Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Beast

The Crew

POS Training

New lot, three days before opening. 107 degrees.

Tru-Ades in process

WBT Radio

Making White Hots

Opening Day. July 4, 2012

This business is a beast. At 2 PM on July 4th, 2012, JJ’s Red Hots opened its doors for the first time. As with most things 5 days old, it now seems a distant memory.  A cosmic blur of construction issues, inspections, permits and punch lists. A 72-hour dervish of cameras, press coverage and VIP events. A few missed deadlines and yes, a firing or two. These are the things that will largely be forgotten.

But on that day, in that moment, are memories, both good and bad, that will stick with me for the rest of my life. My family was there to support and encourage me. I got the privilege to see a management team and staff coalesce into one machine, each giving fully and completely to something bigger than themselves. As a culinary professional, I allowed myself to be seduced by and fall in love with this simple, yet gorgeous food being turned out by an inspired brigade. I saw youth in action and pure, unadorned effort on the part of our wonderful crew.  I heard incredible praise from our early adopters many, many times a day. These are the bright spots.

But I also saw a system bursting at the seams. These first days were incredibly (and very fortunately) busy and all the planning in the world doesn’t prepare you for hours of unabated, crushing volume. 3000 or so people came through our doors in the last five days. The reality is, floors and bathrooms get dirty. Product goes out to a table that isn’t exactly right. We are inconsistent. And people wait too long for their food from time to time. 

As one who is so invested in this work – spiritually, physically, creatively and emotionally – it can be especially humbling to see it break down and it positively grates at me.

For those who experienced some of these few weak moments we sincerely apologize and hope that you give us another chance. For those who enjoyed their experience and took the time to tell us, we thank you for your kind words.

And for everyone else – please understand this. Yes, this business is a beast, full of long hours, backbreaking tasks, hot oil and sharp knives. But to us, it is the most rewarding job in the world. Other than getting married and having children, it’s the best thing I have ever done. And we cling to the belief that indeed there is no greater joy than a kickass hot dog. 

We are in the service business – and we will never give up trying to serve our guests the best meal of their lives.