Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Do You Hate the Yelper or Hate the Game?

So I've been debating on whether I should write this post for a while now. Since opening the restaurant two months ago, as expected, we have gotten our share of Yelp reviews. The majority have been great with strong neighborhood feedback and support. Some reviews... not so much. Let me first state that I am NEVER against a negative review. I believe in constructive criticism, I ask for it when I touch the tables of my guests. BUT what I am against is the anonymous bashing that happens on Yelp.  Guests, rather than speak with an owner or manager, go home and make salacious statements behind the protection of a made up user name and a random avatar.
My staff and friends have said, "N'Gina, don't take it personal!" "Don't justify their comments with responses." The administrators at Yelp hold the same attitude, but today after a talk with my Executive Chef Robert Birnschein, I changed my mind. He said, "N'Gina, defend yourself." He was right. Yelp gives people the platform to hit me below the belt and per Yelp's etiquette guidelines,  I am not allowed to defend myself, explain myself or simply say, "Ya know what...you have no idea what the fuck you are talking about!"
For eight years I have worked my ass off to get where I am. Sacrificing my family's financial security, doubting if the decisions I am making are the right ones. Up in the middle of the night silently in tears because I feel that I'm failing as a mother, business woman, wife, and daughter. Being an entrepreneur will make the strongest individual one insecure ass person. Livelihoods rest on my shoulders.
Every guest that walks through my door I fight for. I want to know how we can improve; I want to know how we can make your community better through our business. I've never been afraid to have a face to face conversation and learn from those that we provide a service to on how to be better. Know that about me, but from this point forward I will not tolerate the anonymous Yelper. Your cowardly reviews, filled with bullish statements, demeaning comments and overall lack of tack is disgusting. You are the reason restaurateurs hate Yelp. If you do not like something that a company is doing have the chutzpah to talk to someone that can change it. Have confidence that the owner of that company will give you an ear and listen to you. You cheat us out of the opportunity to change and be better with your Perez Hilton-esc reviews. You benefit no one; even other Yelpers recognize that your reviews hold no merit. So why do it...? Why?
Maybe this trend of bashing is something that I should just get used too. We see it in the media and in Paparazzi magazines on the newspaper shelves. People love scandal and drama. If this is the direction that this society is going in, I have to tell you, I not down with it. I won't sit and silently let it happen. I was raised that way. I will fight for my name and my company and my staff. Simply put, that's how I roll. Boom.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Hide The Plates Ian, Mama's About to Lose It!

I would love to write that the past three months have been an amazing whirlwind of entrepreneurial excitement and that everyday I wake up feeling excited for a new day, but real talk...I want to throw dishes up against the wall. I'm stressed, frustrated, overwhelmed, and irritated. That all said, I do realize how blessed I am, I do appreciate all that has happened over the past year and everyone that has helped us get there. But DAMN, my biggest gripe is that there is such a lack of understanding from people that I thought were in my tribe. You know that saying that, "True friends are the ones who never leave your heart, even if they leave your life for a while, even after time apart you pick up with them right where you left off." Well shit, there are some folks that I can't leave five minutes without freaking the hell out.
"How come you didn't call me back, answer my text, return my email, show up to my party? WHY WHY WHY?" "How could you be so rude, forgetful, inconsiderate...." and the list goes on.
Well let me answer some of those questions...I don't have a damn life folks, actually wait...I have too much life! I get woken up at 6am by a five year old, I make school lunches, clean dishes, make coffee, answer the first 20 emails in my inbox, search images for my brides, get two kids in the shower and dress them and take them to school by 9am.
Most morning I'm not even combing my hair. Once I get to work it's the next 20 emails, 20 phone calls and texts, fix the computers that have crashed, deal with invoices, vendors, payroll, brides, staff issues, marketing, graphic designers, more brides...oh shit the computers are down again...FUCK! Oh did I tell you I haven't eaten breakfast, and I usually don't eat my first meal until 2pm. My day is full of playing catch up and putting out fires, peppered in with pissed off friends that really don't get what being REALLY busy must mean.
If I don't return texts, it's because I'm putting my kids to bed or reading them a book or cooking dinner when I get home. If I don't return a phone call, it's because after talking to people all day long...I'm mentally done. If I don't go to your party it's because I HAVE TO WORK, I run FOUR businesses, am raising two kids and trying my damnedest to be a good wife, though I must admit I've been a bitch to the poor guy lately.
My father told me when I was younger that your true friends you should be able to count on one hand. Being in this industry you make a lot of "friends". It's the nature of the beast. But I am learning that Ol' Pops was spittin' some serious knowledge and maybe I need to check my inventory.
So as I sit here typing with my hairy ass legs, bushy Bert from Sesame Street eyebrows, un-combed hair (because I get no time to myself) I am realizing that I need to handle my life and family first. These dramas that keep popping up are not worth me pouring energy into. "Keep you circle small, girl!" That's what Dad would say...I am posting this link to an article from another blogger. http://www.thefreedomexperiment.com/2011/10/28/55-gentle-ways-to-take-care-of-yourself-when-youre-busy-busy-busy/. When others make me feel like douche bag, I like to read this. Helps me remember that it's ok to say, "No." Keep your tribe small folks, keep it small. I will be taking a personal technology break for a week. No personal emails, phone calls, texts, Facebook...I need a break. I need take back to 0 and recharge. So see ya on the flip side!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

5 Ways to Know Your Man REALLY Loves You!

As women we sometimes challenge our husbands and test their undying love and commitment to us. Sometimes we take it too far...that said I have a little story about the day I almost gave my husband, Ian, a second bout of Bell's Palsey...
It was about 7am and I had been up since 5am cooking turkeys for an event in Folsom. Everything was running on time, kids were up and I was getting them ready for school and the sitter, coffee was brewed, dog was feed, the usual at the Kavookjian's. Ian, like always, loooooves to peak in on my cooking and in his culinary observations of my turkeys says,"Ya know you have too much liquid in this pan." I glared over at him, not in the mood to hear hear his critique. How dare he! I've been runnin' thangs since 5am, you glide down the stairs after your hot shower and get your already prepped coffee and you wanna tell ME I have too much liquid in the pan! I responded with," It's fine, go away."
He leaves. About a minute later I notice the oven smoking and I don't think much of it. It happens, drippings fall from the pan onto the hot oven bottom and smoke. I open the oven to take a peak and that's exactly what is going on. Ten more minutes pass and the amount of smoke pouring out of the oven is getting noticeably more intense. I think, "Maybe he was right, shit! I'll pour a little liquid out." I open the oven and BAM fire is pouring out of the oven like someone opened the gates of Hell. I scream," IAAAAAAAAAAAAN, FIRE!" He jumps down the stairs and pushes me out of the way and grabs the fire extinguisher. The fire alarm in our house is now blaring at an inhumane level of noise, the house is filling up with smoke, our kids are screaming, the dog is barking and like in a movie everything fades to black and all I see is the oven and my turkeys. I scream at Ian,"NO! NO fire extinguisher, you need to save my turkeys!" Ian looks at me in awe and shakes his head and proceeds to put the fire out with his hands and a large kitchen towel. Mom of the year over here, not thinking "Holy shit our house could burn down!" "Where are the kids?" "Did the dog get out"....nope save the damn turkeys.
Ian gets the fire out and burns his hand in the process. He stands up and turns to me,"What did I tell you! I told you woman, you don't listen!" He cleans up the oil and fat off the oven floor and places the turkeys back in. He turns to me and explains that the oven might smoke a little more, but it will be fine, just DON'T open the oven again until they're done. I nod my head in understandment and then he walks upstairs with the first aid kit to nurse his wounds. I can hear him telling me that he might have to go to the doctor and get this hand checked out, maybe miss work. I feel horrible, so horrible that while he is talking to me about his pain, I open the oven again to just peek at my babies, see if they are ok. BAM! Fire pouring out of the oven again. Repeat previous scenario, but this time I grabbed the kids and the dog and got them outside! (insert wry smile)
"Are you fucking insane woman! What did I just tell you!" screams firefighter Ian as he battles round two of flames. I don't know why I open that oven the second time. It was just talkin' to me. Saying "N'Gina...take a peek. It's ok, Ian won't be mad this time. Open me!"
Ian re-burns his hand and I say to him," Well at least you get to stay home with me today. (insert another wry smile)" His response,"Hell no I'm not staying home with your crazy ass today!" I give him the baby kitty eyes and he's done...he's staying home.
We clean everything up, go over a fire safety plan with the kids, send them to school and the sitter and Ian helps me load everything up for the drop off in Folsom. As we are driving down there, I am apologizing profusely. Making jokes that he is the only man that can literally and figuratively put out my fires. He's warming up. He starting to laugh again...and then...
"Oh Shit!"
"What N'Gina!?"
"I forgot the gravy!"
He's not smiling anymore. We get to the dropoff and explain that we need to go back and get the gravy. Ian tells me to tell them that it will take at least an hour, I nod my head and tell the host it will take 30 minutes. Ian looks at me with pure shock and awe in his face. He runs to the car, jumps in and speeds off. I set up the food and in my head I'm thinking could this day get any worse, and then it does. I remember that we've forgotten one last thing. Ian has my cellphone so I can't call him and let him know. My stomach feels like it has a skyscraper collapsing one floor at a time inside, I am a wreck with nerves. Ian's gonna be pissed.
After setting the land speed record at 120 miles an hour (not joking), Ian returns about 40 minutes later. I rush out the doors to greet and him and nervously whisper, "Um baby, we forgot the rolls too, but they forgot that we were bringing them."
I watched as Ian's pupils dilated out like a crack head hopped up on Meth. The blue was completely gone, just icy black globes staring at me. The veins in his neck started pulse out like a juiced up UFC fighter. This is what a man looks like right before he chokes his wife to death. I was staring it right in the face. His right eye twitched, and I was like," and here's round two of Ian's stress related Bell's Palsey coming back." But Ian's a good man, he relaxed, took a deep Ujjayi breath and grabbed my arms and forcefully whispered, "We ain't sayin' shit!"
After we dropped off the gravy and said our goodbyes, we drove next door to our favorite Mexican joint Casa Ramos. We walked inside and bellied up to the bar. The bartender came over and asked, "Hello can I get you started with something to drink?" Ian responded, "We'll take two shots of tequila and two Dos Equis Amber." The bartender asked, "And what can I get you for lunch?" Ian retorted pointing at the bartender," Oh I just gave you our lunch order Buddy!" We all laughed. As the shots went down and the beer began to wash the adrenaline off of us, I turned to Ian and cooed," We make a good team, thanks for putting up with my shit." He smiled and said, "I love you N'Gina, but you make it hard."
So in short, if after you set the house on fire twice, burn your man's hand, make him speed through Citrus Heights to retrieve forgotten items, and then drop a bomb that you forgot something else that he might have to go retrieve, if you're still alive and he's still talking to you, your good! He loves you, you've got him on lock down for the rest of your lives.