Sunday Brunch

In my early days in this business, I was asked to close Saturday night, and then turn around and come back and work the next morning–Sunday brunch. In those days I did not have a car and the buses did not run that late on Saturdays, so inevitably I would walk the four miles home. Just what you want to do after working on your feet for 8 hours.

Let me get out my violin

I had a point here, now what was it…? Oh yes, Sunday brunch. Thank god in those days I had youth on my side. But this is how many operators think. They are not as sensitive to the needs of their employees as they should be.

The main problem that I find with the Sunday brunch thing, is that restaurants end up with the least experienced staff on Sundays. No one with any sense wants to work that shift, so the more ‘seasoned’ employees do the damnedest to get that day off. You take that, plus the fact that Portlanders really like to eat out on weekend mornings, and you wind up with a bad combination.

Just the beginners

So, you wind up with the newest employees, and usually without much training (oh no, not the training thing again). The result being poor service, and food that is slopped on to a plate, mediocre at best.

Why all the lines at restaurants on Sunday mornings?

Clearly I don’t know what I am talking about. All of those people waiting 30-45 minutes to get cold food seem to know more a lot more about it than I do.

What is a restaurant owner to do?

Nothing if your business is in Portland. Apparently it is working fine already. But for those of you outside of Portland, those owners who do care about the product and service they are offering, there are a few things you can do to improve this potentially troublesome situation.

Start by respecting your staff. Be aware of their situations and don’t make them close Saturday night, only to have to be back early the next morning. Show them how much you appreciate their hard work. Reward them from time to time, somehow.

And, oh yes, train them…

Show them the ropes. And not during that crazy, busy, Sunday brunch. I’ve always loved that. An employer hires someone, and then asks them to come in during the busiest time to show them around. The new employee spends the next four to five hours trying to not be in the way.

Bring them in during a slow time and take the time to train them properly. Get your best server on the job, or your best line cook. And then find a way to show your love to that employee doing all of the training.

Gift certificates are good

Hand them a gift certificate from some other restaurant. You know, the ones you traded for with your gift certificates. The ones that only cost you 30 cents on the dollar, because you control your food costs. Give them a bottle of wine. It’s off your wine list anyway, just sitting there collecting dust in your wine cellar.

And then, of course, the usual: Buy your employees a beer after work. Feed them.

These are just a few steps that will make that Sunday brunch shift more palatable. Leading to a happier staff. And we all know what that leads to…



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