Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Opinion: Employer Relations

I've been planning to write this for a long time now, but recent events have finally pushed me to do so.

Any employment situation should be win-win.  Both the employer and employee should be getting something out of the agreement.  The employer has someone to do work and carry the load to help out a team.  The employee gets pay and work experience that will help him in years to come.

In my experience, it seems that a lot of employers forget it isn't all about them.  Perhaps with the recession and so many people looking for a job, it's forgotten that good help isn't as replaceable as they think.  But if your employee finds that they aren't going to benefit from working for you, they'll be gone at the first opportunity.

While in college I've had my share of absentee bosses.  They would hire me, train me, and then spend days at a time being anywhere but the place of business, leaving me (and occasionally others) to run the place in their absence.  The work wasn't hard, but it was frustrating to try and keep up with the demand with no help.  Even if I did the best I could, my bosses would balk at having to come in and help when things were busy.

I couldn't learn from jobs like this, because I was stuck on the front lines helping customers.  The only thing I learned how to do was run in a cramped space.  So when I saw the writing on the wall, I didn't look back.

Recently I had the opportunity to speak with an employer in this area about a weekend job.  One of the first things he brought up, and would not negotiate on, was that I sign a non-compete agreement prior to working.  This, on its own, is understandable.  I wouldn't mind doing that as long as I knew that the job I would be taking is beneficial.  I want to get a cake decorating business of my own off the ground someday, and could use the experience.  So I told him that I would think about it, and ask him more about the workplace.  He didn't answer my questions and went back to stressing the non-compete.

What's wrong with this picture?  While it's perfectly acceptable to want to cover your ass legally, if you're not going to negotiate the terms of the agreement you should at least work to convince a prospective employee that signing their name will help them in the long run.  Owning a business willing to hire them isn't enough.  I don't care how bad the recession is, nobody will be willing to shoot themselves in the foot for minimum wage and a poor work environment.

When I graduated, I made a promise to myself not to allow an employer to take advantage of my skills.  To make sure that any job I take will benefit me as well as my employer.  It's important for employers to step back and think of what they're offering to their employees, and not always the other way around.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Advertising, and its Difficulty.

Anyone who reads this should know about my fledgling company, 17th Street Cakes.  I've sold a few cakes through here, given out some goods and promoted it a bit to the outside world.  As I'd expected, advertising is the hardest part.

I started out with a Facebook page and put a few dollars toward advertising credits.  Those few dollars became even more when I noticed how many people were looking at the ads and finding that page.  I got a $50 ad credit from Facebook, and put that toward more ads.  Before I knew it, my credit ran out and I spent about $50 more on more ads before I pulled the plug.

What I found was disappointing.  The ads drove traffic to my page, but nobody was participating.  Nobody put in an order with me.  They only liked the page and moved on.  I decided to run a few promotions, in which the nth person to "Like" would receive a free box of cookies.  Again, I got more and more likes but no participation.  One winner never managed to see my messages asking her to step up and claim her prize, and because her privacy settings prevented me from messaging her directly, she lost her chance.  I'm sure very few actually saw my page, but instead clicked the link on the ad and moved on to play Farmville.  (Or is Farmville out of style now?)

Lesson learned:  Facebook does not work.  It might for established businesses, but not for someone like me.  Nobody has the attention span for it.

I'm pursuing another avenue.  My job at an insurance agency puts me in touch with a lot of people who have parties.  Especially a few of my coworkers.  I plan on using these connections to get my name out there.  It's going well so far.  I made a birthday cake for my boss, based on Butterfinger candy.  The restaurant where he went for dinner was so impressed with the end result that they wanted my contact information.  I've got a few more orders under my belt from coworkers.  And finally, the agency is sponsoring their first-ever kid's fishing tournament, and I will be one of the sponsors.  It'll be a small contribution based on what I can afford to donate, but there will be cake pops at the event.

My calendar's filling up slowly but surely with orders.  Some pro-bono, some paid.  Let's see how this goes.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

ACF National Convention + Cake + Nightlife

I've been terribly neglectful, I realize.  But it wasn't as if I had nothing to write about.  There have been a few developments.  I think I've just been subconsciously avoiding the topic.

To be honest, I felt for a while like I was losing my identity as a chef.  I graduated, I moved back home, and I missed any chances of finding employment in my field.  I got a job in an office, and remembered how draining office work can be.  After realizing how dry the job pool is here and now, I gave up looking for the time being.  Despite my education I started to see myself more as a receptionist than a pastry chef.  That wasn't where I wanted to be.

This was the main reason why, when I saw that the ACF National Convention was being held in Orlando this year, I jumped at the opportunity to go.  It's been expensive staying here for the weekend, but I think it's worth it.  I got the validation I'd somehow lost and needed back.  I've been surrounded by people who have been in my situation and encouraged me to keep swimming.  I saw my former instructors, who remembered me fondly.  This is exactly what I needed.

So excuse me for a moment while I make my way to the top floor of this hotel.  I need to get to the rooftop and shout:  "I am a chef!"

Well, that was cheesy.  But you get the idea.

So when I get back home tonight, I'm going to start looking for restaurant jobs again.  I can't start too soon.  I'm going to practice my skills more.  I'm going to take on more cake orders, promote myself and be proud of what I've accomplished.

Speaking of orders, I have a small side business that I've been running for some time, since I moved back home.  I specialize in birthday cakes and, apparently, cookie giveaways.  Check out the website and follow the Facebook page:  I've got a couple of orders for the near future, and always looking for more.

And as I've said, I have plenty more to write about.  Both for here and for Pussy Whipped Magazine.  The magazine's been dead for some time.  I'm determined to put some life back into it with what I have coming up.  So stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Freelance & Reformatting

I've made it a sort of quiet announcement until now, but I am one of the writers of the newly launched Pussy Whipped Magazine. Created as an homage to the webcomic Girls With Slingshots, it aims to be an entertainment guide for places all around the world. So far, we have reviews on places in south Florida, Akron, Amsterdam, and Bratislava. Guess which of those posts are mine?

This brings me to my decision to reformat this blog. Pussy Whipped Magazine, along with the fact that I no longer live in Fort Lauderdale, would put me in an awkward position if I decided to continue writing restaurant reviews here. What would I write for this blog, and what would I write for PWM? So I have arrived at this decision: I have a few more Fort Lauderdale reviews planned to write, and they will go to PWM. Once they're done, I'll move on to the Treasure Coast area.

As for this blog, I'll continue to post opinion pieces such as I've written here. I have a few of those planned and one will pop up within the next few days. I'm also going to post new recipes and tutorials in the future, Once I'm unpacked and settled in. A lot of my kitchen tools and cookbooks are still packed up in boxes. More posts to come!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Tap & Cork

It was complete accident that I stumbled across this place. Whether it's a happy accident or not remains to be seen. On my night off I decided to take a trip down to the Riverfront when I found Tap & Cork. A beer, wine, and sake bar sounded intriguing, certainly nothing I've seen in this down before. I finished off my coffee and went inside.

Three staff members were on the bar for (if my poor memory serves me well) about six or seven people. One of them, a young man with a short ponytail and sagging pants, greeted me in a monotone voice and asked me what I would like to drink.

"Umm, can I get a menu?" I asked him.

He then explained that they didn't have menus to give out, because they just opened. This is no excuse! The owner should have seen to it that a bar menu was printed out and available so that customers can know what they want to order or try. Instead, they've apparently decided to display all 50 varieties of beer and wine in stock on the wall and in glass-doored coolers. I was hoping this meant the staff members were knowledgeable about what they had in stock, so I asked about their sake selections.

I was wrong.

The bartender chewed on that question for half a second before running to fetch his colleague on the other side of the bar. Thankfully, this man had much more personality and his pants were secured at a decent height. He rattled off a rather limited selection of sake and poured a shot of Ty-ku Black for $6.

To be fair, this is a bar for sake bombs. They probably don't expect to get a lot of orders for straight sake. This still does not excuse them from being able to do so. Would it have been hard for Mr. Saggy Pants to pour me a shot of the sake in one of their refrigerators? I think not.

A group of three next to me were being served sake bombs by a tattooed female bartender who moved slower than a frozen turtle. Granted, it must take some concentration to balance cups of sake on those chopsticks, but her other movements should have been more efficient. She also spend a lot of time touching, flipping, and playing with her hair. Anyone with any training in the food & beverage business should know that this is a bad idea.

At least I liked the sake. It wasn't as sweet as what I've tried before, and I'll probably never buy that brand again due to the expense, but it was a good drink. I then ordered a shot of Gekkeikan sake. The friendly bartender explained to me had almost twice the alcohol content as Ty-ku (24% compared to 14%), and that it was rumored that the production of Gekkeikan involved vodka, but the company kept a tight lid on the real process. True to expectation, this shot tasted stronger than the last, but still had the sweeter finish that I had come to expect. Again, nice sake, but would be hesitant to buy again.

My check came out to $12 even. I tried to leave a $2 tip for the friendly bartender, but unfortunately Mr. Saggy Pants picked it up as I was walking out the door. His farewell was just as enthusiastic.

I tried to do my homework upon arriving back to my dorm room, but there is almost no information about this bar. This can only partly be explained by the fact that it's brand spanking new, as the owner can't be let off the hook. I was hoping for a company website or something.

No such luck, but I did manage to find two articles past promising that the place would be coming "soon." The problem? One of them from The New Times sets a grand opening in mid-November, which I can safely say did not happen. The other, from FTL Collective, makes a similar "Coming Soon!" announcement in late June of last year, but no date was set.

I loved the idea of Tap & Cork. I thought it could have been a pretty awesome place to hang out. Unfortunately, I have a strong impression that the staff just isn't trying hard enough. No menu in sight, no company website, and finding an address or phone number on Google was like pulling eye-teeth. Doesn't the owner want people to come to his bar? The first step is to let people know that it exists and is open, and providing them with important information such as what you serve. Being "new" is no reason not to work hard toward this goal. If anything, you should be working harder.

If the owner takes the time to promote his business more, set up a website and menu, and train or replace his employees, I can see this turning into something great. Unfortunately, I don't see that happening in the short time I have left in town. I won't be coming back.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012


I should not be allowed to keep my Livingsocial or Groupon accounts. Not because I buy too many coupons, but because I buy too many coupons and forget to redeem them until they expire. I'm trying to break myself of that habit now, because as this post on my main blog describes, my time in this town is limited and running out fast. Dapur is located just up the street from where I am now, walking distance away. I had little excuse not to go, if I even wanted to make one up.

Dapur is located in the corner of a small strip mall, and I got the impression that it was a cramped, tiny place. Not surprising for a small plate concept. But the building turned out to be much more spacious than I thought. Far from being crowded, the staff could actually get away with putting in more tables. I still imagine the kitchen to be tiny.

The hostess was friendly and bubbly, complimenting my old blouse as I walked in the door. I don't know if this says more about my fashion sense or her skills of sugarcoating, but I found my way to the bar area and found a seat. Again, this side of the establishment looked almost barren, even with the couches and tall tables surrounding the bar. At the back of the room was a large wooden door and a skinny strip of stage, as if set up for some kind of shows, but nothing happened.

The server was friendly and attentive despite there already being a handful of guests seated there. The couple sitting next to me had already gone through two or three plates. I needed a minute to look through the menus, full of unfamiliar and interesting things.

I first decided on a coconut caipiroska, and had a hard time pronouncing that order to the bartender. It was a mix of coconut vodka, lime juice, and cane syrup. I probably still can't be trusted to say it properly, but the drink was tasty.

More time was needed to look through food orders, but my eyes kept settling on the miso cod. For some reason I expected the serving to be bigger, but hey. I was in a tapas restaurant.

I had a slip of the tongue and ordered miso salmon instead. By now I was sure I had made a fool of myself. Though the little bit of cod was delicious, I think I liked the miso-honey sauce best. Unfortunately, chopsticks are not suited for scooping bits of sauce off of a plate.

This was also my first time trying baby ginger. I'm a big fan of ginger and have been known to eat the pickled ginger straight from a serving of sushi. Pickled baby ginger has a similar flavor, but somewhat brighter.

Not done with my miso fix yet, I ordered a bowl of miso soup. There was nothing extraordinary about it, just a good bowl of soup. I then realized how long it'd been since I had some, and made a note in my mind to find out how to make some at home.

I had to pay sales tax according to the terms of my Groupon, which was fine. I did get a chuckle out of the fact that the bartender put me down as GIRL in the POS system. I'm not sure why it was funny then. Maybe the caipiroska got to me.

Bartender got a $5 tip. I'd recommend going back for lunch, but unless you have money to burn (as I usually don't) or order from the large plate menu, the food you would get is unsatisfying for dinner.

Dapur on Urbanspoon

Monday, February 27, 2012


It's about time I was able to give someone a glowing review.

I've been looking for a certain kind of restaurant for a while: a small place that specializes in burgers, going beyond the typical fast food fare without feeling the need to diversify, and playing classic rock in the background. Rok:Brgr comes so close to this.

The staff was amazingly friendly before I even walked in the door. It almost caught me off guard because as you can see from my previous posts, that's almost a rarity in this town.

It was lunchtime on a Saturday. I had plenty of time to grab a bite for lunch before heading off to work myself. There were already a good number of people eating, but there was plenty of space at the bar. One bartender was on duty, and she had a good enough handle on things to give us few prompt attention.

Rok:Brgr has a large food menu and a smaller drink menu, both leather bound and printed to resemble something out of the old west. They specialize in bourbon and beers, but along the back wall of the bar is an extensive display of vodkas, rums, and tequilas. One drink in particular caught my eye, which was listed first and included bacon-infused bourbon. I didn't try it, though. Perhaps another time.

I started with an order of rum and coke. I usually don't drink before I go to work, but considering I had a good three hours to walk around a burn it off with a full meal in my stomach, I decided it wouldn't hurt. The drink turned out to be small anyway:

This is where I decided that, once and for all, I prefer a darker rum in this drink. But that's not the bartender's fault.

Flipping through the food menu, my eyes settled almost immediately on the Black & Bleu burger: bleu cheese crumbles, bacon, and caramelized onions on a 10oz hamburger patty. All of my favorite things to put on a burger. I ordered it without hesitation, and it looked as fantastic as it sounded:

It took me a minute or two to figure out just how I would get a bit out of this thing, which was just too tall for my mouth. I imagine I looked quite silly then. But once I did, the burger was worth it. It was easily one of the best burgers I ever had, and it didn't last for very long. Some of the blue cheese softened up in the process, falling out with some caramelized onions and mixing together on the place. That was probably the best part.

Not bad for a lunch. My burger was one of the more expensive on the menu, to be fair. Many of the others were around 10 dollars. They're a little pricey, but worth it. The bubbly bartender definitely got her 20% tip, and I'll be going back at least to try that bacon bourbon drink.

Rok: Brgr on Urbanspoon

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Cheesecake Factory - Las Olas

I'm breaking one of my own rules as I write this. When I started this blog, I set two simple rules for myself:

-No reviews on chain restaurants.
-No reviews on places where I work or have worked in the past.

The first rule was to encourage me to look for places outside of my comfort zone and that chains tend to be the same across the country. The second was to avoid obvious conflicts of interest. I'm breaking rule #1 today because this was a somewhat different experience for me, and as I've been neglecting this blog, this is as good an entry as any.

My family and I had lunch at The Cheesecake Factory on Las Olas Blvd. I've been to this particular location a couple of times before for dinner, but with a small group of friends. This time, I had with me both parents and two younger brothers, ages 11 and 13.

As a group of 5, we usually have to wait a long time to get a table at any restaurant, but this time we were seated in about two minutes. I thought that this would be a good sign.

We had plenty of time to look around and admire the interior. There's a definite Mediterranean motif that I've grown used to, but looks different in the bright light of day than it does during the dinner hours. Unfortunately, the fact that we had so much time to admire our surroundings says something about our service.

To be fair, it was a very busy hour for the restaurant and almost every table was full. That's the only concession that I will give to our waiter. While he didn't completely forget about our table how busy his section was, he was withdrawn and almost mumbling the entire time he served us, and couldn't even be bothered to crack a smile. I got a strong impression that he didn't want to be working today, which could be true but is not something that you want the guests to know.

This waiter seemed to be much more attentive to the table of two attractive women across the aisle from us, while forgetting to bring us bread and butter at the start. Again, this is another weakness that you don't want to show to your guests. If you let the big family of five catch you flirting with the cute girls nearby while otherwise showing little personality, at the very least you’re going to miss out on a bigger tip.

Our food also took a long time to come out of the kitchen, but I’m not going to complain about that. Considering how busy the place was today, the cooks in the back were no doubt swimming in orders and going as fast as they could. In a rush like that, nobody is slacking off.

I ordered the bleu cheese BLT burger, cooked medium. I liked it, but I’ll confess that it wasn’t the best burger I’ve ever had. It had very little bleu cheese crumbles on it and an exceptional amount of grease. Even with the beef and bacon, some of that grease could have at least been drained off. One of my brothers ordered a pulled pork sandwich, from which I stole a bite. I should’ve ordered that instead: the sandwich was made up of big chunks of pork instead of the usual shredded variety, with a good amount of sauce without it drowning.

For dessert, I shared the Limoncello cream torte with my mother. We got a HUGE slice of cake with macerated strawberries and whipped cream. Despite the size, it was light enough for us both to finish even though we already had plenty to eat. My favorite was the mascarpone cream filling: it wasn’t too sweet and it tasted more like a dense whipped cream. If I had just a bowl of that for dessert, I would’ve been happy.

In the end, our waiter was given a tip of less than 10%, because his general lack of personality was so off-putting. A smile goes a long way, folks!

The Cheesecake Factory on Urbanspoon

Friday, January 6, 2012

Whiskey Tango

I don’t know why I decided to walk into this place. I’m not a big fan of sports or sports bars. I feel out of place somewhere surrounded by beer advertisements. I don’t drink whiskey and know nothing about tango. (You’ll be pleased to know that your visit will require neither of these things, by the way).

Maybe I just liked the name of the place. Sometimes, that’s all you need.
The time was about 5pm on a Thursday. The dining room was nearly empty, with maybe one group of people and a jukebox filling up the space. I was seated at one of the tall tables in the middle of the room, and when I asked for a booth or lower table, I was told that all of them were reserved for a party later in the evening. Fine with me.

Again, I waited a rather long time for a server to even show up. There’s a pattern here. I’m not sure if it’s the time of day, if perhaps the servers aren’t yet in a frame of mind to show a sense of urgency, or the fact that I’m alone makes them apathetic. When the waiter arrived at my table, this exchange occurred:

“So… anything to drink?”

“Coke, please.”

“And… are you ready to order?”

“Not yet.”

“Okay then.”

There was no greeting or anything. It seems that I’ve become accustomed to a certain script that a lot of servers more or less follow: “Hi, I’m ___ and I’ll be your server. Can I get you something to drink?” Even if it’s fake, I like to feel that the server is at least making the attempt to be courteous instead of an exasperated “I finally showed up, now let me get your drink and leave.”

Again, I had to wait. I looked around and saw almost no staff in the room. Nobody was behind the bar, despite a couple of people sitting there. While waiting, I looked at the flip-through menu (the actual name for that thing escapes me, but you find them on the tables in a lot of casual restaurants) and saw something for an In The Biz club for people in restaurants, bars, or law enforcement. I’d have to fill out something, show them a pay stub, and get discounts on drinks. It sounded like a nice idea, but I eventually decided to pass, deciding that I likely wouldn’t be back often enough to take advantage of it.

Thankfully, the service did get better. My server returned with an apology for the speed and an explanation that they were understaffed for the moment. It didn’t seem too busy for two people to manage, but I let it go and ordered my food.

A camera phone and low lighting are not a good combination, but I ordered the chicken breast with a side of macaroni and cheese. Compared to the lunch menu, the dinner menu seemed surprisingly limited. This time the food came out reasonably quickly, though I immediately saw the reason why.

It was a very simple and bland-looking dish. Despite my expectations, the chicken breast turned out to be great – very juicy and tasty, simply seasoned with salt and pepper. If only the macaroni and cheese were as good. Mac and cheese happens to be my favorite food, so I jumped at the chance to order it as a side. What I got was a dish of pasta in a grainy cream sauce topped with crushed goldfish crackers. The sauce was clearly undercooked, as I could still feel the flour used to thicken it, and I didn’t taste any cheese in it. I was disappointed and did not finish.

I finished my meal with a rum and coke. It turned out to be happy hour, and I could get 2 for 1. Fine with me. The drinks were great, though it is pretty hard to screw up rum and coke. Again, I had to wait forever for an absent bartender to come back and make the damn things. When the chance came, I took my check in a hurry, lest I be stuck there until midnight.
The good news was that I wasn’t charged for the rum and cokes. I’m not sure if that intentional on the ghost bartender’s part or an oversight, but I didn’t say a word. I left the server a 10% tip as he was friendly enough, and he seemed to have his act together after one early speed bump. Unfortunately, the initial exchange followed by the slowness of the rest of the staff bumped the tip percentage down.

Almost as soon as I was ready to leave, it seemed that staff started to pour in. Perhaps this was the start of the late shift. The party that reserved all of the booths had yet to show up.

I’d go back for drinks only, provided I was with friends. I’d get a seat at the bar and get something to eat elsewhere. I would also come by later in the night, when more staff is on board and motivated to move faster.

Whiskey Tango on Urbanspoon

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Cakes are Serious Business.

I didn't expect to be writing an opinion piece on here. I also didn't expect to be combing through Entertainment and Sports sections of the newspapers for information about a story. However, this popped up on my newsfeed on Facebook, and because it takes place in my field and in my region, my interest was sparked. After finding out all I could about this story, I have one thing to say:

Everyone involved is in the wrong.

Here is a summary: A bakery owner in Boca is asked to create a birthday cake for LeBron James at the last minute, to be compensated with publicity instead of actual money. Bakery owner jumps at the chance, hires extra people to make the cake over a busy holiday weekend... only to find that her cake was replaced by a Miami baker given the same request. Now, Boca Baker is pissed and wants compensation.

I'm actually going to leave LeBron James out of this, because I have a strong feeling that he didn't even see his birthday cake until the party. I can certainly believe that the big decision to switch the cakes happened in a closed-door meeting, while Mr. James was busying himself with whatever it is that professional athletes do.

And even if he did have a say in what cake he wanted at the party (which I can also believe, as one quote by "party handler" Jared Galbut keeps popping up: "I can't tell LeBron James what birthday cake to eat. It's LeBron James, for Christ's sake.", I honestly wouldn't blame him for passing on this particular cake. Why? Take a look at the two competing cakes in question:

(Image from Yahoo Sports)

Which one of these cakes would you want as a centerpiece at your birthday party? Now, which one of these cakes do you think Mr. James' "people" picked out?

The cake on the left came from Passion for Pastry, the shop of the aforementioned Boca Baker. The one on the right comes from Divine Delicacies in Miami, and was actually featured at the party.

As much as I hesitate to say something like this, because I know it will ruffle some already sore feathers, but Passion for Pastry's cake does not look to be worth $3,000. I realize that the ingredients and labor involved get expensive, and having the order at the last minute puts serious time constraints on your work, but for a budget like that and having a whole weekend to work on a cake, I know for a fact that people can put more into a cake. Especially if you're planning on associating yourself with a public figure.

Don't believe me? Take another look at those cakes above. Guess which one put more effort into that cake. And Passion for Pastry had to hire extra people for this cake alone? Considering the end result, I don't believe it. Don't get me wrong, it's still a lovely cake. I, personally, would be thrilled to see something like that at my own birthday party. But would I pay $3000 for it? Probably not. While the detail in the crown is impressive, the rest of the cake seems a bit lacking. There's minimal detail on the rest of the tiers. While on DD's cake, I can see the hand-piped scrollwork on some of the tiers (which is tedious and hell on the hands, but the end result is well worth it), and honestly looks like someone put a weekend into making it.

I took a look at Passion For Pastry's website and flipped through their gallery. I saw more detail and craftsmanship in those cakes, which were various commissions for "us commoners," than I do in the cake that was given to LeBron James. Oddly enough, that particular cake is noticeably absent from the gallery.

So while I appreciate that PFP put a lot of effort into their pro bono cake, it's obvious that it wasn't their best work. They really shouldn't be surprised that Mr. James' people passed on it.

Speaking of those people, they're not completely blameless. One was quoted (Likely Galbut again) as saying "That cake couldn't be worth more than $600. It's flour, eggs and water." It's amazing just how many people don't know what kind of work goes into a bakery. There are also (according to PFP) labor costs and lost business to take into account. That means that PFP had to pass on PAYING clients in order to finish this cake on time, AND pay the extra people who were hired to help with the cake. While I honestly believe that the end result doesn't quite reflect the expense that was put into it, as I said above, it's just a bit insulting to the trade to dismiss all of that work as simply "flour, eggs, and water."

They had to know that they were taking a lot from PFP when they made that last minute order. Not only did they offer PFP publicity instead of monetary compensation for that cake, at the end of the day they refused even to give them that much. The cake went missing and was replaced by DD's cake with no notification on the organizers' parts. PFP would have put in all of that work for absolutely nothing in return. It's glorified theft.

Part of us likes reading stories about Big Bad Celebrities or Corporations kicking the modest small businesses to the curb. It gives us a common enemy and a target for some frustrations. This story isn't one of them. One person made a risky business decision, and a group of people decided that she didn't try hard enough. The fact that the group of people happen to be associated with a celebrity is the only reason why you're hearing about it at all.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Rock Bar

This actually wasn’t my first choice for lunch today. The plan was to grab a bite to eat at Sonic Beach a block or so away, but it was so crowded and the servers seemed to be doing little to help the flow of traffic run smoothly. I wound up leaving, and then found myself getting a small table outside here.

My first impression was that there was little to no separation between the two establishments. They looked different, sure. Sangrias has a bar surrounded by plastic wicker tables and chairs, while the Rock Bar is more of a lounge. The staff is the same, there is one hostess station between the two, and both places have the same menu.
I got a table at the Sangrias side. It was a Monday midafternoon, and the place had plenty of people. The hostess was friendly enough, handed me a menu, and promised me that a waiter would be with me shortly. Several minutes pass, with me boredly flipping through the menu, with not a server in sight. The hostess had to come back and ask if anyone had helped me, and when I told her no, she jokingly said “I’ll kill him,” and walked off.
Finally, someone showed up. The waiter apologized, although half-heartedly, and offered some quick explanation that boils down to an employee miscommunication. Totally avoidable, but I at least was able to order.

I ordered a strawberry mojito and a turkey club sandwich. Everything either came out surprisingly quick, of my expectations were lowered while I was still waiting for a server to show up. The menu boasted that this place had the best mojitos in town, and while I haven’t tried every mojito at every place that offered one, I did like this drink enough to consider getting a second. (the cost is somewhat prohibitive, but more on that later.) I did notice that there was plenty of undissolved sugar settling at the bottom, which is why many bars go for simple syrup instead. This wouldn’t bother me as much, as I don’t like a lot of sweetness in my drinks, but surely others might not feel the same way.

The rest of my food was not wholly impressive, but I didn’t come here for an extravagant lunch anyway. The sandwich was made up of thick slices of turkey and cheese with a sizeable pile of bacon, with three slices of bread and mayonnaise.

I definitely can’t complain about the music, either. A Beatles song played when I was sat, and a varied mix played throughout.

Halfway through my meal, I noticed that I was not given any napkins. The tables are all completely empty except for a small flip-through menu for advertising drinks and hookah. Twice I tried in vain to flag down my absent-minded waiter, but after he took my order I was promptly ignored. Another server seemed to be much more attentive to her section, which started just behind me. Perhaps I was just unlucky enough to pick the wrong part of the dining area.
I finally got his attention after having to yell. And no, the music wasn’t to blame as he was no more than three feet from my table at the time. It seemed more that he just wasn’t paying any attention. Once I could get a hold of him, he brought my napkins and check quickly enough.
The menu also warned that an automatic 15% gratuity would be added, and to “feel free to raise or lower this at your own discretion.” Most places add this to large parties, but I as a party of one still had this added to my check. Perhaps this was why my waiter didn’t pay me any attention: he would get paid either way!

I had three dollars added to my check. I know that in a lot of places, the employees pool their tips, and it seems that the waiter was the only one here who dropped the ball today. The hostess was friendly and made sure that I was served, and the bar and kitchen staff gave prompt service. So, I decided to leave the gratuity alone. I still had to resist the urge to laugh when my receipt was given back to sign and the option to tip was presented.

Would I ever come back? Certainly not for food. The mojito was good enough that I would consider getting a seat at the bar and grabbing a quick drink, though only on a special occasion. As you can see above, the drink cost me more than my sandwich. I would also consider coming back with a friend, though also not for food. Go there if you want a good drink, go there to try out the giant margaritas (something I have yet to do), but don’t go there for food.

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