angry's comments seem really sound and with some punch behind them.

To answer a few questions, I'm on the Oregon Coast. Very seasonal. Many of you discuss the steak sandwich. I do a rocking roast beef with house cooked roast...they choose, plain, with cheese and/or with homemade au jus. I am limited to a pizza oven for cooking what goes out to the table. IN back I have a great prep kithchen...but no fryer and a grill that isn't used.

My goal...simplify. My challenge...new staff constantly given the demographics of our small town. I've had a couple on staff for a few years, but have hired over 70 people in 3 years. I spend a great deal of my time drilling every process down to the point where almost anyone can walk off the street and do it....which sometimes....with staffing, that is where I am. I am a great boss and I pay better than most, but the nature of the small vacation town...cost of living...extreme change in business...makes retaining people difficult.

I want quality and simplicity given my challenges with super touristy flows and really unstable staffing.

Again, thanks for all the comments. They lift the spirits.
post #12 of 22
I worked for years for a place that was known for it's onion rings. Pure profit if you make them from scratch. Scratch ones are the only ones worth serving anyway because frozen ones get rubbery from the freezing. Cut onions 1/2" thick, separate into rings and keep in a tub in your cooler. We used a cracker meal breading, which works best. Use a fine grind meal. Dip rings in water, dredge in cracker meal, into batter and then the fryer. Pain in the butt when you're busy but big money maker. No one does this any more and people go nuts for house made onion rings. Also won't cost you much to try it. I also like the beef sandwich idea. A hard roll works eally great for that kind of sandwich because you can keep your meat in an au jus and the roll can hande lots of juice without falling apart. Which is why I never order a French dip. They're always on a wimpy roll that can't suck up and hold the juice. Post some of your menu items and maybe we can help more.
post #13 of 22
You have a pizza oven, what kind is it? Is it a tabletop one we often see at bars or is it a deck oven with a stone bottom?

I've had friends run successful lunch only items using an electric fryer (no hood vent needed) five days a week. Actually two fryers, one for french fries, one for other stuff. If I were a bar that served bar food, and if I were in the midwest which I am, I would serve fried cheese curds, do a fish fry basket, and a kicking lavash bread pizza. Brush the lavash with some herb oil and go light on the ingredients but make them flavorful, for example, 3-4 slices salami, really salty olives, fresh basil, sprinkling of parmesan, gruyere, diced tomatoes. Go light on the ingredients, really really light.
post #14 of 22
ok, two thoughts
first one LISTEN to boar d laze...
so spot on all the time...fresh potato chips, exactly

second off, the other thing that came to my mind right away, since you say you don't have a grill or fryer would be a really interesting or kicking soup or chili. If I remember correctly the Oregon coast isn't really hoppin' and on top of that you def are probably going to be relying more so on locals and word of mouth here. That being said i would (IMO) ditch the novelty foods and pizza and start serving a more warm, inviting pub type of menu. Roast beef I think is a great start, how does it sell??
get a fryer so you can do your own fries and onion rings.
somebody suggested a meatloaf sandwich, i think that's great
also saw somebody suggest shepherds pie, which i also think is great.
fried fish, a kicken' slaw
I can't give many suggestions obviously because I don't know the whole history of your restaurant, your exact location or the types of customers you get and how often they visit and what they order. We don't know how much you charge for dishes or your average ticket price...
so there are a lot of variables we don't know (and I wouldn't expect you to unleash every detail or anything..lol)
BUT...for some reason
i just see lumberjacks with flannel and beards, curious travelers and homebody locals frequenting your establishment and I get the vibe of them liking that whole pub/tavern feel..so long as it isn't too uninviting and too "old school" looking that may or may not be the route you choose to consider for the long run.
Obviously don't change your whole menu or too much at once but start by working in gradual changes and maybe redesign the menu's. Daily specials..
Another thing that works very well, is to take a look at your market and decide..really who they are, than decorate and cater to that. and things like the color of your signage have a lot to do with who and how many will frequent. reds, deep reds, purple, orange, brown and yellow are all considered hungry colors. Green and Blue are absolutely horrible colors to use for a restaurant.

I've always fantisized about graduating school and opening a cheesesteak place done right in NorCal...BUT...since I'm so nice I'll let the secret out of the bag
if you do choose to ever do a cheesesteak sandwich it is absolutely imperative that you use the right bread. I think that is the reason so many people fail with the cheesesteak. I'm a Philadelphia native and I can tell you the 2 secrets to an authentic and great tasting cheesesteak. The first being the best cuts of ribeye (or top round) you can find and the most important aspect...cannot stress enough is the right bread. Part of the problem anywhere other than PA and Jersey is that Amoroso's really "makes the leading roll" (pardon the marketing pun)...

at any rate, you've come to a great place for help...there are many very knowledgeable people with years and years of experience on here (that have really helped me)...
good luck
post #15 of 22
sweet potato chips, regular potato chips....both can be pre made and thus not needing attention during service.

There's a super bar/pub here called The Royale, tiniest of galley kitchen....they've got a large pot the (one kitchen cooking staff) uses to fry their sweet potato chips. Limited menu.

They've got a good beer selection and an even better drink selection with named booze. Most mixed beverages are $7-8, using fresh juices.
They name Barbancourt Rum, Maker's Mark Bourbon, not sure about the gin & vodka but you get the point. It's busy during the week with neighborhood regulars feeling comfortable enough to drop in for dinner/beverage.

What about a charcuterie &/cheese platter, Oregan products.....add olives....

One of my favorite places had a bang out chicken salad sandwich, 75% of the time that's what I ordered. Simple. chicken breast, celery, mayo....alfalfa sprouts on the sandwich, one side of the bread toasted. $7 including fries....big enough for 2 meals. But it was simple and good. As were the burgers. The chef had been at a top rated fine dining restaurant for 10+ years and migrated to a lunch/dinner place with his caliber of food.
cooking with all your senses.....
cooking with all your senses.....
post #16 of 22
as soon as you said that i instantly thought of this place in neighbouring state:

Salumi Artisan Cured Meats
post #17 of 22
Shoot you could open up a whole dogs and suds diner right behind the bar counter. Steam table, condiments, and what's that machine where you put in the frozen fries and when the timer goes on it dumps the fries out in a chute?
post #18 of 22
I love the Charcuterie Plate idea. A couple of locally produced sausages and salamis plated with a few condiments go great with beer. You can either buy all of it in or buy some and experiment and makes some yourself. BDL also touched on BBQ. While you might not feel like taking on the whole BBQ thing, a nice Pulled Pork Sandwich with a house made BBQ sauce would work well. Or how about Mac & Cheese? It is very customizable so that you can create your own signature style and can be done easily if preparing it on the stove top as opposed to baking it. Forget the Tuna Salad. I like the Chicken Salad idea, but I would consider spicing it up and make a Curried Chicken Salad or something along those lines to make it more beer and drink friendly, since you call yourself a pub. Hope this helps!!
post #19 of 22
I am on the Coast of the Maryland shore at a country club. I know what it is not to have much help in the kitchen especially at this time of the year. Also, I have to make things simple yet fresh and can hold for a while. First, purchase a vacuum packing machine from KMART or WALMART or ONLINE. Foodsaver is a pretty good inexpensive one for what you would propbably need (75.00-100.00)+ bags 8.00 for a double pack of 11 inch.
So far this has saved me lots of money and what would last me 3-4 days is now lasting me 7-10 days, seriously !
I recently put a crab pizza on my menu the other day, made 24 of them and all were sold within 4 hours on a mediocre night at 10.95.
The pizza is made with Lavosh Flatbread from Sysco and the ingredients are as follows:
Mascaporne cheese for spreading on the outside edges of the crust, then mix following ingredient together and sprinkle. Shredded Mozzarella, Fresh chopped Basil, Rough Chopped Spinach, Fresh Garlic, Olive oil, Crushed Red Pepper, Diced Tomatoes and some Jumbo Lump crabmeat. You do not have to use the best crab meat, just as long as it looks great. Hot pizza oven until slightly dark brown edges. This mix will last for 5 days, if vacuumed it will last 2 weeks. Guaranteed !
One more thing. 1/2 Price fresh 8z burgers !
Let me know how it works.
The mix should not be too moist so drain the diced tomatoes very well and not alot of Olive oil.
post #20 of 22
Foodbiz, have you tried The French Laundry recipe for tomato confit? I think it would suit your pizza better that goopy chunks that you have to drain. The flavors are also intensified. Just a thought.
post #21 of 22
ummmm pizza please! :smiles:
Great reading pizza Foodbiz.

I really gravitate to blue crab claw meat, just more flavor than the lump...JMPTC.

Farmstead cheeses if they make sense, you are in a great area for cheeses and cured meats. Throw on a tiny bit of coarse grain mustard, possibly some house pickles (or quick pickled onion slices)

Dip options for the chips, upcharge.

I'm going to politely disagree with some of the others, a simple good chicken salad is a beautiful thing. Nothing fancy, just well made.

Oregan, you are in wild shroom territory. How about buying some dried shrooms bits, powdering them and either sprinkling it on chips with salt, or coating meat with it (I used to use pork tenderloin and porchine powder)

A buddy of mine opened an English pub here a couple of months ago and his charcuterie plate has pickled mushrooms (chanterelles, shiitakes, etc)....

he's got meat pies, some fancier than others.

his egg plate is killer, 1 whole pickled egg with tarragon and red wine vinegar, 1 whole deviled egg....$5, small bouquet of spring mix
cooking with all your senses.....
cooking with all your senses.....
post #22 of 22
Braised Short Rib Sandwich......super pub food, goes with beer or wine.....good shelf life. Can't go wrong with that at all!!
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