Restaurant Hell Week & Christmas Leftovers

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas.

If you are in the hospitality industry and are lucky enough to be closed or off on Christmas you know that it’s just a short reprieve before what I like to call “Restaurant Hell Week”

December 26th-Jan 1st can bring the craziest, cheapest, rudest customers out of hiding and into your restaurant doors all in the span of just a few days.

They are stressed from all their holiday spending.  Their kids are off all week and driving them insane.  And they are coming for YOU!!!!!.

Jan. 2nd is my favorite day of the year.  I don’t even mind that it’s slow.  It’s a moment to breathe and celebrate the survival of yet another holiday season.  Then the whole cycle begins again.

Oh well.  Here are some Christmas Leftovers before I begin wrapping up this project.



Obscurus CNY : Funk n’ Waffles

Obscurus CNY : Funk n’ Waffles


Ok…I know its not exactly obscure since it’s wildly popular and has been featured on the Food Network, but this is my first time and it’s because of it’s authenticity and vibe that it has become so popular.

This downtown spot serves up fresh, made to order waffles that come in all kinds of crazy varieties.  I was tempted by the fluffy buttermilk waffles that were covered with Dinosaur BBQ pulled pork but instead opted for the famous cage free chicken tenders and waffles.

My wife, being gluten free, tried the buckwheat waffles with strawberries and bananas.  It looked horrifying but actually was pretty good.

There is more to this places than just the waffles.  It also has sandwiches, espresso bar, salads, and at night serves up local craft beer and live music.

Check out their Rochester Location if you are heading west.

Millinieal Consumer Lifestyle

I find myself back in Albany for two days of meetings.  

Myself, along with my RD and another GM spent the day teaching assistant restaurant managers how the industry is changing now that Millennials now outnumber the Gen X  population.  

We talked about everything that they are effecting ; from how they order food (mobile app) , where they eat (authentic concepts), how they spend their free time ( home watching Netflix or hanging in a craft pub house), and even spent time learning how to coach Millennial employees.  

When the meeting ended at 5, Everyone left to go home.  I opted to stay at the hotel as opposed to driving back and forth for the next group tomorrow.  

Now, if you been following my blog you know that this would usually mean a night of exploration and wandering.  

But after talking about it all day and being so completely swamped for a straight week, spending the night like a millennial sounded rather attractive.  I am right there in that age group after all.  

So I went to the mall…did some window shopping for price comparison on Amazon later.  Grabbed a craft beer, founder’s IPA, and ordered takeout from a authentic Restaurant that I could trust, Delmonico’s Steakhouse.  Took it back to my hotel and am gonna watch Netflix and Christmas shop online until I pass out.  

Then tomorrow I will get out and explore before the meeting.  

10 Things to Start Doing to Keep the Restaurant Industry From Ruining Your Life – Chef Chris Hill

10 Things to Start Doing to Keep the Restaurant Industry From Ruining Your Life – Chef Chris Hill.


These are not my words but words I strongly agree with and relate to.  I’ve been in the hospitality and restaurant industry for 16 years, more than half my lifetime.

One thing I have learned is that only a small percentage of restaurant workers are there by choice.  We are all here for many  reasons.  Maybe Something went seriously wrong in their lives,  maybe they can’t make it in “normal jobs”, they do it for cash and they do it well, or maybe just like it here.

Whatever your reason one thing is true of all.  The restaurant business can chew you up in spit you out if you let it.

You can read the full article here.

Here are the 10 Things you should start doing to keep the restaurant industry from ruining your life.

  1.  Be Intentional and Set Goals for Yourself  – “Does this job help me get closer to my goals, the “mountain” or do I now find myself further away?”
  2. Focus on Yourself – If you are one of my employees reading this, you should follow this one.  Stop obsessing about what everyone is or isn’t doing and focus on doing the best job you can do.  
  3. Appreciate the Other Jobs & People Around You  – If you are a server…imagine walking a mile in the dishwashers shoes.  The restaurant can’t function without them, yet he or she is underrated and not paid as well as you.  Maybe you don’t make them work any harder than they need to. 
  4. You are the Average of the 5 People With Whom You Spend the Most Time  – make sure they are the right people.
  5. Don’t Just Settle For a Paycheck – “If you’re boss won’t give you more responsibility or opportunity to grow, it’s time to find someone else to work for.”
  6. Go Home After Work and Save Your Money.
  7. Keep in touch with non-industry related friends .
  8. Disconnect..
  9. Take Care of Yourself 
  10. Don’t Lose Sight of What’s Most Important in Life.

The last three are the most important and the biggest themes of this year long project.



Department Of Human Resources

I can’t deny the a lot of management style, as well as my writing is inspired by Anthony Bourdain.

He’s much acclaimed masterpiece, Kitchen Confidential got me really excited about the restaurant industry when I first read it back in 2006.

I greatly enjoy his 2010 follow, Medium Raw and all the other countless restaurateur and management books that would follow.

He and I share the same philosophy when it comes to our relationship with our employees.  Especially the ones that have personal problems


 I’ve coddled plenty of dangerously unstable characters
over the years; I’ve kept on plenty of people who I knew in the end would make me look bad and
become more trouble than they were worth. I’m not saying I’m Mister Rogers, a softie-okay,
maybe I am saying that . . . a little bit. I appreciate people who show up every day and do the
best they can, in spite of borderline personalities, substance abuse problems and anti-social
tendencies; and I am often inclined to give them every opportunity to change their trajectories, to
help them to arrive at a different outcome than the predictable one when they begin visibly to
But once gone-quit, fired or dead-I move on to the next problem. There always is one.

It’s that last line that I have the biggest problem with.  I worry about most of my crew that leave due to personal demons.

One soon after departing.  Lost their life.

I care about my crew and their problems.
I go home Saturday night with a sulking cook getting crispy around the edges on my mind?
Someone in my kitchen talking about going AWOL, exhibiting symptoms of the dreaded martyr
mode? My weekend is ruined. All I’m going to be thinking about for every waking moment is that
cook and what I can do to fix the situation. I’ll lie there on the bed, staring into space, paying
scant attention to the TV, or what my wife is talking about, or the everyday tasks of bill paying,
maintaining a home, behaving like a normal person.


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.  

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.