Marla’s Blog

Real life in the restaurant business....

A Comedy…..

I ordered a new work top freezer for the restaurant kitchen in January.  Our old one was starting to suffer and the repair man kept shaking his head.  There were things he just couldn’t fix. It has been a work horse in our kitchen for close to 20 years.  It is referred to as the […]

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An Old Dog, New Tricks

In my mind I am still in the European countryside; hanging my tablecloths on a clothes line, feeding the chickens, picking walnuts off the tree for a sauce, and drying the grapes in the room above the presses. But in reality I’m trying to merge Drop Box accounts, upload old accounting data into new software, […]

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Today marks 24 years.

Babette’s Cafe opened 24 years ago tonight.  Seems like yesterday…. Thanks to everyone who has supported us over the years, some of you since the beginning.  No, we’re NOT closing.  Babette’s continues to bring me joy, pride and challenges.  But I am trying to step back a little bit and I’m finding it harder than […]

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Hire a Lighting Designer.

I didn’t do this until several years after I opened the new location. Thought I couldn’t afford it. Thought the architect would take care of it. I was $30,000.00 over budget with change orders and we were three months behind with a contractor who was not paying his subs. Maybe I couldn’t have spared the money and the […]

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New Linens

Our linen company (Company #1) was bought out recently by another company. Most linen companies work on a par level which means the restaurant sets how much of each kind of napkin, cleaning towels, tables cloths we will need each week. We use cotton napkins, bar towels, 42 inch table cloths, 52 inch table cloths, 62 […]

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Spring Menus

My favorite menu of the year is spring. Navarin of Lamb is coming back (Spring Lamb Stew with Vegetables). But some of the other items Chef Justin and I are looking at: English Peas, Asparagus, Morels, Roasted Chicken, White Bean Soup with Pancetta, Tempura Baby Heirloom Carrots, Artichokes (best in May when the California crop comes […]

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Chef Justin Kurtz

I hired Justin Kurtz as our chef several months ago. I was at a crossroads with Babette’s and my own role in the restaurant.  I had turned over the kitchen a couple of times over the years to people who had been on my staff and they took the role as Chef de Cuisine or […]

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How to Throw a Dinner Party

I have a wonderful neighbor who needed some help.  She purchased everything for a dinner party through our “Pantry”.  When she came to our home to borrow some soup bowls, she was nervous. I sent some instructions home with her.  She said the evening was magical! Bread Service: Sprinkle a litte water on the top […]

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Shopping for Chairs

My friend Julia, is always nagging me to blog more.  It’s hard to find the time and mental space.  I showed her the new chairs I purchased for the deck at Babette’s.  “Well, you should blog about that!”  OK, I bought new chairs.  It’s a little more complicated than that. It took me five months. […]

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Mid July

Getting ready for the Gift Mart this weekend. Training a new busser/hostess. Setting an interview with a second hostess. Searching out new chairs for the deck. Ordered a new Sonic Wall Router which I will have to figure out how to install.  $1050.00, just because the other one was too old to be “supported”. Balancing […]

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The price of China

I bought new appetizer plates this week.  Actually, the color was a little off and I wanted to send them back.  Was told I would still have to pay the original shipping charge of $30.00, the return shipping charge of $30.00 more dollars and a restocking fee of $25.00.  Damn, they only cost $120.00 in […]

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This week’s to do list

I haven’t had time to blog….this is why. My current to do list for this week New Door Handle for walk-in cooler Reorder outside lights Call landscape guy to clean up beds Spray for Mosquitos Order from Atlanta Fixture:  Ramekins, (2) 1/2 plastic hotel pans 6 inch deep, (2) slim jims, high heat rubber spatula, […]

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No Shows.

No Shows: def:/ someone who does not show up for a reservation at a restaurant. I am a huge Robert Altman fan.  (deceased movie director for you young people)  I must have seen “Nashville” 20 times.  In his movie:  Pret-a-Porter, Lyle Lovett plays a baker whose customer does not come to pick up and pay […]

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Am I confusing you?

Standing in the wait station having coffee at 3:00 pm on Friday: Me:  So pancakes on Sunday… We have espresso butter, a little bit of hazelnuts.  Didn’t know we would have so many figs come in.  Produce company changed the pack size.  I got d’anjou pears in to replace the figs, but now they will go […]

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Saying Goodbye.

Julian and Jim moved to Maine last Wednesday.  I thought of them during the closing for the sale of their house here in Atlanta on Tuesday.  I thought of them during their 1200 mile drive with two cats that hate to travel.  I thought of them arriving Friday in Maine to their home which is now […]

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Day Off…

Pasta man, Mark, called my cell phone to leave a message about my order. I happened to be up reading and grabbed it in a panic. It was 4:53 am. I had no idea his day started at 3:30 am. Dropped husband off at airport and slid by the state Farmer’s Market for an unannounced […]

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Today.

Called my heating and air guy about reconfiguring the thermostats on the new heaters on back porch.  Did this while still in my pajamas at home, watching last week’s TV shows on On Demand. (The greatest invention, besides the I Phone) Stopped at Farmer’s Marker because Arborio Rice did not make the delivery truck. Home […]

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Chalk Hill Vineyards

I had the pleasure of staying at the Chalk Hill Vineyard in Sonoma in Septmeber for a couple of nights. It was as beautiful as any place I have ever been. Went for an hour long jog, (ok plenty of walking) at sunset on a warm breezy evening. Each hillside offered another panoramic masterpiece. One […]

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Fire.

A small fire broke out in the kitchen when my sous chefs and I were working on a new menu earlier this week. The stove top was full with French Onion Soup, Basque Sauce and Beef Bourguignon. I didn’t want to spray the line with the fire extinguisher, what with the food cost and all. […]

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Father’s Day

In the last 3 or 4 years, Father’s Day has become as big as Mother’s Day, usually with a more adult crowd.  Yes, we have some well behaved little ones, but mostly grown children taking their dad out.  I guess they just can’t find anymore ties that he doesn’t already have. My crew started at […]

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The truth about Scout Mob

A few months ago, I posted a note about how Groupon wouldn’t work for Babette’s, but now we are signed up for Scout Mob.  What’s the difference?  Well, almost 25%.  Unlike Groupon, with Scout Mob, the customer comes into the restaurant and pays their 50% directly to the restaurant.  If the customer brings in a […]

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Staff Vacations

Covered for my Sous Chef last week, covering for my manager this week.  Liquor orders, prep lists, recipe tweaking, costing updates. Waiting patiently for a new version of my recipe costing software to be sent to me.  My old version was so old, the data had to be converted and loaded on the new disk and mailed […]

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Dancing with my Sous….

Ah Mel.  A couple days a week I find myself working with my AM Sous Chef getting ready for dinner service.  Mel comes in between 9 and 10 am each day and at 7 am on Sunday mornings.  He’s in charge of production levels, soups, sauces, desserts, meat cutting and many other things.  He has […]

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Snow Days.

I know I have blogged about this before, but it’s a big deal.  I am currently sitting on the porch of a beach house in Florida, watching the waves.  I am in a sweatshirt.  Back home in Atlanta snow and sleet is falling.  We need to close the restaurant tonight because of weather.  I am […]

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“Seating waiters.”

Seating waiters. This is an expression used when quests are seated at a table in a waiter’s station.  A server is sometimes “double seated”,(two tables are seated within a few minutes) and then there is the dreaded “triple seated” event.  This is when the waiter’s eyes start to roll back in their head and they give […]

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Blogging….

A good friend told me he thought my blog was courageous.  I didn’t know what he was talking about. Most customers have told me they love reading my blog.  Great. Recently a customer commented that they thought it was not appropriate.  Not great. So I’m a more than a little nervous now about what I write.  […]

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Payback is a b……

My husband started a company a year and a half ago with a partner.  I have sworn up and down since then that I will have nothing to do with their book keeping.  I have stood my ground all this time in a show of disdain for their disregard for what my accountant calls “usual […]

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Really Cooking

May 12, 2008 Last week I had one of my occasional episodes where I find myself watching my hands work.  They are getting a little wrinkled, have some burns, and have very tough callouses.  They are exceptionally strong.  They don’t twist and turn like they used to though.  I’m having problems getting things opened especially […]

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Even Chefs have Kids

Yesterday my lovely 12 year old was trying to squeeze into last year’s jeans which she had worn the day before without my knowing. Me:”Why aren’t you wearing the ones I just bought you?” 12 year old:”Because they are too baggy in the butt and ride too high, like grandma’s jeans.” Me: “But I asked […]

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Bad Juju?

This is getting ridiculous.  The Air Conditioning guy caught the filters and ductwork in the kitchen on FIRE when putting in the new compressor.  Sous chef pulled the alarm and went outside.  The ac guy was able to put the flames out and repair the melted thermostat wires.  The fire department checked and everything was […]

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Repairs, repairs, repairs

OK, the espresso machine has been serviced, the bathroom lavatory sink replaced, the stand-up freezer replaced, the heating coil on the ice cream freezer replaced, now it’s time for the ac unit in the kitchen.  The compressor I replaced two years ago is shot and is being replaced tomorrow morning.  Seems the compressor was not […]

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New Menus

It’s a ton of work.  It begins with phone calls to purveyors to find what product is available and from where.  I have to discuss specs and try samples.  I have to get firm commitments from local farmers as to when their produce will be ready to pick   Due to many new and necessary fishing […]

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Friday Update

The plumber never came last week.  He forgot about the sink.  Came this Thursday, installed sink.  The sink is defective, leaking around the drain stem, right through the porcelain.  Have to order another sink, and try to get the sink’s manufacturer to reimburse me for the extra plumbing charge.  Pending.   The panic bar I […]

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A Monday: My “day off”

We’re closed for business. Came in to strip the office and back hallway linoleum tile floors and put down new finish. Tried to get some guys from the kitchen to help, but I couldn’t get our schedules coordinated. This wasn’t supposed to be a big deal, but get me around some TSP cleaner and I go nuts. I […]

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Another Monday

My daughter, a friend of hers and I drive up to Lake Hartwell.  We have some wonderful friends who let us visit.  The lake water is beautiful, warm and quiet during the week.  Friends come over, I drink vodka and play scrabble. The next day we take their pontoon boat out and go to an […]

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A Thursday

Dropped my daughter off at camp on the way into work at 9:30 am.  Brought the sink I had purchased on Sunday to see if it fit in the men’s room to replace the one broken over the weekend.  Of course not.  Got down on my hands and knees to try to find the manufacturer […]

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