Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Welcome To Hell

If you have an empire, and that empire is made out of selling wholesale bread. You might think that the majority of time is spent on business expansion.

Who else can I sell to? How far can I stretch my borders?

These are musings of an empire in it's infancy.

Most concepts that experience growth reach a point of leveling off. If they pass this point....well, then you have to ramp up with more staff, more automation, the list goes on.

Klecko is attached to 300 some accounts in the Twin Cities. Sure, not all of them order at once.

Some of these accounts are seasonal as well, but if you follow odds-statistics and probibilities, it shouldn't be too difficult to understand that when Big Papi hits the matter how early, there will always be a flashing light on the Emergeny "Bat-Phone".

So much of my job is putting out fires and conducting conflict resoloution.

Sometimes the problems are our fault, sometimes it's theirs, but the bottom line always remains the same....Fix it, or face the possibility of losing the account.

Another way,in fact the most common way we lose accounts is when these restaurants, casino's, stadiums, catering concepts,coffee houses or schools replace their chef/cook.

Almost every-every-every time this happens, the new chef/cook will want to mark their territory by peeing on a different fire hydrant than their predeccesor.

This was the case yesterday.

I was going to a meeting in a neighborhood that contained a former account that was not only profitable, but actually a fun place to be.

The cooks were really above average and often times I'd practically office out of their dining area.

So yesterday, I brought a "promo" which is basically bread totes filled with standard items and an invoice so they can check the pricing.

When you deliver a promo, you never enter the front door, you wouldn't think of asking for a host/hostess to see if the chef was available.

The best way to approach this is look for the garbage dumpster, 99 out of 100 times they will be located next to the door that will take you straight to the kitchen.

There are very few downtown buildings that I haven't navigated multiple times. Like a rat, Klecko forges his way through tunnels and hallways, the underbelly of the Twin Cities..LOL, but I digress.

So yesterday, I pop into said restaurant, slide in through the back door, turn the corner and carefully navigate my bread totes down a stairwell that will lead me into the kitchen.

As I was decending, I noticed that on the wall, over your head, the wall you looked up at as your moved downward, they added a sign that said....


Alright, I get it. That whole "Look at us, we are manual laborers, we are pirates, we are the unwanted dolls on toybox island.

Yeah....I get it.

Now what I'm about to say could easily come off as a rant in written form, but you're just going to have to trust isn't.

I thought about that sign for a long time last night, and I'm just going to give my brief impressions, and then I'll let you get back to your busy day.

Whoever posted that sign may very well have meant it in fun, but to see those words everyday, every time you start and complete a work shift....eventually it's going to take it's toll.

And if for whatever reason, who knows...maybe your spirit is as strong as bear trap, when a person frames themselves or their daily tasks with self pity, or self loathing, they simply will not be able to harness their potential.

Yeah...a potential that every laborer is entitled to, but is all starts with a persons additude.

Back when I raised children, I always taught them that the worst enemy you can possibly have in life is yourself.

If you quit on yourself,feel sorry for yourself, or refuse to believe in your skill set....dude, you are so dead.

I don't know when the Food Service Worker found it vogue to become so cynical.

Was it after Anthony Bourdain wrote Kitchen Confidential?

Was it after the inception of the Food Network?

I don't know.

In closing, I can already hear the posts blasting me, saying my view may be hyper sensitive, but I'm here to tell you....Klecko if nothing else, is observant and will state for the record....

"Why would a person chose to be negitive about any part of the role they are about to embark on for 40, 50 hours a week. Walking down that staircase and having the oppurtunity to cook for people is a privlege. If you get good at it....your options in life will grow exponentially."

In closing, Klecko doesn't like to rag on something and not offer a soloution.....

If it were my joint, I'd tear down the "WELCOME TO HELL" sign today, and simply duck tape part of a Nike shoe box to the wall.

The part that says......

"Just Do It".

I'm Danny Klecko, wishing you all a good day.


  1. I've seen "Welcome to Hell" signs in a couple of places (places other than Hell, Michigan, I mean) and I'm not sure that the cynicism is more soul grinding than the resignation that can be read into "Just Do It". Morale is always a problem.

  2. It's a function of personality and sometimes experience. Many, many people are either wired to be negative, or have been traumatized by something and are now protecting themselves with an attitude.

    I happen to have a little story I wrote 10 years ago, around Buffalo New York, that illustrates the principle you have laid out ... and it's even in the restaurant industry:

    Rosie's Place

    The cafe was a mainstay of the locals in a town in upstate
    New York. Not many people driving through stopped there. But
    we liked the name on the sign and thought we were in for some
    local charm.

    By chance, Rosie herself was our waitress. She was a
    substantial woman, tall and thick, in a pink polyester uniform.
    She was not a smiler or a greeter. “What'll ya have?” We could
    tell additionally from the fist on her hip, clutching a ballpoint pen,
    ready to write, she wasn't taking any guff.

    My son, who studies menus with enormous care, asked a
    none-too-diplomatic question. "What's the egg rolls got in it?" He
    asked because, at age 12, he did not like onions, and he often
    forgot to ask, and then ordered something that came back loaded
    down with them. He was just being cautious,.

    Rosie turned on him like Nick, the bartender, turned on
    Jimmie Stewart in "It's a Wonderful Life." ("And that's another
    thing. Where do you get off callin' me Nick?") "What's he mean
    by that?" she turned to me to ask. She pretended Jon was not
    there, or did not know the meaning of his own words.

    “He's allergic,” I lied, frowning confidentially. Then I
    propitiated Rosie with positive observations about the menu and
    scenery locally. But she rolled her eyes and grimaced, as if people
    like us were all she needed that day.

    Rachel and Jon and I looked at each other, realizing we had
    made it onto her shit list – which a modern restauranteur, with
    contemporary attitudes about being nice to customers, really
    oughtn't, from a business point of view, to maintain.

    When the food arrived it was very bad, but we gulped down
    what we could and made to leave. We stood at the cash register
    while Rosie rang up the check, unhappy when we offered her our
    American Express card, which gave us frequent flyer miles.
    That's when I saw the buttons, postcards, and faxed pages
    scotch-taped behind the register area:

    "You want it when!?"

    "God, give me the serenity to accept the things that cannot be
    changed, the courage to change the things which should be changed,
    and the wisdom to hide the bodies of the people I kill who piss
    me off."

    "This is not Burger King.
    You can not have it your way.
    You take it my way
    Or you don't take the damn thing at all."

    "If we find you here at night
    They'll find you here in the morning."

    I looked at Rosie, who had heat lines radiating from her
    forehead as she punched the keys of the register, biting her lip like
    a boxer. This was how she was. God made her that way. She was
    saying was: Love me the way I am, that way I'll know you mean

    Still it seemed like a heavy price for strangers passing
    through, to have to shell out for her authenticity.


    1. Mike, this story is an awesome addition to this post, like a jar full of cherries on top of a sundae!

  3. I'm so happy to read this. This is the type of manual that needs to be given and not the random misinformation that is at the other blogs. Appreciate your sharing this greatest doc.
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  4. Don, I am always glad when I can say something that makes some sense, or at least doesn't get me punched.

    I am grateful that you take the time to let an old Pollack ramble on!