Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Buddy's, Part 2

Okay, here comes She-Pants (SP, and why she's named that, you'll just have to take a wild-assed guess).

So, in she waltzes with Whipped-Down Husband (WDH), who we've dealt with before, and he's a really nice guy. He's 5 steps in and she's already half-way across the floor, zipping in and out of the rows. I head in his direction and give the usual greeting. WDH says that I should help his wife, SP, so I go zipping after her. Well, she's going 50 MPH looking for things, and I tell her, "Let me find what you need, that will help us go faster." She seems to agree to that and tells me they want to open in two days, and goes dashing off in the direction of the ramekins, me following behind.

WTF! They've been working on the building for a year and come in here two days before opening for last minute stuff they can't get from the internet. Well, they can get it from the internet, but then they'd have to pay shipping. And she can't brow-beat a web-site into lower prices. My dear, you ain't in New York right now. You'se in Pensacola, Florida, otherwise known as LA (Lower Alabama). You can't get it faster by by being rude, just the opposite.

Years of waiting tables and Managing have given me patience beyond measure. However, going down the aisles and picking up items and going, "How much is this, Babe?" every 30 seconds is not the way to a better deal. I told her when she came in that she would get the best deal I could give. Generally, a new restaurant that opens puts together a smallwares package that is a large purchase, so we give extra discounts than normal. That will put us in good standing with a start-up, with the understanding that from there on, they will get the standard percentage-off discount off of the retail price. Start-up packages generally get "net-plus" pricing, meaning a percentage added to our cost, which is a great deal as opposed to the standard 25% off of retail. So, when SP is asking me for pricing on every other item in the store, it's difficult. Different suppliers give different discounts to us. So, I'm giving her vague pricing, like "Around $1.80", or "Close to $12.00". Three out of four quotes is met by "I can get that online for lots less" or "We'll just get that at Wal-Mart". After quoting her some 2 ounce fluted ramekins at a great price, she came back by saying she could get them at Wal-Mart for half the price. I finally had enough and said back, loudly, "Wal-Mart doesn't have plastic fluted ramekins!" Things went better after that. After asking for pricing on vinyl menu covers, she loudly derides the pricing. WDH pipes up that they need them so go ahead and order them (a 7-day order). SP remarks to anyone listening "Do that and I'll cancel your credit card." She-Pants indeed!

They ended up buying around $1000 of smallwares and taking a year off of my life. It's so frustrating sometimes when people come in at the last moment and are flabbergasted when you don't have a specific, odd item in stock. All we can say is, "If I had a weeks notice, I could have had that for you, no problem". We have four stores. If one is out, another should have it. Your last minute procrastination does not give you justification for implying that WE are inept.

They also waited until one week before opening to give us their china order after they were told it takes 7-10 days to receive a shipment. If we rush our suppliers, 7 days is the minimum. This cheap china comes from New Jersey and takes 2-3 days by truck. It takes a day or two for our supplier to enter the item, send us an acknowledgement, and us to fax back an O.K. that they got the order right. Figure a day or two for them to gather the stuff in their ginormous warehouse and put it on pallets, shrink rap it, and call the shipper.This is not gonna happen overnight. So after they finally give us their final order, they start calling after 3 days wondering where their damn plates are. Can you tell that they've never done this before?

So, they got their plates the day after they opened. We were nice enough to offer them some plates and bowls to use for their opening that we had plenty of. Why we go out of our way to help these shmucks, I don't know. Well, I do know. Even though we are one of the few suppliers for this area, we pride ourselves on service, and coming through for our clients. It's a running joke amongst us. When we go above and beyond, we tell each other "You make dreams come true!" Sounds better if you're there, I guess.

And, they opened and were happy. As happy as any cheap-ass customer can be, I suppose. I'd been dying for some good Italian cooking, and since they said they were the best, I decided that a good place to celebrate my dad's sister's birthday would be there. So, I called to make a reservation. "Uh, I'm not sure that we take reservations, let me ask." After being open almost two weeks, the person answering the phones wasn't sure if they take reservations? Uh, so when will you know?

So, I made a "call-ahead" for 4 at 6 o'clock on a Saturday. The Saturday when Tropical Storm Lee was blowing in. Should be interesting.

To be continued.......(I'm sorry!)

Sunday, September 4, 2011


Now, that's not the name of the restaurant that I'm going to talk about (As a matter of fact, it's the name of one of my favorite pizza places in Michigan.) But, I can't exactly call it by it's real name. It's a synonym, along with 'comrade' or 'pal', only in Italian. Nuff said. I don't wanna be sued. This is a small city, and I don't want anyone Googling and bringing up this blog and detective-ing. But, this is one "Don't do it this way!" post that needs writing. It's textbook. It's common sense. It's obvious. Everything the owners don't understand.

This first started about a year ago. There was a building not far from where I work and live that started getting renovated. In a city this small, everyone notices and starts to ruminate on what it could be. A few months later, a neon sign is put on the front saying "Buddy's Restaurant and Pizzeria". Well, that's new! One of the obvious things we've been missing on this side of town is an Italian restaurant and everyone is excited. (Oh, how I miss the great Italian places in Michigan and Massachusetts!) We send out one of our salespersons, as we always do when a new place is announced, and the word comes back. "These guys don't know what they're doing". They don't know when they will open. No date. Nothing. Hello! If you're going to open a restaurant, shouldn't you have a goal in mind? Some plan or something?

Our salesman says that they're ordering their own furniture online and getting used equipment online also. So, not so much business for us. But, you never know. We've picked up the pieces before when other restaurants try to go it alone. Many chains and not-chains have come to us at the last moment when their original supplier can't come through. When their "Ed Don" or "Wasserstrom" or whoever back-orders items that you need to open, they come to us.

Well, after a year, these folks are finally ready to get serious. There's a couple we'll call "She-pants" (SP) and "Whipped-down husband" (WDH). They are joined by SP's brother "Jersey Shore" (JS), the "Head Chef" (I just love it when newbies call their pizza guy 'Head Chef''). JS is the first to come struttin into the store about 3 weeks ago. "Yo, yo, yo, we need a buncha stuff!" "How much is dis?" "Youse godda be kiddin' me". "Youse killin' me!". Did I say he was from Jersey? He basically leaves with nothing, since, so sorry, we're not Wal-Mart. We don't carry Wal-Mart crap and we don't sell for their Wal-Mart crap prices. We have commercial restaurant quality things that you can't find at Wal-Mart, dude! If you want tissue-paper thick pizza pans for a buck, go elsewhere. Our customers expect things that will survive the abuse a $7/HR dishwasher will dish out.. If you want 50 cent plates, may I suggest the pottery place at the outlet mall that sells seconds? Or shop in Jersey where things "fall off the back of trucks accidentally".

Two weeks later, we are treated to JS's sister, "She-pants". Oh, my god! She's the type who will call a John "Johnny", a Sam "Sammy", and everyone else "Babe". Puerto-Rican/Italian/Jersey woman, (Think Theresa from Housewives of New Jersey) who somehow got the money together to start a restaurant. And took her husband, Whipped-down Husband" (WDH) along for the ride, whether he wants to or not. The first words out of her mouth were "We've got money to spend, so I want attention!' The other two at the desk looked at me and retreated. I was to be the sacrificial lamb, since I have the most patience amongst them.

*Gird loins and approach. * To Be Continued.