Runners & Revenuers

New York Beverage Catering

Runners & Revenuers is a New York based beverage catering company that provides beer, wine, and spirit logistics for your event or venue.  We work with the liquor authority, insurance brokers, and retailers, to obtain licensing, permits (we specialize in Caterer and Special Events permits), insurance (event and host liquor liability), and delivery of all your beer, wine, and spirit needs.  

Sal Drinking Game

Labor Day has come and gone and this weekend heralds the conclusion of the 2016 US Open Tennis Championships.  I have zero interest in tennis outside of the devastatingly good looks of Maria Sharapova and Anna Kournikova, but seeing as how the former has been suspended by the International Tennis Federation and the latter has retired, I maintain zero interest in tennis.  The reason why I am so keen on the US Open is that with the US Open comes the Sal Drinking Game.

The birth of the Sal Drinking Game begins with Sal's annual participation in the US Open as a ball boy.... correction, ball man... correction, ball person.  This is not a situation of where life imitates art - Cosmo Kramer infamously tries out to be a US Open ball boy and is selected to be the first ever ball man in the Seinfeld episode, The Lip Reader.  Sal is in his mid-thirties now and has been a ball person ever since high school.  With that level of seniority, comes great responsibility, including handing out towels to players in marquee matches, which most importantly means televised close up shot of Sal.

The Sal Drinking Game was born!  What began as an excuse for the Manchester Pub staff and regulars to drink evolved to have rules, albeit simple rules, but rules nonetheless.

1. Sip of beverage whenever you see Sal in a close up shot.  If you drink on the remote baseline flow of play shots, god bless. 
2. Take a shot whenever Sal messes up. So if he slips, drops a towel, etc. - SHOTS!!!

Novak Djokovic and Sal Close Up - Now take a sip of your beverage.

Novak Djokovic and Sal Close Up - Now take a sip of your beverage.

As the Manchester Pub family and community grew, so did the number of participants in the Sal Drinking Game.  Participation hit its apex with the introduction of Trivia League at the Manchester Pub.  Drinking was not only encouraged during trivia, but points awarded for drinking could give any team the margin needed to win!

It is coming up on two year anniversary of the fire that closed the Manchester Pub.  It does sadden me whenever I reminisce about the great times that we had, the staff and environment created a home away from home, a type of bar that is rare, especially with what tries to pass as hospitality nowadays.  What does bring me joy is when the US Open begins every year and without fail I receive text messages and watch my social networking feeds fill with #SalDrinkingGame hashtags, photos of Jameson shots, and the inevitable lament of how everyone hates the Sal Drinking Game.  The Manchester Pub may be closed, but the traditions of its family and community continues to be passed on.  If you happen to see Sal in the US Open, raise a glass and take a sip, welcome to the Sal Drinking Game.

Manchester Pub Recipes - Chicken Wings

Summer is coming to an end and that really only means one thing - football season is starting.  The Manchester Pub was a great place to watch football... not because of the equipment and programming (we only had three flat screen televisions and could not be bothered to subscribe to NFL Sunday Ticket), not because of the fans (the Manchester Pub was a football bar, and by football, we mean association football, and by association football, we mean soccer), and definitely not because of Ryan (of course if you are still looking for Ryan, you can find him a few blocks away at Keats)... but because of our Chicken Wings.

When Lawrence and I first acquired the Manchester Pub we agreed that there are very few places in Manhattan to get good wings, and it was a priority for us to put out the best wings in New York City.  What we quickly learned was that great wings are simple to make - the key is to parbake, and then fry and toss the wings to order.  Simple, right?

Chicken Wings (Prep)

Ingredients

  • 2 oz Paprika
  • 2 oz Garlic Powder
  • 2 oz Oregano, dried
  • 4 oz Frank’s Red Hot
  • 40 lb Jumbo Chicken Wings

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • Mix Paprika, Garlic Powder, Oregano, and Frank’s Red Hot in a large mixing bowl
  • Toss Chicken Wings in mixture
  • Lay out seasoned Chicken Wings in a single layer on a large sheet pan
  • Bake Chicken Wings oven for 40 minute
  • Remove Chicken Wings from oven, cool to room temperature, cover and refrigerat

Chicken Wings (Execution)

Ingredients

  • 5 ct Jumbo Chicken Wings, parbaked
  • 4 oz Sauce (Buffalo, Barbecue, Honey Mustard, or Sriracha)

Directions

  • Heat oil in deep fryer to 350 degrees
  • Fry Chicken Wings for 5 to 7 minutes
  • Remove Chicken Wings from oil and drain
  • Place Sauce and Chicken Wings in a large mixing bowl and mix for 30 seconds

Myth - New York Bartender License

After obtaining a caterers permit for a new client, he happily let me know that he had hired licensed bartenders for their event.  Unfortunately, I had to burst his bubble and advise him that there is no such thing as a license for bartenders in the state of New York.  He was flabbergasted by this as he had hired the bartenders through one of the many bartending schools in New York City.

Per Article 8, Section 100, Paragraph 2-a of the New York Alcoholic Beverage Control laws:

"No retailer shall employ, or permit to be employed, or shall suffer to work, on any premises licensed for retail sale hereunder, any person under the age of eighteen years, as a hostess, waitress, waiter, or in any other capacity where the duties of such person require or permit such person to sell,  dispense  or  handle  alcoholic  beverages."

In laymen's terms, the only restrictions to being a bartender in the state of New York is that one has to be eighteen (18) years old.

Even the Frequently Asked Questions page of the New York Bartending School website answers the question, "What is a bartending license?", with, "What you are referring to is a 'bartender certification' - a diploma awarded by a bartending school for completion of the course."

There is a lot of talent in the hospitality industry with varying skill sets and attributes.  There is no reason to not staff an event according to the needs of the event... as long as the staff is over the age eighteen. 

Manchester Pub Recipes - Braised Short Ribs

We cannot make the Cottage Pie without our Braised Short Ribs...

Braised Short Ribs

Ingredients

  • 6 lb Short Ribs, Bone-In
  • 1 Carrot, chopped
  • 1 Sweet Onion, chopped
  • 3 Celery Stalks, chopped
  • 2 tbsp Tomato Paste
  • 6 oz Flour
  • 1 qt Beef Stock
  • 10 oz Red Wine
  • 1 gal Water

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees
  • In a large roasting pan cook Short Ribs on medium heat for 15 minutes browning all edges
  • In a large saucepan add Carrot, Sweet Onion, Celery, and Tomato Paste and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes
  • In a large mixing bowl mix Flour and Beef Stock until smooth
  • Add mixture to saucepan and lower heat to low
  • Add Red Wine to saucepan and cook for 1 minute
  • Add Water to saucepan and cook on high heat for 20 minutes
  • Add contents of saucepan to roasting pan, cover with aluminum foil, and cook in over for 2 ½ hours
  • Remove from oven, separate and debone Short Ribs, drain and save liquid for Short Rib Au Jus

Manchester Pub Recipes - Cottage Pie

It is coming up on two years since the Manchester Pub has closed.  We may not reopen, but it does not mean the friends and family we drank and broke bread with are gone.  One of the things the Manchester Pub was known for was its wonderful pub food and it would be shame to let those recipes disappear.  I would like to share the recipes for our beloved menu and without further adieu, please find the recipe for our Cottage Pie.

Cottage Pie

Ingredients

Directions

  • In a medium sauté pan bring Short Rib Au Jus to a simmer
  • Add Braised Short Ribs, Carrots, Green Peas, Onions
  • Cook on high heat for 6 minutes
  • Drain liquid and place contents in a small bowl
  • Top with warm Mashed Potatoes
  • Finish under high heat in broiler for 3 minutes

Leadership and Hospitality

I recently learned that the General Manager of a restaurant I had worked for had resigned.  What surprised me was not the fact that she resigned, but the fact that she resigned so soon.  Within three months of opening, the restaurant had gone through two General Managers, two Kitchen Managers, three Shift Managers, and an Assistant Kitchen Manager.  The restaurant business is a high turnover business, but turnover at this rate made no sense.  In hind sight, it made perfect sense, the restaurant had no leadership, I had left the restaurant for that exact reason.

I was part of the opening team for a multi-unit casual restaurant.  Everything appeared so promising, the restaurant had a great concept, a product that is universally liked, and several locations, including a location in the heart of Washington, DC.  There was supposed to be a corporate structure in place and the restaurant had no illusions of grandeur - they knew what they were and focused on what they specialized in.  This was an opportunity to learn from an established multi-unit.  After many years of founding, owning, and running my own single unit establishments of varying types, this was a chance to see how an established multi-unit expands and experience the process from the ground up.  After the management team was assembled and trained, the staff hired, and the corporate team arrived, it was time to start putting the pieces together... but the cracks were already beginning to show.

The first crack to show was the resignation of the Kitchen Manager.  This happened on the day we were to start staff training.  The Kitchen Manager did not necessarily resign, in so much as he did not show up for the first day of staff training.  I have opened restaurants, I have experienced staff not showing up or walking out, but I have never experienced a senior member of the management team doing a "no call, no show".  The presence of the corporate team allayed all concerns as both the Corporate Executive Chef and the District Kitchen Manager were on hand.  I assumed that corporate had a plan in place as one of the first tenets that Corporate had bestowed upon us was; "If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail."  With that in mind, staff training commenced.

Staff training went as most staff training does when opening a restaurant.  There were stand outs and fall outs, but the most surprising thing was the lack of involvement from the corporate team.  The Founder, the Chief Operating Officer, the Regional Manager, the Corporate Executive Chef, and the District Kitchen Manager were on hand.  In addition to the corporate team, the longest tenured General Manager and Front of House Manager from other locations were on hand as well.  Instead of leading staff training or guiding the new management team on implementing Corporate structure and instilling Corporate culture, the Corporate team sat back and watched.

In all fairness, the Corporate team did have a substantial checklist of items to handle prior to opening - construction was not complete (tables, chairs, back bar, walk-in cooler, draft lines, point of sales, were all yet to be received and installed), recipes and back of house processes were not finalized (the restaurant decided to open this location with different equipment than what is found in other locations), and we still did not have a liquor license.

Even though the staff was partially trained and the restaurant was not completely set up, Corporate made the decision to open as scheduled - the only change being the decision to not open for lunch until mid-week.  Considering the restaurant was being held together by rubber bands and duct tape, the week went fairly well - until the entire Corporate team and additional managers announced they were leaving before the weekend.  That was an inexplicable decision as it led to the worst dinner service that I have ever witnessed in the hospitality industry.

It was the first weekend dinner service of the restaurant and we did not have a Kitchen Manager - we only had the General Manager, Shift Manager, and an Assistant Kitchen Manager scheduled for the evening.  Even though we were short staffed, we had a plan.  The Shift Manager will lead the dining room, the Assistant Kitchen Manager will lead the kitchen, and the General Manager will be the expediter for the dinner service.  The evening started off innocuously enough - until servers started entering in orders and the extent of the lack of leadership and training became apparent as the wheels came off and dinner service went into a downward spiral.

The success of any restaurant is predicated on the restaurant being able to operate at capacity during prime hours.  There is nothing more impressive then when a restaurant is running efficiently.  There is a pace initiated by the host when guest enter the door, greeted, and sat.  The servers continue to set the pace by greeting the table, providing water, taking drink orders, and then returning to take food orders.  This pace allows the kitchen to maintain a constant workflow through the dinner service.  This is assuming that the kitchen is trained and producing dishes in a timely fashion, as opposed to learning on the fly.  Actually, learning on the fly would have been better because that means there would be improvement through the course of dinner service - the kitchen simply crashed and burned.

Order times were taking twice as long as they were supposed to.  An inspection of the kitchen revealed that there was a systematic breakdown from the top down.  The expo line was a war zone - the pass exploded with orders "dying in the window", the rail was a melee of tickets for starters, entree, carryout, some "sold", some "fired", and some "on deck" - the worst of which was the expo printer; the tickets were touching the ground.  To say the kitchen was in the weeds was an understatement.  Order times quickly snowballed from a painstaking thirty minutes to a devastating few hours.  What began as a few guest complaints devolved into a mob scene as guests became impatient, rude, and on the brink of violence.  The most polite responses we had from guests that evening were from the ones that simply got up and left.

The dinner service resulted in several thousands of dollars worth of complimentary orders (some were actually made!) and the General Manager resigning.  It was pointless to speculate whether or no the events of the evening could have been prevented.  It was more important to learn from the mistakes.  Nothing changed.  Instead of members of the Corporate team being leaders and filling the gaps in the interim, Corporate used the resigned General Manager as a scapegoat.  Now, in addition to not having a Kitchen Manager, the restaurant did not have a General Manager.  The restaurant ran for another month without a Kitchen Manager, until Corporate finally promoted an Assistant Kitchen Manager from another location.  It was still another month before Corporate hired a General Manager.  Within a week of the new General Manager starting, I handed in my notice.  Unlike our previous General Manager, our new General Manager was actually trained by Corporate.  Unfortunately, all she had to show from training was the same lack of leadership that Corporate had shown.  She resigned within a month.

Does a lack of leadership equate to failure?  No, but not failing does not equate to success.  This is the third location the Company has opened in so many years.  The location that opened prior to the location I worked in closed within three months of opening.  The location that opened prior to that continues to struggle.  I do not know if the Company will keep the struggling locations opened.  I do not know if the Company will continue to scale.  I do know that if the Company continues to lack leadership and fail to train and grow leaders the Company will continue to lose quality people and it is quality people that creates quality restaurants.