I’m coming to you with another pandemic update. I’ll start with the important stuff, and for those of you who want the why, you can continue reading below. I’ve had to make what is one of the most difficult decisions in my 7 year career of owning the restaurant. I’ve decided to TEMPORARILY close on Tuesdays until we can recover staff and fill empty positions. I also decided to go to a TEMPORARY reduced menu in an effort to try and get your orders to you in a more reasonable amount of time. The website will be updated very soon with the limited menu for take out.
This has been a HARD summer… I can’t sugar coat it; obviously there’s all of our closing down we’ve had to do, this has forced my business to incur debt (unfortunately a lot of it), it’s forced me to lay off employees and have them choose not come back, it’s forced my employees to rightfully evaluate whether or not they are comfortable working in the service industry. A lot of these great people decided they didn’t want the risk. I get it, but that doesn’t make it easy, as I’ve still got this business to run.
So, the current state of the union at Neptune’s Eatery is that we are operating at about 45-50% staff requirements needed to pull off our operation. I’ve been short staffed before, but the level we are currently at is so low that everything is suffering because of it. We’ve been hiring all summer and getting almost no applications from my ads. I reached out personally to local friends, community members, acquaintances, and asked them for leads (you know who you are and I thank you for your thoughtful responses). Gratefully, I’ve gotten a few but it’s been a one step forward, two steps back kind of situation.
In addition to the lack of staff, there’s also been odd product shortages. For example… did you know there is a tequila shortage!? Apparently this is due to a shortage of agave, and ability for Mexico to import bottles. Don’t worry, I’ve sourced extra Tequila so that when we get shorted on our orders we won’t run out! I file this one under things I’ve never thought about and now have to deal with. This is just one example, but weird things come up all the time. We were shorted on red onions, this eliminates our pickled onions that are found on several menu items. This list goes on, and it’s a strange predicament, and a little unnerving.
This year has been full of tough decisions, but the decision to close a day a week and reduce our menu is by far the hardest to date. I decided that in order to protect our brand and guest experience, I had to cut something in order to make the limited staff work. If you know me personally, you’d would know that I love business, its principles and entrepreneurship. I am a staunch believer that an entrepreneur doesn’t go into business to be closed. In the case of retail and hospitality, it’s simply costly due to the overhead one must still pay to be closed and even more costly due to the lost revenue each day a business is closed. In my opinion, if one runs a business well, the owner shouldn’t have to be there 7 days a week to make it work, and business should never have any regular day of the week where sales aren’t high enough to warrant being open. Others feel differently, but this is my standard for myself.
Another belief of mine is to never dilute your product, always find a way to make it work (to quote Tim Gunn). In my case, that means we created a certain menu, we use that menu and we bust a** to never run out of items. This is just my opinion, I know others feel differently. I only say it to illustrate how difficult it was to come to this conclusion.
The decision to close on Tuesdays and reduce the menu is basically an effort to allow us to utilize more staff on other days of the week, and to reduce prep time, and make it easier to keep up while cooking on a 4 person hot line with 2 people, and easier to roll sushi on a 6 person line with 2-3 people. Even though it’s just food, every employee feels the pressure of running a ticket time of over 30 minutes. It feels awful, lowers morale amongst our few remaining staff members, then guests get angry and the servers feel awful, then we have to comp items to try and make it right, and really in the end, no one is happy. So, something had to give and I made the tough and disappointing call.
So, there’s the long winded “why”.
I want to end by sharing my appreciation for all of my staff members who have stuck this thing out with me. These people are rockstars and are probably having their hardest work days they’ve ever had in the service industry. But they keep showing up. Thank you to all of my employees, I appreciate you more than you can ever know and would be in an even worse position with out you.