Restaurant Euthanasia

Lately, I’ve had a few interesting conversations with restaurant management and heard of a couple other conversations from those experiencing what I’ll call “restaurant euthanasia”.

The most bizarre conversations seem to occur with quality employees who can’t fathom what is going on at their store, so I’ll share those rather than private conversations (even though they are meatier<g>).

The common theme: It’s as if management is trying to off their store.

In one instance, a friend told me that he moved here to town after working on the East coast for a very large national fast food chain. He told me that the local franchise owner asked what he made back East and just about fell over (mid-5 figures). Now, I can understand that East coast urban fast food manager wages are probably higher than here – but get this – he tells the former East coast guy that he pays his manager $9/hour.

60% less. I can assure you the cost of living here is not 60% less than on the East coast, unless you happen to live in NYC or similar.

I’m not talking about the “assistant managers”. I mean the main facility manager. The guy who works 80 hours a week, has all the keys, pays the staff, smells like grease when he gets home and takes every amount of customer guff you can imagine. Why he stays, I have no idea.

Do I have to tell you that this particular fast food place is typically dirty, delivers inconsistent, sometimes awful service, and has closed 1 of their locations twice (only to reopen it later)? Didn’t think so. Any more, I go there about once a quarter just to see if they still have horrible service…just some glimmering hope that I can find a management change has turned the place around.

No such luck, unfortunately.

Meanwhile, other fast food places here are paying STARTING wages of $10/hour after a probationary period, because good people are in short supply here. Last summer, 2 national chains and a few local businesses were paying signing bonuses for minimum wage people because they couldnt get enough people to start and stay!

The second instance is just as bizarre. A guy is working as a delivery driver for a nationwide pizza chain (no, it isn’s Domino’s). Tells me that many nights, he is the only delivery driver. Starts at 4pm, works till 130am, minimum wage, etc. His life sadly revolves around this restaurant more often than not. He’s given up one of the summer activities he loves because this job’s schedule conflicts with it.

So I suggest to him that he talk to management about adjusting his hours, or at least getting another driver. Turns out 2 have walked off the job this month. Wonder why?

Anyhow, his management tells him “there’s nothing I can do”.

I suppose he hasn’t considered that what he should do is exactly what he’ll have to do if this guy quits. Yep – hire someone else to pick up those hours. Note that they are already short handed, so it isnt like the hours aren’t budgeted in their payroll budget. But there’s nothing they can do.

Oddly enough, this guy has been through the state’s customer service training program, which is actually quite good. I suspect that fewer than 1% of fast food public facing employees have done so.

Why is it that so many of the easiest businesses to “fix” are those that are so totally, spasmodically out of control?