Delayed Gratification : Michael T’s Restaurant

If there was ever an example of a man who understands the benefits of delayed gratification, the sacrifice and daily grind day in and day out for years, it would be the owner of Michael T’s in New Hartford, Michael Trunfio.  

It’s been a decade since I stopped working for the man but I still swing my his restaurant every chance I get.  

Mick was a good friend of my Dad’s, so I had an inside track to his low overhead operation when I found myself looking for work after I graduated high school.  

He gave me the opportunity as a bus boy, takeout and salad preparer, cook, and the sous chef.  Working under the equally brilliant, Chef Visalli, who is now a doctor.  He have me the freedom to create my own dishes which was something I took much pride in.    

Mick knew how to hustle.  With three young daughters to support, he put in his 20 years at the post office while simultaneously working behind the stove and running the business end of the family restaurant he took over from his father.    The man never stopped.  Working till 5 sorting mail then hustling over to the restaurant for service.  

Did I mention that the food is amazing?  Of course it is.  Serving up classic Italian American dishes as well as many house specialities.  What makes it so amazing is it’s simplicity.  The combination of a few high quality ingredients in a conscientious way to create something delicious.   I and many consider their Chicken Riggies and Utica Greens the best.  But don’t overlook the fish fry, the chicken franchaise, or Haddock Gianna.  

When I see Mick now,. I see a more relaxed, light hearted version.  When I see pictures on Facebook, he looks to be enjoying life a little more.  He is also able to focus more on expanding his business with the addition of the ever popular food truck.  
Mick…if you read this.  Thank you for the opportunity all those years ago.  The experience you gave me was invaluable.  

Advertisements

Record Year

As October began, the year ended…the fiscal year.  My 5th year as a General Manager ended in poetic fashion.  

My team and I had been able to produce positive sales growth 4 years in a row.  And just when I thought there was no way that we could pull it off again, we answered that challenge by not only raising sales but leading the division and delivering the second best comp sales in the entire company.   

To top it off, we have recently been granted the privilege to become a training Restaurant. Where new managers come to our restaurant to learn their craft.   It is a great honor that has taken years to gain this distinction.  

I don’t think anyone on my team understands how proud I am of these accomplishments and how I couldn’t have done it without out them. 

To anyone on my team reading this….thank you for all that you do.  It is greatly appreciated.  I hope that I have helped you move towards your own goals as you have help me towards mine.  

Kosta’s Pizza House : Featuring The Doctor Of Hunger

Another first for me today.  After picking Liam up from school we headed to East Manlius Street to Kosta’s Pizza House.  

My wife went there all the time when she was growing up.  It’s a two person show.  Husband/ owner out front taking orders and preparing food and wife in the back kitchen doing prep, with apartment upstairs.

I walk in and there’s the man himself           “Hey buddy,” in his thick Greek accent. ” Pepperoni calzone and Buffalo chicken sub?  No problem.  I can do that blindfolded”. And off he went.  Nothing premade.  All made to order.  

Love places like this.  So much history to where is doesn’t even matter if the food is good or not, which it is.  The welcoming nature of the host makes you wanna come back again and again.  

“Been in business here for 31 years.  40 more to go.  Gonna be the oldest pizza maker in America”.

Best of luck to you buddy.  


Look at that.  Diploma of food engineering.  Dr. Hunger

Flo’s Diner : Home Of The Ten Cent Coffee

I’m very sentimental about diners.  It was at the Empire Diner out in Herkimer where I first learned to cook at 18.  

I had been working as a dishwasher, takeout person, and salad preparer in many places before hand but this was my first time preparing any main dishes.  

I remember those mornings, cracking the eggs in the pan… careful not to break the yolk and then flipping them over so gently for over easy eggs.   Such a little thing filled me with dread.  

I pass by Flo’s Diner whenever I travel on RT. 31 but I never stopped. I’m stir crazy this early morning at 5AM so I’m off.  

What grabs your attention as you drive by is large sign, “home of the 10 cent coffee”.  I get free coffee at work, but I don’t work today so 10 cents is the next best thing.  

Food was really good as I happily gobbled up eggs, home fries, and toasts along side the local truckers and fishermen.  

The Lucky Break

 

Today I take you back to February of 2011.  I was 24 years old, and even though I was a successful District Manager for a Dunkin Donuts Franchise in the suburbs of Rochester, I was enjoying the twenties lifestyle so much, that I had to work two other part-time jobs to support it and that box of a studio apartment that I passed out in.  Once in a while.

I had just found out that I was going to be a father and I hadn’t quite figured out what my next move was.  Like I said, I was working two other part-time jobs.  One being a bar back and cook at a local sports bar,  I was a bit overqualified for that position but I really enjoyed working there and for the couple that owned it.  And the other was a stint on the line at my current full service restaurant company.

I was hired with the company for the first time in late 2004 and though I had transferred and left employment from this company on three separate occasions, I always seemed to wash back on their shores in a moment of need.  Whether it was their need or my need depended on the situation.

Now, when it comes to my career.  I always have seemed to be in the right place at the right time.  “God protects fools and drunks” Anthony Bourdain once said.  And this occasion was no exception

 

Shortly after returning to life on the line that January, I remember how pissed off I was when I was scheduled against my availability to work the garde manger station on random Sunday afternoon.  That’s just a fancy term used to make a salad preparer sound more important, which these days depending on your restaurants concept can be very important.

Sunday afternoons were not in my availability and I sure as hell hadn’t worked that salad station in years.  Hell, I didn’t have a clue what half the preparations were.   But I showed up for the shift without complaint like the good soldier I was.   And there he was.

The “he” I’m referring to was none other that the Monopoly Man himself, the Regional Director.  He indeed bore a striking resemblance to Rich Uncle Pennybags from the famous board game and today he was going to change my life.

He and I locked eyes immediately.  Did the GM schedule me on this shift on purpose so that I would be here when he was here?  If so…well played sir.  I had worked with this RD before in many different restaurant locations and we had a great history, but I hadn’t seen him since I had left to gain management experience with another company.

And after hearing about what I had been up to lately and my son on the way, he inquired if I would be interested in getting into full service management.

The rest is history.  I few rides east,7795fdea050dd0849fbdf50e7bd76fc8--luck-of-the-irish-irish-luck to Syracuse in the winter for interviews and assessments, my POS Lincoln barely making the journey, and it was a done deal.  I relocated to Syracuse in March for Manager Training and my climb up the corporate ladder had begun.

My Personal “Hell Week” Begins

“Hell Week” is a Navy Seals term that is defined as “the defining event of BUD/S training. It is held early on  before the Navy makes an expensive investment in SEAL operational training. Hell Week consists of 5 1/2 days of cold, wet, brutally difficult operational training on fewer than four hours of sleep.”

For me, Hell Week is the week before I take a vacation from work.  I’m quite the control freak and in last 4 plus years I have only taken a full week vacation AWAY from the restaurant twice.

Its stressing me out so much because Hell Week is being followed by a few crazy weeks already.  Since the beginning of May my restaurant has been crazy busy.  Last week was the busiest week in well over a decade,  looks like the recession is far behind us.

So busy in fact that we finished the week with a total system crash…Credit cards were down, internet couldn’t be accessed, bills couldn’t be paid, and inventory couldn’t be completed.

So the week started with a 330AM arrival time to work on patching the network and by the time the computer was fixed and all the paperwork we done it was 6pm.

 

No time to slow down.  Completed the last week of the C25K program.  Now onto the 10K program

 

Might be busy but still had time to take the family for ice cream in the rain.

Mother’s Day blows

“‚ÄčWhen the Italian poet Dante described the center of hell in his poem The Divine Comedy, he got it wrong. The epicenter of Hades isn’t Satan trapped in a block of ice munching on Judas Iscariot like an everlasting carrot stick. The center of hell is a restaurant on Mother’s Day.”. The Waiter Rant

The Waiter couldn’t have more accurately describes the kind of guests that comes to the restaurant on Mother’s Day in this tell all book.  

My mother’s day experience wasn’t as terrible as years past.  

I spent the day hidden in the kitchen expediting food orders.  That’s : organized and garnishing food orders by table and sending them out to the dinning room.  

By the end of tbe night the expo screen starts to look like cuniform, all the orders jumbled together.  

I’m glad the weekend is off.  

Time to get away for a few days.