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How to Make a Sandwich

by | Places and Proprietors

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.

Lee Brennan

Lee Brennan


Lee Brennan has worked across a broad spectrum in his career ranging from journalism, culinary arts, ministry, and living the life of an entrepreneur. Currently residing in Tulsa, OK, where he is raising his beloved daughter and enjoying life with his friends and family, Lee is driven by a love for people and a passion for telling great stories.


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