Holy Meatballs! We Have a Winner!
The restaurant business has its challenges, not the least of which is dissatisfied customers. When a complaint repeats itself you know it’s time to make a change. Change can be hard in any environment. Change in a place where things have been done the same for decades can be downright painful.
Since Roger and I beamed up here; 3.31 years ago today, in fact, there have been changes. We wouldn’t dare mess with Geppetto’s signature recipes but replacing Sysco brand meatballs with my East Coast girlfriend’s Sicilian Grandmother’s recipe was a no brainer. They are labor intensive, which I know can be a bad thing in business but in this case so worth it. The investment of time is a lot. Our Stuffed Meatball Pizza is a huge hit! It’s when the meatballs are served on a plate, in orders of three where trouble seems to come. It hurts my heart to find them on a plate in the dish room or to hear customers say, “Their dry. Too dense. Couldn’t even cut it with my fork.” My reactions have run the gamut, from “Well they are just impossible to please.” To… “ Who was on the line when they ate?!” Last evening’s complaint was to be the last. Knowing the hours myself and others spent making them over the weekend, I vowed to get to the root of the problem.
I laid in bed overnight, unable to sleep. I went over the entire meatball process. From the time my dear friend surrendered her Grandmother’s recipe and helped me figure and multiply “a little bit of this and a handful of that” by forty. I remembered with great fondness the time I enjoyed those meatballs in their family home. I thought perhaps I’d died and gone to Italian Grandmother heaven! Then it hit me, the missing stretch in the road to consumption! What Geppetto’s wasn’t doing made all the difference and it wasn’t good. They needed to simmer, in sauce, for HOURS! Then and only then should they ever be consumed.
So, this morning, I arrived at the restaurant with a plan in mind and it worked! I was so happy to have found a solution. No more of the old way. The new way has begun and it is a Geppetto’s meatball game changer! I can’t wait for folks to order. The tenderness is there. The flavor is rich. This is gonna be great, I thought.
Well, my awesome change in procedure was not well received by some.
“You’re giving us one more thing to do and obviously… you’re not a cook. You don’t know what it’s like.“
My response, “What if this makes it easier for you?” Ultimately, the goal has to be customer satisfaction! A little more time in preparation can make all the difference!”
We reached an understanding when he took the time to taste them. The rocky road smoothed and all will be well. All will be better as we learn and grow. Reflection and examination of things is not always easy or comfortable but so worth it.
To quote a wise Vulcan, "Change is the essential process of all existence." -- Spock