This is an email I sent to Nate Pollack one of the Owners of The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen in San Francisco:
Thank you so much for the email and the continued support. As the owner and general manager, I’m terribly sorry to hear about the unsatisfactory service you received upon your recent visit. I’m happy to offer you a 50% gift certificate for your next visit. I’m not sure that makes up for any of this, but it’s the least I can do.
Yes – this is a labor of love. My partner and I are here 7 days/week, typically 14 hours + a day. We love what we do, the team we’ve built, and the customers we serve.
Unfortunately, what you experienced last Saturday – the breakfast to lunch switch – has been one of the toughest challenges of this restaurant, that we are yet to have a perfect solution for. If you don’t mind, here’s a quick explanation:
Our kitchen is tiny. About 200 sq feet. We offer a breakfast grilled cheese menu until 11am on weekdays and 12pm on weekends. 95% of our customers know those hours (they’re on our website), rely on them, and expect that service. Unfortunately, it is impossible for us to serve both breakfast and lunch sandwiches at the same time for a few reasons: mostly the physical space (the breakfast sandwiches take more space as we fry the eggs fresh), the oven/grill temperates (different temperatures for breakfast vs lunch sandwiches), and there are health code restrictions as to avoid contamination with raw eggs. So we’re adamant about keeping the two separate. Unfortunately, this does result in the occasional customer, ESPECIALLY on the weekends, coming in during a time frame where the menu they’re looking for, is unavailable for some time.
More recently, our Saturday and Sunday breakfast period, 10am-12pm, when we only serve breakfast sandwiches, has become the busiest period of the week. And yes – as we get closer to noon, we simply sell-out of some of our options. We keep prepping more, and keep selling more – not a bad thing. So as a business owner, we’re still determining how to keep up with demand, without over-prepping and having to throw away inventory. And typically by the tail end of the breakfast period, yes, there are limited options. But switching to lunch early, when we have limited options, would mean that the folks still coming in for breakfast, that may still be satisfied with the limited options, will then be disappointed if we stop breakfast early. We do our best, trust me, our VERY BEST to please everyone, but in this business as in all businesses, there will sometimes be snags and you can’t please everyone all the time. As I mentioned, we’re still working out the weekend breakfast to brunch switch and satisfying demand, and it continues to improve every week.
As for the service and attitude you received from the staff. I cannot apologize enough. I’m sincerely positive that this person did not mean to offer you sub-par service. I can understand that their tone or attitude may have been strict or insincere and that’s not cool. I will say, and this is no excuse, that perhaps this staff member was simply trying to get the message across that the kitchen wasn’t ready for lunch yet (trust me, I was there. We weren’t. It was an incredibly busy morning and we were cooking off breakfast orders well into the lunch hour); we often have, and dare I say, the occasional “challenging” customer that simply won’t accept that we can only offer one menu vs. the other, and they give our staff a hard time, make a scene in front of the other customers (literally – we’ve had swearing and hysterics). I very much appreciate your sending me a personal message – it’s super kind and thoughtful. You’re clearly someone who cares.
We have a staff meeting coming up this week. I’m going to bring up this incident and make sure to address behavior and attitude during these busy and stressful times. We typically get complimented on our level of service, so this is a shock, but there is always, ALWAYS, room for improvement.
We really do care – it’s why I’ve taken a good amount of time to write this exhaustive email. Once again, I’d like to invite you back for a 50% discount (and you know what – some free drinks!). We’d love to host you, and give you the excellent service you expect and deserve.
All the best,
Not the best movie in the whole wide world – that’s why you didn’t hear much about it. It was, however, directed by the same guy who brought us Dead Poets Society and Master and Commander….anyways!
It’s the story of a man Januaz who’s wife was tortured into signing a confession that he was a spy against Russia during WWII. Hence Januaz was sent to a Russian Gulag in Siberia….He probably could have lived out his life in the prison purgatory…..that is until he was sent to work in the coal mine. Life expectancy in the coal mine - 6 months.
Januaz decides it would be better to take off into the dead of winter into the Siberian forest rather than play it out in the coal mine death trap.
Januaz and his buddies indeed make it out of Russia only to have to cross the Mongolian desert followed by a nice trek over the Himalayas and finally into India. Nice little jaunt!
What in the world does this all have to do with your career? Well, how are you playing it out?
The Russian Gulag is your career. The coal mine is your job. The rest of it is your journey.
Would you rather play out your career in a job you know is stable but is going to suck the life out of you? Or are you willing to jump into the face of a Siberian winter and look for a job or start a business in this horrible economy…. that will free your soul one way or another.
Choice is always yours. There is no doubt that leaving the Gulag will be incredibly difficult. You’ll run out of water, almost get eaten by a pack of wolves….but you’ll do it on your own terms.
Are you stuck in a Russian Gulag? You’ve got options!