March 28th, 2012 - 12:03pm
The last few months have been a busy time for us!
As most of you know, I am an owner/operator of a vintage 1952 Mountainview silver diner located in Herkimer, NY. In addition to all of the responsibilities of operating a successful diner and my restaurant consulting clients, I now have the distinct honor and privilege of starring in a cooking show. The name of our show is CNYFlavor. The show features the unique foods and venues of Central New York and airs on Time Warner Cable Channel 11 every Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. In addition to airing on the Utica network, the show is available online at www.CNYFlavor.com.
In addition to featuring the current week's show on the website, the website also includes recipes, Quick Tips and much more. Please check it out and tell your friends.
I also blog for the UticaOD newspaper as the Kitchen Wizard. You can catch my blogs at http://www.uticaod.com/blogs_community
Remember that I'm always available for consultation. Feel free to contact me at your convenience.
October 15th, 2011 - 11:39am
As small business owners, especially restaurant owners, we need to always be quick thinkers and able to stop on a dime. You know how it is - the foodservice truck does not have your supplies, your best cook calls in 5 minutes before the start of their shift or the tour bus pulls up in front when you've just sent most of your staff home because it's a slow day.
We are not only quick on our feet, but we are forward thinkers as well. We need to think outside the box, especially in the dire times of this recession. We've sought alternate means of marketing and thrown ourselves into saving money on our food costs, employee costs and so more. We've travelled outside our restaurant circles to introduce ourselves to community groups, hold business meetings and so forth. We've continued our formal education just to change things up.
I'm no different. So when the opportunity presented itself a few months ago to help create and host a television show featuring the flares of the local area, I was excited.
As the show has developed, we have created new, fun, time-saving and cost-saving recipes I will be sharing with my audience. I will be travelling to different spots and introducing myself and interviewing other restaurant owners or venues featuring unique and different flavors. I will have guest hosts share the stage and share some of their interesting dishes and ideas. It's a very unique and different type of show.
So, watch for further updates from me here or on Facebook as well as the website itself.
The show is CNY Flavor. You can check us out at www.CNYFlavor.com or www.Facebook.com/CNYFlavor.
Hope to see you there!
July 18th, 2011 - 11:59am
THE IMPORTANCE OF A COMPANY SOCIAL MEDIA POLICY
I have done several blog posts about social media and the benefits to small businesses such as mine. Social Media has brought me new customers, increased my exposure and has many other advantages. But, how about the pitfalls? What about the social media habits of our employees? Most employers who have employees with computer access block certain internet sites like Facebook, Twitter or Myspace.
But, what about the posts of employees during their own time? Or the employees who don’t have computer or mobile phone access during their shifts. This can present a problem to business owners. An ex-dishwasher posted on Facebook “Heading into work at _______. Can’t wait for this day to be over.” Or what about the employee who posts confidential recipes on a cooking blog? Without a set of guidelines for my employees to follow and agree to, where is my right to attempt to enforce any social media policies?
And why not have a social media policy? We have a Drug and Alcohol Policy, a Sexual Harassment policy and a Cell Phone Policy, just to name a few. These policies were all designed to protect me, my businesses, my customers, my family and my reputation, just to name a few.
Any policy needs to fit the needs of the company and the employees, take into account responsible engagement and dialogue, respect copyright and disclosure laws, respect confidentiality of proprietary information, respect the confidentiality of customers, clients and co-workers, not be racial or illegal or cast negative tones on the company. Of course, this goes for photographs as well. It would be inappropriate to post pictures of the company party , for example, where maybe underage employees are drinking.
The policy needs to explain the enforcement to be followed by your company as well as a signature line acknowledging receipt of and agreement to comply with the policy. Don’t forget to provide a copy for your employee to keep to refresh them of their obligations and your company position.
You may wish to discuss this with your key staff members as well as your attorney in an effort to be thorough.
June 16th, 2011 - 7:44am
SOCIAL MEDIA FOR SMALL BUSINESS
Every small business owner knows the challenges of marketing and trying to reach a maximum audience with as few steps as possible and maximizing our advertising dollars. Trying to guess which medium will reach our largest target audiences and get our messages out involves guesswork and often wasted hours and dollars down the drain.
So arrives social media. While many of us have heard about social media and have a vague idea that it involves some sort of internet advertising and contact with folks through an internet site, most are just not seeing the full picture and potential of the reach offered by proper and focused social media.
Social media is not just chatting with our friends and family on Facebook or instant message. Social media is a concentrated and continued effort to reach new and potential customers and engage in conversation and dialogue and get our message to them. It is my conviction that every business needs social media so it does not fall to the wayside. I need to stay ahead of my competition and social media gives me that edge.
Ten years ago I had an internet site created for my diner, my brick and mortar business. After a few months, I just didn’t see why a local well known diner would need to be on the internet. Afterall, we couldn’t deliver to Kansas. So the site just went by the wayside. I can only imagine the reach that site could have today!
At the very least, every business needs a website and a listing on google places. There are literally hundreds of other sites appropriate for business listings but this will enable a business to get started. Your web site need not be expensive but I would recommend finding a web designer you can work with. Social media consultants can be costly so give consideration to your choice. Videos and pictures give faces to an idea and create a more personal environment. All are worth their weight in gold!
February 16th, 2011 - 2:25pm
MEXICAN FREEZE AFFECTS VEGETABLE COSTS
By now most restaurateurs have been made aware that the recent freeze of Mexican crops will be greatly affecting supplies of peppers, asparagus, lettuce, round and roma tomatoes, eggplant, cucumbers, squash and green beans. It is estimated that 80 to as much as 100 percent of crops have been damaged from the most severe freeze to hit this region since 1967. To put this in perspective, Sysco describes some of the damaged area as “It has been reported that in Sinaloa alone, 714,000 hectares (1.7 million acres) were affected by the freezing temperatures. An Area covering approximately the size of the States of Delaware and Rhode Island combined.” This problem is compounded because of the winter freezes in Florida and Texas which normally offer back-up plans.
Most restaurants are beginning to feel the pinch and are trying to think of clever ways around this problem which is expected to last until late March or early April. Several are changing the items offered in salad bars or posting signs of limited veggies. Wendy’s has initiated a policy of furnishing tomatoes only upon request. The parent company of Red Lobster, Olive Garden and Long Horn Steakhouse, Darden Restaurants Inc., issued a statement “We have seen an impact on suppliers in [Mexico]. We are sourcing from other regions to ensure no interruptions in supply for items such as tomatoes and peppers."
As an independent operator, one of our alternatives is instead of using the major purveyors, comparatively price these same goods at MAJOR supermarket produce sections. Although these same products will increase over time, they will not be as affected as the day-to-day price increases we are currently being quoted. Many items may be promoted as loss leaders to lure shoppers into the markets.
I would suggest that we still must offer these products to our consumers. It does not bode well to stop offering these items. Instead, it tells our customers and sends the message that now that times are tough and I’m paying more money, you are not worth it - but at other times of the season when paying a lot less and making bigger profits it is okay to serve these food items. This is one of those times where we have to be conscious of our preparation and waste.
January 21st, 2011 - 6:22pm
9 TIPS TO AID IN CHOOSING A FOOD SERVICE COMPANY AND FOOD REP
1. Ask about the background and industry experience of your proposed food service representative. A representative might be new in the business but have an extensive background as a food service operator or manager, etc.
2. Determine how long your representative has been in the business. An older, seasoned rep that knows the business will know how to develop prices and stay on top of commodity markets and will be able to lend support in many ways. On the other hand, a newer rep might just be hungry for the business and ready to jump to your aid in any number of ways.
3. Where will your company fit in in the delivery schedule. For example, if you open at 5:00 a.m., there may be insufficient staff to receive, inspect and put away product. This would be the same for end of the day staff or deliveries during peak hours. Every establishment should have certain procedures to be followed for deliveries to devote proper attention to check-in. Your staff will want to be certain they are receiving the products ordered and all merchandise is in acceptable condition.
4. Price. Determine whether prices are locked in and whether the food service company honors manufacturer rebates.
5. A test kitchen is a nice feature for a food service company. Here you can learn about new dishes or try new foods prior to ordering them and trying them on your customers. Most larger food service companies offer this service to help you build your business and stay on top of area trends and preferences.
6. Determine if your prospective food service company offers menu design and cost analysis support in general. Again, these are normally included benefits with the larger food service companies.
7. Does the company offer free equipment for purchase of their products? This could include coffee makers, syrup warmers, waffle irons, spice racks, restroom towel and toilet paper dispensers, to just name a few.
8. What are the billing policies of the company? If this item is not worked out beforehand, it could lead to some serious problems. What if the accounts receivable department has not received your payment and refuses to deliver just before a busy weekend. A good food service rep knows how to work this issue out with the company to ensure ontime and prompt deliveries.
9. How does the company handle out of stock items or mistakes in delivery? Will they leave you high and dry and uninformed or will your service rep make the drive to the factory to get your product?
December 12th, 2010 - 8:23am
FOOD COMBINING SIMPLIFIED
Much is being written and blogged about “food combining” although most folks are yet unfamiliar with this phrase or exactly what it means. We may have a vague notion that it involves a healthier lifestyle and better choices. Most of us love to eat. We love to eat our favorite meals and eat what we know in the manner we know. It might be meat and potatoes or pasta and bread or omelets and fruit. Some of us have done some reading or investigation into healthier eating habits like staying away from too many fried foods or having only one desert or not eating before going to bed. We know that certain foods help to keep us healthy and are important for our general health.
What most of us really don’t understand is this concept of food combining. Simply put, food combining is combinations of foods that assist in digestion and do not work against each other. Some foods do not go well with other foods causing poisonous biproducts of indigestion and all of its associated complications.
You may be thinking “well that’s great but that’s just digestion.” It goes way beyond simple digestion knowledge. Efficient digestion has benefits to the body’s energy level and general health. By eating foods that work against each other we are robbing our bodies of important nutrients and wiping out any good we are trying to do. Eating the right foods does nothing for our bodies without proper digestion and utilizing that food and making it available to our tissues. If we don’t have the benefit from the foods we eat, it passes through and out of our bodies completely negating what we are trying to accomplish. In a nutshell the benefits of food combining are better digestion, weight loss, and a sense of well-being with increased energy.
We must consider the effects of feeding children improper food combinations causing or contributing to the diseases children suffer such as colds, tonsillar troubles, diarrhea, constipation and gastristis, to name a few.
Proteins are digested in the stomach. Carbohydrates are digested in the small intestine. So it stands to reason that when two or more foods that are eaten together require opposite conditions for digestion the process gets very complicated and the body works overtime.
Here are some simply put rules of food combining to help you get started in a healthier lifestyle:
Do not combine pure fats (butter, cream, bacon fat) with high starches (potatoes, rice, pasta, bread, cereal, sweets) at any one meal
Do not combine acids and carbohydrates.
Do not eat fats with proteins.
Do not eat acid fruits with proteins.
Do not consume starch and sugars together.
Have only one concentrated starch food at a meal.
Do not consume melons with any other foods.
Milk is best taken alone.
November 17th, 2010 - 3:14pm
6 IMPORTANT REASONS FOR FOOD SAFETY TRAINING IN YOUR ESTABLISHMENT
With all of the knowledge available, I find it amazing that some states do not require certified food handler training or the presence of someone on the premises trained in such procedures while other states have more stringent requirements. At the very least, all food establishments should have one person knowledgeable in the safe and sanitary practices of our industry.
With food safety on the forefront of the minds of consumers, establishments that do not provide training for employees or allow unsafe practices place the entire industry at risk. This is particularly true of the mom and pop eateries, privately owned fast food establishments, grocery/mini-markets and food carts which may have no binding requirements. Just having a health inspection is just not enough.
6 Important reasons for food safety education in your establishment:
• This training helps with the prevention of cross-contamination and cross-contact from the back of the house to the front.
• Food safety is taught to all employees, not just kitchen staff, and helps them to keep this information always in the forefront.
• Keep those patrons with food allergies safer.
• Provides an all-around safe environment for your customers which will keep them coming back week after week.
• Food safety impacts your customers, your employees and your business.
• Food Protection Certification examinations are valid, reliable and legally defensible.
November 8th, 2010 - 6:39pm
WORKING RIGHT OR WORKING SMART
A question I am frequently asked as a restaurateur and restaurant consultant is “Don’t you ever slow down?” I just smile and let others perceive their own reality.
There is a difference between working hard and working smart. You can work smart and still not work right. Working right is one of the keys to a successful restaurant. I call it “connecting the dots.” Some people call it “American ingenuity.” As a general meditates over his battlefield, he is not thinking of the end game, of winning the war; he is thinking what I have to do to make it through the day. He is wondering what troops he is going to move or what extra equipment he needs. He is not thinking about prosecuting the whole war. He just wants to be successful in battle.
Sometimes our restaurants feel like a battle. The end game is to have a successful business, but it comes down to making it through the day. Where do you position your busser, your servers or prep cooks so that everyone is working as a team? What equipment needs to be repaired or what supplies did not come in? If you can take care of today in that manner, the weeks, months and years fall into place and soon you have the consistency, the quality, the regular customers and you are a success.
It all starts with today.
November 2nd, 2010 - 8:46pm
Top 10 Food Violations
Found During Routine Inspections
From the Onondaga County Health Department Newsletter
~Raw foods stored above or next to cooked foods.
~Chemicals improperly stored and NOT labeled.
~Mangers and employees not wearing gloves when scooping ice.
~Cold foods out of temperature.
~Foods stored on floor (6 inch rule).
~Managers and employees NOT wearing hair restraints.
~Floors NOT clean.
~Food Contact Surfaces NOT clean (i.e., meat slicer, can opener, reach-in cooler, etc.)
~Non-food contact surfaces NOT clean (i.e., shelving, microwave, oven, etc.).
~Single service items such as cups, cup lids, takeout trays, coffee filters, etc., are IMPROPERLY STORED on the floor or are NOT INVERTED in storage.
*emphasis (all capital letters) from Onondaga County Health Department.
October 26th, 2010 - 1:31pm
FOODSERVERS - IMPROVE PRODUCTIVITY AND INCREASE YOUR BOTTOM LINE
I recorded a CD for each one of my servers entitled Servers' Secrets for Making Top Money NOW. This is required listening for each new server in my establishments and from time-to-time even long-term servers are required to relisten. This CD was easy to record and lays the foundation for what is expected from each one about customer service, personal hygiene, menu knowledge, job performance and so forth. I can very easily tell which of my new servers has listened to the CD and which haven’t. It shows me which servers are interested in growing in their field and which servers can’t be bothered. Guess which one I want on my team?
I believe the most important thing for a server is to be teachable. Some servers simply are not and still others say they are but really can’t be bothered. Every establishment has its own set of rules and guidelines and a server must be teachable as to the ways of that establishment. They must remain open-minded to constructive ideas on how to better handle the job or better meet the needs of a customer. A know-it-all server does their employer, co-workers and customers an injustice.
My CD is available for purchase on my website.
October 7th, 2010 - 6:47am
The Diner Wizard's 5 Tips for Keeping Great Employees
1. Be fair to all – don’t play favorites. Employees zero in on when someone is the favorite and seem to pay extra attention to how that employee is treated. This goes even for family members. Even though my own kids have worked in my diners, they had to start at the bottom and come up the ropes. Sure I trust them more with some personal issues (like handling money) but when it comes to day-to-day operations they had to learn like everyone else. Playing favorites can result in charges of discrimination. Believe me this is not an avenue you want to travel.
2. Pay them fairly, competitively and on time! Payday for my employees is every Wednesday and I have never missed a payday. My employees start showing up every payday about an hour before the checks are due in and depend on this money to take care of them. There is just not an excuse to not pay them. I pay my employees slightly better than the going wage in the area and reward them with periodic raises.
3. Praise in public, criticize in private. Employees hate to be embarrassed in front of their peers. If I have an issue with someone, I take them to the side and discuss it rationally. This makes for much better personal relations as I hope they feel free to come to me when they see something inappropriate. As a side note, I always have another person present as an observer so there can be no misunderstandings as to what was said. Likewise, I never have discussions behind closed doors. We all know where those allegations could go.
4. Work with schedules – understand they have a life,kids, etc. They have last minute things that crop up such as a school play or a sick child which can certainly be inconvenient but I try to work things out with them whenever possible. I have a Request for Time off form my employees can complete ahead of time when they want time off for such things like concerts, vacations, etc. I usually try and accommodate their schedules whenever possible.
5. Set policies and procedures down on paper so there is no misunderstanding. To confirm that they understand these policies and procedures, employees are required to sign their understanding. If something simple changes, I merely post a memo and ask everyone to sign it. If there is a major change, an amendment is made to the employee handbook and everyone is required to read and sign.
October 3rd, 2010 - 5:42pm
The Diner Wizard's 5 Tips for Hiring Great Employees
1. Personal referrals. We all have employees who have worked with someone from another restaurant who they would like to have on their team. Your employees have knowledge of the skill level of their peers and which ones are team players and which are slackers and know how to abuse the system. Your employees will be reluctant to recommend someone who might be a flake as they feel it could reflect poorly on them. Likewise, they can often tip you off about someone who has completed an application and might not be a good fit.
2. Check references. Check all the references. Both business and personal. Pay close attention to the amount of time at each job and the reason for leaving. One server who came and applied at my diner had listed her reason for leaving every single one of her jobs as “out of business.” That spoke volumes about her contribution to her previous employers. Talk with your employees and other restaurant owners about their experience with your job candidate. Pay close attention to what they don’t say as some employers are reluctant to give out too much information!
3. Offer a drug free work environment. The importance of offering a drug free work environment cannot be overstated. Having employees who are drug users or who are alcoholics cause nothing but drama. They create drama and bring that drama with them wherever they go. They are a risk to your business, your fellow workers and your customers. They are more likely to be involved in on-the-job work injuries and can often take your cash register right out the door. Maintaining a drug free workplace will not necessarily eliminate your issues, but will greatly reduce them. Your non-using employees will thank you.
4. Keep looking – don’t settle for the first person that walks through the door. Often the first person who walks into the door is not the right one for you.
5. Pay attention to personal appearance and hygiene. I’m amazed at how people show up for a potential job interview. Chances are if a candidate acts or appears that way at an interview, that behavior and appearance will continue once they are hired. I don’t allow facial jewelry on my employees and spell that out right from the start. I also don’t permit wild hair colors or cuts so those things are a red flag for me. I watch for good oral hygiene and people chewing gum. Those are personal preferences for me. You can create your own.
October 1st, 2010 - 10:15am
Traveling to other areas offers an excellent opportunity to try local fare. Take for example my recent trip to Cajun country in Lafayette and New Orleans, Louisiana. What are standard foods for the locals might be something that has never been experienced by many, including myself. I tried to remain open-minded about foods so that I could try new dishes and give my honest opinions.
In Lafayette my first meal was a shrimp po' boy. A po' boy is probably better known as a sub , hoagie or a hero. The shrimp po' boy was excellent – so good in fact that I ate the second half of the sandwich later and it was just as good as when I originally tasted it. The shrimp was lightly breaded and was served with a mayo-ketchup sauce, lettuce and tomato on fresh baked French bread. It was wonderful.
For dinner I had shrimp gumbo. With all the news regarding the BP oil spill, I was leary to keep eating the fresh shrimp; however, the locals informed me that the news in other parts of the country was not quite accurate and that the seafood was in fact quite bountiful and good. I found this to be true. Gumbo is a dark rue with seasoning and different choices of main ingredients such as chicken, shrimp, duck and sausage. I ate them all and can say they were the best in the nation.
At another famous Cajun restaurant I had a fried platter which consisted of alligator, frog’s legs, catfish, shrimp, hush puppies and a corn mash. I tried them all! The alligator surprised me because it actually tasted fishy. The frog’s legs were quite tasty, reminding me of chicken legs. The catfish was scrumptious. It was a very pleasant experience.
Peace and love.
September 20th, 2010 - 11:31am
We are very pleased to announce that the Association of American Diners has now gone live.
The Association of American Diners was created to bring Member Diners and patrons together and help them find each other. Member Diners have the opportunity to post two pictures of their establishment, a description, a link to their website and a map and receive access to the Association's Member Area. They have the opportunity to become Diner of the Month featuring their diner on each page of the website. Diner Members receive a framed Certificate as well as the opportunity to obtain forms, diner recipes and valuable information.
The public has the opportunity to find diners by a searchable data base by state and view the information about provided by Member Diners. There is a page of diner history. New pages are in the works for additional information to the public.
Check it all out at www.AssociationOfAmericanDiners.com
September 10th, 2010 - 1:43pm
We're so excited to announce that the Association of American Diners is now a live site. The AOAD was created with a vision to preserving a lifestyle that reminds us all of a more simpler time when homestyle cooking was the rage and diners were the hub of a community. More and more diners are ending up on the side of the roadway, abandoned and forgotten while people favor chain-style eating. Diners, cafes and drive-ins are a part of Americana we wish to help preserve.
Please take a minute to check out the site and see what we have to offer!
August 24th, 2010 - 5:34pm
This week my son Michael completes his time with the United States Army. He completed over four years of service to our country and is now a veteran of foreign wars, having served a tour in Korea and Afghanistan. Now Michael will join college students across the country as they head back to school and college. Sometimes the only way to make sure these kids of ours eat right is to make it quick, economical and painless.
You do not have to sacrifice great nutritious meals while cooking in your microwave. Invented in 1946 by accident, the first “radarrange” has gone through much refinement. By 1974, the sales of microwave ovens exceeded that of gas ranges. The problem today, over 60 years after its invention, is that most people just don't know how to properly cook with a microwave. Instead, it is used primarily for reheating their food and beverages. Yet, with the right education and style, you can cook most everything into impressive kitchen masterpieces.
Cooking with your microwave can be a rewarding experience. As with all kitchen appliances, the microwave is an excellent tool to compliment your cooking skills. You need not spend hours in the kitchen to produce nutritious and delicious meals. Quick and Easy.
Here are some hints and ideas to keep in mind when using your microwave.
Test your utensils to be sure they are microwave-safe. Place one cup of water in the microwave next to the dish to be tested. Microwave on high 90 seconds. The water should be hot. If the dish is hot too, it is not microwave safe.
Try to place foods in the donut shape whenever possible. Food cooked in the microwave cooks from the outside to the inside.
Use proper coverings to obtain proper moisture required for your recipe. For steamed effect (veggies and shellfish), use plastic wrap, making sure to vent one corner. For meals and casseroles, use wax paper. For bacon or sausage, use paper towels. This prevents splattering.
Remember to keep a glass of water in your microwave when it is not in use so there is no chance your machine will run empty.
The final process in microwave cooking is the rest period.
If a recipe calls for stirring, it is important that this be done for even quality cooking.
Rule of thumb is that microwave cooking is 1/4 that of conventional oven.
Utensils for the microwave are glass, plastic, paper and wooden spoons. There are many microwave products on the market. Select only what you need. Your basic needs should include 1, 2, 4 and 8 cup measuring cups, a slotted bacon rack, wooden spoons, 6 and 12 cup ring molds, muffin pan, custard cups, glass pie plates and 1, 2, 3 and 4 quart casserole dishes with lids.
Microwave a damp towel for a wonderful heat compress. Microwave on high 1 to 2 minutes.
Salt draws moisture out of food cooked in the microwave. Salt after the food is cooked. Use garlic or onion powder instead of garlic or onion salt.
Thanks Michael for your service to our country. God bless the men and women still serving.
August 17th, 2010 - 9:24am
The accounting is done and money from the World Record Omelet event has been distributed! Because of the generosity of our community and the hard work of our July 10 World Record Omelet Pool table, we are very blessed to present:
$5,000.00 worth of food to the Herkimer Food Pantry
$5,000.00 worth of food to the Herkimer-Mohawk Food Pantry
$2,100.00 to The Salvation Army in a restricted account for purchase of food which gives them the purchasing power of over $20,000 in food!
$1,000.00 to Herkimer ARC
$ 400.00 to YWCA, Women and Children’s Advocacy Center
$ 200.00 to HALO
$ 200.00 to Catholic Charities
$ 200.00 to Herkimer County Humane Society
We wish to again thank our wonderful sponsors and volunteers for making this such a fun and successful event!
One final note – Look for us on October 3, 2010 on Ripley’s Believe it or Not!
August 6th, 2010 - 8:41pm
I recently heard of a fellow restaurateur who lost an unemployment insurance claim because of his failure to have a Drug and Alcohol policy in effect. This restaurateur describes his problems as beginning when his cook showed up for work drunk. One thing leading to another, the owner terminated the cook for showing up to work in a drunken state. The cook filed an unemployment claim which the employer immediately objected to. After hearing oral argument from both sides on the issue, the presiding Administrative Law Judge ruled in favor of the employee. The reasoning behind the decision was that the employer did not have a written Drug and Alcohol policy in effect at his place of business.
I think we would all agree that it should go without saying that an employee who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol while on the clock is a detriment to themselves, co-workers and customers. This small restaurant owner never expected that a Drug and Alcohol policy would be required and applicable to his small staff before the start of an employee’s shift. As a result of this ruling, this employer will be paying unemployment insurance benefits to the employee for as long as the employee chooses to remain out of work or until the benefits run out. This could prove to be very costly.
I invite you to investigate the importance of having a Drug and Alcohol policy in effect at your place of employment. The Drug and Alcohol policy that I use in my restaurants was prepared for me by my attorney and has saved me over and over and is made available to you in a done-for-you format for a low investment. For more information, please see my product page.
July 22nd, 2010 - 11:48am
Our World Record Omelet Pool Table event was held on July 10, 2010 in Herkimer, New York. It was an egg-citing event, drawing out community members and many local dignitaries who all pitched in to help our local charities. We have posted pictures in our Photo section and have compiled some interesting information about the World Record Omelet Pool Table.
2,128.75 SQ. FEET
100 GALLONS MILK
200 LBS. CHEESE
110-8 FOOT TABLES
$10,000 was raised for local food pantries and over $4,500 cash for local charities.
IMPORTANT RANDOM FACTS
The omelet took a year in planning.
A committee of 25 plus made up the governing body of the event.
Through local and village efforts the entire block was closed for the event.
The bus routes were rerouted. We had a semi truck, refrigerated trailer positioned behind the diner for all refrigerated product to maintain time and temperature control.
Over 300 volunteers during the day of the event.
Over 4,000 people witnessed the event in addition to radio, televisions and newspapers that went to hundreds of thousands more.
The event was witnessed and certified by local and state government officials.
The square footage was certified by a contracting surveyor.
July 7th, 2010 - 9:24pm
According to the National Restaurant Association, 78 percent of the adults agree that going out to eat gives them an opportunity to socialize and is a better use of their time than cooking and cleaning up. At the same time, 73 percent say they try to eat healthier now at restaurants than they did a couple of years ago.
Dining out can pose serious problems for people trying to both eat out and eat smart. Restaurant foods notoriously contain oil, butter, cheese, meat drippings, fatty meat and other saturated fats. Most of the foods are pan fried, deep dried, sauteed, grill fried or fried. Restaurant meals can be extremely high in salt, sugar and saturated fats, mostly from animal sources such as beef, pork, lamb, veal and poultry where cholesterol is found.
At this point, you the consumer have a couple of options. Number one, you can eat what the restaurant serves you or number two, stop going to restaurants. There is a third option to have a basic understanding of salt, sugar, fat and cholesterol in foods and reconcile your dining out with eating smart. Your dining experience can be both enjoyable and healthful.
Ask questions about ingredients and how the meal is prepared. Most establishments will be happy to help you if you just ask. Often personnel are very knowledgeable about food content and cooking methods. Be innovative, avoid the menu items you know to stay away from such as French fries, fried chicken, fried hamburgers, milkshakes, pickles, potato chips, processed cold cuts, sour cream, Thousand Island Dressing and so forth. Create substitutions to strip away the unhealthy elements of the menu items but preserve the taste and semblance of the dish.
Try a club sandwich without the bacon. Skip cream soups in favor of chicken or beef broth. Ask your server for pasta, mushrooms or a slice of tomato to add. Instead of sour cream on your baked potato try salsa. If you are having lobster or steamed clams, use fresh lemon wedges instead of butter. For breakfast order your eggs poached or boiled, not fried. Have Eggs Benedict or Eggs Florentine without the Hollandaise sauce.
There are many enjoyable restaurant foods that will conform to eating smart. Don't take the approach that you can't eat out any longer because you are eating smart. Open your mind to the endless possibilities available and get into the main stream of life. Ask questions, make substitutions, become educated and enjoy.
Scott Tranter is also known as the Diner Wizard.
He is a leading authority on finding, developing and maintaining the passion in your career. His gift of teaching others how to pursue and achieve their passion is magical and will ignite enthusiasm and be the difference between mediocrity and accomplishment! He has successfully opened 12 restaurants and serves as a consultant to a chain in California, as well as a consultant to a culinary arts trade school. He is currently a restaurant owner/operator. He is a ServSafe Instructor/Proctor for the National Restaurant Association and a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals. He writes a food column entitled "Cooking Class." Please visit his website at http://www.dinerwizard.com.
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Scott_Tranter
June 24th, 2010 - 3:38pm
Ask anyone across the country and depending on where they live, barbecuing evokes emotions and brings out memories of summers gone by. It can create controversy when people are asked to define a good barbecue and debates begin.
There are three main types of barbecues, charcoal-fired, gas and electric. What you choose will depend on where you will use your barbecue, how many people you will be serving and food being barbecued.
Barbecuing is one of America's oldest traditions going back hundreds of years when Native Americans slow cooked their game over hot coals. They used local ingredients for the open fire, smoking fish and game. It was the Caribbean natives who taught the Spanish to cook with a Barbacoa or wooden frame and to baste the meats with sauce mixtures that most resemble today's barbecue sauces. The Spanish introduced this technique to the southwest and the southeast Atlantic coast.
In the 1700's barbecuing became a favorite gathering time for New York society and politicians used it as a rallying point for electioneering.
Over the years, barbecue cooking methods have evolved regionally and from state to state. In the Deep South it is pork, while the mid-west prefers beef. The central states prefer chicken and the northwest, northeast and in between love fish and seafood. With transportation technology, we can get it all, anywhere and anytime so the possibilities are endless.
There are two ways to barbecue, direct or indirect heat. The techniques differ in how the coals are arranged and whether the barbecue is covered. The direct method is best for grilling steaks, chops, hot dogs, hamburgers and chicken. The indirect method is best for foods that require more than 20 minutes cooking such as whole poultry, roasts, hams and fish. This method is best done in a covered grill with the hood closed for uniform heat.
Almost any cut of meat, beef, pork or chicken as well as most fish and seafood that are roasted, pan-fried, pan-broiled or broiled can also be cooked on the grill. If marinated properly, even the less tender cuts will turn out moist and delicious.
Always use long-handled cooking utensils to avoid burning yourself. Have a barbecue mitt close by for emergency adjustments and removal of drips pans. Use a water-filled spray bottle to extinguish flare-ups. You should always turn food with long-handled tongs or a spatula. Using a fork pierces the food, allowing juices to escape. Always salt food after cooking as salt draws out juices. Be sure that ashes are completely cold before being dumped into a paper or plastic container.
A little known fact is the role Henry Ford played in creating America's passion for barbecuing. In the early 1900's, Ford had a sawmill that made the framing for his Model Ts. As the piles of scrap wood grew, Ford's ingenuity took over and he learned how to chip the wood and converted it to the now familiar pillow-shaped briquettes. Ford then sold them through his car dealerships. Ford Charcoal was later named Kingsford and is still the number one brand sold in America today.
Scott Tranter has been in the restaurant business for 36 years. He has started and operated 12 successful restaurants and is a leading authority in the food service industry. He is a ServSafe Instructor/Proctor for the National Restaurant Association and a Member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals. He is a published author and motivational speaker. His gift of teaching others how to achieve their passion is magical and will ignite enthusiasm and be the difference between mediocrity and accomplishment. Please visit our website http://www.dinerwizard.com
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Scott_Tranter
June 9th, 2010 - 8:05pm
MOHAWK VALLEY COMMUNITY TO CONSTRUCT WORLD’S LARGEST OMELET POOL TABLE FOR CHARITY
(Herkimer, NY) – On Saturday, July 10, 2010 The Diner Wizard and Crazy Otto’s Empire Diner will join forces with the local community to construct the world’s largest omelet pool table, with all proceeds going to benefit Mohawk Valley charities.
Scott Tranter and his wife, Kim, co-owners of The Diner Wizard and Crazy Otto's Empire Diner, are organizing this event during the General Herkimer Days on July 10, and they are assisted by hundreds of dedicated volunteers from the region. Their attempt is to build the world’s largest square-footage omelet, measuring 2,500 square-feet.
Volunteers will use 14 propane-powered grills and 110 tables to construct the pool table omelet. They’ll start building the omelet outside Crazy Otto’s Diner on Albany Street at 6 a.m. and continue until around 3 p.m. When the omelet is finished cooking, they will design a pool table using green food coloring. People will be able to take a shot for $1.00 on the world's largest omelet pool table using beach balls and broomsticks.
The Mohawk Valley charities that will benefit are:
Salvation Army, 50 percent
Herkimer ARC, 20 percent
YWCA, Women and Children's Advocacy Center, 15 percent
Food Pantry of Herkimer and the Salvation
Army Food Pantry in Herkimer, 10 percent
Herkimer County Humane Society;
HALO Program, 5 percent
Organizers hope to raise $50,000 from the event, which will be distributed to the local charities. Under the distribution formula, they would donate $5,000 to the Food Bank of Central New York, Syracuse, which will bring $50,000 in food to two local food banks, the Food Pantry of Herkimer and the Salvation Army Food Pantry in Herkimer. The food banks benefit on a 10-1 ratio, meaning for every ten dollars donated, they get $100 in food from the Food Bank of Central New York. All the ingredients of the omelet are donated, and what is not eaten at the event will go to local pig farmers for feed after the event, so there will be no food wasted.
In addition to the money raised at the event, donations, and proceeds of a raffle held in April of a Polaris Sportsman 500, donated by Moody’s Polaris in Newport, will go to charity. Items will be raffled at the event for (1) First Prize, 7-foot regulation size pool table; (2) Second Prize, a trip to Atlantic City, including air and hotel for two; and (3) Third Prize, $250.00 cash. Tickets are $5.00 each, or three for $10.00. The drawing will be held at the event and tickets are available for purchase up to the time of the drawing.
The Tranters first broke the record for largest omelet on Jun. 12, 1993 in California at 1,364 square-feet. The record was broken by 20 square-feet in Japan shortly thereafter. Crazy Otto’s reclaimed the record in 2002 by making a 1,854.9 square-foot omelet, converting the omelet into an American flag design, making national and world news.
The ingredients that will be used for the July 10 record attempt:
• 45,000 eggs
• 150 pounds of butter
• 100 gallons of milk
Tickets are also available through merchants in the Herkimer area, including Crazy Otto's Empire Diner or online at:
Cash donations can be made online, and there are six levels of sponsorships available for people wishing to donate:
For more info: