Thursday, May 3, 2012

Industry accolades and other adventures!

Well... what a year its been already! 

So far we've had a new head chef, new manager, and new barista, new menu, and now we're in the process of custom building a new four group La Marzocco Linea Mechanical Paddle espresso machine!

But first things first

Approximately two months ago we were recognised by The Age newspaper as being among Melbourne's top 100 coffee destinations - which is a tremendous accolade and a testimony to the significant amount of work we've put into sourcing our single origons, and getting the blends right

It's also bought a lot more custom through our doors which has been good for cashflow - which is just as well as we've had two fridges, the cool room, the dishwasher, and the canopy exhaust all pack it in and need to be repaired, in no small part I'm sure due to the increased foot traffic and the increased demands that this puts upon infrastructure 

The increased patronage has also come at a time when my long term manager and head barista have moved on to their own separate projects, the first opening her own cafe in Fitzroy, and the other pursuing her interest in photography - which is divine providence if you ask me as long standing staff members tend to attract their own loyal clientele, and some of those clientele naturally look elsewhere if they dont have the same familiar faces and friendly banter to come back to...

So the recruitment process has to be one of the most rigorous and demanding aspects of hospitality (and indeed any industry I'm sure) - but its sure not helped by:

a)  most folks not considering hospitality to be a 'serious' career contender, and 

b)  the casual workforce for hospitality is a veritable movable  feast - with a very high turnover which means in effect we are always naturally recruiting in anticipation anyway, and

c)  many students turn to hospitality to pay the rent but when they graduate most want a 'real' job, and lastly

d)  as some Irish comedian said when he was out here recently, "You Melbournians are so lucky... There's so many cafes here you've got one for every person in every person in melbourne!"

Which mean that although in theory there are a great many individuals available for work in the hospitality industry, there are very few experienced industry professionals of a suitable calibre to staff those cafes and restaurants which pride themselves on providing the highest calibre of products and services

So we had to re-advertise our chef position for four months in a row, which is not only a considerable expense and impost on a business, but the shear logistics of bringing new personnel through a business, and training them up (and the additional labour costs associated with that), only to have them leave (or encouraging them to leave if they're not suitable) five minutes later is not only demoralising, but very, very physically demanding - and this applies o front of house as well

Anyway, to cut a long story short - after six months of rigorous recruitment and training (including a bit of good old fashioned poaching) - we've finally got a great team and a permanent roster, which means that I can both sleep peacefully at night, and not have to work all the extra shifts myself until we fill the roster!

And the (perhaps) most exciting news of all is the four group La Marzocco Linea rebuild - which we're fitting out with new groups, flow meters, PIDs, mechanical paddles, mother boards, multi-position ant-vac lever operated steam wands, and other ancillary bits and pieces, most of which come straight off the Strada in terms of parts and technology, to create a mechanical rebuild which to all intensive purposes (appart from the actual paddles themselves!) - will look much the same from the outside, but which will purr under the bonnet with all the latest equipment and technology that the specialty coffee espresso industry has to offer!

More to follow and pics as well as soon as they become available!

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