Thunderstorm Doom

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Exciting second day of summer-like temps brought big names and energy to the restaurant, however an approaching line of thunderstorm doom (classic derecho pattern) may have dampened walk-in enthusiasm, especially after 8PM, meaning we did not quite hit 200 covers.

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Shoutout:  Lanie and the entire bar team for an exciting summer cocktail change! Well executed and every guest I talked to tonight was loving the new drinks.

True Champion: Rocio our new host on her first full day training has already won her first TC award: for her energy in reuniting guests at the second floor bar before getting them seated for their reservation, for smiling and giving a welcoming vibe at the front door, and for being in love with the scallops and black cod she got to share with Shawneice at the end of her training shift. Awesome to have a new teammate so excited to be here and represent the squad!

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Tom Skilling says… this warm breezy beauty is expected to chill by 20-30 degrees towards the end of Thursday.

One Way Out

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First summer-like temps brought big energy to Tuesday night. We had way more than the usual number of guests check in early and have a cocktail upstairs before going to their tables: Wisconsin supper club style. Shoutout to Chad, Borraz and Oscar for working together to take care of these cocktailers and all seated guests on LB2. Another telltale sign of the momentum building towards summer: we had to prep more ceviche after 9PM because we had sold so much!

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True Champion: Chef Andres leadership with the ceviche was amazing, meaning we did not need to 86 on the first summer temp day of 2017, earning Chef the true champion award to start the week.

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Mood Scale:  We are focusing on the service standard of “empathy” this week. It was awesome to have new people like Naro, as well as a couple folks who have been on staff, such as Alejandro Bolanos, involve me in small touches at tables tonight. Day one, and the focus on “empathy” is already causing good things in the dining room.

Tom Skilling says… possible OVERNIGHT LOW of 65-70.

Extra Corny Appreciation

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Sweet Sunday full of memorable experiences for all the mamas in the house. The staff had their hands full with some of the usual Sunday variables and fatigue as we staff up for the summer: all that being said, they came through and delivered great experiences across the board.

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True Champion: David was SA for all of Lb1, with support from servers and runners, he was on top of all the details and making our guests smile and coming up with excellent ideas to make our restaurants better. One hundred percent pure David = one hundred percent True Champion.

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Mood Scale:  Not to be extra corny (must be the masa!) but I think the X factor that powered our team through Mother’s Day at the end of our work week, was getting to play a positive role in the lives of the families who dined with us tonight. We are blessed with some of most informed and engaged guests in the restaurant business and this was an opportunity to see most of them at their very best.

Tom Skilling says… periods of cloud and sun, breezy and warm.

Mextaplique

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Big party AND big night combined with pre-Mother’s day and a beautiful Saturday for an excellent adventure on our side of 900.

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Shoutout:  Nasty Nutter’s vegetarian Mextaplique has been a big hit of the menu change: shoutout!

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True Champion: Nosheen had big energy on both floors AND kitchen of CB, and the wake of the afternoon anniversary party. Today she crushed all responsibilities and situations with professionalism, and always, defining herself as a true champion.

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Mood Scale:  In our preshift, we had a great exercise: three servers demoed their spiel in front of the staff.  We gave them a precise 60 seconds to spiel first time guests in this demonstration. We learned great touches from all 3 servers that will be used to elevate all our guests experiences: from Emily, we learned to lead with enthusiasm and introduce the Baja California Norte cuisine through it’s influences, from Iggy we learned to speak of the progressive listing of the menu sections (lighter to heavier dishes by section) and from Brigitte we learned that the portioning is versatile to accommodate both the app / entrée format as well as sharing as a table.

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Tom Skilling says… a honey of a Mother’s Day is on tap.

Nasty Nut

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Huge congrats to the entire team at 900 not just for 1yr anniversary: today’s execution was huge, starting with the media at the brewery kitchen this morning (shoutout to Chef Roberto and KGray!) and followed by a seemingly endless amount of guests from lunch to dinner, and the service was smooth and guests loved their food all day, leading to the crazy sales numbers.  On the seafood side, LLL and chefs executed a tasting menu that counter-programmed the “lowest common denominator” factor (everyone wants to come out for Mexican food for just one day, not our usual “true believers”) leading to a huge sales number and the highest PPA I have seen.  A record day and hugely successful services on both ends of 900: not only did we survive year 1, we have leveled up.

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True Champion:  The bar team in its entirety gets my Year 1 True Champion Award.  From Jeff’s cocktail list (and Lanie’s mezcals) that wowed me from the first, and continue to wow me with every new change, to the promotion of Shelly and Nosheen, to Chad’s ownership over prep, organization and strategy, and Brien’s promotion to training leader due to his unyielding standard for guest experience. This is more than just another bar staff, or top notch crew.  This is a team of true Champions.

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Arthur Mullen’s Inspirational 5 de Mayo Quote of the Year from TOK, on their hit song, Chi-Chi Man (some of the lyrics may be slightly invented because Arthur doesn’t understand patois slang):  “My crew, my dawgs, get wood, get logs, blaze the fire make me bun them (bun them!!!!)”

Tom Skilling says… amazing weekend ahead high 50’s and sunny.

Butter Pasta

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Tuesday eased us into the post-Cinco season, which is feeling more and more like summer.  We had a lot of excitement at the tables, which carried over into a good energy in the dining room, benefitting the entire staff.  Oscar and Pepe with Clayton and Chef Andres were very successful with the 19 person PDR party. Beatriz gets a shoutout for showing confidence in running the HC.

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Shoutout: Chef Kelly, big thank you for stepping in to assist with new hire paperwork for our new polisher, Arendy. While they were busy with federal and state tax forms, and scanning ID’s and such, I traced the etymological background of “Arendy” to the Aztec name “Erendira,” which in Nahuatl means, “Smiling Princess.”

Tom Skilling says… warm air’s return accompanied by heightened chance of thunderstorms Wednesday PM.

Smooth Cumbias

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After quite a frantically live weekend, it was nice to end on a smooth cumbia sunday. The Baja Experience was a hit on friday, it left us half way through saturday and didn’t even show its 4 course head on sunday. Talking throughout pre-shift, LLL was able to get some really constructive feedback from the servers to grow on for the sequel, Baja Extravaganza! There was a big push at the beginning of service, with a few large parties that caused the kitchen to take a bit longer than normal, but nothing excessive, also should account for an extremely long week for all working with monday tacked on. After the first push, the night felt like the cool winds of the BAJA BREEZE! Here’s to another wonderful night cap at the 900 corner of Randolph where Lena Brava & Cruz Blanca hug.

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Obama once said, “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”

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Putting the bass to sleep with Arthur Mullen. Gnight & sweetdreams.

Shelley.

900 Rainbows

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Where there are peaks, there will be valleys. After the big week capped with our anniversary ad record sales, a more mellow paced Sunday was welcome. There was still some excitement, with the kitchen printer crashing during our brunch rush. Big thank you to LLL and MM for their recovery of workable systems until we get the printer serviced: we had a smooth dinner.

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MATT’s WAR JOURNAL:  Our kitchen printer closest to the cashier went down in the middle of our rush this afternoon. We tried resetting it both manually and through Revention, changing paper, turning off and on, double checking all cords, etc but could not get it back up and running. Since some of the items print only to that printer (ex Chips and Guac, salad, chorizo hash, etc…) and not the grill printer, we lost items. I got on the phone with Revention and Leslie did an AMAZING job handling the guests.  

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SG’s:  Several groups joined us after their dinner on the other side, including a family of 4. Three of the 4 had a nightcap of mezcal margarita or old fashioned, but the patriarch wanted an Italian digestif. We served a vintage vespa and they loved it. 

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True Champions:  Frankie, both Danny’s, Leonard, Dave, Omar, Bobby, everybody in the whole damn kitchen, everybody who went the distance this past marathon week.

Tom Skilling says… sunny and cool.

James Beard Foundation Awards

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Saturday with many successes such selling through all the bass with the wild success of the Baja experience menu. There were also the warning signs of exhaustion, such as forgetfulness and misrings, understandable with the week bookended by JBF Awards after party and Drinco de Mayo. Solid outing by the team even fighting through fatigue.

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True Champion: SS, thank you for all the work, passion, time and energy you put in the 900 restaurants hardest year (knock on wood), thank you for all you did to set us up for success.

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Mood Scale:  I had another opportunity to present a bottle of Paolini to table 37, and talk to them about visiting the winery and what the story of the land (where the mountain spring brings natural irrigation in the valle) and of the people (Paolo Paolini and his background,) as well as show them some of our trip photos, hopefully giving them a fantastic first intro to Baja Mexican wine.

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Tom Skilling says… Chicago under a prolonged period of cool easterly flow.

Creative Non Comp

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There may have been a certain sluggishness in returning to work after last night’s party: big thank you to everyone who brought their positive energy (Chef Andres with his leadership, Jeff W with donut holes, and David our SA making us all smile) to lift up sleep deprived.  By the time food was fired for the 30 person PDR party, the haze had burned off completely and we were back at 100 percent, delivering top notch experiences.

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True Champion:  Brien D was the man on the second floor tonight, taking on an expanded section that encompassed the seventies and later included the sixties as well – as the night progressed and we needed 2 additional tables Brien was there to take on the challenge. Having touched most of his tables myself, I could see that not only was Brien in top gear, he was making good on his commitment to ultimate hospitality. That’s our true champion.

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Shoutout:  Emily R’s mother dined with a friend (table for 2) tonight in LB1. We had the staff sign a card and inside we had a photo of Emily and almost all the support staff from last night’s photobooth. This little CNC was treasured by Emily’s mom! Shoutout to Hector.

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Tom Skilling says… looking like a normal spring week in the fifties, sixties, and rain around every corner.