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                 Restaurant Report E-mail Newsletter

         For Hospitality Professionals and Food Connoisseurs

                     Issue #130  January 14, 2001


In This Issue

*   Question of the Week
*   Feature Article - Foolproof Restaurant Recruiting
*   RR Cover Story - Interview with Georges Perrier
*   Reader Feedback - Employee Theft
*   Bulletin Board

    (This publication may be freely redistributed in its entirety)
               (Back issues are archived on the website)

        ** Newsletter below to learn more **


                         QUESTION OF THE WEEK

Which is more important: Food, Service or Marketing?

 - Lbrowne

Send comments/feedback to


                          FEATURE ARTICLE

Foolproof Restaurant Recruiting
by Maren L. Hickton

Following are the procedures that I suggest to owners. If you follow
this program consistently and take responsibility for maintaining a
good operation including planning ahead, you should not experience any
kind of crisis with respect to a shortage of employees. Ever.

So here are the statistics:

According to the U.S. Department of Labor and Statistics, eating and
drinking places are projected to have the largest numerical increase
in employment through 2008 with projections of 1.3 million jobs.
Simultaneously, the youth population, ages 16 to 24, is expected to
increase as a share of the population for the first time since the
70s, with the 25 to 54 age group decreasing, and 55 and over the
fastest growing population ever. With the average food service worker
having the lowest median tenure of only 1.3 years.

And here is the solution:

1. Understand the marketplace. Employees recognize that they control
the market in that they could conceivably get ten restaurant job
offers in one day. They also are aware what the competition is paying
for comparable positions. It is, therefore, most important to survey
the marketplace and get your current salaries/benefits in line with
your competitors and to remain on top, pay a tad higher and monitor
your competition regularly. While you may pay more initially, this
will minimize turnover and reduce the time, money, and effort to train
new employees -- which costs a lot more than some may believe.

2. Find them. Contact local colleges and universities in your area for
applicants and maintain an ongoing listing for new applicants at the
schools. Coordinate an onsite career day at various educational
institutions with plenty of materials and enthusiasm for both your
restaurant and the wonderful food service profession. Use statistics
demonstrating industry growth and income potential.

Reach beyond colleges and culinary schools to other schools focusing
on the creative fields -- such as art, dance, theater schools -- as
your back-up list. Artists, writers, designers, and actors fill
restaurant positions and often love the work and the money that
assists them in financing their primary, often part-time, creative
endeavors. Partner with a good, freelance employment agent and pay
them well to find you the exact staff that you require. Use Internet
hospitality job listing services for executive recruitment such as Lou
Taverna's at: or other popular job listing web
sites which can be found on most search engines. As a last resort, use
your city's major newspaper. (It costs too much money to run ads in
the paper.)

3. Reward them. Establish targeted reward programs that you can
consistently maintain. Good employees thrive in an environment where
they understand what is expected of them in both the short and
long-term. These programs can include anything ranging from an
increase in hourly wage for consistent hourly performers to bonuses
for salaried employees based on specific sales, margins or overall
restaurant profits on a quarterly basis. Incentives or reward programs
should have clearly defined targets that are attainable or employees
will see through them and lose interest. For example, if you know that
January sales are slow, do not raise the sales goal too high or that
will landslide employee morale. Certainly all goal-posting is
typically based on previous years, but you must also take into account
other factors going on in your marketplace that may affect your
bottom-line and plan your projections accordingly. While I do not
typically promote (volume) trade business, a special vacation and/or
comparable reward traded for business at your restaurant with a
reputable provider awarded to selected employees based on performance,
such as ones who bring in the most new satisfied diners, may be cost
effective and appreciated by the employees.

4. Keep them. Offer all employees some sort of benefits package. We
have all heard restaurant employees say when they are leaving, "I am
finding a 'real' job with some kind of security." Security equals
benefits: 401 K programs, health/life insurance, vacation pay, paid
sick leave, credit union assistance, tuition reimbursement for related
job training, child care assistance, financial planning services, and
so on. If restaurant employees were treated as the professionals that
they are with these necessary career benefits, they just might remain
in the profession. In an industry that is growing by unbounded leaps,
it is high time that we 'secure' their positions with these kind of
basic benefit packages. Proffer these benefits in a written agreement
based on position, performance, and length of service.

5. And keep doing more. Conduct informal educational programs with
your employees within your restaurant such as "Dinner with the Chef,"
on a quarterly basis to experience new menu items where each employee
is permitted to invite a guest of their choice and awards are
presented in a variety of categories for service -- both front and
back of the house. Lease a box at the stadium to entertain V.I.P.
party business guests and honor selected employees as paid hosts.
Coordinate a paid (or co-pay) employee perk program with a local
health club/spa for fitness training, fun makeovers, or relaxation.
They will look better and so will you for doing so. The list of
intriguing rewards is endless...

Have a wonderful 2001!

Maren L. Hickton is the Principal of Maren Incorporated, a
Full-Service Hospitality Consulting and Marketing Firm based in
Pittsburgh, PA. Maren can be reached by e-mail at

Send newsletter feedback and comments to us at



Interview with Chef Georges Perrier of Le Bec Fin

Finding your way to the top usually represents one of life's greatest
struggles. Once you get there, staying on top year after year is damn
near impossible. Georges Perrier and his restaurant, Le Bec-Fin may
indeed be an exception to this rule...




**Original Question:

How do you reduce the "theft of food" in restaurant caused by the
employees? Is there any way to control it?  How does the employer
address this problem? Does he charge it by deduction on his staff
salary? Are there any tips for motivating staff to help in this


**Next Post

Great question. I believe that the reason why most employees steal
from their restaurants is because the feel that the restaurant "owes
them". If you establish a system of providing an employee meal or
incentive program for the staff, including sales contests and a
perfect attendance policy, then this might give the staff a sense of
ownership and pride, which will provide an anti theft policy. Also if
you start new staff off with an honesty policy program, having them
sign a form to promote awareness.

Good luck
Sincerely Yours,
Peter Laliberte
Captain, Metropolitan Club

**Next Post

To curtail employee theft we had employees enter and leave through the
kitchen where the chef/owner could see them (most of the time).  They
were not allowed to bring backpacks or large bags into the restaurant.
When we owned a restaurant in a city area where waiters walked to work
and frequently purchased items prior to the start of their shift, we
required the them to turn their purchases into the shift manager to be
held until they were ready to walk out the door.

As you legally cannot "dock" someones pay on a hunch, we let our
employees believe that everything on the table was their
responsibility and they would be held accountable for any missing
items.  This perception of responsibility not only reduced the theft
of salt and pepper shakers, ash trays, glasses, etc. it also had the
unexpected benefit of the waiters keeping their tables much cleaner
and clearer!

Cairon Moore
Former restaurant owner

**Next Post

There are usually two types of theft that occur in a food and beverage
operation. The first is high cost items being taken out of the back
door.  Such as steaks, liquor, and wine. The second is a server or
bartender giving away something without ringing it up.  The highest
theft area in the front of the house is from bartenders giving away
free drinks or pocketing the money from a sale by not ringing it up.
To solve the problem in the back of the house all high cost items and
those most prone to theft should be inventoried on a shift to shift
basis.  Also it is helpful if these items are kept under lock and key
to be issued in small quantities by a manager or trusted employee.
Using this method and comparing use to sales will help better track
inventory and theft.

For the front of the house it is important to watch your employees
closely.  Are servers having cooks make food that has not been rung
in?  Are bartenders making drinks and not charging for them.  Have
cooks only make food when there is a ticket for it or a manager
approves it.  Have bartenders keep a check in front of customers so
they can be periodically checked.  Also have the bartenders keep empty
bottles and do a quick inventory before and after random shifts.
These are only a few suggestions that can help control costs.

Best Regards,

Jeff Crawford
Restaurant Workshop, Inc. -

**Next Post

In 1956 I took a course at Cornell as an undergraduate in the Hotel
School which we nicknamed, "Cops and Robbers".  Theft has been around
along time and it's a tough problem to solve. Here are some

1) Make it difficult... With POS systems you can certainly maintain
accurate inventory controls so that you'll know what's missing. Put TV
Cameras on doors and locks on refrigerators and make managers
responsible.  If you make it difficult and let the thieves know that
you know, it should slow them down.

2) Give your chef bonuses based on food cost, that will make him a
partner in preventing this problem.

3) Discuss the problem openly, talk about it and post notices that you
will reward anyone who "sees and tells".

4) Institute profit sharing so that your employees all know that theft
affects profits and that affects their incomes.

5) Don't forgive stealing. If you catch someone stealing set the
example by firing them or arresting them or both.

6) Theft is caused by disgruntled employees. So stop them from being
disgruntled and treat them with kindness and benefits.  Improve
working conditions and watch theft dwindle.   For instance would you
invite a guest to eat an employee's meal in your employee's dining
room or at your employee's dinner table?   It ain't easy!!!!

Ian Maksik, "Professor of Service"

Send newsletter feedback and comments to us at


                          BULLETIN BOARD

**Next Post - Re: Culinary Programs

I'm looking for information pertaining to Art Institutes in the US and
their Culinary Arts programs?

Are these types of educations reputable in the job market?  Does the
degree hold water when comparing to a degree from say Le Cordon Bleu?

I would like to attend the Le Cordon Bleu location, but the hours of
the school do not meet with my current work status, so I have been
contemplating the Art Institute of Phoenix.

Thank You,
Dan -

**Next Post - Re: Mad Cow Disease - implications for restaurants

As the fear of Mad Cow Disease spreads around the world (and it's
perceptions that matter here, whatever you think of the science behind
it) restaurants should be getting ready with responses and
alternatives for an anxious dining public. Can anyone point to any
advice for Steak Houses and restaurants that have centered their
marketing on beef?

Ken Burgin -

**Next Post - Re: Tax on alcohol

My question is this. In Alabama it is common to order a drink at the
bar and pay say 4.00 for a beer.  When dining at the same
establishment in the restaurant or seating area the same beer will be
4.00 and then taxed as a part of the food bill. Why is this?  The
owner still must pay the tax on the beer served at the bar.  Please

Luke Pilato -

**Next Post - Re: Breakage control in restaurants

Being a hotel manager what breakage % should be acceptable for me, and
what are the various ways in which I can control it?

Jasdeep Singh -

Note @ the Bulletin Board: If you can lend advice/assistance/comments
etc. please respond to the individual directly and cc: us here at  We'll summarize and post
responses we receive that would benefit the group.


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Copyright 2001 Restaurant Report

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