This is a recommendation for a book. It’s a book that nobody would have any desire to read. It’s about a grocery store in New York City (albeit, perhaps the world’s greatest grocery store), where food (and the eating of it) is a non-smarmy, roll-up-your-sleeves-and-savor experience. It’s about the food and, just as important, about the innovative way to manage the business. It’s also a book written by a cheese guy, albeit the world’s greatest, most knowledgeable cheese guy.
Actually, I know this cheese guy. Steve Jenkins (National Geographic Live! – The World of Cheese with Steven Jenkins) is my lady friend’s brother, but that’s no reason to read this book. Why read The Food Life? Here’s why: Steve is part owner in a New York legend, Fairway Foods, and, yes, he has been honored for his cheese knowledge … even by the French, who I suspect would rather eat dead snails (oh, never mind, they do do that, don’t they?) than honor an American for his cheese perspicacity.
Anyhow, even with this, it took about six months of coaxing, prodding and threatening by Julie (aka lady friend) to pick up
I haven’t been able to put it down. Besides Steve’s incredibly blatant, readable style (by his own admission, what he doesn’t know about cheese isn’t worth knowing), he reminds all business owners that becoming the best at what you do — even in the supposedly bland grocery biz — is exciting, incredibly exciting.
But what caught my attention for this little rambling of mine today is how he described his bosses/partners and their tough-headed, old-school approach to business. Read on below. Oh, and work hard. Make money. Have fun. — jri
“What do I mean by old-school? You coddle
no one who works for you. You stack it high
and sell it cheap…. Never give people a raise
to inspire them; give a raise only when it’s
been earned. There’s no such thing as a half-
day. A workday is all day. And eight hours is
not a workday — it’s merely two-thirds of a
workday. Holidays are workdays. Take time
off when it’s not so busy. Plow as much
money as necessary back into the business
for improvements or whatever; you’ll get it
back in spades. Trust no one. Everyone is
capable of stealing (and people often do
steal). Never make the same mistake twice.
One way to avoid this? — Never give second
chances. That means never forgive a shoplifter –
once shoplifters are caught, never allow them
back in, no matter how contrite they are. Never
rehire someone you’ve fired. Vendors too: if one
cheats you, he’s out. Forever. That’ll teach ‘im.”
– Steven Jenkins
(The Food Life)
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