Of course, the big news this week was the recommendation by Governor Cuomo to raise the minimum wage in NY State to $15 an hour. It’s a great start, and while the restaurant owners are going to cry poor, it’s obvious that new business plans will evolve to accommodate this much needed change.
One thing that’s got to happen is for servers to recognize, once and for all, that their job is: To sell. They are no more and no less than the culinary equivalent of a salesperson in a retail store. Get up close to the customer, anticipate and satisfy his or her needs and wants, and sell, sell, sell.
By selling more, their wages will be paid for. The restaurant owner will be happy. We’re all friends here.
Sell the stuff that doesn’t cost the kitchen much. AKA: Buy low, sell high. Pretty basic stuff.
Why just the other night, last night, in fact, I was sold a $12 bowl, the size of a big cup, of cold beet soup. Made thicker and richer, it cost the restaurant about 25 cents.
In the very same restaurant, the gentleman at the table next to mine, so close that it was as if he and I were having dinner together, asked the server: “Why is the steak $60? How can you justify that?”
Nonplussed, the waiter said, at first, that it was, “the dry aging,” that added the cost, which is flat out ridiculous. The cost comes from the grade of the beef: Choice or prime. This was choice, which costs about 40% less than prime. Seeing that the customer wasn’t convinced, the waiter then said, “I don’t set the prices.”
Well, that’s not a very good answer.
The food at this place is OK. Not bad, really. After the beet soup was a murky plate of mushrooms, fancily called, “boletus,” on the menu. I guess if you use Latin, you can charge $18 for what turned out to be dark mixtures of what may have been 1/2 a porcini and some other mushroom that tasted like shitake.
Anyhow, it’s, “The Shepherd,” and it was my third visit in six weeks, and probably my third visit in a year, if you catch my meaning.
Meanwhile: Minimum wage and restaurants. It’s exciting to see what will happen next.