Behind The Counter: Feeling The Heat With Pitabilities
Posted by cmh gourmand on March 6, 2012
As you read in the previous post, Yerba Buena was not able to make their debut at the Clintonville Celebrates Columbus Event last Saturday. Here is some back story. The day before I was sweating bullets because Carolina from Yerba Buena e-mailed me about a permitting issue that may keep them out of the game. The city and a good public servant came through and resolved the situation and saved the day. I found out the good news towards the end of the afternoon after working on several contingency plans. I was relieved.
I have worked on and coordinated several events in my day but this was extra important to me. Clintonville is my home and mobile food is my current crusade. I did not think Yerba Buena received a fair shot from a few in my community last year, so I wanted to do something to ring in the new season of mobile food with a bang. I also wanted to show two things: Clintonville does support mobile food and mobile food contributes to our community. Maple Grove Church was willing to host the trucks to supplement their tribute to Columbus history. Mozart’s in Clintonville generously provided 222 free (and very good) cupcakes. That plus little PR push and it looked like the turnout would be big. The event started at noon.
Pitabilities, Yerba Buena and Tatoheads were to report on station at 11:00. I got a call and text from Yerba Buena about 9:45 am letting me know they could not make it due to a generator issue. Considering the events of the previous day, I could only think one thing. SHIT!
I had enough time to jump on every social media platform in my media empire to get the news out and then a very quick shower before heading out the door to arrive at 10:59 am to find Tatoheads and Pitabilities on site and ready to serve. (Insert fist pump here).
I went inside to check in with the event coordinators, did a little outside set up and trotted out to see how things were ten minutes to showtime. Jim Pashovich from Pitabilities informed me that due to unexplainable and unforeseen events he was without staff at the present but he had his third guy scheduled to show up soon.
At this point lines were starting to queue up at both trucks (we were expecting three trucks to deal with the masses, not two). I could only think one thing. SHIT!
Again the purpose of the event was to knock one out of the mobile food park in Clintonville. At this point the count was looking bad, two strikes and no balls. A wiser person might have considered running but I said “Hey Jim do you want me to take a couple orders until the cavalry comes in (note, I was wearing my cowboy hat)”.
Jim was happy to get any help he could get so we went at it with 1.5 employees in a situation which normally have a full team of three. I was going in cold but with some training – Hot Dog U, Person in Charge food safety from the Health Department, a shift at O’Betty’s, 8 years of Comfest wine boothing and 2 years at Knight’s Ice Cream from 1985 to 1987. I could only think one thing. SHIT!
Luckily there was not much time to think. I think we served 65 to 70 people. Two hours later as the line was starting to die down the cavalry did arrive. We we almost out of change, out of some serving wear and an hour still to go. It took a while to get in my grove. I know I messed up two orders – one of you has my card and I did give most of your money back….I hope. As I was taking orders I had a lot on my mind…..how was the Tatoheads doing, where were our reinforcements, was there a Yerba Buena PR crisis that needed to be dealt with but no one could find the event coordinator with the cowboy hat? I had no idea if Clintonville was embracing mobile food this afternoon because we were getting slammed in the truck. Friends and family that showed up seemed to think I was working at Pitabilities for fun….oh no, but I do enjoy the work and the challenge. I was just hoping the dam would not burst. Working in tight quarters, with a deep line and people to serve requires a different state of Zen that I have not had to pull from for a while….but the fine art of dealing with one thing at a time kicked in and we pushed on.
I really felt for Jim, he was running the grill, prepping orders, calling various phone numbers to check status on our reinforcements and trying to train me all at the same time. For a business person making his Clintonville debut and who prides himself on great service and turning customer orders around in five minutes….this was a nightmare. Things were backed up. Neither of us were meeting our own expectations of what we wanted this opportunity to be. But we survived. I can’t tell you how many times we apologized to the line for the speed but it never felt like enough.
I walked off the line about 2:15 when reinforcements showed up. Jim took a ten minute break. Then back at it until 3 pm. I’m told the event went well. I hope those that attended had fun. I promise that it will be even better next time. Daniel from Tatoheads and his crew rocked it and Daniel even come over to check on us and offer to help. I love the spirit of camaraderie and cooperation these mobile fooders have. It is a good lesson to others.
I also learned I can deal with the SHIT factor if I have Jim P. on my six (doing all the work). So at this point I can only think one thing. BRING IT!