Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Very upset a Yelp

I was one of the best supporters of Yelp. Yelp statistically represents 40% of our reservations and have used it extensively over the course of the past 4 years not only to find the best restaurants but more importantly to keep a forever improving eye on our family owned operation.

As you may know by now, the efforts that we did put into our Mountain view location were, to say the least, nerve racking, from the physical efforts to put the place up to par to copy, adjusting and pasting the processes we learned from our san jose location...our mission was pretty simple, to hit the ground running and we did count on yelp to help us spread the word that we indeed strive to ensure that every single one of our guests is having an exotic culinary experience and care about them....we are genuinely excited to share with them a complete different culture!!!

We just celebrated our first month in business and god i was remembering all these happy guests that were hitting me with rounds of: "We were waiting for you in Mountain view", "You are here to last", "You are the only venue that has exciting live entertainment", my reply was pretty much consistent: Your comments mean a lot to me and really a source of happiness that keep us going despite slow nights!! please write a review for us on yelp.

The typical Yelper in my book is meticulous, enjoys a pleasant dining experience and is open minded. It is true that we do strive on bad reviews but the truth of the matter is that we have always been able to have more happy guests than upsets ones!!!

So here i am checking the reviews on regular basis, not only on yelp but other review sites as well. We have been consistently scoring an average of 4 out of 5 in all the others but Yelp has a mediocre 2.5 stars?! I took the time one night to pay close attention to the reviews and noticed at the bottom that some reviews have been filtered, 27 of them to be exact, i saw a video on the yelp web site explaining how Yelp filters reviews to ensure that only the legitimate ones are kept following a mathematical algorithm that is "secret"...I was really surprised that out of the 27 filtered reviews: 26 were 5 star reviews and 1 was a 1 star review!!!

Where is the fairness in this system where i was the one serving pretty much each and every single of those reviewers that gave us 5 star reviews?

I understand now these phone calls from Yelp headquarters inviting me to pay $300 a month for me to be featured in, i do not want to even think that the filtration is an extra incentive for our family owned operation to use their services...

When i called the headquarters, i spoke to a gentleman that comforted me and said that most of those reviews will find their way back within the next 3 weeks and suggested for me to place my advertisement $$ with them...My response: let's talk about this in 3 weeks where my legitimate reviews are finding their way back!

This episode reminded me of the actual impact of how the way information is presented to us can be misleading...What is actually filtered out of all the information we are exposed to everyday to make our day to day decisions?

Monday, August 15, 2011

A new approach to the restaurant industry that is triggering a buzz

How do tips get distributed? Well, the server gets say $20 and pretty much bribes the other team members, the host for giving him large parties, the busser for taking care of his/her table fast enough to seat more people, the water person for paying close attention to the waters at its table, the bartender for being quick to fix drinks...the result: bad inhouse politics where people play favorites thanks to their ability to help another team member more than another...this was quite revolting to me!

What about the busser / server or other team member whose only desire is to give its all regardless of who tips him better or whose ego he should rub to feed his/her family accordingly?

That is without even talking about the kitchen crew!! I find it unfair that a server can make the big bucks for being charming while the kitchen crew, in its super loud environment, surrounded by fire and being under the pressure of serving 30 dishes with a scientific precision, not to be rewarded?

I then created the following program. I will collect an automatic 15% service charge!! It will allow me to provide quarterly bonuses to the best performing front of the house and back of the house employees. It will also allow me to offer benefit and even above industry average wages and salaries.

Do i still have to tip my guests scream? Well, since the 15% service charge is included, should you feel that the serving team that took care of you went the extra mile! Yes!! I personally always tip 20% if i am delighted and witnessed parties giving a 25% to 35% gratuity as they were super if you wish to give another 5 to 10%, sure thing!!!

Now, the difference at Morocco's is that the extra gratuity left by our guests is split evenly among all the serving team for that specific shift, whether you are a busser, a water person or the person taking the orders, i believe that all deserve a fair part of the reward. This has worked wonders where it helped me put together a team where it is not about my section, my table, my tip but our restaurant, our guests, everybody is trained to do everything and i will not undermine a person because they were diligent to keep all waters full where another had the ability to serve wine accordingly...

I know it is new, our yelp reviews have been reflecting that. I recently printed a form on the table to explain that but the truth of the matter is that people can care less of the behind the scenes mathematics and have a better, quite understandable, selfish interest to have the best time possible...from writing a manifesto in their table to keeping it simple stupid (Keep It Simple Stupid KISS!!), a concept a kind regular share with me: the simplest form has been working better. For the guests that want the full blown explanation, my line is pretty simple. You are here to enjoy the company of your guests! Indeed the 15% service charge is already included. Should you feel that your serving team went the extra mile to ensure your satisfaction, extra tips are appreciated. For further details about our service charge, read the manifesto on our web site!!!

Happy dining!!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Belly dancing showcase

Tonight at Morocco's Restaurant Mountain view is going to be special. Belly dancing instructor invites her guests and allows them to drink before a live performance. Not to be missed, i will be there to host  and make sure everybody enjoys the how do you do to never get bored of belly dancing they say...well, the show is not for me but for my guests...mmm....on the other side, it is like ice cream, many people are open to try new flavors but have one they really like hehhehe.
Come see what i am talking about on Castro street.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Tic tac tic tac

tic tac is the sound of the clock counting the time before the grand opening of the Mountain view locations. Did we really think about everything to ensure that Morocco's 2 will be the same as Morocco's 1. The floor and kitchen layouts are indeed different, less storage, more room for guests but what about the rest. The food is the same, the silverware is in, just placed the drink orders, the menus are being printed, the schedule for the employees is done, the insurances are in place, the credit machine was transferred, the atm machine will be installed shortly, the floor plan is set up, the paint has dried, Morocco's Restaurant serving station looks nice and clean, the visual experience of my guests will be stunning however still soothing, the lighting is ready, our web site is up with the calendar of events, the kitchen i heard is ready to rock as per chef Jay, i am spending quality still intense time with my new trainees, so much to i will stop here...
A friend suggested for me to hire models for the grand opening....mmmm, i said....why not? met some, talked on the phone to some and said...You know what, the grand opening should represent the kind of people that actually come to see us...and thinking about it, it s a group of great people coming together for a quality time without presumption, all ages, all backgrounds, models or not, they are beautiful in their smiles, and even wild demands!!! So that's just what the grand opening will be ;)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Trend setter or following the crowd you choose

After many talks over the course of the past three years with my partner, mentors, and professional in the restaurant industry, We decided at Morocco's Restaurant that we will not fall into the industry standards of having 1 server host and take care of 20+ people. Each 10 guests will have at morocco's an experienced server and a helper in training.
We thus decided to implement an automatic 15% service charge on all tickets. In a cost increasing environment, increasing rent etc, we estimated that that will be fair as long is it is disclosed correctly to your guests. The first yelp reviews about this are not complimentary but this structure allows me to put together a team of professionals whose intent is not to work for tips but the intent to build a career and ultimately be a pillar of Morocco's Restaurant as a dining and an entertainment destination.

On a different note, the training of our team is happening exactly as expected, 300+ applications received, 80+ face to face interviews. 20 hires and i expect 10 of them to stick and leave up to our expectations. So far, 5 of them have disappeared due to "conflicting schedules" or "not liking to clean much" or " thought all i will do was to play hostess!!"...Do i want to keep all remaining 15! YES!! will i? I would love to!! What if all of them disappear? I will have to refine my hiring process....
All 15 are brilliant people and i wish them all only the best, i believe they will be very successful in whatever direction they choose. I hope to do part of their paths with them and they will do part of their paths with me....

Extra ice on my sangria please! it reached 98 degrees today and i promises to go over the 100's tomorrow!!!

The grand opening of the Mountain view location is just around the corner.

I am happy to the idea that my interns and I are going to rent bikes for this sunday and visit the residential neighborhood of Mountain view located behind the restaurant. A lot of fluids and a well rewarded beer and pizza party afterwards sounds a proper reward!!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Decoration in the process / Point of Sale introduction & a strange phone call

Mountain view is coming together from a decoration stand point, however the city is still asking for plans....the healthy inspector is however happy and only noticed a couple of items that are a quick fixed....
Breaks between intense days are definitely a necessity for a healthy and happy life but the demands of the outside world sometimes just do not allow you to do that.

We installed our point of Sale system and i am happy to say that it promises to make the life of my front of the house team easier, my kitchen will no longer be in need of deciphering the calligraphy of their fellow team mates, which makes for happier folks and a faster response to my lovely guests.

Something strange happen, a weird phone call took place in the restaurant from a gentleman asking for me by name and saying that i should be aware that he knows i am messing with his wife!!! He also asked asked about the guy with a yellow shirt and blue jeans (My outfit of the day!!) That freaked my brother out and freaked me too...I have just been too busy to flirt, court or seduce...and even if i was not, i will never ever, on my mother's life, mess with a married woman or a woman who comes to the restaurant. Period!! Besides being against my sincere value to break the happiness of a couple (And only god knows how hard it can be to find a person that can be a good match), it is just not good for business, have a guest who comes to the restaurant for life or flirt and lose that person as a friend due to differences none of us what to foresee from our first 5 encounters?!

Sooo, pretty surprised by that statement!!!

I just my yellow shirt to our moroccan black t shirt as suggested by my brother and still wondering if sharing a smile with everybody is the way to go?...Well, after reading this...people are having such harsh days, i will still smile to strangers...

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A couple is sipping on wine

A couple is sipping on wine on their date night, at one moment, the lady leans over her glass and says: Baby, i love you so much, i don't know what i will do without you...
The husband, flattered, says: Honey, is it you talking or is it the wine?
The wife responds: It is me, talking to the wine!!
Happy sunday!!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Mathematics & Training in the middle of a rush

A POS system (Point Of Sale) costs in the thousands to implement, which i do not have...
So here we are on a Monday night, a math convention just hit San Jose and it seems that my left brained guests decided to have Moroccan for an outing...Guess what, this was a unique night, where every single table wanted their bills divided following some mysterious mathematical formulas, i heard 3/5 of the bills, 12.5% of the bill, and divide the bill by much fun...I added to that our resident Magician Robert Cerne who, under the lack of space to do his show at the tables, decided not to perform and plans to build a custom table for Morocco's Restaurant to do his shows on...Can't he just make some tables disappear?? lol...Great night...friendly guests whose meticulous mathematical eyes were sparkling with pleasure as they were tasting the goodness of Chef Jay, my new team of Mountain view is coming together and i am pretty excited about my new recruits...

Tomorrow Wednesday is a full training day with the entire crews of Mountain View and San Jose, not sure about how many of them will show up (At least the tentative recruits that went through a full 1.5 hours interviews) and still have not written down the training plans...I have some ideas though...just a matter of compiling them on a piece of paper!! So here i gooooo.....

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Character versus personality to support a cause that matters

I am still pumped up by the fundraiser we did for the Avalon Walk to support the research against Breast Cancer. A limited attendance i have to say but a quality one...Not the best equation for a successful fundraiser...hosted by my dear friend Rahul M from the 911 call center of San Jose...I remember him saying " Many people said they will come..." and i replied welcome to my world! People will say I will be there, as a matter of fact, they mean: I am there already...Life however comes in the way, schedules, errands, tardiness, sense of priority...imagine if everybody did what they said they would...Here kicks Character versus personality: A lot of people have great personalities: friendly, sweet, funny, compassionate (Pretty much qualities people can use to refer to one's person ability to interact and relate with others), Character is much harder as it is when you do what you do when nobody is watching: character is that person you see in the mirror that knows you more than you know yourself....
So to the ones that say i will be there, i say, i can't wait!!!
Big cheer still to the fire fighters, our friends from the 911 San Jose call center that hosted the event, they really made the day of this birthday party who jumped on a firefighter who came inside the restaurant!!!
Is the fantasy coming from a man who puts his life on the line to help others or the simple outfit?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

911 Angels fundraising and one more day in the restaurant business

Our dear friend from the 911 Call center of San Jose are hosting a fundraiser tonight to help the research against Breast Cancer. Every year, before they qualify for a 39 mile in the city of San francisco, they are to collect $1800 to be part of nice it is to be leaving in an environment where people have a genuine sense of helping their community...Morocco's Restaurant is happy to be part of it and will donate 30% of all its proceed tonight June the 1st to support a good cause...
It is 6:06PM and we have some pleasant people outside sipping on our newly reinvented Sangria with real vodka, it promises to be a good time...
It is pretty amazing how time flies by, i literally spend the entire day from 10AM to 5:50PM training future potential team members. I was pretty surprised by the memorization skills of the ones that i have asked to come back for a second interview...Mountain view team is being built...
The decision to open this second decision feels like a chance to restart again without the glitches and the mistakes...Should feel good right? The other side of it is everything that took 3 years to tweak, train and produce is to happen over the course of 1.5 bank account is crying mercy and sometimes part of me said that there is a risk involved to lose other side says who risks nothing gets nothing...
The restaurant business is a mean machine where 100 Beef tagines are to taste, look, and smell exactly the same...every time...You can be good for years and all it will take is 2 weeks of bad performance to destroy years of hard work...
My new favorite guests, Moroccans!!! Pretty amazing how they expect Morocco's Restaurant food to taste like their mother's!!! Listen, no food will ever taste like your moms!! Still, it is with a gentle smile that i share this information with them...
Who are the guests of Morocco's Restaurant: educated, (Bachelor +), mostly well traveled, foodies, with age groups starting in the late 20's early 30's....super pleasant and a treat to serve...My guests is what keeps me going after 19 hour days...Feels like a few more people learned about Morocco as a cultural destination...

Interesting question raised by a good friend: She said: Why offering average tasting bite size dishes at exorbitant prices in a venue full of marble and a huge ratio of servers to guests gets the compliment of being fairly priced (which restaurant does not feature Mahi Mahi?) where a down to earth restaurant with impeccable service, delicious cuisine and hand decorated gets the note of being overpriced?

I say fancy decor and hard to understand menu presentations with jargon that is only to be understood by the kitchen experts should never intimidate the person that seeks goodness in a plate and sincere care for their guests. Ask the most refined diners, food critics and chefs...

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial day week end

Should you be open a day where everybody is out of town and where all your competition is closed. The answer is yes if you have a magician that comes to mesmerize the guests, families in the city that decided to stay home and not hassle with traffic or people that just want to stay local and be different...Combine to that a smell that will get people from the streets to wonder how a cumin paprika marination can smell so good...background music...and about 3 piles worth of papers to go through during dead times...That was a great recipe to make for a great productive day in beautiful San Jose...Add to that a quick glance to the Mountain view location to ensure that the paint is actually looking as originally planned...

If you want to double your productivity, work when everybody else is off...

Friday, May 27, 2011


This article was forwarded to me by my mom Khadija, I am still amazed how she surprises me with her words of wisdom despite the years, i hope you enjoy it...Be patient but not too much...Hope to see you soon...

"Are YOU Patient or Just the Patient?
Busy people create busy lives.  And busy lives tend to emit a sense of continuous hurry in which waiting for anything never appears to be an option.  After a while the tiring nature of our busyness (Business) has us stop and reflect, hear the inner call for a slower pace, feel the need for a pause in space and realise the need for a break from ‘the race’. 
Ever played the waiting game?  People sometimes do it in their relationships.  Teams sometimes do it during periods of the game itself.  Have you ever consciously decided not to hurry something, somehow knowing, deep within, that everything will happen in the right way at the right time?  The older and mellower amongst us tend to do it.  Have you ever decided not to rush somewhere realising you cannot make yourself arrive faster than your mode of transport, and that you cannot control what gets in the way?   Bus drivers learn to do it.  Even in the midst of a grand priz, racing drivers have to do it. 
instant gratification or patience to double up on the intensity when the rewards comes to you?
Patience is one of those virtues that can transform a moment of high anxiety into quiet relaxation, a rush of mental agitation into the smooth flowing river that life can be.  In the presence of a patient person we are surrounded by an aura of calm as we are pulled into the tranquil light of their unhurriedness. Even when they are busy, the quality of their busy-ness still radiates patience.  Perhaps they heard Emerson’s advice to, “Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience”.  Nature is almost always ‘patiently busy’, either visibly or invisibly. 
While most people might admit to being impatient in some area of their life, not many know how to free themselves from their quickening anxieties.  Many, if not most, would probably say that they would rather not be so impatient, that they do want to be more patient, but the only problem is they want it now!  Obviously restoring a little more patience to our life will require some … patience!
So how can we be more patient?  Can we just decide to become a patient person?  Can patience be a permanent thread woven through our personality?  How do we create patience? "

Monday, May 23, 2011

June 15th is around the corner

Sunday afternoon was great when I did a training session with my team on Safety (Big thanks to Mini Le from San Jose crime prevention units and all her valuable tips) and alcohol handling.  Despite the safety of our location (I proud to mention that Morocco's Restaurant has always been violence free for 3 years! Knocking on wood....)
I also shared the news that we are opening a second location. Surprisingly, everybody knew about it!!! I found out that the leak occurred as follow: We decided to cancel a non profitable catering gig that was however great exposure to major corporations in the silicon Valley. When informing our contact person at the company, she informed the head chef at the corporation, who mentioned it to a sous chef who mentioned it to one of my crew members during one of those catering jobs who mentioned it to another employee and voila...I did  not know how to interpret the fact that none of my employees told me a word about it for weeks!! Can i question my team or assign it to the fact that they preferred to respect my decision to wait for the right time to share it...I will settle for the latter one...
Today was a wild day between interviewing 8 possible front of the house crew members, picked the tiles that we will be using, still debating on the color choice for the restaurant, seeing my brother main shopping the refrigeration technicians, hood cleaners and some other breeds of professional whose licenses work much more as recognized certifications rather than actual knowledge of a trade, filing corporate paperwork, finding out how much of a check i have to pay to uncle sam for the sales tax collected over the past month (ouch ouch ouch), lined up auditions for artists to perform at the Mountain view location, working on the new web site and communicating at a pretty hectic pace with our web designing team, finalizing the design of the new business cards, calling my cell phone service and learn that my phone needs more memory to handle what i need it for, confirming my attendance to a job fair tomorrow with the desire to find the diamond in the rough (I know it exists!).
I took advantage of a breather to send a couple of text messages to people i care about and was glad to have a fast response.
My main thing focus of the day but as you can see, the exciting pace of restaurant management made me get involved to so many aspects that were not in the agenda.
All the hiring process at Morocco's Restaurant starts on the phone and i was surprised to realize that it is actually possible to populate a paragraph of conversation with "Like like like, you know, whatever, stuff, stuff, you know, i don't know, maybe etc..." Am i too particular for asking for my people to be able to express themselves with proper etiquette? I think my guests deserve it.... My favorite question was: Why do you want a job? Guess what, rare were those interested to take it to the next level or grow but rather were focused on mere desires to make it to the next bill or literally said i do not know..I though about my mother...
Well, i wanted to write about how many of our friends and regulars called to tell us congratulations today, but that will trigger another post...maybe tomorrow...Off I go to Mountain view right now to check the space and brainstorm the vision...

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Opening a 2nd location in Mountain View

Two years ago, a guest said the food is so delicious that we may need to open a second location so that he doesn't have to drive miles to get his weekly fix of tagines, couscous and briwatts...The idea then merged that opening a second location may be an organic and natural next step...right? Well, between landlords with unreasonable demands for unreasonable security deposits and unreasonable out of the market rents, between some real estate agents that need to make a minimum commission versus helping their landlord clients to get secure tenants that will provide peace of mind, between people with simply more money to put down, between "angel" investors that want to own 98% of your operation for a 10% contribution (Devil may have been a better term than angel investors)...We were lucky after 2 years of market research to find pretty much another Morocco's Restaurant in the cute city of Mountain view!!
Why "another"? The location is remote from the main traffic, in a doomed building....Just as Morocco's San Jose, every restaurant that has been in the Mountain View location failed...Bring on the challenge, since i can not afford the high traffic areas, i am going to count on our dear reviewers and hitting the pavement to let people know where we are...Great way to lose weight i guarantee it, sleep less, work more, walk more and voila my recipe for loosing weight....If by any chance you want to join this speedy path to being healthy while discovering the lovely city of Mountain view...give me a ring, we will do it together...just kidding....
We will be located in Castro Street, a street literally packed with restaurants, competition is going to be fierce but i have two allies called 150 year old recipe, a genuine care for my guests and a guy by the name of Chef Jay (Who turns out to be my brother and my best friend) who is a better duplicate of the Duracell Rabbit that keeps on going and going...This is an exciting time and pretty nerve racking...this is literally 3 years of cumulative mistakes, system implementations, training, long hours that we are to put together to full effect before our grand opening date of July the 1st...
This should be good for this first post about the second location...I want to write next about what should we expect from friends, regulars, and facebook fans from Morocco's San Jose to support Mountain View...Stay tuned!!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The love story between Morocco and the United States of America

Morocco was the first nation to recognize the fledgling United States as an independent nation in 1777. In the beginning of the American Revolution, American merchant ships were subject to attack by the Barbary Pirates while sailing the Atlantic Ocean. At this time, American envoys tried to obtain protection from European powers, but to no avail. On December 20, 1777, Morocco's Sultan Mohammed III declared that the American merchant ships would be under the protection of the sultanate and could thus enjoy safe passage. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Moroccan Fever

Maria Carey has chosen for one of her twin to be named Moroccan.
Pitbull and Jennifer Lopez sing a song where Morocco is spoken about as a party destination.
Movies such as the mummy, James bond, and Sex in the city where filmed in Morocco.
Many restaurant downtown are adding Tagines and couscous to their menus.
Seems that the Moroccan theme is getting hotter...will this generate more traffic to Morocco's Restaurant or confuse the world about what or who Morocco or Moroccan mean?

Monday, May 16, 2011


Consistent and repeatable processes is the secret to increase productivity, learn how to do it the best way possible the first time, do it again and again, get faster, free time, learn a new skill and do it all over again...
My team may think that i am a broken records, back to the basics i say, if the structure is not up to par, no matter how high you build it, chances are you will need to make major adjustments at the my friend, build it slowly and consistently...

Learning to delegate is an art that i am having a lot of challenges with but i have to say that i am lucky to have people that i feel i can trust...

Sky may be the limit but space is just behind it...

I was very pleased by the show that took place at Morocco's Restaurant yesterday, 8 dancers from Belly Dancing to Salsa to bollywood, a real premiere at Morocco's and quite refreshing to say the least...

Our motto when we opened Morocco's was to be a local venue for local artists to perform without falling for the gimmick that is widely abused by Moroccan Restaurant owner (Belly dancing, seating on the floor, and hand washing at the table). That is why we have different artists, be consistent in food and service while provide an experiences for the senses through arts and music.

Speaking of which, tonight is the first time a magician is going to be present to entertain our guests. I look forward to him making things appear and disappear under the pleased eyes of our guests, regulars and friends....

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Alcohol and safety chronicles

Nobody looks good after 6 drinks, even models don't. The drinker however will start perceiving that beauty is ever increasing with every sip. I do not like wasted people but will definitely enjoy the presence of a tipsy one if the conversation is right!

Had a great Friday meeting with Mini Lee from  the police department safety prevention unit for me to get ready to instruct my team on how to be the safest possible. A lot of good information and surprising stats. I got to learn about a lot of good ways for Morocco's restaurant to be even more involved with the community. Giving back feels good and help us all make a difference, one event at a time.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

May 11 of the year 11

Time goes by so fast, it is already mid 2011!! gentle breeze, warm sunny weather, ahhh, the kind weather of California is here...
Started a day with a meeting with real estate agent that said somebody wanted to buy Morocco's Restaurant, felt appreciated but declined. Spoke to my lawyer about the newest edition of our employee handbook and it is looking good. Met my accountant to do our yearly audit of our corporate books and he said that we are doing a good job. It was already 11am and my tummy filed a complaint with the board of directors under the premise that it is unacceptable for a restaurant owner to not eat on regular basis! Found this vietnamese store that s a little paradise, i was not able to understand any of the labeling but everything looked...well....delicious...their bread was freshly baked and the ingredients fresh...the price was also very affordable: 2.25 per sandwich!! I like the fact that i forgot my phone in the car, it felt strange at the beginning but then developed a sense of comfort and peace that i just decided to enjoy!! after 30 seconds of that, i got bored and started thinking about my team. i was genuinely happy to see yesterday an employee that was out sick for two weeks, i remember her when she dropped her doctor's note and looked so fragile then saw her yesterday with that look in her eyes confirming her verbal statement that she was happy to be back.
Thought about my kitchen crew and how their main focus is to work on the plating for better presentation, i thought about every single one of them and even if i know that the restaurant industry has the highest turnover and that probably 60% of them will not be here in the next year, i learned to enjoy their presence, company and oh so different personalities.

What i like with working with new people is that nothing beats a set of fresh eyes, curious, excited, maybe nervous on their overall performance.  What i like with working with loyal teammates is they get closer to figuring out what we are trying to achieve and relate to our mission that everybody associated with Morocco's Restaurant and who can call themselves graduates of our hospitality school of Morocco's Restaurant is more than a wage earner but somebody that is being build up to be a leader.

Realized suddenly that my dry cleaning is due and went to visit this chilean business owner and his wife who always hugs me when i go see them and ask me about where my brother is (Every single time it s funny!!) Stopped then by the hair cut store attached to the dry cleaner who took care of my dad 2 months ago and made him feel special.

Bak to the restaurant where my insurance agent appeared as he was waiting for me to be there. He is a good friend so it was good to see him.  My inbox of mail, paperwork, email, text messages took advantage of me being distracted to reproduce themselves in 6 folds...tonight is Flamenco guitar night at Morocco's and the sangria is discounted at $4 a glass, i see 4 pitchers on the tables and it is only 6PM. It gives me 45 minutes before going for a dinner and get to unwind...Let's do this!!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Tuesday Salon for Singles Series (TSSS)at Morocco's Restaurant where the corkage fee is waived and where we are trying to create a different concept for singles night that is not associated with loud music, over the top drunk people but where a quality conversation should be the trigger to start new friendships and why not love...
95 members on, 800+ fans on facebook, 3400 friends in our email database...attendance to the third edition of TSSS = ZERO! lol This was a great occasion to catch up with my favorite partner in the world: Chef Jay!! Funny how you can live with a person, cross paths 15 times a day and still not have the time to talk as we are too busy working for others....may sound familiar to many especially this young couple who came for a date tonight and confirmed that that was their daily life too. It felt good to hear that Morocco's Restaurant was their favorite romantic dating venue though...
Something funny happened over the week end where the restaurant was at full capacity and walks in a VIP (Very Important Person), no reservations, no room to get them seated, bar area packed with people with no reservations waiting for their table to get seated while they are enjoying a cocktail i just made up (Mint Iced Tea, Whiskey: (We have a full liquor license now!!) and honey on the rim that i happily call Gentlemen's agreement (3 of them will get any gentlemen to agree on pretty much anything and everything, I promise ;0)
So the conversation went something like this: Sham i do know that i have not made a reservation but i really want a table now!
Me: I would love to give you a table now but i just can't due to lack of space and 10 people ahead of you. I would love to get you started with a Sangria or a beer while you are waiting for about 30 minutes. I promise to get you seated as soon as possible!
Him/Her: You know who i am, right?
Me: Yes i do
Him/Her: You know how much business i bring to you?
Me: Yes i do and i appreciate it
Him/Her: Not getting us seated now in that table in the corner will cost you my business.
...At this point, i got upset, threats nor arrogant behavior have ever worked on me and they are not about to start:
Me: My dear guest, my promise to you is for me to provide you the best experience every time to you and to your guests, getting you in right now is not only a promise for you to have a bad time but also to affect my other guest s experiences and the performance of my team in the dining room....I then find myself in the position to say no to your business at this time to preserve our relationship and ensure that we are always doing what is best for our guest s experiences.
My "VIP" guest in a very rude manner stormed out of the restaurant stating that they will never come again.
5 people at the bar that were waiting told me thank you and it felt good and i went back into filling up waters for my dining room and join my team and my guests again...
The morning after, my VIP guest calls and apologizes for the behavior. I did accept the apology and invited them to come attend a live guitar performance at Morocco's later on this month of may. He/She reserved a table for 20 people and i look forward to showing them a great time.
Saying no is hard sometimes when you are in the business of pleasing people but guess what: Everybody is VIP At Morocco's Restaurant. ;0)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's day

Our day got started at 9AM to open the restaurant. After a slow start to get up to speed to in the groove of the service mode, our first guests came in at 11:30PM. Chef Jay behind the line, me holding the front, it reminded me of the first days where only Jay and I were here, thinking that we can serve 49 people on our own, wild days of waking up in the early dawn, prepping the food while listening to soothing tunes of reggae the first days of the week then slowly progressing towards more upbeat and fast rhythms just to stay awake, the challenge was to learn to trust that other people can believe in our vision and complete their work as if their future depended on it...this still to nowadays is the biggest challenge of the restaurant operator...I think our hiring strategy is pretty good now, move up and take on more responsibilities to make more money or just do not join Morocco's Restaurant team. I am happy to write that i believe being surrounded by people at work that have a passion for hosting others....
We got hit hard at Morocco's Restaurant, couple of pointers, 45% of the reservations did not show up nor call, on the other side, i am glad they did not as it was a full house...I spoke to Jay and suggested to skip the reservations and to seat people on a first come first served basis, maybe allow reservations for parties of 10+ while asking for a security deposit?? It made sense to him...
Guests were only able to oder from our 8 course endless family style dining menu (Mothers day is the only day when we do that for all parties): $29.95 for 2 salads, 2 appetizers, 2 entrees and 2 desserts  and it was unlimited!!, we lost about 9 guests due to that but all the one that stayed were delighted...i was sad to see people leave but on the same time, sticking to one's rules and accepting that we can not please everybody was the healthier thing to do...
Restaurant week is around the corner where restaurants are offering $20, $30, and $40 preset 3 course menus...How are they going to compute with Morocco's 8 course offering for $29.95....
Happy Mother's day to all moms reading this, no matter what they say, Moms are always right.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Friday night

visited Mountain view to check the way they do it, was pretty amazed with the quality of servers you can have if you put the money into it, a big venue may not be the smartest thing to do if you are going to have managers of managers playing pretty while the payroll is ticking by the minute...interesting crowd and quite different from your san jose downtown young crowd, my passion for hospitality started its manifestation in san jose and i love this city, Castro street is pleasant but god knows for how long. I believe that people's perception of their surroundings comes from their perception of their surroundings. Tonight was a good night for Morocco's. Great crowd of people that were there to enjoy each others company. Big props to my kitchen team and my floor manager who not only rocked but kept that pretty smile acknowledging a fast paced night.
Tomorrow is Mother's day night, Mom are the best and surprisingly enough are never wrong...or is it just me...if you read this, call yours as she may be the best woman in your life.....

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Cinco de drinko

We have been consulting on whether we should give Morocco's a mexican twist to market the very thirsty cinco de mayo celebration and we decided not to. Our belief is to remain true to our identity and this reminded me somehow of when we first opened Morocco's Restaurant downtown San Jose back on February the 29th, 2008. The question was pretty simple, should we "fushion" our menu and recipes to be a crowd pleaser (God knows how molested the word Fushion has been in the restaurant industry), or simply stick to 150 old recipes. Best is to try and i recall the days of the Moroccan wraps for Jazz in the park and for our first lunch menus...the truth of the matter is, Moroccan cuisine is delicious the way it is and Morocco's Restaurant will prepare 100% moroccan recipes with no fushion in it. The recipes is what one will eat if they were to visit my family back in Morocco and we are proud of it.
I love cinco de Mayo and what it represents to my dear mexican friends. We will probably cheer through tequilla shots with my mexican employees that chose to work and make money versus spend it.
The secret of the day: I will be working on tasting Morocco's Restaurant margarita. Called: Mi Corazon Margarita! Until the next blog, Salute!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Great day

Working on the happy hour menu, hosting the 2nd edition of Tuesday salons for Singles series, preparing food to prepare to support a local fundraiser, training new employee, lining up a meeting with people that want to buy morocco's restaurant, checking on a reasonable rent amount to renew our lease, thinking about the amazing Chef Jay and his insightful report researching European markets and hospitality style, reconnecting with amazing friend and blogger josh santos, sharing the new sardine filet appetizer with old regulars, hosting the first Dj that ever mixed music at Morocco's Restaurant, detailing a side of the restaurant as per our cleaning schedules, noticing corrections to our web site, thinking about our relationship with the company that does our current email blasts and the fact that it is hard to get a hold of them, returning the phone call to a person that wants to host a private party for 50 people in the month of july, following up on supplies that were given to a catering event and were not returned, reviewing bill pay for accuracy, checking the hours worked by our salary employees to come up with their bonus for the next quarter, talking to the accountant about setting up automatic signature for my employees to get paid faster, responding to the many groupon like offers and consider the one that will not kill our sales and profitability, going to the gym, turning off the candles at the restaurant, checking on the sales of the day, checking reservations for tomorrow, sending email to the office manager, being excited about new interviewee i spoke to on the phone, discovered how awesome the pictures taken for our attendance at rivers of chocolate were, pretty enjoyable is 11PM, blues music playing on the background, discovering the blog made by my friends from Dishcrawl, on top of all the friendly people i had the chance to glance at made for a great tuesday....happy blogging, this feels like a release...until our next post....thank you for supporting the amazing city of San Jose.....

Morocco's Restaurant getting started on the blog

Big kudos to Morocco's Restaurant supporter and friend Josh Santos: being a leader in the blog community: Google San Jose Blog and you will see...Josh took some time to enjoy a glass of sauvignon blanc and Vinho Verde to give us an amazing insight about the blogging community...The key words are consistent and repeatable processes. That s the way we love it at Morocco's.
Thank you Josh for the once again quality time....I hope that Sarah recovers soon enough from her cold....
More posts to come in the near future if we find the energy to do it everyday....