Staff make all the difference

What Tom our designer thought we should have on the front window way back when. Maybe he was right?

What Tom our designer thought we should have on the front window way back when. Maybe he was right?

I am interviewing staff again right now, because Summer is coming to an end and we have had a little turnover. Alex my youngest is going back to school, Annabel is moving to the Valley etc, and as I was getting prepared to talk about pies and my "standard" speech about needing to be comfortable FBRL,  Front (of House) and Back (of house) and Left (food) and Right (Coffee), and my second spiel about Follow direction with personality... i was suggesting to one candidate that they read our Yelp reviews (not the scores) the words - and specifically search in the yelp reviews the word STAFF. 

Then I did that - and here is what I discovered.

Santa Monica

Total of 448 Yelp Reviews

321 - 5 star (71.6%)   - 85 - 4 star (18.97%) - AWESOME :-)

76/321 5 star reviews and 15/85 4 star reviews talk about "staff" 

A few mention patient, kind, a lot say nice, relaxed etc. All good

120 of our reviewers talk about us being

FRIENDLY

Wow. That is awesome. My staff really rock.

Thank you everyone - on both sides of our counter.

Dancing, Pies, Sharks & Pavlova

The gorgeous Kym Johnson with a tray full of our Pavlova dessert at her bridal shower in LA July 28th

The gorgeous Kym Johnson with a tray full of our Pavlova dessert at her bridal shower in LA July 28th

We were very excited to be asked by Kym Johnson to feed her friends and family at her bridal shower which was at her lovely home last night. 

We served Aussie pies,  rolls, lamingtons and pavlovas.

Lots of lovely folks in attendance - including her husband to be - the most dashing of The Sharks, Mr Robert Herjavic. They are pretty spectacular together - whether in the front room watching an amazing Judy Garland impersonator - or doing their thing on DWTS.

So to the future Mr & Mrs Robert Herjavec, many thanks for having us and may be you be very 

hap-pie together forever.

YELP helps. YELP is tough. Meet the "Jonathons"

We, as restauranteurs,and as consumers are very grateful that a transparent, easy to use customer feedback system like Yelp (and Trip Advisor, and Facebook  etc), exist as it certainly helps us get the word out on our restaurant.

It helps customers voice their love and concern, great and terrible, and marginally OK experiences at any service or establishment, with just a few taps and clicks on their mobile devices.

I think Yelp is about 95% correct.

We get a lot of customers every day because of Yelp.

Thank you Yelp.

We also occasionally get a review that is clearly OFF.

They wrote a bad review - but they never came in.  They are either confused by another restaurant - or simply just decided to have "fun" and screw with us.

Take Jonathon S for instance. 

His entire review, and my responses are here.

Jonathan never came in.

He and his friends never got sick.

He never called the shop.

He never spoke to anyone.

He has not responded to my requests to discuss the details of what happened - because it didn't.

Trolls like Jonathon S are a PITA - and Yelp just lets them be.

Not fair. Not right.

As I said, fortunately YELP is right 95 % of the time.

 

Inglewood

Inglewood

Santa Monica

Santa Monica

Dude, get a life.

 

Australians in LA POST & RESPONSE

Rebecca Mansueto‎ to Australians in LA  wrote the following post on Facebook "Australians in LA". I wrote a response. Here's both.

6 June at 12:35 · 

"So I ran into some Australian's last night that are here on vacation from Perth. We were talking and they asked me what I'm doing here etc basically they were telling me how amazing it is that I'm even here and that alone is a big deal and huge achievement. I thought I'd share this because so many of us get wrapped up in wanting to achieve more and more here but sometimes it's nice to take a step back and give yourself credit for just being here, our way of life is very different to America and this couple was a great reminder of that"

Here's My response

I heard Toni Collette give an amazing acceptance speech at G'Day a few years ago where she acknowledged how lucky she was to be trained and grounded in Australia plus was able to grow / expand / bring her craft to the world - only because of the enormous stage that LA/US offers. 

She went on to say how fortunate she was to have both of those countries behind her - and that she couldn't be where she is or do what she does - without the support of both countries. 

I think the Australians in Los Angeles (as opposed to cities like New York London etc. ) are here to maximize their creativity, make a difference and bring what they do to the world stage. I have lived in a bunch of cities and countries in Oz, Europe and the US - and Los Angeles is by far my favorite. 

My favorite Australians in the world are here doing what they do to make a difference on a huge scale.

I find them generally very grounded in what they do and who they are, and being true Australians. 

Many of the Aussies I've met in New York seem to be just focused on making as much money as they possibly can. Many of the Aussies I met in London seem only interested in becoming either more English "air-hair-lair" or becoming more Australian ( mate! Let's rip the scab off some fuckin tinnies " ) - than they were at home. 

Neither of these are pleasant in my opinion.

I think the best Australians in the world are here in LA. 

Be here

Make a difference

Enjoy the opportunity

 

PIE-oneers from Melbourne - aged 8 and 10

In about October of 2015, a family of 4 from Melbourne were eating at the "big table" in Santa Monica.

It was Mum, Dad and 2 girls about 8 & 10.

It seemed clear they were enjoying their holiday and their lunch, as they were having a very animated (in a good way) lunch, with lots of chatter going on between the 4 of of them throughout the whole meal. (Remember family meals before cell phones….. I digress).

I checked in with them once or twice, and at the end of the lunch, the youngest girl politely said "Hey Mister, can we talk to you?"

Of course.

The 8 year old started talking.

"We want to open a couple of Aussie Pie Kitchen's in Melbourne. We know 2 places that we think will work. My Dad is going to run everything, and count all the money , and stuff like that. My Mum will cook, and do everything there. Dad will help her. My sister and I are going to look after all the customers and bring their food, and drinks and stuff."

"Is that OK?"

Absolutely. :-)

CRYING IN THE PIE SHOP

BTW it was NOT BO /POTUS that was crying

BTW it was NOT BO /POTUS that was crying

A few months after we opened, a man was sitting in the corner facing into the corner, eating a pie, and sobbing.

I think his name was Mark.

When I say sobbing, I really mean balling his eyes out, tears running down his cheeks and adding a salty addition to his pie. (Some SM residents think our pies are too salty - others say they are personally seasoned, go figure).

He was clearly emotional about something - and the last time I saw a grown man cry, in solitude, in public was me - about 8 years ago flying 1st class from London to Adelaide on Singapore Airlines for my Mum's funeral - but thats another story...

I gingerly approached the gentleman, and asked if everything was alright. (I know, it clearly wasn't, but i had to check in with him).

"I haven't had this pie for 60 years" he sobbed."My grandmother used to make this lamb pie"

a recent yelp review

Like in life, we always have lovers and haters on YELP.

Every now and then I see a review that makes me laugh - or cry.

Here's a recent one I loved from Hollywood.

Aussie Pie Kitchen 3 Hollywood

$$  Coffee & TeaAustralianBakeries

5173 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90027

 

4/6/2016

Many years ago, during my bachelor days, on an occasion that I happened to be being dumped, the woman involved, tearfully exclaimed, "I didn't plan on falling in love." To which I bitterly retorted, "Well, you're probably not planning on finding a bag gold nuggets, but if you did, I think you might stop to pick it up." A silence fell over the two of us, as we were left to confront, that to this woman, I was clearly a bag of something other than gold nuggets.

Yesterday afternoon, I was on the look out for a Thai restaurant about which I'd heard good things. As I headed west along Sunset, I caught sight of a hand painted sign, a beautifully executed logo, the type treatment of which read, "Fork-In Aussie Pies." Good graphics. Clever pun. Tidy new shop. Schedule be damned. Time for a detour.

Lunch having, only moments earlier been finished, I strolled in with the intention of merely grabbing a menu. There I met Amelia. Less a counter woman/barrista, more a true brand ambassador. Amelia talked me through the AFIP ethos of bringing an upscale vision to traditional Australian pies and she offered be a sample of the sides. She asked, "Are you in a hurry?" "No," I lied," and thereupon, a modest rasher of minty mushy peas, garlic mash, yams and stuffing, all topped with creamy thyme gravy was placed before me (after a cautious inquiry concerning food allergies) and was, as quickly, consumed. 


Can't say what happened to my face, but my mind went to mist. With a hint of concern in her voice, Amelia queried, "So, what do you think?" I said, somewhat weepily, "I think it tastes like Thanksgiving." "I get that a lot," she said, nodding knowingly. And so it was, that my work schedule for the day was tossed on the scrap heap, along side my hours old recommitment to physical fitness. 

Something caught my eye in the display case, and in moments, I was tearing in to my first Hemsworth Roll, which I would describe, owing to the nature of the crust, as a bacon, sausage and cheese 'croissant,' more than a roll. Suddenly, an explosion of savory breakfast flavor went off, simultaneously, in every region of my brain. And now I am theirs. In a world full to bursting with breakfast sandwiches, AFIP is, far and away, the maker of the king of ALL breakfast sandwiches. As I ate, I noted, with some skepticism, where the menu describes how well these sandwiches travel and reheat. "Sausage and cheddar roll to go, please." This morning, as promised, even after a night of refrigeration, 10 minutes in a 325° degree oven, returned the sandwich to display case freshness and crisp crustiness.

These pies would be a deal at twice the price. At $3.50 they represent an almost absurd value - like every minute I'm not eating one of them, I'm actually losing money. Think about that. Now, I didn't plan on finding AFIP. As I said, I had a whole different day in mind. But I'm glad I stopped in when I did. My subsequent visits will not happen by accident.

You know, I think I may call that woman that dumped me.