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New job, cool diner, a lot of potential but....

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

~~I just started a new job at a small town diner. Ive had a vision for it ever since I spotted it and ate there. It was an old gas station that was transformed into a diner with an automotive theme, kinda cool. I started about 3 days ago and have been analizing every nook n cranny of the kitchen. So far I've noticed A LOT of frozen and canned product, a small line(which is fine) but they have 3 microwaves and they use them A LOT, 18 different hot hog options, canned marinara, pie filling, tomato soup, bacon bits...we have REAL BACON!! Lardons?? Pre-portioned vacuum sealed blackened salmon fillets which arent on the menu, ran as a special with canned green beans. ugh...I watched a cook make a grilled ham n cheese, put the sandwich directly on a cutting board with raw chicken juice and serve it. The customer complained and said it was soggy, so they gave it to him half off. ugh...The list goes on...so anyhow, the owner seems like a reasonable guy, was impressed with my resume and likes how I'm doing so far. I wasn't nessescarily hired to fix the place but I know I can, but I don't wana be too pushy with my ideas and come off pretentious. So...my question is, how do you think i should go about convincing him that his food sucks, screw all of that frozen crap, that powdered gravy mix, throw chef mic in the trash, and allow me to train your staff, increase the consistentcy and quality with a lot more fresh product while decreasing food cost. He's convinced that they need more volume to be able to make these changes...and I'm thinking....well...you need to make these changes to create more volume. I'm too new here to act like I'm running the show so my thought was to gradually chip away at the owner with ideas here and there, create specials and see how the guests respond. What do you think? Any suggestions? Thanks!! ;)

post #2 of 4

Are you the chef or a line cook?


If you are the chef, then your best bet would be to show him how it should be done using specials. In the above example, buy a side of salmon, some fresh green beans/veg, and cook and offer to gusts the same/similar special but fresh. In most circumstances, using pre-made and "convenience" food products is a false economy. Yes, it can save on labor, but the food is usually MORE expensive. Also, the quality is so much higher. You'll get so much more repeat business if you offer fresh food, which you seem to know. 


But yeah, make a batch of tomato soup. Make your own batch of marinara and sell it as a pasta special. Show him the cost...show him how it is cheaper and better to use fresh. Hopefully the customers will solidify your stance when they give good feedback on the food. 


Most likely it will be a slow process spread over weeks and months. 


If you are a line cook, find another job. Fast. 

post #3 of 4
Thread Starter 

I submitted my resume there for a "head cook" position. I'm not sure if they are aware of what that means or if I even do to be honest lol, which makes me think that If I'm given an opportunity to show them what I can do, I may be able to persuade them into allowing me to have control over the kitchen, hence...head chef, there really isn't a presence of a hierarchy there, which is fine as long as everyone knows their place. And hopefully I'm not out of line here being as new there as I am, It might be a long shot, and If I cant help them help themselves then I wont stick around for too long. And if he does allow me to do my thing, I have a lot of horrible product to move until I can push a new menu out....btw thanks for your reply someday.

post #4 of 4

First off, good luck with the new job. 

The first question to be answered is if the owner knows the difference between good actual cooking and what he serves now. Many people don't understand or appreciate the difference between prepackaged, microwaved processed foods and actual home made, from scratch food. There are numerous fast food corporations whose existence depends on that. If he and his customers are those people, you may have a very difficult time "educating" him or the customers who may never see why change is needed. 

Mindful of that, you could try asking the owner if he would allow you to make one  menu item from scratch to gauge customer response. If he agrees but  no one sees the value difference between what you make and what he already serves, you may simply have to give up and move on. 

     On the other hand, the raw chicken juice story is harmful and needs to be corrected immediately. You may suffer a bit from the other cooks hurt pride for having brought it up but a basic sanitation violation like that is a major problem. Address it with the owner in private so he can opt to deal with the other cook personally. You can always inform the other cook yourself of course. If they are young and untrained they may be open about listening to you. It may simply be poor training, sloppiness or laziness on the cooks part but it can not continue. If the owner and/or the cook listens to your very valid concern and don't recognize its importance, it will most definitely be time to move on but perhaps following a call to the health department so they can educate the staff on proper sanitation.  

Plenty of places around the country succeed quite well serving the food you describe because there are plenty of people willing to patronize them. They like it and see nothing wrong with it. Which means, of course, if it works for them there isn't anything wrong with it. It may just not be the right place for you. 

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