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New here, took on a kitchen nightmare restaurant impossible job! Need help

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

Hi, so I'm 35 born in Florida, U.S.A. Graduated culinary school 15 years ago and have been mostly sous with some seasonal exec jobs in real restaurants but for the last 8 years have been mostly doing, yachts, ski resorts and fishing lodges in Alaska, and private, and free lance cooking.  Pretty much have lived and traveled outside of the U.S. for the last 10 years having fun and trying to learn real food from local people around the world.  Any ways, moved to an island called Saipan in the south pacific. I came here to relax after a 6 month busy yacht charter season in the Bahamas.  Rent and life is cheap here so I just planned on hanging out and getting a line cook clock in and clock out job and work 30-40 hours a week.  Go figure the first place I applied for the exec had just put in his notice.  I reluctantly took the job because its a cool restaurant and have learned to never pass up opportunities when the present themselves. I have opened 3 restaurants so know the deal that you are pretty much giving up 6 months of your life eating, breathing, and dreaming/nightmares about the place till things settle down.  Any ways this place has been losing money for years, like 4. The last chef worked there for the last 4 years and was so burnt out he pretty much gave up any sort of standards.  They keep getting new owners to buy in to keep it afloat.  Right now there are 5 owners with their families.  Big problem that I pointed out to them is that they and their families eat there everyday getting 50% off.  Our comps were over 5000 dollars last month for 41,000 dollars in sales.  I told the owner he will never make money of the owners are eating 10 oz filets everyday here which are over 20 dollars a pound.  I have an all phillipio staff with absolutely no training.  I had to do a full 10 hour douche the whole kitchen when I started there because it was so crazy dirty I have never seen anything like it.  I'm talking stuff growing under the equipment for years. Leaving meat out for days and thawing raw chicken, fish, and lunch meat going on a sandwich in the same sink.  In the last 10 days my produce guy disappeared courtesy of the Chinese mafia so have been driving around the whole island buying vegetables everyday and my bakery got closed down by the department of health on the island for not having hot water!  I could go on for hours and days about all the shit I've been dealing with for the last 2 months since I started this job!  I have a meeting with the owners tomorrow and these voids and comps make my food cost look bad.  What is considered a normal percentage for comps and voids for a month??  Thanks

post #2 of 7

Just show them the money.  Here in the US, for sit-down restaurants, the average profit margin is somewhere between 1.8-3.5% (of course there are places that do beyond that but this is the average).  Now if you are comping $5000 out of $41,000 that is 12.2%.  Not only have they eaten up all their profit they are losing from 8.7-10.4% every month. (These are very simplified numbers, not taking into account food cost, etc. but it is a good starting point and chances are if you got too in depth you would just lose them).  Those numbers pretty much speak for themselves.  If these people have even least amount of business sense, or just math sense they will see that this isn't sustainable.

 

Many, non-restaurant people who open restaurants feel that one of the perks of owning a restaurant is free meals.  As an owner that is their choice, but if they want to make money then they need to stop, especially with 5 families all taking advantage.  What they don't understand is that they are paying for those "free" or "comped" meals one way or another.  If they really care about seeing their place continue then they need to change their habits.  Ultimately, they wouldn't take any comped meals (unless they are actually working-and even then maybe not) but chances are they won't go for that even after showing how they are bleeding money.  Can you convince them that they only need to eat there once a week, and then off of a limited menu, doing away with all the high-cost items?

 

My hope would be that by showing them that their habits are completely unsustainable they will change their tune.  If not, stick it out for awhile if you want but don't expect any job security because eventually they will close down.

post #3 of 7

Back the voids and comps out of food cost and sales so that your numbers will be a rue reflection of your performance. How the owners spend their money is up to them but make sure they have the opportunity to view the numbers in a clear light.

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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post #4 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by cheflayne View Post
 

Back the voids and comps out of food cost and sales so that your numbers will be a rue reflection of your performance. How the owners spend their money is up to them but make sure they have the opportunity to view the numbers in a clear light.

Wow.......doing that would be a very involved situation. It would encompass having to inventory everything these 5 families ate whenever they came in and then keeping this all separate from the regular inventory and somehow deducting it all from the food cost.

What a mess.

post #5 of 7

It is not all that complicated. You have the tickets. You should have a numbers breakdown on all the dishes on the menu. At the end of the month, you total up and back it out.

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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post #6 of 7

     The other posters have given you great advice on number crunching and certainly you should inform the owners in one way or another that they should not be getting free meals. Or maybe they want the restaurant to lose money. Who knows. 

You seem like a free spirited type with no wife or family to worry about. So as much as I enjoy facing a good challenge, I think my advice would be -Get Out. 

     Your outline of the situation informs me that you are fighting forces beyond your control. Too many factors against you and not nearly enough support. I'd agree that  a blunt informational session with the owners is necessary but if you get less than an enthusiastic, supportive response, get an exit strategy going. Life is too short to waste with the hopelessly clueless. 

post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 

I did give my notice 1 month after I started.  I could see that there were so many problems and challenges with and dealing with 5 owners who have never worked in a restaurant eating lunch and dinner their everyday..  Not to mention all the equipment breaks on a daily basis.  They are behind on their bills so I never know when I order something if and when the purveyors are going to get paid and sometimes they won't take my order or deliver till they get a check old invoices.  I have ran out of propane 2 times, both in the middle of Friday night dinner service because they didn't pay the propane company.  Having to finish dinner service on a single butane burner!  I've used my personal cash to buy food for the restaurant and it takes weeks or a month to get paid back.  All of this while dealing with an all Pilipino staff that has never been trained.  I got the line cooks trained now but the front of the house is a nightmare.!  Like I said I could go on and on.  The main owner I deal with is a nice guy so I promised him I would get things working before I go.  New lunch menu is out and dinner menu should be out next week.  Worst part is the pay is so crazy low on this island I was making more 15 years ago as a line cook than I am now!!

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