Saturday, 29 September 2012

I have been working in the food business for close on 25 years. We started with a tiny coffee shop in Dun Laoghaire "The Coffee Bean. With the help of my wife Cathy, we made it a success and today we operate two restaurants "Ouzos Bar & Grill" in Dalkey & Blackrock. We have been through thick & thin and somehow we have survived. This time next year, we’ll all be millionaires, again!

This blog is all about running restaurants in Ireland. The ups, the downs, the challenges, the serious stuff, the laughs, the good times, the bad times, the red tape, the lack of any tape, the good people, the bad people, the customers, the government, the suppliers, the critics, the chefs, the waiters and above all, the craic.

Running a restaurant is just like making a movie. Opening the door is the same as the shout "Lights, Camera, Action" and then everything better be in its place and working. The organization and the level of personal commitment involved is beyond most normal people’s comprehension. Trust me when I tell you, you have to be a little bet insane to work in a restaurant. Being a restaurateur is defiantly not a job, it’s a way of life and being married to a saint is a must. I love what I do with a passion and the good times far outweigh the bad.

Let me start by telling you about my two favorite complaints.

It’s a Wednesday night in Ouzos Baggot Street 1998 is the year. I am summoned to the table by a very irate guest who pushes his chair back, points with both hands to his dessert and shouts “what sort of a kip is this? My dessert is frozen in the middle” To which I replied “but sir, its Baked Alaska!” “I don’t give a shit what it is, it’s dangerous and I’m not eating it” Now, there are two ways I could have handled this, the first idea flashed through my mind and like an out-of-body experience I was looking down at myself. I grabbed him by the back of the head and stuck his face into the Baked Alaska while calling him an imbecile. I decided to go with the second option, I apologized and offered to get him something else. He left the restaurant happy and I was happy in the knowledge that it would not be long before one of his friends explained to him just how stupid he actually was. In fairness we laughed for a month about this one.

Saturday night Ouzos Ranelagh 2003, I was walking into the kitchen to begin the first service and a waiter walks past me with a fillet steak being returned from a table. The waiter tells the chef that the guest had ordered his steak very well done and the fillet needs to be cooked more. The steak had been cut in half by the guest and it was defiantly cooked through. We put the steak on the char-grill for a couple of minutes and flashed it under the grill for a further two. The steak arrived back a second time with the instruction to cook it more. The chef looked at me in astonishment, the steak didn’t look like a steak anymore, it was dried out beyond recognition. I said the customer is always right and if he wants it cooked more, then cook it some more. We cooked it some more, sent to the table and it arrives straight back and the waiter says to the chef “he said its over done now and he wants to know would you like him to come to the kitchen and show you how to cook a steak” it took two of us to hold the chef down while the floor manager went to the table to offer the guest something else.

We have our top 20 silly complaints and I will tell you some more later.

Before you open a restaurant, you should really ask yourself, are you really equipped to deal with the public?