Can There Be Too Much Of A Good Thing?


My answer, surprisingly, is yes.

My answer, surprisingly, is yes.

As I move around the country interviewing restaurant operators, there are a lot of eye-opening, jaw-dropping exchanges. To be clear, it is my eyes, my jaw that drop. It makes me want to steal the tagline of the 1948 film, “The Naked City”: “There are 8 million stories in the naked city; this has been one of them.” I can’t wait to uncover as many as possible. But here’s one for starters:

Can there be too much of a good thing when it comes to hospitality? My answer is yes, although it was a long time in coming. Until recently I thought aim sky high, but now I say aim high but not that high.

During a recent conversation with a highly respected restaurateur, the interviewee revealed that in the early days of his career, he allowed employees who stole from him to keep their jobs and work off the stolen bounty.

Well, I get that this is the hospitality industry, but that’s just a little too nice, even for me. I mean think of all the great employees in the recessionary workforce today who are losing their jobs for no other reason than their salaries are too high, management got in over its head with debt, or shareholders are demanding a bigger return on investment.

Now to be fair, this savvy operator figured out a long time ago that if he continued to let folks steal from him with no repercussions, it would be like putting out the welcome mat for every sticky-fingered robber within a hundred miles. He has since made an about-face, and his company has a no-tolerance policy on stealing. And that’s as it should be.

But it sure does my heart good to think that someone blessed with that much compassion and forgiveness for his fellow human beings is today thriving in the foodservice industry.

What was that famous statement by former major league manager Leo Durocher? Oh yeah, “Nice guys finish last.” Well maybe the nice guys finish last in baseball but not necessarily in the hospitality business.

Oh, and by the way, the original quote was, “The nice guys are all over there. In seventh place.”

To be sure, nice guys don’t always finish last, and there are scores of successful restaurateurs who prove just that.

Speaking of which, thanks to all you nice folks who have found the time to check us out at Each month we are looking forward to keep you informed, entertained and yes, motivated.

We’ve got plenty of exciting features in the planning stages for the coming months, and this month our seafood issue proves the point.

Check out our in-depth feature about how sustainable seafood restrictions have made unknown fish species menu headliners across the country. There’s plenty of trend analysis and news to use in Nevin Martell’s piece.

Ever wonder how white Zinfandel got so popular or how it came to be? Well, wonder no more. Carolyn Walkup’s feature offers plenty of historical information as well as a solid report on the state of the wine today. And be sure to check out Amanda Baltazar’s profile on McCormick & Schmick’s, the Northwest casual seafood chain. Despite being officially up for sale, it’s business as usual at the store level.

If you are interested in learning about the state of seafood in sit-down restaurants, then be sure and check out my piece, “Seafood Catches A Wave.”

It seems the stars are aligned for the protein category to take off in even bigger ways, especially when it comes to culinary innovation.

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