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Friday, August 12, 2011

Update on life

Just a quick note on Friday afternoon in August. Just met with Torah Academy. I will be cooking for the school lunch program this coming year. It is part time, but I get paid and will have time to develop some other ideas that I am working on including perhaps doing some catering from the school. I am also working on a new website called which promotes kosher food, what is it?, how to cook it? and other musings. Take a look when you have a chance. I have started to review some products that were popular in my store and cookbooks that I use at home. Good Shabbos.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

I am going to start entering events that reveal Hashgacha Pratis- G-d's Divine intervention in our lives. Simple things that show that the world is not random.

I forgot to make a sign for Tofutti Cuties yesterday. Remembered today. When I went to look up the price to make the sign, I realized that not only was it wrong. It was priced under my cost. I changed it and made the sign.

Had I made the sign when I entered the new Club Price, it would have been wrong for a long time.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

How do I get to the next step?

Well, here it is. Twelve years have passed since I opened this business. It hasn't gotten decidedly easier. I am training in a new Mashgiach / Counter person, so I have been working longer than normal hours- twelve hours instead of ten. Maybe that is why I seem to be short on patience. Anyway, the simple things still evade me. Cashiers that stay available for the customers. Ok, sometimes I send them into the aisles to stock, but disappearing? I know, I know. Hire new people. Tonight my dishwasher comes out of the cooler just as I am looking at him. He holds his pose for a couple of minutes with his hands behind his back. Maybe fixing his apron, maybe trying to fit the Snapple bottle into his back pocket. I don't remove my stare and he gives up, pulls the Snapple bottle out and says, "How much". I respond "How often are you taking "Free" bottles." He answers it is his first time. By the way we offer free meals and unlimited soda from the fountain. Still we contend with petty theft- slipping challahs out the back door, taking a Snapple bottle. Ok, I could fire him, send a message to everybody. But what will the next guy be like. It just doesn't get easier. I am constantly covering positions during the day, cashier, accounting, counter. Should I not be able to expect that the place just runs without my personal involvement? Should I not be able to eat in the dining room and not worry that the phone is being answered and customers are not waiting too long. How did Wal-mart and Home Depot grow from one store to 1000's? I pray for the day when business is brisk enough that I can hire good managers and pay them to run this place with me or better for me.

Saturday, June 30, 2007


Honestly, from a retailer's point of view, cell phone use is at best annoying and at worst plainly rude. What do I mean? A customer comes into the store looking for service and are tied into a conversation on the cell phone. Often, with the use of wireless Bluetooth connections, it is not clear whether the person is talking to themselves, another person or the clerk that they would like to engage service from. Then, in between, pauses in the conversation they try to order something.

Does anyone remember when we were little and our parents would chide us for interrupting a conversation they were having with an adult. "Can't you see I am talking to someone", they would say. "Please be polite and wait your turn, or say excuse me". What ever happened to that rule? It is hard to give service to a person who is talking to someone else. It is just not nice.

It rates highly with people who call with phone orders, usually in the middle of a rush time, and either are totally unsure of what they are ordering, or get a beep-in for another call and ask if we would mind holding while they take the other call. DON'T YOU KNOW THAT FOR US TO GIVE GOOD SERVICE TO YOU, YOU MUST REALIZE THAT WE ARE BUSY WITH OTHER CUSTOMERS AT THE SAME TIME. AND IT IS DIFFICULT IF YOU ARE NOT RESPECTFUL OF OUR TIME, TOO. Ok, I said it.

We also have customers, usually men, who cannot come into the store to shop without walking the aisles with the cell phone attached to their ear describing items for purchase, usually to their wives. Twenty years ago there must have either been no men shopping, more independent minded men, or many product returns because of inept shopping. MAKE A LIST, TURN OFF THE CELL PHONE AND PURCHASE THE PRODUCT. If you are unsure, ask us to help you choose what to get and we will gladly take all responsibility and further we will freely allow you to refund the product. Guess what you will also reduce the time to shop by half.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Fridays are a thrill.

Fridays are a thrill. We do a volume of business second only to Thursday, but in a 7 or 8 hour day vs. a typical 12 hour day. It starts immediately, with people often waiting for the doors to open to buy their challahs. Our bakery staff have been up all night baking our batch of challahs. Fishman's challahs have definitely made it big. We have a tremendous following that has been growing every year. We now sell challahs to the pre-schools at Adath, Beth El and the JCC. We started making cinnamon and chocolate challahs about a year ago and that is now catching on. We even have a customer who for three straight months has had six plain challahs and two cinnamon challahs shipped FedEx overnight to Tuscon, Arizona. The shipping is about $90. That's a testimonial.


Oh, I forgot to say that our challahs went to Hawaii not too long ago.

Fridays are a thrill. Every Friday, Rabbis J.B. Borenstein and Moshe Koval do a "Lunch and Learn" here. Between 8 and 18 people show up for lunch and stay to learn Torah. Everybody buys lunch, so it gets busy from noon to 1:00pm. The group is very eclectic and draws people from all Jewish backgrounds- men and women. The Rabbis keep them captivated. On top of that business we continue to have a lot of deli and last minute grocery business. I have been the only counter person pretty much from the beginning. I have occasionally hired a person to help on Fridays, but it never seems to last. My last guy was Matt, who is our butcher. He opted to work Friday instead of Sunday and the spot that I had for him was at the deli. That worked until Angel, our other butcher, was let go and we needed Matt in the meat department. Yesterday, I hired a summer employee. His mother had mentioned him to me, so I was prepared when he walked in. I had him fill out an application. His email noted Stanford University. I asked if he was a student there and he said yes. I decided very quickly that he was teachable and that I could use the help in the deli. I barely asked him a question and hired him on the spot. I have been so used to mostly little educated or seeming untrainable employees that I signed him up right away. So far, after two days, I think it will work out nicely. I still have not decided what to do about our evening mashgiach slot. At least, Jeff, our new employee will ease that transition when it comes.

Fridays are a thrill.

Besides the busy restaurant and deli counter, we often have a catering events on Friday nights or Shabbos day meal or kiddush. That puts additional strain on our already tight staffing. They say that volume cures all ills in this business, but I have not seen it yet. We are getting better, however, on pricing profitably. We recently added catering prices that include time consuming activities such as Signing and Sealing product going out the door for off premise consumption. We also started adding in fees for equipment wear and tear, and additional delivery and staffing costs. Hopefully, this will continue to provide the revenue we need to grow and higher skilled staff.

Fridays are a thrill. When the day ends at 3:00 pm (winter) or 4:00 pm (summer) I feel like I worked a half day. The day is so compacted that it feels wonderful to close the doors while there is still daylight outside, and then sit at the computer to do odds and ends, like write in this blog. Have a good Shabbos.

Friday, June 15, 2007

add to Covering It All

Well, it was only one day and my bookkeeper Luiza called in sick. So today I had to do the bank deposit, count the cash and checks and enter on the computer. Thank G-d that I don't have two who miss the same day very often. Al Tiftach Pe LeSatan!

One of my employees who works at night told me the other day that he may be leaving in a few weeks. It has prompted discussion with Ron, the Chef, about closing at 6:00pm. We have entertained the option before-thinking that we could save money when things were really tight. (Now at least we can breathe.) Anyway the thought is that we would close at 6:00. The "Cons" are obvious. We would lose our dinner business and lose some convenience shopping business in our other departments. Psychologically we could lose also, because customers start to think this is the beginning of the end. Remember Zarrof's. And people don't like to shop at a place they think is closing. The "Pros" include a leaner payroll. We would keep our best people and clean out the chaff. We would then focus our efforts more on catering, bakery, wholesale and grab-n-go. It would also be a tremendous lifestyle change. I would most likely cover the whole day for hasgacha, but be done at 6:00. It would be a simpler business perhaps.

Any thoughts anybody?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Covering It All

I already know I do too much, but when my meat cutter overdoses on 90 degree weather playing softball every night, I gotta step in. I arrive Thursday morning with a note that he is dehydrated and can't come in today. Well, because right now he is my only cutter, it's me. But I am also the daytime counter person in the deli as well as the mashgiach until 1:00 pm. Get on the phone. I finally work out that Frank will come at 10:00 am and Michelle will come at 5:00 pm so I don't have to stay until 9 pm. Not bad. It's 7:30 pm and I am finally checking my email and sitting writing this entry. We have a catering gig tomorrow, so it is a bit busy upstairs. I hope Matt comes tomorrow. One day I will have enough sales so that I can comfortably have backups and managers in every department.