The kids are alright

Dear Friends,

We have a regular monthly staff meeting on the first Sunday of the month. At our most recent meeting, I was able to do something that many times in past years, I'd not been able to do - tell all the kids what an amazing job they're doing, and mean it.

Really, it has been a pretty extraordinary year or two for us. We're operating from a brand new kitchen and a substantially overhauled bakery. We've remodeled our dining room and our garden. And we've added beer and wine to our offerings.

And while each of these represents years of dreaming and planning, the real challenge was not the rebuilding the company's aging infrastructure. The real challenge was believing that we were capable of reinventing this business at the energetic level.

In very simple terms, if we wanted our regulars to come more often, and if we wanted new customers to come spend time with us, this had to be a place that we all wanted to spend time. We had to cultivate a group of folks that really wanted to Be Here Now - doing this work, with these people. I didn't know how to do this. But I just kept asking for help, and did my best to find and promote people who had the skills and tendencies that I lacked.

So on Sunday, I arrived at the staff meeting a few minutes early to find three front of house employee (Ben, Will and Christa) doing some sort of ridiculous group dance routine in the dining room, music turned all the way up - very silly. Once we got started, the first order of business was an announcement by our general manager Hall Sheriff that everyone was doing such a great job and he no longer saw the necessity of a mandatory monthly staff meeting. The response from all 25 or so folks in attendance was a groan or a boo. They actually relished these monthly opportunities to get together with all of their friends... I was floored - overwhelmed really.

A bunch of us stayed after the meeting and had a beverage (or two) and a few of us then went out to one of our favorite east side spots, Bufalina (which, if you've not been there, just go) for pizza and wine.

When I arrived at work Tuesday morning, I found this note that Christa had left for Ben and Harrison who had helped her set up for dinner Monday evening:

It feels like my work here is starting to pay off - but really, this has had nothing to do with me. I'm just incredibly fortunate to have had this amazing group of people sign on to work here.

Hope you can join us for a bite this week.

bon appetit,