business, Uncategorized

Dining In Dining Out

I sat down to write this post and came into a few roadblocks. Nothing major just my perception or perspective. I decided this was important to write about.

In a recent post Chick 2 referenced her vantage point in the restaurant industry as a family-owned business. My post today will be as a patron.

I dined out a few times at local establishments during the pandemic shutdown. My hopes were to make an impact and to break up the mundane on the home front. It worked for the most part.

I bought pastries from a local bakery. I bought curbside pickup at a chain and tipped big. I took to go orders at the small mom-and-pops. I even hit a franchise or two.

Now that things are starting to open up I decided to dine out. Well my first choice was closed. A bigger chain but one of my favs. I looked for another local fav spot that a friend managed and that too was closed for dine in. Then I thought well I’ll just grab something elsewhere with disappointment.

When all was crumbling around me with lack of options I saw a Mexican place open that I had never been to. I decided to give it a shot. I was pleasantly surprised.

As I entered the facility I saw floor markings noting 6 feet apart. I saw a plastic protector by the hostess stand. I saw a make shift to-go pickup area with tables in use that were normally for dining. It seemed odd.

I took my seat. I observed. Every other booth was taped off for my protection. Tables were spread apart in the floor area. The servers were masked like healthcare workers. Does that kill your vibe to eat food? I was just rolling with the experience.

I couldn’t stop watching the to-go area. It had a table lined with to-go margaritas. Filled in 1/2 gallon milk jug type containers. They were labeled and sealed but never would I have seen this pre-corona. They sold like hot cakes with the to-go order. Interesting concept to generate revenue and make do with the new normal.

It was hard to understand the waiter. Was he annoyed or smiling? So many thoughts crossed my mind. The food arrived. It was delicious. My worries went away with the comfort and presentation of the meal.

Fresh cut slivers of avocado were the highlight of my meal. Fresh chips and salsa. The sounds of conversations and other humans around me. It was a new normal and a bit weird but it was a good first step. These are the vibes you can’t replace at home. And no clean up!

Mother’s Day came and went. A holiday normally spent at a restaurant but not this year. Nobody in my family wanted to dine out. A barbecue at home it was for this family. A picnic for another group I knew. A day on the lake for others. A work day for others whose family runs a restaurant.

I wondered about the financial effects of not only corona but on the restaurant industry itself on such a day like Mother’s Day. Some of these establishments need those holiday highs to maintain the lulls of other parts of the year.

I will continue to eat out when I can. If my budget allows. If my community stays open. If opportunity presents itself. So many ifs in the world today.

Are you dining in or out today?

business, challenges

A View From Behind the Mask

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I don’t bring it up often, but my family is in the restaurant business.  My husband and I met when I came to work at his family’s restaurant when I was 20 years old. I was taking a mental health break from college for a semester and needed a job, so I stumbled in to a local restaurant and ended up working there on and off for over a decade.  That’s a story for another time.

Suffice it to say, I have worked the front of the house in a restaurant for a lot of my life.  Server, bartender, hostess, manager, banquet server, retail sales, I’ve done it.  I have learned that it is not the life for me. (Add that to the list of stories for another time.)  Still, my husband’s restaurant is a huge part of our family economy, so there are certain days every year when I go to work and pitch in. Father’s Day, Oktoberfest celebrations, and so on.  Mother’s Day is usually one of those days.

As you likely know, the restaurant business has been radically changed by the COVID-19 pandemic.  Many establishments are closed.  Others are trying take-out, delivery, family-style offerings, and whatever else they can cook up. Heck, some are even offering grocery-style shopping. Pivoting quickly to focus on survival.

It was just recently that Georgia decided to allow restaurant dining rooms to open with detailed, extensive safety measures and very limited capacity.  We are lucky to have a restaurant with a large dining room. Other restaurants may not even be able to try to open their dining areas just because of the safety measures and square footage requirements.

This Mother’s Day was the first time our dining room had been open in well over a month.  My daughter and I were pinch hitting to help things run smoothly. Here are just a few of the rules: Paper menus instead of plastic sleeves so they could be disposed of each use. Gloves…I think I changed my gloves 50 times during a 6-hour shift. No bringing pitchers to the table to refill any drinks.  Just bring a new fresh glass. Spread guests out at every third table or so.  No groups over six people, which is often the minimum number for many tables on Mother’s Day at our place. Deep cleaning all surfaces…we scrubbed tabletops and every part of every chair anyone touched with sanitizer all shift. Since we couldn’t use our typical tablecloths, this was a lengthy chore. When done, we left a card on the table letting customers know it had been thoroughly cleaned.

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Maybe the biggest change was the masks.  I had a coworker from my school make me cloth masks to wear a while ago.  They are more or less comfortable.  They are much better than the awkward constricting bandana I tried at the beginning of corona. Still, after a while with the mask on you find yourself breathing differently.  It’s always sweaty and warm under there.  I was breathing more heavily, like I was working out or something, after just a minute with the mask on.  It was a relief to take it off every once in a while, or just let my nose peek out for 30 seconds or so.  Apparently it’s even worse if you wear glasses.

I wondered, could people tell if I was smiling at them? I do smile with my eyes but I’m still not sure. (No comment on my overgrown eyebrows which are tragic, or the bags under my eyes!) I wore more eye makeup thinking that would be the part people could see.

I learned quickly that most guests couldn’t understand what I was saying, so I spoke less and less as the shift wore on.  I hardly wished anyone Happy Mother’s Day, which is usually a big part of my job being the “Comfortable Committee” on those days.  I suppose I was just caught up in the strangeness of it all.  It didn’t feel festive.  Not many dressed for church.  No tables filled with gifts or flowers for the Moms. Only a handful of photos taken. The dining rooms weren’t crammed with smiling faces.  (And we are usually wall-to-wall with a waiting list for hours on Mother’s Day.)  It felt tense, with our focus on staying safe and sterile over warm and welcoming. It is what is needed right now. We want our customers to feel safe with us. Still, it is very different than the atmosphere in most years.

Just an insider’s view of what it’s like to work in a restaurant for Mother’s Day during the pandemic. Thankfully, we had quite a few people dine with us and many families took brunch and sweets to go.  This daily income is truly a lifeline for your local restaurants.

Sadly, when I got home from working, I read a long string of complaints and disappointments on social media from people who had waited hours for food ordered from major chains. Steakhouses, southern cooking, seafood, you name it.  All took enormous numbers of online orders and the system broke down.  People waited and waited, no one answering the phone, no one updating them.  When only a few miles away we had tables sitting empty and cooks and servers ready to make great food! It won’t always be perfect, but please give your local places a chance.

Our family’s place has been the site of engagements, weddings, showers, celebrations of all kinds and so many other special occasions. Please support those quirky, unique little places now.  Support the ones that hold your memories, even if it is a little strange to do these days.  If they are able to open at all, they are likely working their tails off to keep you safe and keep their business alive and employees working.  If you can, please dine with your favorite local places! Support the places you want to see come out the other side of this challenge with your dollars, your social media buzz, and any other support you can offer.

 

 

adventure, balance, inspire

Nature Therapy

If you recall we posted a digital doomsday blog and noted all the negative vibes around what’s missing these days from the school experience from a teen daughter’s perspective. All the time stuck with eyes glued to a laptop. No time to move between classes. No friends to laugh with.

However, after reflecting on the extra time available to take a walk with my daughter outside because of the “downtime” in our schedule and her lack of spending time with friends or at sports activities, a different vantage point appeared. Again a negative turned positive. Below is a great pic we snagged on a late night stroll together. We are embracing nature in a way we never have before. Just listening to birds chirp in the morning is a new kind of peaceful way to start the day. Very different than how life started a month ago and hopefully different than next month but for today we are embracing what options one can celebrate.

One wish for us is that the vast majority of people would or could look past themselves and their immediate discomforts during this pandemic and see the sunshine that is around the corner. It may not be the brightest sunshine but even every sliver of light can be embraced in the darkest hour.

If even just a few people out out there choose nature as a stress relief today it can spread. Think about others as well. Your aura reflects on others. A joyous smile is infectious when you pass somebody at the park from 6 feet way. It’s free and simple and may be the one interaction that person has that day. It could be mind altering that day. There is always somebody in a worse situation than you despite what you see right in front of you. Pass on the positives during this dark time.

As we write this, Spring is springing forth in the USA. Color is starting to dapple the landscape. Flowers are beginning their parade of blooms. Here’s a tip: find some local flower growers and follow them on social media. If your feeds are full of gloom and doom, trim those folks back (mute them or unfollow) and add some beauty to your screen.

Even better, reach out to flower farmers near you and see if you can connect that way. Farmers near us, used to relying on farmer’s markets or florists, are now offering porch deliveries or pre-orders to open air markets. These small local farmers are suffering from the breakdown of routines and supply chains just as many other businesses are. They are forced to innovate on nature’s timeline. Many can offer you bunches of exquisite little treasures that you can enjoy and share with others. Here’s a recent pickup we enjoyed, and supported a couple of small businesses in the process.

As we have said in many ways at many times, you become who and what you surround yourself with. Get out and surround yourself with fresh air. Bright, warm sunshine. Sweet breezes. Walk your feet on fresh grass. If you’re having trouble getting out of your head or you’re feeling anxious, do a 5 senses countdown exercise out in the world. Clear your mind and notice what is happening in nature. Surround yourself with reminders that time continues on.

New life is coming. Even though part of nature is going haywire at the moment, much of it is marching in its usual rhythm. Bees are buzzing. Baby ducks and bunnies will soon appear at local parks. The earth is waking up from its yearly nap. Let this reassure you that this dark season will also pass. In the mean time, don’t miss the things we are often too busy to notice.

This post is dedicated tho those full of raw emotions relating to Coronavirus. We all have them. We opt to share ours with the world via a blog. Our posts are edited multiple times and viewed by others subjectively before going live. Although only one vantage point, it may help somebody reading along.

Nature therapy has worked for us during this crazy time. Walks in our community. Short jogs. Bike riding. Gardening. Swimming. Kayaking. Hiking. All activities that allow physical distancing while embracing nature. Chick 1 even climbed a few trees.

We don’t need to be confined to our four walls to be safe. We can be distant and enjoy nature. Opt outside when you can.

inspire

Choose Joy Today

I understand Corona is getting the best or worst of many these days. It’s been a month since official lockdown has shut many operations down.

With that being said the news gets uglier everyday. Talk of death, sadness, disease, shortages and so on. I choose not to watch because it sucks the life out of me.

On the same track social media is equally disgusting. Most days there are posts from those crying poor me, giving political rants, or worse slamming others because of their own personal dissatisfaction of circumstances. Most days I have to mute social media outlets because it can be draining.

What’s crazy is some people post away without thinking of who they may offend. If you are a business owner it could be a returning client you isolate. If you are a parent it could be your school teacher neighbor you anger. If you’re tired of being cooped up and give a medical rant you might be pissing off that very important healthcare worker that is in your network.

The value of social media can be far reaching but so can its hurt. Most people learn as adults to cool off before you type your feelings in an email or online. Right now this is an important lesson many may need to hear more than once.

Guess what people. I’m choosing joy. I’m choosing to tune out the negative news, negative people and negative ranters online. Bye. Gone. Ghosted. Just like that. My mental health doesn’t need your toxicity.

I clearly don’t need negative when I open my mail and see happy mail. Cards, letters, postcards or even porch drops of sweetness. I had the best homemade salsa delivered by a pal to my surprise. I had many lift-me-up note cards in the mail like the one below. All with uplifting messages. The one below is from an amazing healthcare worker on the front line. She has taken the time to send out hope cards to her friends. The world needs more of this and less negativity.

We are all in this Corona mess together. Everyone has limited opportunities yet we all have the opportunity to choose joy over hatred or sorrow. There are already impacts near and far. Healthcare workers and caregivers are getting sick or dying. This is real people. It’s not a conspiracy theory to shut your business down.

About a month ago I posted about what was taken away. The separation of my dad and mom at their age due to visitation restrictions. The loss of connection. This will last well past when most get off stay-at-home orders due to the risk category elderly fall into.

I can’t fix those circumstances but I had opportunities to offer hope and positivity in out of the box ways. I mailed a care package filled with his favorite candies to my dad so he would know people outside were thinking about him. We integrated Facetime visits whenever possible and that in itself can be challenging for those in their 80s. I designed a cool shirt for my mom and dad’s 59th anniversary that will most likely be spent apart. Not ideal situations but we are coping with the options afforded us. At the same time appreciating the lockdown to keep him and others safe within his facility.

As shown on the news, the elderly can be wiped out fast if this virus hits an assisted living place with common living areas much like a cruise ship. It’s messages like this on the news that can rattle one’s cage. I know this when I see my mom worrying about my dad after a news segment. Choosing the joy in the situation can overshadow the negative if you choose.

Crazy to think about but staying home can help if you think about the big picture. The keepsake below will help my folks ring in 59 years apart this year. It is their only anniversary apart to date but they still have each other and that a blessing. Choose joy everyone. Corona can’t take that away from you.

Speaking of time, it’s so precious. As I write this heartbreak has hit close by. A loss of a bright young soul to suicide. Yes this is real. As humans we are social. When people are confined to their homes others can’t see those suffering signs. Some will choose the only solution they see viable to their perceived problems. It’s sad but I know more will follow. Suicide, PTSD, substance abuse and depression are current issues impacting many. That’s not a conspiracy theory.

I watched my sister work in her garden in the past few days. Lettuce, tomatoes and other veggies are starting to blossom. We as a community will blossom and rise just like a new garden. Some years are more fruitful than others but if you work hard all can sprout.

Times of struggle are upon us all. How we react to this pandemic will show what we are made of and who we are as people. Check on those who seem distant. Be kind. Look beyond you to help others. I can’t emphasize this enough. Make your own garden sprout. A little sunshine, a little hard work, and a little hope will go a long way.

working women

Business Isn’t for the Faint of Heart

Holy smokes are you buckled in for the ride of your life? That’s pretty much what every business owner is doing each day they wake up in the insane life we live today. They buckle up for the crazy ride just like a healthcare worker. Ready to face the unknown. Ready to deal with defeat.

Don’t get me wrong business isn’t easy on normal days but these uncharted waters are not for the weak, inexperienced or underfunded CEO’s. A business owner during this tough economic climate has got to lead with confidence, control and commitment.

They must make sound decisions, fast. They have to think about their passion, their purpose, their drive, their team, their community and they have to take action in what seems like an instant. Profit is out the door for the most part.

Lives are on the line no matter what business you are in. There is something essential in everything we do, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Life may get paused but it can’t halt forever. Leaders need to face fears. Leaders need to help people around them. Leaders must rally the troops. Selfless acts in uncertain times show character in CEOs who step up when it counts. Troubled times will also highlight those CEOs who hide or make selfish decisions when the road gets bumpy.

Many good leaders will fail during this challenging time. And if they do fail, it’s temporary. A good leader will find their way to higher ground. It may take time, but one will build resilience and emerge stronger.

To all my fellow business partners, leaders, and colleagues, I applaud you. Those tough decisions had impacts, we know that. I also know you made the decisions that caused the least impact possible to your surroundings. If failure is lurking, embrace it. Failure is just an opportunity to rebuild, rebrand, rejuvenate your passion. Your power. Your footprint.

Business owners don’t get unemployment but they help file for their employees in this challenging time. Businesses may have shut down but still paid employees for as long as they could. Restaurants stayed open to feed people when they may have lost 90% of their revenue and not know how they will make their rent next month. Landlords offered shelter to those who didn’t have funds to pay when rent was due. So many selfless acts go on each day. Many nobody will ever see.

True leaders do without glory. They do what needs to be done and worry about what ifs later. That’s what they do even if it may just be the crumbling of their lifelong work.

I also caution you to be aware of those making decisions to financially benefit themselves at another’s expense during this pandemic. In troubled times this happens when a CEO may not see the big picture. Their short term decision may have long term consequences. Price gouging and hoarding may be two prime examples that come to mind.

Many may never see the crazy shit from the CEOs eyes. I write this note for those to catch a glimpse of the insanity. The burden placed on entrepreneurs who have heavy stakes in the business game. Many think entrepreneurs have it all. In reality they risk it all including the shirt on their back. Personal savings, home equity used as personal guarantees, and so on.

It’s a tough world for everyone right now. Be a nice human. Support your communities where you can. We will all survive this mess. Some of us may have battle scars while others may have bad hair. Either way the vast majority will survive. That is enough to be thankful for.

Enjoy the shit show of today.

awareness, balance

Boredom Rings at Odd Times

2:40 am and the house is super quiet. Not a creature is stirring, but I seem bored.

My mind is racing but on much of nothing. What am I going to do tomorrow? Nothing big? What can I do? Nothing big? What should I do? Nothing really?

I doubt I am alone but what are others worried about? Food, shelter, essentials and how to support themselves. Maybe that what’s keeping me awake.

An acquaintance in the restaurant industry that is a server. His livelihood relies upon customers, tips and his restaurant being in operation. None of those things are available currently. This impacts his ability to pay his rent, buy food and basically survive. I am worried for him.

The two young adults learning to navigate early adulthood living on their own. Living paycheck to paycheck. Having no cushion for next week let alone a month. Both hourly workers in an industry cutoff by the corona virus. How will their mental health fare during this time? Will they springboard and value the importance of saving for a rainy day?

My friend’s family owns a restaurant. My friend is a hair dresser. My friend is a mechanic. My friend owns a gym. They all have families, budgets, bills, and employees. They have to make hard decisions to survive. Some are in states with mandatory shutdowns of their business. Business is always risky but nobody forecasted the world halting like it did recently. How will this impact these friends in the short term and the long term?

Those caring for elderly. The heightened scare for their health due to underlying problems. The isolation. Will this solidarity kill them? Will they give up on their own because it’s just too much to cope with at their age?

I think I worry about the mental health of many connected to me. The stress, the anxiety, the unknown all hinges on fear. When fear is constant on the news, on the internet, in the government, on the radio, in the desolate streets one needs to have coping skills. And I’m not just talking about phone a friend because you need multiple options for coping and navigating these unchartered and turbulent times. One friend can’t solve or take on that burden themselves.

You may need to call a doctor. You mean need to reach out to a phone hotline. You may need to research stress relievers for your type of triggers. You might need to take up a hobby like cooking. It’s also critical to include exercise. Sometimes exercise can be overlooked in this type of crisis, but exercise can be a form a stress relief and add mental clarity.

I am working out at home daily. Inside or outside depending on the weather. Different movements than usual and maybe more bite-sized packets of workouts than long hard workouts. Mostly depends on the day and what I have to knock out.

I can’t forget to mention two friends in two different parts of country suffering from cancer. Both mid-stream in treatment. Extensive treatment that absolutely requires isolation. They live in fear of not only their cancer but now the virus lurking around them. Their risk is so much higher. Their stress has to be maxed. Their family full of endless worry. My heart bleeds for these folks.

My friends on the front lines. The nurses, doctors, x-ray tech, respiratory therapists, occupational therapists, and others involved in care giving in the present. They are all handling their duties so well, full of pride and boundless energy. I am full of gratitude to those of you I know near and far. Keep working hard.

I guess when I started this blog I noted I was bored. In reality I am probably just worried. Troubled mind thinking of others. Clearly I can’t cure the virus or solve the problems of all the folks above. I can however offer hope, kindness and positive vibes to those I interact with.

I will find little ways to brighten people’s day around me. Even if brief it’s my contribution. My efforts that I can control. Today their are many things out of my control but I choose my attitude. I choose my efforts. I can make an impact. Small maybe but if I motivate one person I did something.

Even if we are on lockdown we can all offer hope to others. I guess I should have named this post hope not boredom. Signing off to sleep a little more now that my mind is at peace. What a wonderful method of relaxation, writing. That’s a little tidbit for you. Grab a journal and write your thoughts down while you navigate this challenging time. Writing is therapeutic from my perspective.

challenges

Friday the 13th Meets Coronavirus

It’s Friday the 13th. Lock yourself inside. Hide. The world is under attack of corona. Not the beer, the virus.

Pause the youth sports activities, indefinitely. Talk about dealing with sad kids. As a coach this is uncharted territory, to see seasons cancelled. This is an emotional change for kids and most coaches are not prepared to guide their athletes.

Resume school via digital learning. Locking the kids up at home. I can juggle but what about parents with kids who can’t. Panic will set in. Sheer panic.

What about the people who rely on food pantries. Will people forgot to make donations? Those kids may not get the free lunch they are used to at school. Digital saves one problem but creates another. Creative solutions in some places bring hope. If kids can’t take the bus to school for lunch, the bus will bring the lunch to them.

Postpone group meetings, team picnic, conference and various other events with multiple people. People still need to work. How will commerce keep moving? How will people meet their contract deliverables if commerce is halted?

Pray for all the college students abroad on spring break that may be stuck for a while outside the US. Think about the emotional state of coming back from spring break to be told to remove your belongings immediately from dorms. This is happening!

Cancel spring break flights stateside. Or maybe not. Some will take advantage of cheap flights to escape the madness. The tourism industry is going to take a hit.

Don’t dip your hands in the chalk bucket at the gym. You might catch something…

Just hit pause on life.

Check in on friends quarantined from cruise. 14 days in a barracks at 80 years old. Wow just wow.

Watch the news or not.

Write a blog about the chaos and hysteria.

Buy toilet paper if there is any left.

Why isn’t there a soap shortage?

Shouldn’t we be washing our hands?

Listen to people thrust their opinions on you of why we are in the state of hysteria relating to coronavirus.

Go wash hands again.

Find new shows to watch on Netflix.

Answer stupid text questions from people who appear to live under a rock.

Continue living in a bubble.

Try to stay positive about the economy.

Shop online and hope FedEx still delivers.

Clean the house.

Wash hands again.

Pray for all my fellow small business owners who will suffer because of this craziness we are living in.

A big thank to the humorists in my life….