You can read a bit about why this is news in my letter below, but this week we have a full staff on the floor. This is the first time I have heard of this happening at any restaurant since reopening from the pandemic. Next week we’ll lose one server for the week (long-promised family vacation) and thereafter we’ll be fully staffed on the floor and patio for the rest of summer.
Thank you for your patience.
Our “Midsummer Menu” launches next week.
For self-preservation reasons, we’ve kept our “Spring Menu” in place until August. Our kitchen is finally prepared to turn the page, so next Wednesday we’ll be launching some summer favorites and some brand new dishes that we suspect you’re going to love.
Ceviche of oregon rock fish, and bay shrimp, jalapeños, citrus, and cilantro oil, topped with fresh avocado, served with butter lettuce and chili seasoned corn chips
Molasses-brined double cut 12oz grilled pork chop, blackberry and peach compote, cheddar grits, sweet corn “on the cob” sauce and grilled summer squash.
Chef’s Farm Heirloom Caprese
Steamed clam and mussel buccatini, tomato, poquillo and saffron sauce finished with creme franchise, with sautéed fennel, onion, and red bell pepper (stock photo)
Grilled king salmon, topped with heirloom tomato marmalade, served with a summer vegetable gratin, roasted butternut squash sauce, and basil oil
Grilled peach sandwich, with sourdough, burrata, prosciutto, roasted garlic spread, fresh basil, arugula and balsamic drizzle
+ The Summer Burger, Farm Gazpacho, Portobello Mozzarella Ravioli and More!
(Restaurant) Love in the Time of Covid
As anemic of a victory “one week fully staffed” may sound, it is currently every restaurateur’s equivalent of “five minutes in space” along with Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos. “Normalcy” has become “fantasy” for restaurateurs looking for staff but starting Monday (last night), this will be the first week since May that Tavern will have a full service team on the floor. Next Monday, we fall short one server for another week while two veterans take long-earned family vacations I promised them months ago. Thereafter, dare I say it, our floor will be fully staffed.
These last few months have been joyful, shameful, frustrating, glorious, humiliating, promising, heartbreaking, fun, exhausting, and career-redefining. I was having a pizza and a glass of wine while sitting at the bar in a friend’s LO joint two nights ago when the GM came to me and asked me how we’re doing on staff. I told her what I told you in the paragraph above. She said something to me I couldn’t have said better: “We’re so busy – busier than we ever thought possible – and so short staffed that we just go around saying, ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry,’ but because I know that every one of us is doing the best we can – for the first time in my career I don’t take the sting of apologies home with me at night, replaying the scene in my head wondering what I could have done better. I never thought I’d say that.”
I could have done better. I have failed you in a few ways. I’ve lost a little sleep replaying things in my mind. The shortfalls between “doing my best” and “trying my hardest,” I suppose, come to light when I’m losing sleep at night replaying my failures du jour. My staff, on the other hand, have done their best. Just for perspective, Olive Garden servers are allowed 4-table sections, Stanfords servers are allowed five. Tavern servers (because they’re the greatest and are blessed with an army of support staff) typically handle 7-9 in the summer. The last time I wrote to you, Tavern servers had 12-17 table sections with only one bartender to get the drinks out for all 150-200 guests. As of last night, we’ve now added two servers to every lunch and dinner service and a second bartender (one of whom takes a handful of tables) every night. We’re back to 7-9 table sections. Whew!
Since we’re being totally honest here, I’ll confess that our kitchen remains understaffed by one line cook every single night of the week. This puts the kitchen in a situation where Chefs Chris and Nate must work Sauté (the most delicate and nuanced cooking) while running “the wheel” (orchestrating the output for all the orders coming in). Being short that one cook every night keeps us working 5-6 tickets at a time instead of 9-10 (which slows things down when we’re packed), but the kitchen staff we retained (95% of pre-shut-down staff) remain in great spirits and seem to be having as much fun as ever.
The “silver lining” to this labor shortage deserves mention. It would be hypocritical for me not to. When my staff comes to me (sheepishly) to give notice that they are moving on, I have always told them the same thing: “The best part about my job is that I get to provide space and feed you while you figure out what’s best for yourself – I get to be a part of so many stories other than just my own. It is a great day in my life when you come ask me for a job, but it is a better, prouder day when you come to tell me that you’re ready to leave.” This pandemic with its bonused-unemployment stimulus packages and the labor shortage they have created has provided that same “safe space” for a couple million restaurant employees who didn’t have the luxury of working for chefs and managers and owners who care about their futures. This pandemic has provided them the safety, the space, the time, the food and the shelter to figure out what is best for themselves. In a lot of cases, it probably wasn’t returning to the restaurant where they were working. My employees cry on my shoulders saying things like, “I don’t want to be a doctor but if I quit med school my dad will disown me” or “I’ve spent my whole life planning to be a lawyer, but I just want fight fires in helicopters.” There are a lot of restaurant employees cooking in 108° basements for 80 hours per week who never, not since the age of 15, had a chance to ask themselves what they want to be, explore what makes them happy, or go on an entry-level interview outside of the culinary world. The world needs more passion – and it’s about to get a couple million doses of it.
Thank you for your continued support. Thank you for your continued forgiveness that things aren’t perfect. Thanks for your passion and providing a safe space for mine.
Tavern on Kruse | TAVERN ON KRUSE, 4835 Meadows Rd Suite 133, Lake Oswego, OR 97035