I am an early bird. I'm up at 5 a.m. every day. My breakfast is usually coffee and something high in protein but low in carbs so I don't lose energy through the day. I go to the gym. Then I'm in the office by 6:30 a.m.
I'm the food and beverage director at the Ritz-Carlton Huntington Hotel & Spa in Pasadena. When I get to work, I look at my day organizer and plan for a good couple hours on the restaurant floor with people. All my appointments fall on the either side of every meal period.
I walk the restaurant floor and touch base with the chef and manager before talking to a couple of guests to get a pulse of the mood there. I also walk the floor with the cleaner to make sure it's being cleaned properly.
By 11.30 a.m., I head back to the floor and over the next two hours I discuss the lunch menu, quality of food and service with the chef.
I am back in my office at 1:30 p.m. or 2 p.m. and grab a quick bite to eat. I eat in the restaurant at least two or three times a week. It can get quite fattening. I run a few extra miles just because I eat there. I observe how other guests are served. I know I get extra attention, but I look at the couple sitting across the room to see if their appetizer looks like mine or arrives as fast as mine.
It is important to understand what food is being made and how quickly it is getting out of the kitchen. I have a trained eye so I can identify issues. I will not get up in the middle of a meal and cause tension, but I go into the kitchen and talk to the people there if anything comes up.
Right now we are proposing to take an existing space and draft a concept from the ground up and change the theme of the restaurant altogether. What is now a contemporary Californian style eatery will be a modern French bistro when we finish.
We want to create an atmosphere that is decidedly different from the Ritz-Carltons of the past. Our audience and market today is a lot younger than it used to be. The type of food served 11 or 15 years ago is not what people are looking for now. Today, time is money and we should be able to deliver a great product in 45 minutes from beginning to end.
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