Above and Beyond
(By Dennis Quaintance, with a little help!)
Also see: Fall 2010 Newsletter & Insert to Newsletter
That seems a rather pompous title for an outfit as humble as this. My great friend, Don Rives, taught me that in large measure “subtlety is lost”.
In this section we brag about the myriad of subtle things that this team does in the interest of ending up with a not so subtle whole that is a delightful experience for our guests.
Most of the time for most of us getting to play restaurant and hotel here is simple. All we have to do is show up with a macro mindset that everything we do is to be a genuine service to the communities we serve. In priority sequence, we are here to be of service to our community of guests, our community a fellow staff members, our community of shareholders and our entire local and global communities. That mindset is the most important thing. The idea here is that we are all subordinate to that mindset, not to other people. The other people just help us.
Because of that, we “go deep” on a lot of things to see if there are ways that we can be of even greater service to our communities. Here are some of the results of that “go deep” process.
Some stories that demonstrate this above and beyond idea have been published in our Neighborhood Letters.
Food (By Chef Jay Pierce at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen):
We are special because we honor those who came before us; we are “standing on the shoulders of giants” as Newton said, when it comes caring for our guests and neighbors. But most of all, I’d like folks to know:
- My culinary touchstones are Edna Lewis, Paul Prudhomme, and Marco Pierre White
- In Greensboro, we are not just frying pickles, but we are buying cucumbers, pickling them, waiting a week or two, then frying them.
- We buy four entire pigs per month, and respect every piece of that lovely animal; instead of only using the choicest cuts and not caring about the rest.
- Each restaurant in our company literally serves about one whole locally raised cow a month (on average); I’m not talking about the “equivalent” of one cow in weight, I mean the whole thing.
- We make all of the chicken stock that we use (about 50 gallons a week) the old fashioned way, the same way your great grandmother or Escoffier would: from the bones of birds that we’ve roasted for their meat to serve in our restaurant.
- We drive old fashioned sodas to our Cary restaurant because they aren’t distributed in that area. So our Cheerwine, NEHI, RC Cola and Sundrop really is better than our neighbors.
- We endeavor to showcase the passion of our local farmers for their products, like High Ground Farm and MAE Family Farm for our Cary location, and Schicker’s Acre, Faucette Farm, Bradds Family and Meadows Family in Greensboro. Every day, we are exploring more ways to spend our food dollars in North Carolina to affect the lives of those around us.
- We make sour mix, bloody mary mix and lemonade from scratch.
- We use sorghum molasses as a sweetener in a few dishes, which is a hard-to find ingredient these days, but one hundred and fifty years ago, nearly every farm in the Appalachians and the Piedmont used it.
- We’ve rediscovered cushaw squash.
- We make liver pudding and breakfast sausage from scratch; when we could reasonably buy perfectly good, locally produced versions.
- We make our own jelly for our peanut butter and jelly sandwich for the kids.
We think that all that our guest’s want from the people in our restaurants and hotels is for us to be competent and friendly. We think that we can help folk learn competence but we cannot teach how to be friendly. We have to hire friendly people. We have dozens to techniques to recruit family people and ensure that we ask only those that will naturally share our mindset of being of genuine service to others to join this family.
- Evidence of this being our grounding point is the number and quality of people that have chosen to trust this outfit with their careers.
- Diversity and Inclusion:
- We aggressively reach out to minority communities and our recruiting efforts but more importantly, we are very assertive about ensuring that everyone is given the same opportunities. Many will say that. It is easy to say. It is harder to be sincere. We are sincere. You’ll notice a positive difference.
- It is a more cosmopolitan experience for our guests and fellow staff members when we are successful with having a truly diverse and truly “included” team.
- We wish that there was a certification program like the United States Green Building Council's program for diversity and inclusion. We’d have a high rating.
At Print Works, the Proximity and the Lucky 32 Southern Kitchens in Greensboro and Cary (and coming soon to the Green Valley Grill and O.Henry) we:
- Custom design all of the play lists. Jessica Mashburn, who has been a member of this team for over 10 years, constantly updates the play lists. She constantly updates the play lists to fit the mood for each place and different times of day and night.
- Play the music through high fidelity speakers in stereo. I doubt that 1/10 of 1% of restaurants play music in stereo yet 100% of the cars and 100% of the households listen in stereo. It is just a full and rich sound that you cannot get in mono. It takes some effort but with the great help of Bill Payne of Video Systems of the Carolinas, a great friend and a good egg, we have figured it out. When you look at our speakers, you’ll see that many, if not most, do not face the room but rather the wall. Reflecting the sound makes it even richer. This is all difficult because we want the music to enhance our guests and staff members experience, not detract.
We are delighted to have some friends that are extraordinary musicians! Listen to Evan Olson and Jessican Mashburn on Wednesday evenings at Print Works Bistro. And Laurelyn Dossett plays every Tuesday evening at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen.
Gardens and Gardening:
- Brenda McLamb and Tom Grandy care for our gardens with the love, passion and skill that only folk that love plants can muster.
- Over 10 years ago we outlawed the word “landscaping”. Here, we have gardens. It changes your mind about what you are going for!
- Read about the London Taxis and the Checker Cab at our hotels. Plus, we have London Taxis for Chef Leigh Hesling and Chef Jay Pierce to pick up local produce!
More to come! Stay tuned.