Are they holding onto staff or letting you go?

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by w.debord, Apr 4, 2002.

  1. w.debord

    w.debord

    Messages:
    1,640
    Likes Received:
    11
    In my small experiences when times are tough (like now after 9/11) and in the slow season at least at clubs they do manage to hold reg. kitchen staff on the pay roll. Just last week I had a discussion with a manager about that...although thats hard to do, he keeps his kitchen staff through even the toughest times....he has to or he'll be empty handed when busy times come.

    I can understand that small places that have alot of staff turn over would let people go. But guess I thought other resaturants (at least quality places) kept kitchen staff too. NO?

    At clubs you either find stuff to do (make items in advance that hold) or clean and clean some more, but they give you hours. There's enough work for like 2 cooks and 1 pastry chef everyone else stands around pretty much. Are clubs that different?
     
  2. suzanne

    suzanne

    Messages:
    3,853
    Likes Received:
    11
    Exp:
    Food Editor
    Well, I got LIFO'd (last in, first out) from a restaurant back in December -- the owner didn't want to wait until the NY Times review came out the week after Xmas, so she had the chef cut 4 of 10 kitchen staff. And when I worked for a food manufacturer, the second we hit the end of our busy season I had to fire my "excess" staff.

    Maybe the difference is that club foodservice is not always expected to make a profit, and so can carry the extra costs more easily. Also, unionized places like hotels and some clubs are stuck with the terms of the contract, which probably is highly protective of the staff.

    And one other thought: in some labor markets, it's worth it to bear the cost of keeping the people you've got because you can't be sure you'll be able to hire if and when you really need to, later.
     
  3. thebighat

    thebighat

    Messages:
    799
    Likes Received:
    11
    We're just getting going at the club, and the chef is looking to find ways to work a little slimmer. The general manager was overheard to say he wanted to delay opening as long as possible, and they actually did a cost analysis on the menu, and raised prices.

    Speaking of which..when using the flop method, food, labor,overhead, profit, what the heck do you do with say 4 steaks you can't sell? Got to account for it somewhere. Does it come out of profit at cost or what? Can you make up a separate line item in food labelled waste? Never could figure that out.
     
  4. chiffonade

    chiffonade

    Messages:
    846
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    Which restaurant was it? Was the review so bad that the owner expected tumbleweeds to be blowing through the dining room?

    Re: thinning staff after busy seasons - practiced entirely more than people think.

    Re: unions - thank God for them. If it weren't for unions, the workers in those unions would be at the mercy of the owners of businesses. Maybe this wouldn't be so bad in the restaurant world. I know in my mother's union, the ILGWU (garmet) and in my father's, the Teamsters, union leadership makes certain their workers have the best salary and benefits they possibly can.

    Re: keeping people on even when things are slow - it's a real crap shoot. Do you let everyone go only to have a full house the next day? You keep on as many as you can and hope for the best.
     
  5. ritafajita

    ritafajita

    Messages:
    163
    Likes Received:
    10
    I don't work at a club, but I do have a business that is very seasonal (on a college campus). I always try to, and usually succeed at, hiring people who I wouldn't want to lose. That way, I'm pretty motivated to find something for them to do when times are slow. I have a summer cleaning project schedule for one thing - stuff that really needs to be done every so often, but that there is not time for in the regular season. I guess I have the benefit of being small, though. It might be harder for larger places to do that. But I think sometimes larger places don't mimic smaller business as much as they should from the get-go, and that is one reason they tend to have more trouble/have to lay more people off than small businesses during lean times.

    I got "let go" once when I was very young. I got a job at a campus bookstore just before the semester started and was given all the hours I wanted. Then all of a sudden one day (when semester was in swing, and people weren't coming in to buy all their books), I was told they didn't need me anymore. I was naive going into the whole thing - wasn't thinking they might just be hiring me to get through the rush. But, I always thought they should have done a better job informing me. If it was going to be a temp thing or a seasonal thing and they had told me that, I would have done the job anyway and made plans for what was going to come afterwards. Too many businesses operate that way!

    As far as the wasted steak...
    I think food cost is food cost. Sometimes things gets dropped on the floor during the rush - excess bits of lettuce or cheese - what you sweep up at the end of the night. That stuff is technically "waste"- unsold product. It is part of food cost. As is unsold steak. It is part of one's real cost that there will occasionally be things that cannot be sold and have to be thrown out.

    RF
     
  6. marmalady

    marmalady

    Messages:
    1,046
    Likes Received:
    11
    Exp:
    Professional Caterer
    I worked for a caterer once who, every January, would fire the chef; he would apply for unemployment benefits, and still work for her until April, when party time started again, then she'd hire him back. They were doing a lot of business lunches and dinners, too, so they weren't totally dead during the dead season.
     
  7. peachcreek

    peachcreek

    Messages:
    1,106
    Likes Received:
    148
    Exp:
    Retired Chef
    I like my staff a lot. But I have a staff for a purpose, and if it is slow, it is my job to keep the labor cost in line. I am definately slower than last year. I did'nt hire as large a staff last Autumn so I am not faced with a problem of who to get rid of this Summer. Two of my helpers will be leaving for the Summer, one is moving out of the area, the other is just leaving for the Summer and will hopefully be back by September. My staff appreciate the stability of their jobs.
    As for the employers who over-hire to weed out their staff I have little good to say about them.
     
  8. angrychef

    angrychef

    Messages:
    415
    Likes Received:
    10
    I work for a caterer and we do have our slow times --- but we've been really lucky this year, even after 9/11. We do keep a full kitchen staff , but when it slooooows down, the top 4 or 5 are the only ones working full-time. They certainly do a lot of cleaning ---so much you can eat off the floor...