Jack n' Jill's of Beverly Hills

I get up around 6:30 and do some kind of exercise: a walk or a run. I used to live by the Grove until February when I moved to Beverly Hills. Now I'll be riding my bike to work. I'm the owner of Jack n' Jills of Beverly Hills. The restaurant opens at 8 and I try to get in by 8 or 8:30. I make sure we are staffed properly and that orders came in correctly for the day.

The most basic problem I face in the morning is a staff member who isn't there. Maybe someone in the kitchen doesn't show up. I put myself in that person's place; maybe jump on the stove if I need to.

Another problem could be an order that doesn't come in. If that happens I have to get on the phone with the purveyors and exert a little pressure. It can be a stressful thing if you don't have the food you need for that day. In the morning I deal with any number of issues: a clogged drain or a computer problem. Between 8:30 and 11:30 I do accounting things.

By that time, it's getting close to lunch. I spend some time in the dining room walking around and greeting the guests.

If lunch is going moderately well, I'm going to look at new products or new sites in the early afternoon. Right now we are looking at locations in West Hollywood, Pasadena, and the Valley.

We serve breakfast and lunch. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. I looked around Beverly Hills and there wasn't a casual niche being satisfied anywhere. You can get high priced food, ethnic food, but no American Southern food. It makes us unique in this town. If we were in Montana we wouldn't be so unique. Who sells country-fried steak in Beverly Hills?

I created all the recipes on our menu. I often see something out there and I make it my own. I have a new salad with no lettuce in it. I've seen a number of these salads. First you have to decide how you want it to taste, then you experiment and make a dressing for it. There are some innovative people doing innovative things, but a lot of people are just adapting recipes to what they want. I call this new one the Crazy Salad.

Recipe ideas also come from guests. They will suggest things like pumpkin pancakes or French toast on a croissant and if I like the idea, I put it into place.

In the late afternoon if there is nothing crazy happening and the baking is done, I will work on new recipes. I prep everything myself and just start experimenting until it is approved. The approval process is pretty simple. Basically I approve it: once I say it's good, it can go on the menu. My other partners and my managers also try it and tell me what they think.

I cook in the cook's line a little bit everyday. I have to be there out of sheer necessity one or two days a week.

We close at 5, 7 in the summer. I'm here for close. I check out the staff in the building and help with any catering orders that need to be prepped.

In the evening there is more bookkeeping. I have a bookkeeper that comes in every once in a while.

We opened a new location in Santa Monica last September. We have a full management staff and my other partner works there all week. I go in once a week: generally on Saturdays. I take a look at how everything is running and I supervise the cleanliness, general operation, and feel.

As told to Sarah Filus

Robert Benson
Favorite Food on His Menu: Louisiana Banana Pudding
For Fun: "I like surfing and I play tennis a lot."
In the Future: "I want to be at a place five years from now where I can take a predominantly administrative role in the business. Then I'll write more short stories. Surfing and writing would be a great life."
Food Background: "I am from New Orleans. I moved here when I was a kid. My mom was a restaurant manager. I have some good cooks in the family."

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