Houston 2012: Day fourteen

(this is the eighth post in a series detailing my work trip to Houston.)

And then there were four.

It’s been really odd around the restaurant the last few days since the rest of the team returned home, but Tito, Lucas, Yedid and I have been holding it down pretty well. The biggest change — other than the absence of the eight other trainers — has been moving up to the fourth floor of the hotel from the second. I have a new roommate (Tito) for the last week of the trip but it’s no big deal.

Amin, the franchisee and owner of this Houston location, opted for a soft opening which is the reason we haven’t been too busy these first few days. As I said a few posts go I thought we would be slammed constantly, however that is not the case. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though, because it gives the servers, bartenders, and cooks more time to perfect their craft before it really gets busy.

The hardest obstacle so far continues to be the cramped feeling in the kitchen. This location was converted from a former Asian restaurant and the kitchen is really small. The walk-in cooler and freezer are smaller than the entire walk-in we have at the Saginaw Bennigan’s. We’ve found ways to make the lack of space work, but I have a feeling things may not work out so well once the training staff leaves. I have put in a lot of work organizing the cooler and freezer to make locating product easier, and my biggest fear is that once I’m gone the fecal matter will hit the rotary impeller.

Yesterday Lucas and Yedid had the day off while Tito and I held down the store as trainers, and today Tito and I took the day off while the others manned the restaurant battle stations. Apparently two of the three fryers stopped working so they had to fight through the dinner rush with only one fryer. Let’s just add that to the things we’ve had to deal with during this opening.

Many people have quit during the last two weeks, some even before opening. But since the store has opened they have lost more cooks and even the kitchen manager quit the day the store opened. Last night even, one of the cooks who had nine previous years experience at a Bennigan’s walked out during his shift. Talk about some crazy things happening in two weeks time.

Tito and I bummed around the hotel today during a thunderstorm we had, then we decided to go loiter at The Galleria, a huge three or four story mall. There are some really upscale retailers and restaurants there, such as J. Crew, Chanel, Porsche (clothes?!), Gucci, Express, Tesla (the auto maker!) and a bunch of other expensive retailers I didn’t know.

I knew there was a lot of money in Houston, and it is most apparent by the vehicles I have seen people driving. Porsches come a dime a dozen here, but I have also seen a handful of Bentleys, Range Rovers and Ferraris, I saw a Lamborghini Murcielago (MSRP $354,000), a Maserati and even a Rolls Royce Phantom ($408,000). I only have one question: how do I tap into the money these people have?

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After Tito and I left The Galleria, we picked up Lucas and Yedid from work and then Amin took us out for Pakistani food. This was my first experience with food from that region, and surprisingly, I didn’t hate it. I was ready for the spice because I’ve had the palate for spicy food lately so I knew I’d be able to handle it. At the least, it was filling!!!

I only have three days left before I head back to the Mitten. Even though I’ve had a blast down here in Houston thus far, I’m ready to see my friends and family, especially my niece Taylor, and to escape this heat for a while. Also, I’m ready to hit the gym and get back to my post-body challenge weight and then some. I have eaten a lot of good food in Houston, none of which has been good for me, so I need to get back on that grind.

Keep checking back for updates throughout my travels and experiences while I’m down in Texas. I am going to try and post every day.

Until next time …

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