Alright, I know that this is not a new problem for many of you but for me it is. About six months ago I accepted an Executive Chef role in a casual type of restaurant in a popular lounge/nightclub/bar. During the interview process I was asked what I could do to bring the food costs down and develop food as a higher percentage of overall sales. I clearly outlined my plans (staff training, proper purchasing, implementing recipes, menu development, etc.) for the upper management. They agreed with my overall plan and hired me.
In the first few weeks/months the kitchen did a complete 180. Food costs went from, before I started, 50%-60%, to my goal of 30%-35%. Trained a majority of my staff to become actual cooks and not bagged food reheaters (it was apparent some didn't want to work harder and learn anything new, so unfortunately they are not longer on my team.) Kickstarted a good size banquet and catering operation, implemented room service into our attached hotel, and developed new menus.
That's where my problem starts: the menu. When i first started here I was asked to develop a few new menu items and make tastier/reduce cost on current menu items that were doing well. I developed a tasting menu of items to add to the menu and my plans on what to remove from current menu and what we could keep. Upper management enjoyed the tasting and agreed with my changes. Then it was like they put my kitchen on pause. Even though I constantly requested/insisted that we implement the menu, I kept getting the, "just another week, we have to wait for this...etc." Months later management come back to me and says that they want to take the restaurant in an entirely different direction. Scrap the entire menu/concept/idea of the restaurant, and the direction they gave me is "sexy and unique." Okay, not really very clear direction from management, but after many meetings and questions for them we had developed a (seemingly) clearer idea of the direction to go with the menu. I spent weeks and weeks on research and development for my new menu, then set an entire menu tasting. About six dishes in to the tasting the top boss says to me that they are full and don't have anymore time for the tasting that day. I was only about 20% into my three menu tasting, dinner, breakfast, and late night, and they asked me to stop, got up from the table and left. I finally got a meeting with my immediate supervisor a few days later to discuss the tasting. He told me that I apparently didn't understand what direction management wanted the menu to go. And that while they enjoyed the dishes that isn't what they were thinking of for the new menu.
A few weeks after that (during the busy banquet holiday season) management brings HR paper to me with an improvement plan for my performance. They stated that I was not preforming to their expectations and was not developing menus they felt were in the right direction for the restaurant. I now have 60 days to improve or apparently I'm out on my butt.
So I guess my question is have any of you other chefs experienced flip-flop upper management like this? I feel I am doing everything that I was hired for, the restaurant is making more money than ever, costs are the lowest they have ever been, and customers are writing great reviews. Would you continue trying to appease a confusing management team? Do you think they will ever be happy? Should I try to start looking for new opportunities?
Apologizes that this post is so long, just extremely frustrated, defeated, and exhausted.