Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Catch up! (at least on one front!)

Because I got an e-mail from Kristen that said "WHY HAVEN'T YOU BEEN BLOGGING?!?", I am going to try to recap the past few months. Please bear with me while I fill in the blanks. This may take a few days...

I got a second job. I applied at The University Cafe in downton Fredericksburg in mid-August. I heard that they needed an assistant manager, so I submitted my resume.

I waited. And I waited. And I waited some more.

I heard nothing.

Then my friend Samantha got a job there as a server. She started telling the General Manager that he should hire me, because I could do a lot of the things that were falling through the cracks.

I was finally told to come in. I was hired as a server. This was perfectly fine with me, since I was still doing almost 30 hours a week at CB. If I couldn't be a manager, then all I wanted was 2 shifts a week, to supplement the money I was losing by the CB cutbacks.

I came in on a Saturday and trained on the floor as a server for 2 hours. Then I took a few tables. Then the GM asked me to stay for a shift. On my first day, I made almost $100, and I was supposed to be "training".

The following Monday, I went in to The Cafe with the intention of working on my book. The assistant manager was struggling to do the server schedule. Since I had the Mac with me, I volunteered to do it for her. The GM decided that I should be an assistant manager that day, after already hiring me as a server. So, my one day of serving turned into an assistant manager job.

That lasted two weeks. Two weeks of working my a$$ off, trying to learn as much as I could and still doing almost 30 hours at CB each week as well. Between the two weeks and the two jobs, I worked something like 150 hours in two weeks. It was pretty intense.

I went in to work on Sunday 10/25/09 to close. I generally love to close on Sundays, because we have this amazing group of guys that come in and do a Jazz jam session. If you're on FaceBook, you've heard me talk about it.

Well, we had a restaurant consultant skulking about. He was hired by the owner to try to figure out of we were doing all we could do to be successful. He had long conversations with me the previous Friday. On Sunday, he told me that there were going to be some MAJOR changes the next morning, and that they wanted me to take over The Cafe.

You could have knocked me over with a feather.

I've always wanted my own place. Some of you have heard me wax poetic about someday owning my own little place, and the kind of place it would be. It's been a dream of mine for YEARS.

On 10/26/09, my dream came true. Well, I don't own the place. But I am now the General Manager of The University Cafe in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Please Google it if you want more info. Or you can check it out on Facebook.

It is a cool, funky, bright, cheery, fun place to work - NOW. There is a change in the atmosphere since that Monday. The employees are smiling. The customers notice a difference. The other managers walk around with pride.

I didn't do all of this. I'm not responsible for all of the good things that have happened. But it is very nice to know that I had a part in it.

As for me? Well, there is a BIG difference from being the new assistant manager still learning the ropes to being The GM. I am supposed to have the answers. I am supposed to know all. I am never supposed to lose my cool, control, or temper. I am supposed to be accessible at all times, to everyone.

I worked from 10/25 until today, every single day. I was supposed to have the day off. I wasn't supposed to be contacted by anyone at The Cafe all day. Yeah. Right.

The previous GM had a bad habit of not writing anything down. That included bands that were scheduled, special events, and bookings for The Cafe. This has resulted in numerous occasions where we have been double booked with events, entertainment, or other things. It has been an adventure, to say the least.

So today, on my first "day off" in a while, I got a phone call. The local University called and spoke with my assistant manager. The previous GM had agreed to host an event for 150 people, for tomorrow. Nothing was written down, nobody was told. The lady only called because she hadn't heard from us. But my staff? They are trained. They are confident. They have an awesome sense of ownership now. My wonderful Floor Manager took the call, got all of the information, contacted the Kitchen Manager to check our supplies and the Bar manager to check our stock, made adjustments to the server and bar schedule, THEN called to tell me. The only thing I needed to do was find serving platters.

Yes, I worked on my 'day off'. But I wasn't bitter about it. I would have had MUCH more to do had my staff not felt empowered to take control and do what they could. They knew that there were things they couldn't do (like go make purchases), but they did what they could. I could not have been more proud!

I'll get another day off next week. I may not even get a call. But regardless, it will be worth it just to know that everything that I've spent years learning, in The Navy and CB and numerous other jobs, is helping me to build a staff that can handle anything.

Join me in watching my dream become a reality!