Wireless Etiquette

Cell phones have become part of a standard and an accessory in almost everyone’s lives. We depend on it to communicate everyday. However when do cell phones become a distraction rather than an attraction? Should cell phones be accepted into only certain areas? In libraries there are designated areas for chatting, in most hospitals cell phones are not permitted and gas stations have placed warnings of the danger of cell phone use. With all these warnings and restrictions, should restaurants follow?

Turn it Off!

Our need to stay in constant touch with friends, family and co-workers is an obsession that has become a public distraction. Public cell phone chatter has spilled over to weddings, funerals, theaters, sporting events and restaurants.

The need for cell phones is at the highest level of obsession with the availability of cell phone in airplanes and Bluetooth technology enabling hands free capability. With the rapid increase of the number of cell phone users, cell phone manners become more important.

Renowned restauranteur, Danny Meyers states “cell phones have become so widespread that the entire etiquette aspect has been skipped over.” Meyer’s has placed signs in his restaurants that refrain guest from using their cell phones in the dining room. Other restaurateurs have completely banned the use of cell phones.

Chicago chef and owner, Rick Bayless shared his opinion on the topic, “You would never catch me in a restaurant with a cell phone on the table. I go to restaurants to relax.” Although, his restaurant Topolobampo has printed the cell phone policy on the menu, he doesn’t enforce the rule unless it gets out of control.

However, not all restaurants have banned cell phone use nor placed any restrictions. Ben Benson, owner of Ben Benson’s Steak House in New York City believes people are overreacting and don’t see it as a problem. As a restaurant customer himself, he admits to using his cell phone while dining.

Implementing a Cell Phone Policy

Cell phone use in restaurants should be kept at a minimum. Conversations should be kept private as no else needs to know all the details. Talking loudly and conversing for extending period of time is not only annoying but rude to other customers.

Restaurants should encourage cell phone etiquette and place signs outside their door refraining customers to use their cell phone during dining service. Signs may not stop cell phone usage, but it can be a deterrent.

Therefore, when a problem arises, restaurant owners have the right to address the situation. Banning cell phones is another option that some have taken, but may not be the best solution as it may turn business customers away. It comes down to reminding the customer where they are and to kindly take their conversation outside. Most customers will understand and will do as told.

Employees Apply Too

Implementing a cell phone policy for restaurant customers should also be applied to restaurant employees. It would be a double standard if you allowed your employees to converse on their cell phones in the public eye. Cell phones should be turned off prior to the start of work.

Remember, employees are paid to work, not chat on the phone. The restaurant is a workplace, a professional environment. It is not a playground or a house. Set the rules in the beginning. The best and most effective way to implement a cell phone policy is during training.

Don’t share your conversations

I would be a hypocrite if I said that I despised all cell phone users in restaurants because I have been one of them. Rarely do you find me on extended conversations while dining with friends. If I have chosen to pick up the call, I do it because I have to and I have informed my guests ahead of time.

In respect for my guests and other restaurant customers, I will always take a call outside. So like me, if you need to take a call you should excuse yourself from the table. Another point to keep mind, place your ringer on vibrate or silent. There’s nothing worst than having a loud ringer or tunes of a Britney Spears ringtone in the background. Keep your conversations to yourself, there’s no need to share it with the world.

Picture by Mike “Dakinewavamon” Kline

If you enjoyed this article, get daily updates via RSS Reader!

The Compensation of a CEO

A CEO’s salary is determined by experience, education and the type of leadership he/she perceives to bring to a company. In addition, a Board of Directors can influence a CEO’s salary by setting quarterly performance goals for the company. If met, a CEO’s salary can significantly increase based on performance based bonuses and stock options.

Ruth Chris Fires CEO

In April Month’s Top News Story, I had mentioned about the surprise ousting of Ruth’s Chris CEO, Craig Miller. A shock to Miller, other’s not quite a shock. During his term, Ruth’s Chris profit had plunged and share prices have dropped by 70% during the past year. You would think a CEO being paid millions would have more decency to either resign or automatically forfeit his bonuses for poor performance.

To be fair, we can’t blame the failure of Ruth’s Chris entirely on the Miller and his executive management team. There is clear instability in the US economy with oil skyrocketing and food staples such as flour and rice soaring. On the flip side, a CEO has responsibilities and in tough times, a decision should be made to step in and show you really care for the future of the company.

Miller receives $2.4 million package

Less than two weeks ago after reporting the dismissal of Ruth’s Chris CEO and Chairman, Craig Miller, the company announced a 33% drop in first-quarter profit due to a decline in sales and an insurance claim benefit. More disappointing news came when Ruth’s Chris corporate owned operations posted a 6.9% decrease in sales compared to 1.9% increase for the first quarter of 2007. Even more troubling news was the company revealed Miller would receive a $2.4 million in a severance agreement. Is that amount really necessary? Currently, Ruth’s Chris is searching for a CEO replacement but in the meantime, the company will pay Miller $30,000 a month to consult for six months or until a new CEO is named. In addition, he will receive his annual salary, outplacement services, legal fees and more than 200,000 shares of restricted stock.

If you were Craig Miller, what would you do? From 2004, Miller served as the CEO of the company. Several industry experts have speculated in Miller’s decision making of the buyout of Columbus, Ohio-based Mitchell’s Fish Market, a high-end seafood chain for $92 million. With Ruth’s Chris continuous losses year after year, does Craig Miller deserve an exit package worth over $2 million?

Learning from the Top CEOs

Do CEOs like Miller realize the situation of their company? Disappointing results are posted and little or no improvement is done. Why do CEOs need to be paid so much? They do hold the power to control their salary. Take for example Steve Jobs of Apple who refused to take salary but was so determined to turn the company around. He just didn’t turn it around, he has made Apple one of the most powerful and recognized brands in the world.

In the food business, the real CEO mentor that we all should follow is John MacKey, the CEO of Whole Foods Market, a successful supermarket specializing in organic food. Fortune has named Whole Foods as the Top 100 Best Companies to Work For.

Why so? MacKey believes in transparency, meaning nothing is hidden from the employees. Everyone knows each other’s compensation regardless of position. For Mackey and his executives, they have earned 19 times the average employee pay compared to an average’s CEO compensation of 431 times.

In February 2007, MacKey posted a company memo informing all his employees that he will only accept a $1 annual salary and receive no additional cash compensation. The Board of Directors has agreed to contribute $100,000 annually to a new Global Team Member Emergency Fund helping team members who are in desperate need.

So what is John Mackey’s goal for Whole Foods Market? He is determined to achieve $12 billion in company sales by 2010. Now that is what I call determination and looking out for the best interest of the company. Why aren’t there more CEO’s like this?

Photograph by: jenn_jenn

If you enjoyed this article, get daily updates via RSS Reader!

The Future of Restaurant Dining

We live in a world that is ever so changing. New technology is introduced and replaced. Greater and more powerful gadgets and tools are constantly released. For any type of industry, we are surrounded by technology.

Restaurant Gadgets

Speed and power are key elements in a restaurant kitchen. Equipment that can save time, increase business and reduce costs are what all restaurants seek. Each year, suppliers compete with newer and improved kitchen gadgets. The ability to cook food at high speeds, holding temperatures for hours, all this while still keeping food at its highest quality is now possible. Introducing the Turbo Chef, this compact oven is 15 times more powerful than a convection oven. Who ever thought it would be possible to cook a whole chicken in less than 20 minutes or bake an apple pie in 17 minutes. Having near “human like” capabilities, the Turbo Chef can learn a user’s preferences. Navigating through an extensive list of preprogrammed foods, the user selects an item and answers a set of questions. Chicken? Fresh or frozen? Whole or portioned? Stuffed or unstuffed? Once the information has been saved, the oven goes to work and rapidly preheats. Food is added and bam, within minutes the food is done.

If you like entertaining at home, you can purchase the Turbo Chef’s home version at a price tag of $7,895. I guess when you are willing to spend more money, anything is possible.

Hi-tech Restaurants

Recently featured by the BBC News, the restaurant, Baggers, in Germany is described as the world’s first fully automated restaurant. The kitchen is manned with real people, but the restaurant has no waiters. Customers order their food by a touch screen system that indicates how long their food will take, cooking methods, information on ingredients and food sources. Food is delivered to the customer via a mini-railway using the power of gravity from the 2nd floor kitchen. Currently, the restaurant is such a hit, its sold out everyday and requires reservations weeks in advance. The restaurant menu is focused on local ingredients including organic produce and healthy low-fat foods. Owner and inventor Michael Mack who has patented the technology has reported enquiries have been made from several major foodservice chains. Could this be the trend for restaurant dining?

Mobile Marketing

Studies reveal mobile marketing can drive customer traffic. With increased competition, restaurant chains are competing to find ways to target 18 to 34 year olds. So where do this people spend most of their time? It’s on the phone. Chains such as Denny’s and Starbucks are some who have used mobile coupons and text messages in the past to offer special promotions. The latest chains to try it include McDonald’s and Extreme Pita. So how does it work? Both restaurant chains have partnered with mobile coupon provider Cellfire where subscribers download the application and instantly receive coupons and future notices of special promotions. Consumers who subscribe to Cellfire receive a free iced coffee from one of 113 McDonald’s who is testing the system while Extreme Pita’s US locations offers a free combo meal when a regular sized pita is purchased.

What’s next for Restaurants?

While restaurants are using technology in their attempt to attract new customers, new technology continues to be researched and formed. Will mobile couponing and automated restaurants be the trend? How far will restaurants go to attract customers? Technology is changing the landscape of how restaurants operate and compete. Perhaps, it won’t be long until robots are seen in kitchens. Integrating technology to improve service is one thing, but to remove human interaction is another. Is Bagger’s restaurant a tourist destination or a trend that will be adapted? What do you think?

If you enjoyed this article, get daily updates via RSS Reader!