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Office tale of Robert Maxwell, owner/proprietor of The Beech Tree Restaurant and Bar

Office tale of Robert Maxwell, owner/proprietor of The Beech Tree Restaurant and Bar

Published by Leonardo Calcagno

Who are you :
Robert Maxwell

Your current job :
Owner/Proprietor of The Beech Tree Restaurant and Bar

In which city are you located?

A word to define what kind of worker you are :

What tools are essential to your life (app, software, etc..)
Laptop computer, MS Excel, Ipad, Touch Bistro (app), cellphone, sous-vide circulator, sharp knives.

What does your office space look like?
All my paper work is done during the day before dinner service starts – I sit in an empty restaurant at a standard, four-top restaurant table or alternatively at the bar (depending on my mood). I have a lap top computer, my point-of-sale reporting system is on an Ipad and my ever-present HTC cell phone is within reach. Likely a pile of invoices and a cold cup of coffee complete the scene.

What kind of music do you listen when you are working ?
During the morning, classical music, preferably early Baroque, in the afternoon, rock and roll (I’m very partial to Jack White). Sometimes I just play my guitar. All of that changes if my chef usurps the control of the music, in which case, musical styles can be startlingly random throughout the day.

Do you have a way to organize your day to maximize your work ?
I am not the most organized person…admittedly. I suffer a sort of bureaucratic bohemianism when it comes to the operational side of things. I definitely lean on my floor manager and book keeper to sort out the minutiae of day-to-day paperwork. This frees me up so that I can focus on the creative side of things: social media, marketing, menu development, the latest cooking techniques and sourcing the best local and seasonal ingredients.

What tips would you give to improve productivity ?
I have found that my closest friend is a good old fashioned ‘to-do’ list. As I said, I can be a bit slapdash when it comes to the actual paperwork of a business and my focus will often drift toward the creative side of my job. To rein in my wandering brain, a tight ‘to do’ list, compiled at the start of each work day, keeps me on an even, zen-like track throughout the day.

You’re better than your colleagues to :
Playing guitar.

What is the best advice anyone has given you ?
Before I considered leaving my job as a broadcast analyst to become a restauranteur, a very close colleague of mine said, “if you are passionate enough about something, you will find a way to make money doing it.” It was all I needed to hear; I made a complete and abrupt change in my career at the age of forty. And a very risky one to boot.

What is your best tip for saving time ?
Do it right the first time and hire the right people.

What is your routine start and end of the day ?
I arrive at my restaurant just before 9am each morning. I flip on the bar lights, start up the coffee machine and do my morning, sentry-like tour of the restaurant. Are all the refrigerators maintaining the proper temperature? Are the pilot lights still lit? Is there anything amiss? Satisfied with my inspection, I will then set up my workstation at a table and go through the receipts from the night before. My paper-work day ends as dinner service starts and I must vacate my make-shift office in the dining room to make room for our guests. I will continue to work either in our boiler room/staff area or simply walk home (I live nearby). I will return later towards the end of dinner service to check in and see how the evening went. Often this involves a pint of beer at my bar – a small fringe benefit. I sometimes will linger late into the night butchering chickens with the chef….never a dull day.

Aside from your computer and your phone, what gadget can you not you go without?
The restaurant’s Ipad plays the role of cash register. We use an App called Touch Bistro that allows us to send order tickets to the kitchen, calculate bills and track product inventory. It is quite a handy little thing that is just perfect for a small restaurant like mine (it’s not terribly expensive either). Other than that, my computer and phone are pretty much all I use, of course my laser printer is very important as it prints out our menu which can change daily.