No business plan survives the first customer.

No matter how much you plan, how hard you work, there is always something that you will not foresee when you open your doors for business.

Like grilled cheese sandwiches.

Such a simple item, right? Cheese and bread, toasted til gooey, just like mom made. Shouldn’t be that big of a deal.  But when 60% of the lunch orders included grilled cheese, we found a flaw in the plan. We’re gonna need a bigger grill.

It’s been a full week since we opened our doors at Jack&June.  We officially started last Sunday at lunch, our first real test with real customers.  No turning back now.  It was time to set sail and see if the hull leaked or not.  We quickly found out that it did, and frantically took notes to address them.  I am teaching my management to carry a Moleskine notebook to jot down every bit of customer feedback so we can review it and learn from it. Ask to see it.

I also told them during our pre-opening and training preparation that there will come a point that they will want that time back.  The old proverb refers to it as “sleeping during harvest.”  There is a season for plowing, planting, growing and reaping. And when it comes time to reaping, the season is so short and the opportunity so great, you can’t afford to close your eyes for a minute. Its why my team looks so stressed. If  they look like they haven’t slept, its because they haven’t.

A restaurant is an incredibly complex web of intricately associated details.  Each dish has several components and ingredients that need to be balanced perfectly before serving, especially temperature and seasoning.  If a cook isn’t mindful of it all, you end up with a faulty plate.  In the same way, every server has a series of steps to follow to execute quality service.  Let any one of those slip, and your experience is diminished.

Critique is the hardest to hear, and the most difficult to elicit. Most folks are polite and don’t want to say anything harsh.  When the server comes to the table and asks ”how is everything?”,  the easiest answer is to say fine and carry on.  I rarely say how I really feel when dining at an unfamiliar restaurant and I’m in the business. Unsolicited advice is always marked as criticism, and I’m not sure when to speak up.

But I am saying to you, my guest and reader; please speak up. I’m inviting your comments and feedback.  We cringe when we know we failed a guest or when a customer walks out unsatisfied. The kitchen knows the sinking feeling when a plate comes back cold.  We mull it over and over.  We just can’t let it go.  We want to bat 1.000, but we know full well it will never happen. But we yearn for that perfection because we take pride in our work and thankfully I have a team that is driven to keep on improving and never let you down.

One of the great aspects of our industry is immediately being able to know how we performed, good or bad, at the end of the day.  If good, we hold our head high and hoist a toast afterward. If poor, we kick ourselves all the way home.  I feel so fortunate to have the ability to help be a part of creating another original concept for the good people in Lincoln.

How is everything?

3 thoughts on “How is everything?

  • October 27, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    Kevin, the experience was great. I had the Patty melt and it rocked. Very nice touch , visiting our table to make sure all was good.
    Atmosphere was great, we were able to carry on a conversation without sharing with other diners. Your staff did a super job attending to our needs. Im a beer drinker and your tap selections were great. Honoring your parents with the name is awesome,keep up the great work. I’ll be back!

  • October 29, 2013 at 7:51 pm

    I’m guilty of this today. I had the Ruben sandwich for lunch, and while the flavors were great, the meat itself was too tough to eat as a sandwich (overcooked?) and had a large (quarter size) hunk of fat in it. I get that it’s corned beef, but I don’t want a mouth full of fat in a sandwich. The corned beef had to be cut with a knife to eat it…but eat it I did, the flavor was great. I told the waitress it was fine, didn’t want to make a big deal of it. The new place looks great, very good service..look forward to trying other things on the menu!

  • October 31, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    My wife and I made our way to Jack&June for the first time last night, and one of her first comments was, “This place feels like Bread & Cup.” Now I know why there is a similar vibe. It was a nice experience with good and not so good things throughout our hour or so in house.

    First the good: Jack’s Pale Ale from Zipline is great. If you had any direct contribution to its brewing process, then congrats, it’s awesome, though more of a Summer beer really. We started with the deviled eggs, and both loved them. The use of your mustard in them was just delicious. I had the Banger Plate, which was only disappointing in that I only got one of your tasty Kielbasa, despite the wait person’s attempt to upsale me on more. The Kielbasa was delicious by the way. The mash and gravy on the other hand were average at best. They definitely taste as if they were made in house, and tasted good, there just wasn’t that feeling of, “Man these are great mash.” I did enjoy that the gravy has a nice clean meat flavor, rather than an overly starch filled profile. The mustard is great! So bright with a great amount of that mustardy heat for me. I think I would have liked the pickles to have been slightly thicker, though that may be an aesthetic issue.

    More good, my wife had the June Patty Melt. Honestly, neither of us could imagine eating the Jack size, much less the Jack & June, a very filling sandwich. She shared a bit with me, and both agreed that your mustard adds a nice flavor to the sandwich. The fries were tasty fries. They were cooked well, crisp on the outside, soft in the middle, not overly seasoned.

    Final good: I didn’t feel like anything was priced too high. Knowing the care that goes into your food, and your drive to source as much locally as possible they are very reasonable prices. I’m not yet convinced that I, personally, value each of your sausage links at your menu price just yet, but the one I did have was close to meeting that.

    The less than good: When I asked the server what beers were available her answer was just, “Well, we have 10 taps.” With no list at the table, and no visual on the taps from my seat that was a little inconvenient. She did mention the Jack’s Pale Ale from Zipline so I went with that. My wife just took water. Over the time we were there neither of our water glasses were ever refilled, or even offered. Nor did she offer me another beer selection once my glass was empty. This is especially troublesome since she had a shadow with her, and may be passing on these habits. Her tables side manner was the most warm and welcoming either. It was very matter of fact, which I suppose is fine, but felt off putting. We certainly didn’t feel like it was somewhere to go if you’re looking for kind and attentive wait staff. Lastly, she shortchanged us 16 cents, it’s a minuscule amount, and frankly not that important, but it was a weird experience to have a waitperson be so careless with a customer’s cash.

    All in all, Jack&June does appear to be another great local option for us Lincolnites who love to support our local businesses. I am looking forward to trying more of what you have to offer. It’s a good sign to me when I leave a place satisfied with my food experience, even if the service was less than great. Keep up the hard work of bringing great new food experiences to our city.

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