Embrace The Suck Blog

Too Much Right Brain Running Your Restaurant?

leadership mindset Feb 12, 2018

If you ask bartender or chef what part of the job they love the most, and 9 out of 10 times it's creating new menu items. That artist side that many say is related to the right side of the brain. The right brain and left brain debate has been around for sometime.

Pop culture plays it up with quizzes on social media that will tell you which side of your brain is dominant that you can share with you friends. It's all fun and games until cries out, bullshit.

The Myth

Yes, it's fun to say you are creative or analytical and use that as an excuse why you don't excel at those other things you don't like doing. All very convenient and also it's what's holding you back.

The brain is divided into two hemispheres the right and the left. Certain parts of the brain do handle certain tasks. However, your brain flips back and forth so fast between hemispheres that you would never notice.

It's easy to place blame on external circumstances. Easy to say, "That's just the way I am." Easy is for...

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Results! That is What You Are Paid For!

As a restaurant coach and consultant, I get paid to produce results. Nothing is more frustrating for me then to waste valuable resources. Trust me, when you are on a week long survival exercise in Iceland and you only have food for 4 days, you appreciate the resources you have......big time.

I did a consulting project recently and the so called "director of operations" was not schooled in resource allocation. For a few hours I went along with his time wasting requests and then I reminded myself what a consultant's job is: to protect the owner's investment. Sometimes we also need to protect people from themselves. In this case the owner had no background in the foodservice industry. Let's just say he had a more medical background.

Now, I'm a big believer in "support the team you play for or play for another team". Owners also need to subscribe to the belief that "if you don't trust the people you hired to do their job, hire people you do". So I had the what I call the "consultant's...

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The Trouble with Creating Culture

culture leadership Feb 01, 2018

Look at any well landscaped garden and you will see careful planning, care, and maintenance. Those are the same elements you need to create a restaurant culture that surpasses the average.

Culture is that secret sauce that separates the good from the outstanding. Restaurants can have the same ingredients and even the same menu items. What separates them often is that one thing that is hard to copycat and that is their culture. Even famous rock bands that break up and go on to form other bands often do not find the same success they had from before. Culture is something more organic and alive. Just like that immaculate looking garden, you need to understand the planning and work that occurred to create such a masterpiece.

There are 3 key elements to cultivating culture: 


You can’t just pick plants and flowers for a garden without thinking how they are going to grow together. Some have different growth cycles. Some require more attention. Some flourish in the heat...

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Why You Need To Worry About Culture


Culture. You've heard that word before. Contrary to what some believe it's not an urban myth. Culture is the lifeblood of your restaurant and bar. It's a beacon that sends a vibe to those that like the message your culture sends out. It's like your own personal bat signal for your brand. So yes, it's a big deal.

Describe Your Culture 

Here's where we run into the problem. Culture is hard to describe because it's more of a feeling. Even now as you think about how to describe your culture, you probably struggled or searched for the right words. The part of your brain (the limbic system) that handles those messy emotions has a hard time expressing them. That part is taken over by the Neocortex, which has an easier time rationalizing what you are feeling into language.

So don't feel bad if you have a hard time describing your culture. It's common. Look at those feelings and tap into those emotions. The key to culture can be summed up in two words: core values (are you having...

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This is How to Stop Your Restaurant From Being Stuck

leadership mindset Jan 06, 2018

We tend to think of restaurants as brick and mortar objects. Restaurants are actually a living thing. Born from an idea and given life by people. Just like any living thing there is a cycle of growth and development. Your restaurant is a reflection of you. Your actions and attitude have a profound impact on your restaurant.

When things are good, you’re on top of the world. When things go bad, they tend to pull us down into the pit of despair. As human beings, we tend to let our successes define us. It’s actually in our challenges that we find our strengths. All restaurants will experience a challenge. It’s a natural ebb and flow in business. You cannot have all sunny days. It’s during the rainy days that things tend to grow.

When you find your restaurant is stuck there are a few key steps you must take:

1.    Own it. You must be aware of your current situation and honest with yourself about it. Don’t sugarcoat it or use a softener like,...

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6 Powerful Ways to Embrace Change

mindset peak performance Jan 02, 2018

Want to be at the top of your game all of the time? Then you really need to learn to embrace change. Most people are averse to change. They like to keep things the way they are; they like to stay in their comfort zone. Remember this:

Restaurant Coach Tip: If you are operating from a comfort zone, you are in the wrong business.

Great people ask questions like, “What’s next?” and “What am I getting better at?”

Here are three ideas to embrace change in your life and career, and three ways to apply those ideas…

Over my years as a chef, I’ve had the chance to meet a lot of great people, both inside my company and at many other companies around the world. More than any other, one single attribute separates people in the workplace. That’s attitude.

Attitude is critical when it comes to embracing change. Great people are always looking for ways to change; to grow. As I always say, you are either getting better or getting worse: If...

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How Are You Spending Your Human Capital?

hiring operations talent Dec 28, 2017

Who you allow on your team is one of the most important decisions you make as an owner or operator. You have to safely guard whom you allow to interact with your guests. Many owners and operators overlook this detail, and it can have a monumental impact on their business.

Jim Collins, the author of the book Good to Great makes a profound statement about the importance of hiring and capitalizing on your human capital, “Get the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats.” You should heed these words. Carelessly spending your human capital is a downward spiral that leads to a trail of issues for a restaurant.

Here are three tips to help you maximize your human capital:

Hire for desire over skill.

This is without a doubt the most common mistake that restaurant owners and operators make: They fall for the resume over the person. Remember, a resume tells you where a person worked, but it does not tell you how they work....

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Is Your Menu a Cannibal?

menu design profitability Dec 26, 2017

Menu items that are very similar fight or cannibalize each other for sales. When Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, the first thing he did was ask his team one simple question, "What products would you recommend to a friend?" When he did not get a very clear answer he reduced the number of Apple products from 350 to just 10!

Think about your menu. What items are your "hits"? Those dishes that your team just knocks out of the ball every time? That is what your menu should consist of! Too many items leads to what psychologists call "the paradox of choice" is when too many choices leads to anxiety about our choices. So when your menu has too many items, guests get frustrated and tend to go for the "safe" choice. The bad news is that your safe choice might not be a big profit maker.

Sometimes what you do NOT put on your menu is more important then what you do.

Here are some key questions to ask about your menu:

  • Why do I drive to your restaurant?
  • What do we do better than anyone?
  • Is...
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Why Thinking Like an Owner is Bad

leadership mindset Dec 24, 2017

If you are a restaurant owner or manager (ugh, I do not like the word manager, however bear with me). You have probably either spoken these words or heard them said to you, “You need to think like an owner!”

Here’s the double edged sword when you hear that statement:

1. Many don’t want to be owners!

Like a lot of things in life, we assume others want what we want. Sorry to burst your bubble, no. Most people don’t want to be an owner (or a manager). If you are a highly driven individual then you have a hard time understanding why others are not driven and want what you want. Here’s a clue: everyone has different wants and desires. I know that’s not groundbreaking news, yet we tend to generalize and group people by the way we see the world.

Have you ever promoted someone thinking that they wanted the new position, only to find out later that they never really wanted it. They most likely took the promotion because they didn’t want to...

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The Price of Fear in Your Restaurant

mindset peak performance Dec 24, 2017

“I am running out of fuel. I’m not going to make it.”, the pilot of a small single engine aircraft said over the radio.

My first duty station as a Pararescuemen was with the 67th ARRS (Aerospace Rescue & Recovery Service) in Woodbridge RAF in the United Kingdom. We routinely flew up to Keflavik, Iceland to support our unit stationed there. Normally the flight up is pretty quiet and uneventful. Not this time.

A small plane was en route to Iceland and the pilot flying alone had run short on fuel. He was going to have to ditch the plane and land in the North Atlantic Ocean. Landing in rough open waters is a challenge in itself. Landing in water that is so cold that hypothermia will set in within minutes is the real threat.  When you first go into extremely cold water you go into what is called cold shock response. People start to hyperventilate immediately. For one to three minutes you breathe very fast and deep, uncontrollably. If you can’t swim or...

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