A year in Reviews

It’s the time of year when it feels right to look at where you’ve been and where you’re headed. I actually like to look back week to week and month to month in all honesty. By the time I get to December I can barely remember what happened in January. Come to think of it, by the time I get to the end of our week on Saturday afternoon I can barely remember what happened Saturday morning. Not a comforting thought seeing how 53 for me is right around the corner.

Sometimes after I’ve posted the weekly recap I will think of something that happened that I wish I would have mentioned. My air tight filing system turns out to be just what I can remember and that is rather random these days. As always, I try to focus on the things that went well, gripe a little about things that need to get fixed, and ultimately recognize just how blessed and fortunate I am in the grand scheme of things. We have good health, a decent way to make a living, family and friends, a supportive community, and a place to rest. I feel like we keep getting better at our craft and more people are discovering us. On top of all of that fewer things are pissing me off these days. Life is good.

I think that for 2017, I’m gonna ease up on the reins of my opinions in blogging. In other words, I’m gonna release the hounds. Let’s call it Scotty Unfiltered. On second thought, I will apply a mild first stage filter. Lets call it; Scotty Slightly Unfiltered. I promise to keep it PG13.

We make chocolate & barbecue and people give us money for doing that. The hours are long and it’s very hard work, but the feeling of fulfillment is powerful. I feel like I’m where I am meant to be. I tell people all the time that I’ve never worked harder for less money but had more fun. I’m going to keep doing this so long as you keep giving me money to do it. I’ve learned that in the restaurant business you have to fill every nook and cranny of time with getting something done. Productivity is the boss. Profit margins are slim and maximizing efficiency in an operation like ours is critical. We like to spend extra money on higher quality ingredients and hope that customers recognize it in the food we are serving them. Our call to action is placing a premium on quality. I think there is an audience for that in Tomball. Fine dining in America is taking a hit. This article will cheer you up.

Salt & Pepper Beef Rub

I’ll give you an example of an ingredient that perhaps you haven’t thought about the cost of before. We use three different black peppers at The Craftory. One pepper costs us about $10.00 per lb and the other two are north of $15.00 per lb. We go through about 20 lbs of black pepper a week. We spend more than $1,000 a month on black pepper and we are a small operation compared to others. That doesn’t count all the other spices we use in the various dishes we make everyday. We’ve tried cheaper black pepper. It doesn’t taste the same, so we spend the extra money because we think it matters.

Here’s another: our carrot souffle’ is very popular. There is real vanilla in the recipe. Real vanilla and real vanilla extract prices are increasing faster than our national debt. These are real costs that are hidden, and tempt a restaurant to buy cheaper ingredients. Vanillin extract can come from wood. The Japanese even figured out a way to extract vanillin from cow manure. Think about that the next time you shower with vanilla scented shampoo. You likely just washed your hair in cow shit.

We plan on maintaining our standards for the ingredients we use which means that we had better find a way to be more efficient somewhere else to compensate for the added costs.

Some places will successfully sneak cheaper ingredients right by you. Up here in our area of town we live in a vast ocean of mediocre Tex-Mex restaurants. It’s hard to argue with their success as people will wait for tables at some of these places because its cheap Tex-Mex. There seems to be no shortage of people willing to buy fajitas made by using anything but real skirt steak. I don’t think a lot of their customers are savvy enough to even know the difference. More than likely they’ll give the restaurant a nice review because the chips were flowing, the overly sweet margaritas are cheap, and the service was good. Some could care less about the food while others simply don’t know the difference. For someone who is willing to buy real fajitas they might stumble into a place where a pound of fajitas is $48.00 or more. And yet someone will fuss at us about charging $19 per LB for 100% all natural USDA prime grade brisket that was smoked for 16 hours. Makes perfect sense.

For great fajitas or Carne Asada try Ritas Cantina in Pinehurst.

I’d like to challenge the real foodies of the world to educate those willing to discover what is good about good food. Some people just don’t know any better. Let’s get them over the hump. Here are some tips. If you build a real foodie culture the restaurants will come. Don’t just take a picture and say this was yummy. Tell us why its good and what to order at this place or that place. I see some of you out there doing it right. Keep it going and bust on those that engage in review malpractice. Screw em. They get what they deserve. Call them out and challenge them to give us some useful information. Lets have a foodie page street fight about the value of real foodie information. I recently saw someone give a bar a bad review for not being kid friendly. IT IS A BAR! Who takes their kid to a bar? Who! That’s the kind of crap I’m talking about. I did see later where this person got a lashing from others reviewers. I support a civil sensible argument against stupid shit. As Michelle might say, lets have some constructive commentation in the section where comments are encouraged.

Quick Side story: Michelle just came in informing me that our inventory of whiskey is low, so we left for the liquor store. Turns out the liquor store is closed. This is information that wasn’t received very well. We did the next best thing. We drove to The Craftory and raided the chocolate truffle making supplies. Everything will be okay now.

Yes, reasonable people will sift through this kind of stupidity and make up their own minds, but here’s the deal for a food establishment. A dumb 1 star review drags down the average score for the business. Ask Siri to find you a bar nearby and Siri will say something like: I found three near you, here they are in order of reviews. Review malpractice must be dealt with swiftly and sternly. Otherwise we all enable stupid reviewers to shower businesses with nonsense that is clutter reasonable people have to navigate through to find something of value. Don’t let Siri drive you past a place worth visiting.

This is what Siri gives me when I ask for pizza.

 

There are really good places missing from this list that are close by. Weak reviews are stirring Siri in the wrong direction. Lets all work together to end review malpractice so Siri will take you to a place like this one.

At 5 ATE you can rock climb, drink coffee, eat a burger, or grab a great pizza.

I do get the sense that the numbers of true foodies in Tomball is increasing. They run in packs and grow braver by the season. My perception is that while there are many pseudo foodies cluttering up smart phone apps with meaningless reviews revealing their weak knowledge about food, there are more people in the Tomball area that do know how to give a thoughtful informative useful review about a food establishment. That probably sounds a little snobby of me, but as a foodie don’t you know want a tip about a place that adds value to your experience there? When I see a food establishment getting a string of 5 star reviews for warming up a frozen pastry that is made in another country with who knows what kind of ingredients and we get a 2 star review because we are sold out and our chocolate is expensive it cheapens the over all value of reviews doesn’t it? Fake foodies give food reviews a bad name. You just have to wade through a fair amount of mindless stupid shit to get something useful out of these apps. Its annoying clutter that real foodies should work to eliminate.

It seems like some of the social media food review sites are just a place where people go to complain. They will even cowardly walk right past a manager or owner so they can rip you a new one online from the parking lot. It’s such a pathetic thing to witness, and the even sadder part is that piss ants like this get to vote. I wonder if any of the review sites will ultimately become victims of the very content that’s supposed to make them have any value. I have taken on a few dummies in 2016. In the end, I decided to not dignify several other really stupid comments with a reply. It was probably best to tune it out which is what I’ve been doing of late. I do miss the arguing though. It’s so much fun. I don’t think a reviewer gets called out too often by the business owner. I caught a few off guard. Maybe they put a little thought into their next review or maybe not. I like to think I’ve made a real difference in the Get Reviews Right movement.

Yelp is missing out. Another yelper can’t comment on someone else’s review. The stupid little icons to click on are pointless. Facebook at least affords people the opportunity to comment on someone’s review. That can end up being some can’t miss reading. It’s easy to blast a stupid review and I mostly kid about that. How about we compliment someone else’s review for being helpful. Maybe that will encourage more meaningful reviews. That’s the soft side of me. The real me wants to rip a dumb reviewer a new one. Man, 2017 is going to be great.

2016 was The Craftory’s first complete calendar year. Every fiscal quarter saw revenues increase. It’s the sort of trend that makes you feel good about the future. I’d imagine that 2017 will be great too unless I completely screw up customer relations by filtering my thoughts a little less. It’s okay to have an opinion so long as it agrees with yours right? Screw that. I say lets spend more time arguing in 2017. My primary goal would be to maintain my composure when confronted with dumb opinions and try to say only a measured amount of hurtful things to people who deserve to have their opinions raked over the coals. I therefore resolve to make insults as meaningful and grounded in sound dip shit logic as possible. A little less hugging and little more virtual street fighting is what I’m aiming for in 2017. Foodie lives matter.

Here are a few pics of 2016 that I liked. This is my year in review. It is a slide show that might take like 3 seconds to load if you have time for that.

God bless you for supporting us. You flatter us every day.

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I like this less filtered version of me.

Here’s to a constructive 2017.

Cheers! Scott

 

 

4 Responses to “A year in Reviews

  • Erik Volkmer
    3 months ago

    What a honor to make the year in review picture Montage. Jeesh, how am I gonna top that in 2017?

  • Tracy Pegues
    3 months ago

    I personally don’t use rating sites much. I will look up places that are liked by friends or places others talk about. I have told several folks about you guys. Word of mouth is powerful, and so I thank you for your shout out for Rita’s. I have no stake in the restaurant except that I absolutely love their food. They are, for me, a neighborhood place that I hope can be successful in a sea of Tex-Mex. Blessings for a great 2017. Keep up the good work!

    • Thank you Tracy. Reviews have the potential to be helpful and that’s what I wish all of them were. Some are, but so many are pointless clutter that I wish I could unread. Ha ha ha. I just love Rita’s. You can taste the love in their food. We grateful for your support. Cheers!

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