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How to Make a Sandwich

Author: Lee Brennan
Date Published: April 21, 2019

How to Make a Sandwich


I sat across the table from her as we enjoyed our per­son­al­ized pizza’s win­dow side, a world away from the bus­tle hap­pen­ing through the thin veil of the win­dow pane. It was a teach­ing moment with my astute and, at times, very direct daugh­ter of shar­ing the men­tal tac­tic of rec­og­niz­ing two plus­es for any minus­es. “Does this have any­thing to do with me let­ting you know it was time to update your wardrobe ear­li­er, Dad?!”

She may have been right. On both counts…

I checked out the social media reviews of the restau­rant we were in a few min­utes lat­er and it made me think; do we prac­tice this same cour­tesy in the dig­i­tal universe?

It’s the sand­wich tac­tic, where a cri­tique is deliv­ered wise­ly, the meat of which is buffered by the soft­er effects of a com­pli­ment, and the encour­age­ment of recog­ni­tion. We all appre­ci­ate it when the spot­light is on us but seem to often for­get our graces when the gav­el is in our hands. This is par­tic­u­lar­ly true when it comes to the restau­rant industry.

While it may be true that restau­rants have a mas­sive tool in social media if they use it well, the pow­er the con­sumer wields over them is unde­ni­able. Those col­lec­tive stars, inter­mit­tent blogs, tweets and shares can cause incomes to rise and fall with dra­mat­ic effect. Con­sumers know this and, in some cas­es, are frankly a bit drunk with the pow­er of the posi­tion they are in.

Restau­rants make a lot of mis­takes. It is a hard busi­ness and good help is hard to come by. Near­ly all restau­rant own­ers and man­agers man­age chaos to a degree that most could not han­dle and, gen­er­al­ly, it is their pas­sion for the work that enables them to endure the grind.

Con­se­quent­ly, being in the peo­ple busi­ness, they tend to val­ue the feed­back of peo­ple to a degree that can make or break their day and the mood of their teams.

As con­sumers, we can evolve when it comes to using this pow­er to cre­ate a cul­ture of improve­ment in our com­mu­ni­ty restaurants.

Sure, there may be the occa­sion­al soup nazi, and some expe­ri­ences are gen­uine­ly bad.  How­ev­er, why do we trade our cour­tesy sole­ly in favor of crit­i­cism when we rec­og­nize a deficit.

The same capac­i­ty that allows you to rec­og­nize a prob­lem is mir­rored with an equal capa­bil­i­ty to rec­og­nize a solu­tion and, as impor­tant­ly, the things they are doing right. Talk about these things in your feedback.

“…they tend to val­ue the feed­back of peo­ple to a degree that can make or break their day and the mood of their teams. ”

I promise you, they are lis­ten­ing with intent and they are shar­ing it with their teams. It’s not sug­ar coat­ing and it’s not B.S. to tell some­one some­thing affirm­ing when it’s time to share some­thing dif­fi­cult. It’s sim­ply polite, and it’s wise in terms of the effect it has. And this, is how you make a sandwich.

Lee Bren­nan

Author, Busi­ness Development

With a back­ground forg­ing words, food, and liba­tions into recipes Lee Bren­nan has com­bined this back­ground, and a love for peo­ple, into a cel­e­bra­tion of it all in his col­umn Places and Pro­pri­etors. He has worked the full gamete of the restau­rant world over decades start­ing out as an over­all kitchen grunt, to mar­ket­ing spe­cial­ist, to own­er. Cur­rent­ly, he works as a writer and con­sults with restau­rants to help them devel­op their con­cepts and oper­a­tions both before they open and as they seek to hone in on achiev­ing their best.

He is dri­ven by an under­stand­ing that life is dif­fi­cult and we can’t vaca­tion every week­end to get away from it all. But we can go to our favorite cof­fee shops, pubs, and restau­rants. That these places are havens where the fruit of our hard work inter­sects with the cre­ativ­i­ty of pas­sion­ate peo­ple to cre­ate the expe­ri­ence of moments that mat­ter. With every sip, bite, and con­ver­sa­tion we share togeth­er we give our lives a bet­ter sto­ry. Places and Pro­pri­etors is here to tell those stories.

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