Thursday, March 27, 2008


Thursday is a strange day in our business, one of contrasts. It's our hump day, the third day of our five-day work week, and in terms of customer volume, our slowest. Today, with it raining, we largely expect to be empty.

The slow customer volume lulls me into thinking that I can relax a bit on Thursday mornings, because all the major paperwork for the week (closing the prior week, payroll, bill and check runs, and inventories) has been completed on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.

In contrast to the lack of customer volume, however, the delivery volume is at its highest point of the week. It makes sense, too. We take the vast majority of our deliveries on Thursday to get ready for the mayhem that are Fridays and Saturdays, our money days.

This morning already we have taken deliveries from one wine vendor, a local beer distributor, our specialty grocer (bearing goodies such as dried cherries, maple syrup, chocolate, tea, sun-dried tomatoes, and porcini mushrooms, among a lot of others), our baker, and our micro-green grower.

It takes a lot of effort for us to check in all these goods, write checks for those that are COD (wine and beer in Virginia are COD by law), and put everything away. This morning, it's been a steady process for us, unlike some days when we have vendors lined up four deep wanting to make deliveries.

It's days like those that make me want to schedule delivery windows for my vendors. But unlike Costco, I need my vendors more than they need me: I can't afford any ill will, especially with the drivers who can make or break my day. Anyway, today hasn't been one of those days, thank goodness.

Wine deliveries are always a pain for us, because we really have to scrutinize the merchandise, the invoice, and our order sheets. We have to really look carefully at the merchandise because so many wineries pack different wines in the same box and those boxes are inevitably warehoused next to each other at the distributor. Mispicks are all too common.

The invoice and order sheets have to match, not only for what was ordered, but for vintage and price. Distributors have totally different price structures depending on geographical territory and quantity ordered. I'm surprised that we don't see more pricing anomalies than we do. Any change in vintage or price has big ramifications for our wine lists, but that's a whole other topic of discussion.

This afternoon we expect deliveries from two more wine vendors, our weekly pickup at the ABC store, and FedEx will be here at least twice, once with our weekly shipment of wild mushrooms from Oregon and once with our game and meat deliveries from New York and Philadelphia. I'm expecting foie gras, veal, bison, and whatever else it is that I have ordered that I don't remember right now.

On top of this, our restaurant goods supplier will be here with chemicals for the dish machine, disposables such as paper towels, hopefully some new coffee cups, and some miscellaneous goods (such as tongs and storage containers) for the kitchen.

So, while Thursdays are deceptively slow from a customer perspective, they are pretty busy days for us here at the restaurant.


  1. I grew up in the Shenandoah Valley and recently came across your blog from a daily email I get with news articles related to the valley. I left the area in 1996 or so, but when I lived there Winchester was a chain food, culinary wasteland. I am glad to see that you are providing such a great menu. I just noticed that among your many foodie treats, you get foie gras. I love animal products, but try to eat them responsibly (ie. know the source, the welfare of the animals, and the slaughter practices). I was wondering if you would discuss in your blog your justification for using foie gras? I ask this with the utmost sincerity as I have never had it myself, mainly because I heard that it was a fairly nasty process in how it is made. I also do not eat veal for the same reason. Thanks, and I really do enjoy the blog.

  2. I am not going to rise to the bait here ("justification"), but I am going to provide a link where you can start informing yourself so that you can make an informed decision.

    I have seen foie gras operations in person and conclude the hoopla is much ado about nothing. Your opinion may differ. For those of you who want to read more to inform yourselves of the issues, this article is a good starting point.

    As for veal, all we serve is free range veal from calves that wander around with the rest of the herd until slaughter time.

  3. Once you've had a fine foie gras with maybe confit d'oignons you've realized you haven't lived until that very moment. Seriously.

    Love the blog, Ed.

  4. Thanks for posting the article. It was not intentional baiting on my part. As someone who truly enjoys food I was curious to get the opinion of a food professional. I have a sister-in-law that says foie gras is like crack cocaine, once you start, you never stop.

    I am glad to hear that you do use free range veal. Living in the west, I often see large feed lots which are not the prettiest of places. I actually prefer grass finished beef, and usually buy a half from a family operation or some kids from the local 4-H. I do not hesitate to buy beef in restaurants when I know they use appropriate sources who utilize good animal husbandry.

    Thanks again for the article and I will look forward to the next installment of the blog.