Monday, August 06, 2012

"Boy saves restaurant"

Yesterday, an acquaintance sent me a link to the newest fairy tale to come out in the local media about Tex & Shirley's. It appeared in the O. Henry magazine, which is worth every penny that you pay for it. Of course, it is free.

Not since Superman saved Gotham City has there been a tale of such epic proportion told. That is, if you discount the story the Obama campaign is spinning about how the chosen one has saved the American economy.

First, here's a disclaimer. I worked for Bart Ortiz for twenty one years. He treated me fairly during that time and we got along pretty well. When I left, he paid me for a couple of months not to work. I enjoyed my time there. Having said that, I must admit that I am confused and dismayed by the series of "Boy saves restaurant" stories that continue to appear.

I still stop in at T&S to visit with friends periodically. I miss talking to all of the great people that I had met over a twenty year period. When I go there now, customers are always asking, "How is retirement?"
I'm not retired, I'm semi unemployed. I work for myself selling militaria and other "fine" antiques.

Before this string of "Boy saves restaurant" stories started to appear, the only thing that I was really upset about was the way the whole thing was handled. I think that to meet with me about the future of my job in a week that my mother was in the hospital dying shows a distinct lack of compassion. I could have stayed at T&S with a greatly reduced job and salary, but I just wouldn't do that.

The world of T&S changed when the T&S #2 opened in High Point. I won't get into any details, but all is not as it is portrayed in the "Boy saves restaurant" stories. The one point that I will make is that after seventeen years of regular advertising, we did NO advertising in the last three years. I'll leave it to you MBAs reading this to decide if that will impact sales.

Today at T&S, they change things for the sake of changing. They now serve organic chicken tenders at T&S. That's the answer to the question that no one ever asked. In twenty years, exactly no one asked if we had organic chicken. I guess that it was a pre-emptive move.

Did I accomplish anything in twenty years there? If you like sweet tea, you can thank me. They were testing a bag-in-the-box sweet tea when I showed them how easily freshly brewed sweet tea could be made. The lunch and dinner specials with the vegetables? I did that. When I got there we made the fresh vegetable soup, but used frozen soups or mixes for the daily soups. So if you like the cream of potato soup, the chicken and rice soup or the corn chowder, you're welcome. I did those too. Do you enjoy the baked chicken, the beef tips, the grilled Greek chicken breast or the country style steak? You guessed it, mine. Had the pumpkin waffle in the fall? Yep, my recipe. I will give Jeff Parsons credit for suggesting that we garnish it with cinnamon sugar. How about the cole slaw,  pecan pies and chicken wraps? I started those also. My son Walter actually inspired the wraps by fixing them for his dinner. I took it from there. If you like the 1000 Island Dressing, you're welcome. We used a mix as the base for that until the manufacturer discontinued it. Bart 2 came over from Lucky 32 and tried to create a similar dressing.  We ended up with a recipe that I had used at another restaurant.

I'm not any kind of marketing genius, but we did pretty well with things like "Christmas in July". We had corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick's Day. During the last year, we had some great seasonal displays in our display case at the register. Thanks to the Queen for her help with that. We did several other things in marketing with promotions for Fathers Day and Valentine's Day. Some ideas worked, some didn't.

Did I make mistakes at T&S? Of course, no day is complete without them. But I believe that the tone of these "Boy saves" stories denigrate my efforts of the last twenty years. For myself, it's time to move on. My friends know the truth and I'm not concerned about what others think.


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