When John Gutekanst filed his story for this issue, I was enamored with the quote he dug up from influential jazz musician John Coltrane. The reward, as the saxophonist put it, often is not to be found at the final destination, but in the striving to reach it. That is when you learn about your strengths and weaknesses, toughen up mentally and ultimately become better.
As a former athlete, I embrace Coltrane’s philosophy here. The striving — the practices, the camaraderie a team forges over a season, the execution in games — is an extremely fulfilling element.
Are you still striving? Is your shop better today than it was yesterday?
Do yourself a favor and don’t go to work today. Or tomorrow. Then, on the next random week night, pull into the front parking lot of your pizzeria at 6 p.m. Walk through the front door, not the back door you always use to enter your business. Be greeted by your hostess, wait for a table and order a meal. Take in the atmosphere as a customer, not an owner. When a staff member comes to you with an update or a complaint, wave them away. Tell them you have a manager on duty and that tonight, for one night, you are a guest.
Assess the facility and the warmth or lack thereof contained within. Do the other customers look happy? If you didn’t own this restaurant, would you dine there again? Where is it falling short of your goals?
Leave the evening with an action plan. Identify areas in which you excel and praise the staff. Identify the sections that need improvement and attack them vigorously and without mercy until they are no longer weak spots.
The end result will be a better, more hospitable environment for your customers — and, presumably, better sales for you.
Jeremy White, editor in chief