You may wonder what is it like to move into a brand-new restaurant and how do you start organizing yourself when all you see ahead is tasks to be done and people asking you what to do next. Well, in this entry I want to share with you what we have lived this couple of weeks and how are we are managing to keep the boat afloat.
|Service team attacking their dining room for the first time|
In theory the trick is to meticulously plan every step, although planning in the middle of so much activity is definitely a challenge, and so many things come up every other minute that plans vanish as we make them. For example, the first task to tackle seemed to be cleaning, although with what, where and when was not so easy to determine. Imagine a space still full of all types of workers (plumbers, electricians, aluminum specialists, glass contractors, painters, carpenters, etc.), all busy trying to finish up their jobs; on top of that, picture a restaurant made out of materials that look great but fragile and 50 people eager to jump on them and make them shine. We smelled trouble right away: if we armed our staff with all the cleaning tools we had, we would end up without cleaning tools and with a brand new restaurant seriously damaged. The solution? We got our management to coordinate with all the workers the status of their job, schedule when we could start cleaning and with what products to avoid any damage on the floors, glasses, doors, wood, etc. Furthermore, we divided the team in smaller groups easier to manage. The next challenge we encountered was realizing that 50 people work pretty fast and jobs were completed faster than it took us to come up with new tasks…
|Briefing about receiving our first orders|
A simultaneous challenge was the urgency of getting the office ready. We could no longer work from home as the cleaning and organizing required our full attention so we had to get the office at Cuca operative as soon as possible to start placing our first orders. In Bali every step is an adventure and trust me, to place an order is worth an entire novel.The system we had developed was straight forward: orders to be placed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 12 to 2pm and deliveries to be received Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 9 to 12pm. We were so naive…Just to give you an idea, we are working with 32 suppliers and each of them has to be contacted through a specific way (some only accept orders via sms, some via the phone, some via email...) and they deliver “when they are nearby”. Fifty per cent of the products we ordered were “indefinitely” out of stock (the suppliers had no idea of when they would be available) and it seems that most prices change daily (depending on the price of petrol, if it is Ramadan or any other seasonal festivity, and some other factors we fail to grasp). To cap it all, most of the suppliers did not understand the names of the products we wanted to order as we were using either the English or the Javanese name (apparently different from the Balinese one) and since our staff was not trained yet on the recipes, they could not help us to find the right translation.
|The "receiving" drama|
This process was totally a gamble. We were so afraid about the products we were going to receive… So the moment arrived when the first product was delivered: grapes from Australia. Fantastic. Cuca uses exclusively Indonesian products… We looked at the label in disbelieve and just when we were about to lose it, the magic of Bali took place: in the midst of our upset explanations to the supplier repeating that, as mentioned when we placed our order, all products delivered had to be local, he, without any bad gesture whatsoever, took the grapes back and said he would come back "some time later" with local grapes. Similar situations took place non-stop during the entire week. I would say that 60% of the suppliers got the product wrong but each of them had no problem taking it back and either bring the right one later or tell us where we could get what we were looking for. Unbelievable.
So receiving was a major milestone for us: we learned the local names, confirmed suppliers and get our chillers organized. While placing and receiving orders, we were moving all the equipment and utensils from the store rooms to Cuca to get everything ready for the next step: production. I must say this is a piece of cake for Kevin so, luckily for us, no drama on this field.
|Cooks reviewing production for the day|
In the office, once we got over the ordering we focused on communication and human resource matters: keys (there were just everywhere!), phones, air conditioner timers, internet, shifts, staff catering, uniforms, laundry, etc. Hundred little things necessary to get started. Regarding the service, we continue facing challenges as there are still quite a few details to be completed so a final cleaning has not yet been possible. Furthermore, we did not want our furniture to be damaged with the works still taking place so we have not unpacked yet. Fortunately, we are almost done and next week our service team will be able to shine by making our dining room as pretty as we dreamed of.
I must confess that I feel dizzy when I think of everything ahead of us but looking back I understand that the secret is to take a step at the time. Tomorrow: cocktail production and tasting!