Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Studying loans made from 2001 to 2008 vs. the number of these loans that defaulted in 2008, the data showed Subway the lowest loser with a default rate of only 2% of loans made, followed by Domino's Pizza (5%), Quizno's (6%), and Cici's Pizza (8%). The highest percentage of defaults came from Dream Dinners (18%).
But buried further, studying a longer period of time, "the worst-performing franchise brands, as measured by the percentage of SBA-guaranteed loans issued to franchisees over the past eight fiscal years that defaulted: Mr. Goodcents Subs & Pasta's, 55%; Philly Connection Sandwiches, 51%,....Carvel and Blimpee, both with 41%."
Monday, February 23, 2009
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Laissez les bons temps rouler, ya'll.
The article spotlights the classic Joy of Cooking, by Irma Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker, in comparing my two copies (1973 vs. 1997's "All New, All Purpose" re-write by Irma's grandson Ethan Becker) the two dozen recipes I compared were in fact larger portions. Either the quantity of ingredients went up, or the number of servings went down, or in some cases both.
In their defense, the rewritten (1997) edition has a far more in-depth discussion about caloric intake and balanced eating. In the almost 80 years since originally published things like the food pyramid, official dietary guides, and a gazillion fad diets have changed eating habits. In the section called "About Calories" it discusses the importance of matching eating to the amount of exercise one expends each day (as I sit here typing), AND they have a handy chart called "What Counts As A Serving". While perhaps some of their older recipes have grown in quantity, the book also expanded it's number of healthier Asian and Vegetarian recipes.
I don't know which cookbook is correct, the older Joy of Cooking "Calorie Values" section begins with a quote from Jane Austin:
"Personal size and mental sorrow have certainly no necessary proportions. A large, bulky figure has a good a right to be in deep affliction as the most graceful set of limbs in the world. But, fair or not fair, there are unbecoming conjunctions, which reason will patronize in vain - which taste cannot tolerate - which ridicule will seize. "
Pretty, but not exactly scientific. The following pages go on to (yawn) list the 1963 USDA caloric guidelines, closing with the following reminder:
"Two martinis before dinner count as much as a generous slice of pie for dessert and, if you are trying to keep your weight constant, second thoughts are better than second helpings. "
February is the month of romance, so join us on Monday the 23rd at 6:30 pm for a
"Romantic Evening at the Grill"
a sparkling wine reception followed by four delicious courses paired with specially selected wines.
$59.95 per person, seating is limited, reservations are required.
Call Jimmy, Stefaan or Amy M. at (214)265-7389 or SevysCatering@aol.com today.
Potato Blinis with Smoked Salmon, Caviar and Creme Fraiche
Jonah Crab with Smoked Bacon, Corn Vinaigrette and Shoestring Potatoes
Asparagus Soup with Parmesan-Reggiano Custard
Urano, Malbec Rose, Mendoza 2007
Beef Wellington with Vegetable Gratin and Roasted Shallot Peppercorn Sauce
Urano, Cabernet, Mendoza 2006
Chocolate Pots de Creme with Double Chocolate Chip Cookie
Lucas Lewellen, Late Harvest, 2000
Monday, February 16, 2009
So it triggered a thought, how could a company like OpenTable, which has developed the trust of most of the nation's top restaurants, leverage this relationship to translate into higher revenue? First of all, the primary goal would have to be to increase their client numbers, not just how much they make from each existing client since the bulk of their revenue is from the monthly service they provide. To do this, they could easily increase the services they offer, at a relatively modest fee, that parallels what they offer to clients now, providing more incentive to become an OpenTable member. So I decided to do an informal poll of several friends who do use OpenTable as their reservations assistant. I promised anonymity to those who responded.
First, a background. OpenTable is an on-line reservation system, they provide merchants with the software for booking reservations charging a flat monthly leasing fee plus a commission for each reservation booked. Both are modest, a contract is not necessarily required, for those restaurants not open during the day it provides a secure system for guests to leave their instructions. While not providing telephone reservation assistance, it is widely used by concierges throughout the city and costs a business as little as $10 per day.
One restaurateur who has been a client of OpenTable for about 5 years pointed out that it also provides a venue to track guest preferences, information is backed up to a secure server, reservations can be accessed remotely and through OpenTable's marketing efforts, people are directed to make reservations through multiple sites. During my research, I found that OpenTable also incentivize regular "bookers" to specific restaurants through a points "reward" system. Brilliant.
So, to my question, as it pertains to sales growth at OpenTable to justify the IPO asking price of their stock. To current users of the OpenTable reservations system I asked: "What would it take for you to allow OpenTable to sell your business' gift certificates?" Or, to elaborate, if they are capturing your guests on-line for reservations, could they also capture their gifting needs?
Assuming the logistics could be worked out (utilizing an E-Bay/Paypal model of multiple "sellers" and payments channeled through a reliable middleman), I was curious if owners would take the next step of letting a company help market and sell their products. Back before the dot.com bust, several local restaurants (including Sevy's) were approached by Send.com, a national on-line seller of meals to send to others as "gifts". Eventually, Send.com went out of business because sales and income were insufficient to justify their highly inflated stock price during that speculative period.
But OpenTable is a different business model. They have grown by offering a labor saving, secure and reliable service for everyday operations, they have built a trust that can be expanded with the right choices. Let's say when someone makes a reservation, a screen pops up reminding them that a nice meal is a wonderful way to say "Thank You", or "Happy Birthday", or "Congratulations" to business associates, teachers, pastors and friends, you can buy it right now and get it off of your list of things to do. Voila? Or not?
Both (yes 2) of the chefs that responded sounded somewhat receptive to the idea. For a reasonable fee, or percentage of sales - what the volume could be is any one's guess, but it does increase the service to the client. What I didn't point out to the chefs was that OpenTable could pair up with someone like Citicorp, or Chase, and begin issuing their own "branded" gift cards, or pre-paid credit cards with the OpenTable logo. I hope they don't make that choice, because then in essence they would become competitors to the clients they serve.
This could be win-win, because the restaurant gets the sale and the traffic to his restaurant, OpenTable would, of course collect a commission for the sale, increasing per-client revenues (Wall Street Loves That). The restaurant would collect the money for the certificate and funds for shipping and handling (paid by the purchaser), OpenTable would collect the commission plus (reasonable and customary) credit card fees for running the transaction.
There, done, sign on the dotted line. I'll take my commission in trade-out.
UPDATE: Heard from a third chef, who also was intrigued as long as there were maximum limits on the commission and the amount was a fair percentage.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Oh, and President & Mrs. Bush, since you're our new neighbors we'd be happy to set you up with some VIP seating should you come over to enjoy a game, we know you're big baseball fans.
Economics of Restaurant Taxes 101
Let's say a couple go to a restaurant, order a nice steak, cocktails and bottle of wine, total bill $200 (liquor sales of $100), with sales taxes it comes to $208.25 (no sales tax on poured alcohol).
The city/state/DART/whatever takes in a total of $22.25 from the 14% gross receipts taxes on alcohol and the sales taxes on food.
Same meal, cooked at home: the food, well there is no sales tax on unprepared food, so sales taxes = $0. The cocktails and wine, purchased retail sells for $40, and packaged alcohol is charged the normal sales tax rate of 8.25%.
The city/state/DART/whatever takes in a total of $3.30.
Not to mention, that you don't have to do the shopping, cook the meal, serve the meal or clean up. IJS.
Originally published in 1824, the cook books conceptualization by Mrs. Randolph came during retirement after years of running a popular Richmond boarding house. Born to wealth, educated formally, she was also instructed in good household management techniques. While living in Richmond her home became synonymous with distinctive entertaining. When her husband's political position was removed (by her distant cousin, Thomas Jefferson), and with a decline in their tobacco revenue due to an economic depression, they lost their home, Moldavia. Mary took the brave position of advertising in the local press that they would provide accommodations for Ladies and Gentlemen at their new business, to great success.
Other interesting facts about Mary Randolph, she has been widely credited with the invention of an early "icebox", but was not quick enough to patent it. She was godmother to the wife of Robert E. Lee (Mary Randolph Custis), as well as a distant cousin and Mary considered them her closest family. As such, when she died she was buried on their estate, and her grave is credited with being the oldest on what is now Arlington National Cemetery. How serendipitous that all who were buried afterwards came to the resting place of a great national hostess.
TO FRY SLICED POTATOS [sic]Peel large potatos [sic], slice them about a quarter of an inch thick, or cut them in shavings round and round, as you would peel a lemon; dry them well in a clean cloth; and fry them in lard or dripping. Take care that your fat and frying-pan are quite clean; put it on a quick fire, watch it, and as soon as the lard boils and is still, put in the slices of potatos [sic], and keep moving them till they are crisp; take them up, and lay them to drain on a sieve; send them up with very little salt sprinkled on them.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
NOTE: Flowers on Valentine's Day! Well they were my Christmas present from Sevy - fresh flowers delivered every month for a year.
We're celebrating Valentine's sometime next week, here.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Whipped cream to garnish
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. To prepare the crust, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter in a medium bowl and mix well. Press evenly along the bottom and sides of a 10-inch pie plate. Bake for 10 minutes. Let cool.
Decrease oven temperature to 350 degrees. To prepare the filling, beat the egg yolks in an electric mixer on low speed until just blended. With the motor running, slowly pour in each juice in a thin stream. Let set for 5 minutes, then gradually stir in condensed milk. Pour into the cooled crust.
So the gardening bug bit you too? I found out North Haven Gardens is having a series of classes on Saturday, February 21st called "Let's Go Organic!"; beginning at 11:30 with Wildlife 911 (keeping critters out), 12:30 with Patti Moreno, or Gardengirl, on sustainable gardening, 1:30 Victor Peck of the Dallas Zoo offers a kid-friendly discussion on the organic veggie garden, and 2:45 a class on preserving and harvesting herbs by Kay Nelson.
And, beginning on Sunday, April 5th (all day) comes the:
"First Sunday Farmer's Market". In conjunction with EatGreenDFW.com,
February 28th 10:30 - "Herbs for the Shade Garden" with Barbara Gollman, Dallas County Master Gardener
"they will feature local producers of grass-fed meats and organic vegetables right at North Haven Gardens! The great folks at EatGreenDFW.com will be here with their local growers the first Sunday of each month through summer."
Other food events hosted by NHG through April include:
March 11, 11:30 - "Details About Tea" by The Cultured Cup, exploring flavored vs. scented teas.
March 18, 11:00 - "The Spring Vegetable Garden" by Leslie Finical Halleck (NHG), all the basics covered.
March 21, 1:30 - "Tons of Tomatoes" with Tom Wilten, Dallas County Master Gardener. I can believe this is one of their best attended - I'm dying to find out. It says come early to get a seat.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
In my email inbox, news of a grand opening party to benefit the March of Dimes on February 17th looks fun, cocktails and hors d'oevres for $75 (RSVP only). So this morning I checked Kent's website, and there is a contest going on! Anyone one who signs up for their newsletter will be entered into a drawing.
Ready, set, go.
"One lucky winner will be invited to all three VIP opening parties, including lunch for two, for an entire year!!"
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Let loose the sails of love and let them fill
With breezes sweet with tenderness to-day;
Scorn not the praises youthful lovers say;
Romance is old, but it is lovely still.
Not he who shows his love deserves the jeer,
But he who speaks not what she longs to hear.
There is no shame in love's devoted speech;
Man need not blush his tenderness to show;
'Tis shame to love and never let her know,
To keep his heart forever out of reach.
Not he the fool who lets his love go on,
But he who spurns it when his love is won.
Men proudly vaunt their love of gold and fame,
High station and accomplishments of skill,
Yet of life's greatest conquest they are still,
And deem it weakness, or an act of shame,
To seem to place high value on the love
Which first of all they should be proudest of.
Let loose the sails of love and let them take
The tender breezes till the day be spent;
Only the fool chokes out life's sentiment.
She is a prize too lovely to foresake.
Be not ashamed to send your valentine;
She has your love, but needs its outward sign.
Edgar A. Guest, A Path To Home, 1919
We received one a few years ago, a large wicker basket filled with their popovers, strawberry butter, fresh fruit, and two quarts of their deliciously delicate chicken broth. They have many options from their kitchen and bakery: muffins, shrimp salad, chicken salad, cheeses, you can build what you'd like. While the basket is not inexpensive at $60, it contains food for several days, or several people if others can't keep their hands off.
The healing qualities of food are debatable, but the comfort qualities certainly are fact - no doubt this basket is all about quality.
Monday, February 9, 2009
It's been too long to remember the details of that trip, except the dinners at Gramercy Tavern and Jean Georges were two of the best meals we've ever had. And an English Springer Spaniel won that year - we had one at home that was only 5 months old.
I've got a cheaper solution - four chefs with guns and 50 pounds of strawberry jello-soaked corn.
A few weeks ago, hubby and some buddies went out to the "Garvin East Texas ranchette" for a chef's retreat/fishing trip. They didn't bring back any fish, it's catch-and-release only at the lake they fished, but they awoke to almost two dozen wild boar rooting in the field next to the house. An idea was born.
Pictured above, Chef Richard Chamberlain and his son Stephen on a hunting trip in 2008.
Saturday, February 7, 2009
With a black enamel finish, the bar area at the entry lends sophistication and a perfect background for the beautiful oil paintings on the wall (many by artist/owner Phil Romano). Doors on the front of the building open wide, making the bar and patio (one of two patios) a part of the busy urban setting outside. The Boy said the style and feel of it reminded him of Gramercy Tavern, and we couldn't disagree, but maybe using more black paint.
We decided to sit in the bar, half inside-half out, so I didn't get a view of the other dining area, but the second patio (on the side of the building) was enclosed and we could see a fireplace within through the plastic drapes. We were early, but they had quite a few tables already seated, and the servers were spot on. Of course in this economy there are many good people available, and Nick & Sam's Grill seems to have picked only the very best.
Beginning with a house specialty drink, a blood orange martini, immediately upon being seated the food started flowing from Samir Dhurandar's kitchen - we never saw a menu. A basket of homemade potato chips, very lightly salted, thick and crunchy was followed by their guacamole and chips, prettily assembled with a garnish of chopped tomatoes on top. Hummous, topped with olive oil and pine nuts, and accompanied with toasted pita was hard to share with everyone. And surprisingly, while three of us aren't big lamb fans, their Chicken Fried Lamb Ribs left four plates with only the bones on them.
Second round, salads. Their House Salad is one I would order again, thinly sliced strawberries and pumpkin seeds with a light (not overly sweet) vinaigrette. Their Asian Chicken Salad included snap peas and had a chicken breast with it's skin-on (well kind of, it was so crispy that it curled away from the meat) I didn't ask Samir, but it looked like it had been rotisseried. Finally, a delightful Taco Salad, with ground beef and all the fixings, tomatoes, kidney beans, cheese and a ranch-styled dressing. Samir said they also have three other salads: a Salmon Salad, the Romano Salad and a Chopped Salad.
Entrees kept up the high standards, somehow the NY Strip ended up in front of the Boy, he shared a 1/2" x 1/2" piece with each of us before it was gone (oh to be 17 and able to eat that much), it came with a small fry basket full of thick, fluffy french fries, served still piping hot. I landed the Chicken Fried Pork Chop, tender, easy to slice and definitely not greasy, it was served with a canning jar full of Greek salad, a delightfully arranged layering of orzo, black olives, lettuce, and feta. Jim had the Striped Sea Bass and Stir Fried Vegetables (confession - not a seafood eater myself, he loved it), and Sister had the dish all the servers whispered to us to request, The Grown-Up Grilled Cheese, yum. Served in a three-sectioned plate, with a small salad and some of the best Tomato Basil soup I've had, I'm not going to spoil the surprise of what's in this sandwich. I'll only say, the waiters are absolutely right, and were thanked appropriately.
There were no desserts available at that time, and we were good with that. While I don't review restaurants on this blog, let's just say we'll be going back.
Friday, February 6, 2009
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
"a new blog that aspires to be an open source of inspiration for professional chefs. Chefs now have an outlet to continuously present their culinary philosophy in new, creative ways. Chefs are no longer limited to the resources in their current operation."It goes on to say
"every month, participants who register will be sent a plate, platter, bowl or other piece of china at no charge and be asked to submit their creative presentation in photo and word format. The resulting submissions will be posted."Well that makes sense since Bauscher is a German plate manufacturer.
I'm telling you, this is like photo candy.
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
OF HILLCREST HIGH SCHOOL
JOIN US THIS SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 8TH
HILLCREST ALL SPORTS PANCAKE BREAKFAST
AT SEVY’S GRILL
$10 per person
Includes fresh fruit cup, pancakes, eggs, bacon and choice of juices, milk, chocolate milk or coffee.
Hillcrest athletes will be your servers and all proceeds will go to support Hillcrest Athletics.
Seatings are available from 9:00 am to noon,
Reservations Required - but all are welcome.
Pre-payment is required to guarantee your reservation. All donations or gratuities are welcomed and appreciated.
Monday, February 2, 2009
You see, I know Houston's would never advocate the position taken by certain thoughtless journalists. And they taught me (while in college) how to be the best waitress, well, that I was ever going to be up at the old location on Walnut Hill. And I really, really like Houston's food, as I suppose many others do, they are always busy.
And I gladly hand over to Park Cities the 1% of the sales, they are, after all, our neighbors.